Comic Relief near closing: Who is to blame?

201012171243 Comic Relief near closing: Who is to blame?

In all the puff pieces and half-baked profiles one comes across in searching the internet, this story on the financial troubles of Berkeley’s Comic Relief ranks high on the list for out-and-out weirdness and omissions.

What is not in dispute is that since the death of owner Rory Root in 2008, the store has gone into serious decline. The piece reports that since going in arrears to Diamond, the shop has not received new product from them in a month. Understandably, without new comics, customers are not clamoring to shop there. Closing is imminent unless a new buyer for the shop is found.

Another story of the sad economy? Not really. How did one of the pioneering stores of comics retailing, one whose owner was a trusted advisor to 20 years of creators and publishers, go from the top of the industry to praying for a miracle rescuer in two years?

The story claims it was Rory himself.

Naive business practices are partly to blame. When founder Rory Root opened the store in 1987, he wanted it to be all things to all people. “A ‘Comic Bookstore,’ rather than a ‘Comic Book Store,'” Juricich said. “As in, ‘This is a bookstore that sells comics.'” In keeping with that philosophy, Root stocked everything from the superhero perennials to the fringiest ‘zines. To a certain extent, Comic Relief retains that model. It’s known for having a wide selection of indie publications. Cardboard boxes on one of the front tables hold a full alphabetized collection of minis and ‘zines — everything from Optic Nerve to Laugh Riot to Cometbus. Other alternative titles include Joe Sacco’s Footnotes in Gaza, along with a wide selection of stuff by Jim Woodring and R. Crumb.

Root worked at Comic Relief until his death in 2008, and kept the place alive through sheer zeal. He had a strong network of friends to help when money got tight, which also gave him the leverage to spread himself thin. When Juricich took the reigns as manager about a year ago, debts had accrued. In essence, he would stock too much of what wasn’t selling, Juricich said. He offered an analogy. “Say you have a video store, and you have the top-selling Hollywood stuff that’s doing just fine, and then you also have this large selection of French-English subtitles. Maybe the French ones are great art movies, but they just aren’t moving as fast. So you have to cut back.” Juricich tried to apply that logic to Comic Relief, but it was too little, too late. “Unfortunately, as the manager, there’s only so much I can do other than using straightforward common business sense to keep the place going.”


Right, so standing by the best comics for 20 years, championing emerging creators and looking to what would bring in new customers — all that stuff? Crap. Cutting orders on new product, that’s the way to do it — straight to near bankruptcy.

There is much more to the story than this piece reports, most of it common knowledge in the Bay Area comic community. When Root died in 2008 his plan was to leave the store to one of his employees, a trusted manager who knew how to run the shop. Unfortunately, according to several people close to Root, he failed to properly execute his will, and ownership of the store has passed instead to relatives without a retailing background. The Juricich mentioned in the article is Chris Juricich, a former customer whom Root’s heirs hired to run the store. According to observers, the new owners made many questionable decisions, such as giving up Comic Relief’s prime exhibiting space at the San Diego Comic-Con. Not only was that a good source of revenue, but once a floor space is given up, it’s almost impossible to get back, especially one of that size. Comic Relief doesn’t even set up at the local Wonder Con any more — retail stores sales were a key part of their revenue and visibility.

Of course there are two sides to every story, but to imply, as this news story does, that the near-closing of a store is due to the man who ran it successfully for 20 years and not, perhaps, to the more recent management, is odd, to say the least. Or as one commenter puts it:

The inaccuracies in this story are stunning. There are small errors, such as the statement that an internationally-known store which won multiple awards in the industry over a period of more than 20 years “thrived on a small core of devotees.” Really? And there are larger mistakes, such as the implication that the demise of the shop was based on the lack of consumer loyalty, rather than the family’s deliberate choices – to stop appearing at all conventions, to crowd out the manager who had been at the helm for over a decade in favor of a former customer, to treat the store’s longterm customers like dirt . . . to name just a few. But the most egregious of all is the implication that Rory Root is responsible for the sins of his greedy, short-sighted, selfish, uninformed relatives. It’s hard to know where to start on that one. Suffice to say that if this is what passes for journalism these days, Jerry Springer has a Pulitzer in his future.

UPDATE: As Torsten pointed out in the comments, Image publisher Eric Stephenson rebuts this story at his blog:

Having known Rory Root since I first started working in comics in the early ’90s, I can tell you that as much as I loved the guy, he was far from perfect. He kept Comic Relief alive and kicking, though, often against significant odds, because he understood the business and had a deep-rooted love and understanding not only of comics, but of the people who bought and read them. As a result, there were people willing to do favors for Rory simply because it was Rory. Rough around the edges though he was, Rory was a magnetic personality and he engendered a tremendous amount of goodwill. There were few greater ambassadors for comics, and since Image Comics moved to Berkeley in 2004, it was the pleasure of our entire staff to shop at his store.

Until recently. A seemingly never-ending series of colossal blunders by Rory’s family have put the store on life support, and now the store is a shell of what it once was. Comic Relief hasn’t received new product in weeks. For anyone even the least bit familiar with the business of selling comics, it should be vodka clear: No new books means no business. No business means no store. And far from being some sort of solution to the store’s troubles, the Roots are actually the cause. They took the store over against Rory’s wishes and have run it into the ground with such force, you’d think they were blasting for oil.

Comments

  1. Eric Stephenson has a rebuttal on his blog:
    it-sparkles.blogspot.com

  2. To give some slight balance, those who talked to Rory knew that while the store may have been one of the most important an influential in comics (I think that Rory’s annual WonderCon parties, dragging creators and publishers into his store, did a lot to accelerate the American publishers embracing the book format), it was not a raging financial success, and the move to the larger space, while it served the greatness of the store, was also a strong financial stress.
    But still, it survived quite a long time, through a lot of changes in comics and a large turnover in the retail base. He kept finding ways to make it work.

  3. It’s bothersome to me that we never hear about comic book shops anymore unless they are in trouble.

    If Comic Relief was having a creator do a signing or a sale or an event would you even write about it? Would anyone?

  4. Alex Cox says:

    Scott-

    Heidi and her staff routinely write about store events, sales, appearances, and often write follow-up stories, post-event.

    The Beat is one of the most active and appreciated supporters of the DM, and the positive to negative story ratio is probably 85 to 1, if not higher.

    There are several other sites that do an excellent job as well…

    Alex Cox

  5. Chris says:

    Alex, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. I can count on one hand the number of times this blog covers events at comic shops. Short of ones that were featured in The Simpsons or happen to be the NYC area, it rarely happens.

    I’ve long since given up trying to get this blog to cover signing events, meet-ups, book fairs, or anything thing remotely geared as an event from our store.

  6. The Beat says:

    Chris, that’s a fair assessment, although I think I do a little better than you say. I’ve explained why at length in the past. However I am not happy with it, and definitely need an improved events coverage. Hopefully the arrival of several interns in 2011 will improve this.

  7. I mean, it’s news right? A very widely known comic book shop is going out of business after it’s beloved owner has passed on and his family runs the store into the ground.

    I understand that’s “news.”

    But I just feel like it’s cloaked a bit in this sensationalism about the industry in general. I see a lot of “another store in trouble” story here at The Beat and it’s starting to feel really old.

    These stories are low hanging fruit.

    The direct market consists of a very difficult data pool to track. Basically you have a couple thousand stores all run by people with varied backgrounds in business (if at all).

    Not to mention that the business models behind a lot of these shops are forged in nostalgia and fandom, rather than pragmatic business practices. It’s not surprising a store owner would make a bad business decision because to do otherwise would be “bad for comics.”

  8. CR Insider says:

    I feel it’s important not to lump Chris Juricich in with Rory’s family. Short of the store going to its intended recipients, I think Chris Juricich is one of the best people for the job: he is someone who has been a friend of the store since its earliest days, and he’s a knowledgeable and engaged comics fan — the Roots cannot be described as such.

    The “questionable decisions” mentioned above are not ones made by Chris, and it’s unfair to paint him with the same brush as the Roots. I believe he truly wants to bring the store back to life, and that he wants to honor Rory’s memory in that regard.

    Chris may indeed be helming a sinking ship these days, but make no mistake, it was torpedoed by the myopic approach to business applied by the store’s owners, not by its manager. I wish him nothing but the best, and I hope that he can pull the store out of its tailspin and return it to its rightful place as the best Comic Bookstore in the world.

  9. I think The Beat does a balanced job at comic store *events*. I mean, one of the ongoing themes is the, “To Do Tonight” posts. Granted some might be more local-centric to the East Coast, but it’s still coverage other than doom and gloom.

    Do they cover *every* signing? No, not many do or can. Do they cover all news? Yes, just like many do and can. Like Scott said, it is news / low hanging fruit, but I think there’s more balance.

    However, not many people comment on those events – which is sad.

  10. The Beat says:

    Scott, I monitor the news pretty steadily, and I am very sorry to say that “comic shop in trouble” is a much more common story this year.

    You won’t like the next two posts either!

    I will say I was talking to a local retailer last night and he said his sales are booming.

    However I absolutely take the store signing listing complaints very seriously and will address it in the coming weeks.

  11. I agree with CRinsider,
    Chris Juricich is good people. I have personally seen him bend over backwards to help customers, creators, events and promotion of the store to help it as much as possible. I’m not talking word-of-mouth, I’m saying I was actually in-store. Chris cares about comics and providing a venue for customers to explore that.

    I’d say he’s in Obama-mode. He’s a good guy who inherited an economic mess.

  12. CR Insider says:

    @Jimmie: Bingo.

  13. Jonathan La Mantia says:

    As far as reporting on store events and the like, it’s generally up to the people in charge of PR at the shop (whoever that may be) to get the word out. You can’t rely on anyone else to advertise for your store and blaming the writers who try to report on everything whenever they can is kind of unfair.

    As far as I remember when I was working at CR any time I ever sent notices out to The Beat to let them know about events they where usually posted- assuming I did it in good time before the event in question- and I was not always very good at that.

    Granted it’s been awhile since I worked there and I can’t speak for who is doing event planning now, but I’m sure they are doing their best with what they have to work with. Planning and advertising takes a good amount of time away from normal day-to-day work- something I never really came to terms with until after I stopped working there.

    That all being said, I hope this mess works out for the people who are still working at CR, they are all good people who care a lot about the place and what it represents.

  14. Jim Friel says:

    What CR Insider says is right on the money. Chris’ worst sin here is being a little too forthcoming and candid with the article’s writer.
    Chris, I, and a third party are trying to buy the store, and we hope to restore it to something close to what Rory made it.
    We need to face some realities, though: Rory was a good friend and a brilliant man, but he was in many ways a poor manager, and he had a lot of bad habits, like buying more stuff than he had any real expectation of ever being able to sell. “Supporting” artists and publishers means giving their work a chance to prove itself by displaying and actively selling it (and we want to do that); it does not mean indiscriminately buying all their unsold stock after San Diego every year and having piles of it, unsold and seemingly unsellable, taking up valuable space for years afterward (which Rory was in the habit of doing, even when his bank account was overdrawn.)
    I work at the store now, so I’m not going to discuss the current ownership’s decisions and approach. Ours would be (will be, we hope) different. We want to give this a shot, and we want to carry everything that we think is meritorious, not just that which is commercial–but there are limits if we want to survive.
    The game’s not over yet.

  15. Kathleen Hunt says:

    Mr. Juricich may, indeed, be “good people” – I haven’t met him. That said, his words form the backbone of this hack piece, he accepted the job of “manager” with full knowledge that he was thereby forcing out (or “demoting”) the longtime manager of the shop for no reason except the family’s spite, and he supports the family’s poor business decisions by both word and action. He did NOT just “inherit an economic mess” — there was a very capable manager in place when he arrived, who had already begun the job of correcting/mitigating the existing financial issues. Is Mr. Juricich to blame for the troubles facing the shop since Rory’s demise? No, but his bosses are — and Mr. Juricich doesn’t appear to be man enough to admit it.

  16. Jim Friel says:

    Come on, Kathleen–he’s in the position of still being dependent on them for his paycheck–he’s not going to blast them in the press at the same time that we’re trying to make a deal to get them to sell us the store.
    I think he was naive to not understand how what he was saying to that reporter would be used (she told him that the story wasn’t to be particularly about the store’s troubles–I heard her say it), but that’s about it.

  17. And after 18 years, Comics World of Lincoln, Nebraska, will be closing, leaving one store to service a city of 250,000, which includes the University of Nebraska.

  18. Jim Friel, since I am in the area, if you need my support as a comics creator I am free to help out however I can through my work.

    I know a lot of bad things have happened but at this point the bottom line is helping the store — I’m not one for soap opera and politics, but I am ferocious about comics and the avenues that support them to the public.

  19. Jim Friel says:

    If we can pull this purchase off–and it’s VERY big if, dependent on a lot of factors, some of them out of the control of either the Roots or us–we’ll take all the help of whatever kind that our friends and friends of the store and of Rory can offer.
    If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s going to be weeks yet before we know.

  20. Goofball814 says:

    @Torsten, to be fair, the article in the Lincoln Journal-Star, the local paper, quoted the owner as saying that it wasn’t a decline in comics that led to Comic World closure, but a drastic decline in gaming.

    http://journalstar.com/business/local/article_29f4d755-e8f4-53f0-a710-f76798523717.html

  21. Keith says:

    I live in the North Bay but was in Berkeley the other week and wandered into Comic Relief, my favorite Bay Area comic book store bar none. I was very saddened to see what has become of it. Chris Juricich was there and he was very forthcoming about the state of affairs. Basically, he told me, just a guy off the street, essentially the same things he told the reporter for this article. He is clearly a man who speaks his mind and wears his heart on his sleeve. And that was to his obvious detriment in speaking with the reporter.

    He seemed very frustrated but very earnest and passionate about comics. He was friendly and helpful. He’s the kind of guy that makes you feel comfortable being in his store.

    I hope that he, Mr. Friel and their third investor manage to buy the store, or the store’s inventory, and keep Rory Root’s dream going. And I wish them the best of success with it.

  22. Jim, the best of luck to you. And keep me posted on the news.

  23. That is true, Goofball, but a university town like Lincoln only supporting one store? Are college kids getting all their comics online?

  24. bad wolf says:

    Sad business all around; i hadn’t heard of any of these hardships since Mr Root’s unfortunate passing, and i was a regular at the store a number of years ago when i lived in the area. Good luck to those trying to revitalize it; it is certainly a challenge but one i think the community there will appreciate.

    As for the Beat’s coverage, there are at least two other major comic news sites (Journalista and Comics Reporter) that include ongoing coverage of in-store events. I don’t think the Beat’s format could integrate such coverage on an ongoing basis without swamping everything else and i don’t think it’s fair to blame her for not catering to all bases or for focusing on negative news.

  25. Angela Silva says:

    From all accounts, Rory Root was an extraordinary character who founded one of the best comic book stores in the Bay Area if not the whole country. He owned and managed Comic Relief for over 21 years until he died. From all the stories I’ve heard, he opened his store and heart to buyers, fans, writers, publishers and artists. Like all memorable characters, he had both passionate admirers and dispassionate observers.

    To Kathleen Hunt – if you are the Kathleen Hunt, Rory’s attorney and best friend as Eric Stephenson, Image Comics Publisher describes – please get your facts straight about the departure of long-time manager (14 years), Todd Martinez. Yes, it was no secret that a lot of Rory’s friends wanted and expected Todd to inherit the store, but if there was no will to produce by you, Rory’s lawyer, or his family, then it was an unfortunate and sorry circumstance for Todd.

    Rory died in 2008. It is possible that a store, no matter how renowned and well-loved its owner was, would be in such a mess that a year later, the Rory Root Family Trust would approach my husband, Chris Juricich. Somehow, they heard that he had sales and retail experience and over 35 years of a love affair with comics. They wanted him to manage the store, improve sales and even try to find a buyer. By many accounts, he might have been one of the few qualified and comic crazy individuals willing to try to keep Comic Relief from hemorrhaging any further. He honestly didn’t know how troubled the financial picture and family members were until he started working there, something the RRFT did not completely share or wouldn’t. Remember that the family had absolutely no experience running such a retail business, let alone, any knowledge of the industry.

    Todd and Chris knew each other for some years and if there was any animosity, it was never shown since, I’ve been told, Todd continues to wish Comic Relief success. To Image Comics credit, they offered Todd employee benefits that Comic Relief couldn’t. Staffers continue to work at Comic Relief for the love of comics despite cuts in hours, no new deliveries, low morale and so on.

    The East Bay Express story is extremely flawed. But there’s no need to bring up personal issues here regarding Chris (try meeting him sometime) or point fingers at how Comic Relief should have, would have, could have been run by Rory, Todd or the RRFT.

    The reality now is that Comic Relief deserves to stay alive through all the financial problems that began with Rory, the current problems the retail comic industry is having with distribution, publishing, and new media and this awful economy. Comic Relief must somehow find a way to support Rory’s vision of the best place for comic books and alternative publishing and if new owners can offer solutions, then let’s help them be successful.

  26. Jim Friel says:

    Well said, Angela.
    Let me add that Todd has expressed a willingness, even an eagerness, should Chris, I, and our third partner succeed in buying the store, to work part time for a while in any capacity we can use him in, to help us get it back on its feet.
    Todd is a big hearted guy, but that’s not the offer of a man who feels wronged by one of the people he’s making the offer to. In the last year, working with him, I’ve found Chris to be an highly ethical person, which is one of the reasons I’m not at all hesitant to be trying to go into business with him.

  27. Angela Silva says:

    Thanks, Jim. Ok, one last thing.

    This is a response to the link provided in this article to Eric Stephenson’s blog where he lambasts the Rory Root Family Trust and by extension, Chris Juricich, the current store manager. Since Eric’s blog precludes comments, I offer a correction to my earlier post here and more facts for those who might still be interested in the other side of the story. Let me posit this – if you were the Root family, what would you have done with Comic Relief? If you are a prospective buyer, what would you do differently?

    Full disclosure – I am Chris Juricich’s wife and a dispassionate observer. I wholeheartedly support his love of comics and albeit insane desire to keep working for Comic Relief.

    Correction: when the Rory Root Family Trust approached Chris, he did not accept the job until he was sure that he would not be replacing Todd as the store manager overseeing daily operations including ordering books, staffing, and in-store sales. Chris agreed to the title: General Manager (yeah, of only a single store!??), when maybe the title should have been Business Development Manager.

    Chris was hired to find additional sales outlets (online auctions, other dealer/buyers, direct sales, website sales, and so on) outside of the retail store. Also, while working with Todd, establish some form of computerized inventory control and point-of-sale system to track sales by title, genre, whatever (I’m no expert). Something I understand was never attempted at Comic Relief. Also, catalog a large rental storage space full of Rory’s old stock and find ways to sell them. And other non-store efforts to pay off debts that stemmed from Rory’s time.

    Additionally, as any small business owner would try to do, visualize the future to see what publishers and distributors are doing, how old and new customers are consuming the medium, and where the future of comic book and alternative publications retailing was headed. All this to provide a sustainable business model for the RRFT to make financial decisions about the future of Comic Relief. And lastly, if necessary, find a suitable buyer who would keep Rory’s vision alive.

    Eric Stephenson – were these intentions by RRFT and Chris just a year after Rory died (remember, an owner who didn’t know anything about the business) such colossal blunders?

    When Todd left for Image Comics as he needed to, that placed Chris in the difficult position of focusing on just the store, keeping the cash flow enough to pay overhead, meet payroll, pay Diamond on time, keep old and new customers happy and so on. And the RRFT’s limited financial resources were focused on creditors, consignees, rent, other debts, etc. It’s not easy to work with a remote owner who doesn’t know the business well enough. Add the economy to this equation with declining sales month to month. There are numerous blogs that talk about this overall decline and I’ll refer to Brian Higgs’ column, Tilting at Windmills: Time’s Up 12/16/20 from CBR.

    Chris, along with Jim Friel and the amazing staff at Comic Relief have inherited a difficult situation and must be given more credit for still working very hard to keep the store going.

    I’ll end this now – Eric, your cynicism aside – your bullshit deserves another name – ignorance. The only thing we agree on is that Comic Relief and the spirit of Rory Root deserve better.

  28. You know, Angela, I don’t really have a problem with Chris. I don’t blame him for what happened to Todd and the shop: I blame the Roots, and I think I was pretty clear on that point in my response to the recent East Bay Express article.

    Chris may be a fine guy, but I think it was a mistake for the Roots to place him in a position where Todd would be his subordinate. I also think it was a mistake for them to make Comic Relief such an unpleasant place to work that long-time employees left. And a mistake to fire or “lay off” valuable long-time employees. Were those colossal blunders? Yes. Yes, there were.

    As Kathleen noted above, Todd was in the process of fixing things. The Roots cut his hours and hired someone else to manage the shop. At the point I offered Todd a job at Image, he was beyond miserable and on the verge of quitting. Whether it was your husband’s doing or not, Comic Relief was not a happy place and things were not getting better.

    Honoring Rory’s known wishes, will or no will, would have precluded all this, and I think the store would be in a different place today as a result.

    If my belief that Comic Relief would have been better off under Todd’s management and without the Root’s willful interference makes me cynical or ignorant in your eyes, then so be it.

  29. Oh, and I take issue with your statement that “a lot of Rory’s friends wanted and expected Todd to inherit the store.”

    RORY wanted to Todd to inherit the story, and Rory’s friends wanted and expected his family to honor his wishes.

  30. Biggletron says:

    Everybody knew what Rory’s wishes were, that the store go to Todd. If his family claims that they didn’t know that, they’re flat out lying. That’s all there is to it. Rory’s friends wanted his wishes to be honored, and they didn’t want people who had absolutely no idea what they were doing to destroy everything that Rory (despite himself sometimes) had built, with the help of dedicated employees, customers, friends, and business contacts.

    I don’t think Chris is the cause of all this, the Roots are. I also believe that we at Image Comics have benefitted immeasurably by the Root’s colossal blunder. It makes me sick what has happened to Comic Relief – where I got my first job in comics and most of the friends that I have today – but I am happy beyond measure to be working with Todd again and seeing him so happy.

  31. I live in the North Bay but was in Berkeley the other week and wandered into Comic Relief, my favorite Bay Area comic book store bar none. I was very saddened to see what has become of it.

    That’s ssd to hear. I’ve thought of COMIC RELIEF as the Comic Book store version of SHAKESPEARE & CO closeby on Telegraph— cramped and stocked with a wide range and variety of stuff to discover— and to buy.
    Along with the AMOEBA, RASPUTIN’S and MOE’S, CR was a place where you could easily spend an hour poring over the inventory to find that one thing you’ve been looking for a long time… or in finding that one item you didn’t know that you’ve wanted. (European comics? European hardback comics?? Hmmm.)

    Here’s to the store surviving the change in personnel/ownership and not shutter its doors in the UCB area and so joining CODY’S and CHANGE OF HOBBIT in the list of lamented area store closures…

  32. Biggletron says:

    Other Change of Hobbit did not close, it just moved. New address: 3264 Adeline Street
    Berkeley, CA 94703. Phone: (510) 848-0413

  33. tony harris says:

    Sad to hear. Always sad to hear another DM shop is going away< albeit slowly. Hopefully a buyer will come in. Tis news though, when these stories are combined and they begin to create a bit of a snowball, its worrisome.And deserves attention, and additional though, and effort. Like us pros doing signings at shops as often as we can.

  34. Jim Friel says:

    We’re not gone yet, Tony. And the next time you come to town, we’ll remember you said that…

  35. Have some issue with the current owner’s throwing the Rory under the bus.

    While he might have been less than stellar as a business owner, the store functioned efficiently for 20 years under his managament. However, under the current managers the store has barely survived 2 years. So one has to assume that whatever Rory did worked and whatever the new owners did failed to work by virtue of their respective times as stewards of Comic Relief.

  36. Jim Friel says:

    Nobody’s throwing Rory under a bus. He created something wonderful, and it doesn’t detract from the magnitude of that achievement that among all his talents he wasn’t also the perfect engineer for a business designed to function over the long term without him (or, for that matter, that things were seldom as good as they looked during his lifetime.)
    One of the problems with Comic Relief’s operation was always that Rory had a lot of it in his head and nowhere else.
    Another (and this appeared to be a strength, not a weakness, when Rory was alive) was Rory’s personality. He was so good at getting people to do what he wanted them to do that it was possible for him to operate more by the seat of his pants than is really wise for a business over the long term.
    It would be hard to overemphasize, also, that Comic Relief, unknown to many of its customers and admirers in the creative community, went from crisis to crisis almost as a matter of course. Things were never as good as they looked from the outside.
    Nobody who knew him in a business context or worked at the store (pretty much at any time in its history) doubts that he left a huge mess–that’s a given.
    Pointing all of that out isn’t the same, though, as blaming him for everything: there’s plenty of blame to go around for what’s happened since his death. Rory’s mixed legacy as a businessman is the background for subsequent events, not their sole cause. Getting into a shouting match about it is pointless; the problems that need to be addressed now are more immediate.

  37. Julie Feighery says:

    Happy Holidays To All.
    Best Wishes for a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
    RIP Rory…We miss you my friend:-
    =^y^=

  38. I just wanted to touch on a couple of things.
    Firstly, I was sorry to see Lincoln’s Comic World go, it was nice to see options available if I found myself in town with some time to kill. However, I could see where a drop in gaming revenue would be a death blow to them. The comics portion of the store seemed to run a bit behind compared to the gaming end.

    Comic Relief. Having grown up in the Bay Area, I came to love comics through Comics & Comix and later, Comic Relief. After I was married and a parent residing in Reno, taking trips to The City meant a lengthy stop at Comic Relief. Fantastic customer service, selection, all things Reno’s comic shop(singular). Rory, Todd and the whole staff were never anything short of delightful when it came toour experiences. After Rory’s passing however, we noticed changes. Not sweeping at first but still palpable.
    Our final visit was much different. Our infant daughter took this trip with us and while normally she’s a little trooper on Daddy’s comic shop that day she got a bit cranky and vocal.
    I tried to soothe her to no avail and quickly realized that it just wasn’t in the cards right then so I notified my wife who was standing nearby that I would be wheeling the stroller outside. A man seated at the computer in the center of the room who earlier had identified himself as the manager(Chris Jurecich) told me, “That’s a good idea, you get that kid outta my store.” Whoa, what?! I understand kids can grate sometimes, but as an employee, not to mention the manager you should know to hold your tongue or at least handle the situation with a modicum of decorum. A little tact can go pretty far, right?
    I was hot, and deservedly so, I thought. But we went outside, Evelyn settled down and so did her dad. We resumed shopping and all was (relatively) well. At the counter, I did explain my grievance to the guy who was working and he was very cool about it. He shrugged his shoulders and told me “he’s not normally like that…” so I’ll give Mr. Jurecich the benefit of the doubt.
    We moved to Omaha not long after and if this is indeed the end for Comic Relief I’ll try not to dwell on that memory but earlier ones like just knowing that kepping a schedule on a Saturday was silly because, between Mod Lang and Comic Relief, you could write off an entire afternoon.

  39. “…between Mod Lang and Comic Relief, you could write off an entire afternoon.” Definitely.

    I miss Comic Relief’s smaller, more-focused location on University. And I definitely noticed the attitude of store employees change in recent years. It was enough to keep me out of the place.

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