RIP Rory Root

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Numerous sources are telling us that Rory Root has passed away this evening.

Our sincere condolences to his family and his friends. We’ll have more later.

Comments

  1. This is such a shame. Rory was a warm, friendly guy, exactly the type who should be the face of comics to his community of customers (and fans, like me).

  2. Rory was a champion of my work early on, and always offered his support, good will, and advice. He was a remarkable member of our community of comics professionals that made us ever so much better for having him, and much sadder to go on with out him.

    j.

  3. Farewell, Rory. You set a new standard for comics shops and their potential and the landscape will be forever changed because of your vision and love for comics.

  4. Ron Thibodeau says:

    Wow. I only met Rory once, at a DC RRP meeting a few years ago. He was a very nice man who didn’t look down on me because I wasn’t in the biz as long as he was.

    Had a few interesting stories, too. My sincerest condolances to his family, friends, and colleagues.

  5. Comics has had its share of bad news lately, but this one really hits me close to home, as Rory was one of the few retailers who asked “how can I help your book?” instead of “why should I care about another indie book?” when I start out on self-publishing.

    Rest well, Rory.

  6. I’m stunned and terribly sad. Rory was a terrific advocate of comics, and a great guy. This is just a damn bad day.

  7. As I wrote in the other post, Rory was a gentleman and friend to comics. I always enjoyed talking to him at conventions. The effect this sad news is having on the comics community shows how important he was to it. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

  8. I’m incredibly saddened and shocked. When I first heard about this earlier today via Joe Field of Flying colors Comics and ComicsPro I became drained.

    I hope Rory wasn’t in too much pain and I hope he knows what a giant he was to many in the comic retailing community and in this medium. The presence of his full of life company and wisdom will be missed deeply. Rory and his vision of what a great comic store could be will always serve as my inspiration for the ever continuing growth and diversity of my store.

  9. This is incredibly sad news.

    In the days to come, I think we’ll find scores of people paying tribute to Rory’s generosity towards them personally, and towards the medium and business he loved.

    Rory was incredibly generous. He took great pride in his field, he cared about the people in it, and he championed their efforts. Rory’s pride in comics was projected through his creation of a retail environment that was inviting to anyone, and that sent you out with a sense of interest and excitement about comic books.

    I’m a textbook example of Rory’s generous nature. Back when I was a teenager, he offered tremendous counsel and encouragement for Feature, the magazine I was publishing at the time. He taught me a great deal about the business in those early days, and continued to do so in the years to come. Rory’s counsel was profound.

    And, I’m just one of hundreds of people with stories like that. Rory’s wisdom, patience, humor, knowledge and warmth served us all well.

    We’re much poorer without him.

    Thanks Rory. We miss you.

  10. This is so sad. I only got to know him in the past few years and I was struck by how he was so totally supportive of indie comics. A really sweet guy too.

  11. Even after hearing about his condition earlier today, I’m still in shock. The comics industry lost a real friend, a champion, a hero. Rory, there’s an insulated coffee mug waiting for you up in the sky.

  12. Stunned and saddened… Rory was the first to buy my minicomics and spent time with me on the phone helping me figure out how to promote them. A nice, nice guy who I’m sorry I never got to meet and talk with in person.

  13. Don Simpson says:

    I’d like to amend what I wrote on another blog; it wouldn’t have taken hundreds, just a handful more Rorys would have transformed this industry. Tragic.

  14. Rory was a fine gentleman and a great retailer, in ways that did not keep those two things separate. He was generous with his time, his knowledge, and his insight, and was the first retailer I would turn to when I needed honest, useful feedback on some plans.

    He showed great kindness to me and to my family.

    When he moved the store from its previous cramped quarters to its new location, I thought that that was a great thing not just for him and his customers, but for comics as a whole. Not only would he sell a lot more comics, but he’d also learn even more about what is possible, and would share that with his fellow retailers.

    I wish his family, his staff, and all close to him strength at this trying time.

  15. Rory was kind, understated, and smart. He promoted the underdog publishers. the zinesters, the ideas, gay comics, weird comics all had homes at Comic Relief, and not hidden away in the back but front and center. His immense knowledge was not a self important one, as he often took time to discuss comics to untrained aunts and uncles who happened to wander in.

    As Indy publishers, there’s nothing like seeing your publication on the shelf at Comic Relief.

    I’ll miss my long talks with you Rory.
    This is a huge loss for so many people.
    goodbye my friend.

  16. Rory was kind, understated, and smart. He promoted the underdog publishers. the zinesters, the ideas, gay comics, weird comics all had homes at Comic Relief, and not hidden away in the back but front and center. His immense knowledge was not a self important one, as he often took time to discuss comics to untrained aunts and uncles who happened to wander in.

    As Indy publishers, there’s nothing like seeing your publication on the shelf at Comic Relief.

    I’ll miss my long talks with you Rory.
    This is a huge loss for so many people.
    goodbye my friend.

  17. Justus says:

    Wow, that is sad. I was an undergrad at Cal and Comic Relief was the store that got me into comics. He was always fun to talk to and he never gave me grief those first few years when I read a ton of books (including the Sandman series) and bought almost nothing (it was wise business, I’ve paid him back over the years =).

    In a world where I was utterly spoiled before finding out what a “typical” LCS was really like he was a visionary and a great guy. I live in Houston but I’ll miss him dearly whenever I visit Berkeley.

  18. His great silver coffee cup is now forever empty. It will miss him as much as we all will. What a guy!

  19. Sean Cleveland says:

    I can’t believe he is gone. The World has just gotten less interesting.

    Rory was an amazing friend. He ALWAYS remembered my birthday, and my wife’s birthday for that matter. I could always count on a birthday call from Rory, and a request for my wife’s homemade shortbread, which he dearly loved around the holidays.

    He was the kind of guy that could read a book in a single night–while watching TV no less–and then discuss the finer points of the story in detail. We would talk for hours about a single book, and his memory for stories and characters continued to amaze me. While he loved art, it was always the story that mattered most.

    People know him well for his evangelizing comics, and especially graphic novels and their importance to literary art. He loved to talk about the industry, and even referred to himself as “Schmoozer” on his business card. He loved kids, and he got a special joy from giving a kid their first graphic novel. He always gave that first one for free, and he would always say, “The first one is free kid…”. I’m going to miss hearing him say that.

    This is a very sad day indeed. I miss Rory. He was a dear friend.

  20. You really didn’t have to know Rory very well to see that he had a good heart. What a great loss to the comics community.

  21. john Anon E. Mouse says:

    remember once, my girlfriend and I were in Berkeley and arrived at the
    Relief too late – they had already closed for the day.

    From the cold and darkening outside, I was looking in the window just to
    see what was within. Rory came up with a big smile and asked if we’d like
    to come in and purchase what we needed. I was very thrilled to get in
    there and get my latest copy of Acme Novelty Library, but I was in awe
    that this guy would give us a few minutes of his time to browse the store.
    The warmth and light within made the occasion that much better.
    We talked a bit about Chris Ware and his meticulous work. Rory had even
    purchased the big, ANL display stand for the store. On a seperate visti to
    the store, we talked about that and our joy at the beauty of his work.

    It was a simple gesture, yet still resonates with me to this day.
    A very sweet guy.
    RIP, Rory.

  22. Rory was a great guy.

    I got the fortune to meet him at one of the old WEF Drink Ups while visiting San Francisco. He was an advocate of small press comics and ‘zines, and his passion for comics came thru with every word he said.

    He will be missed.

  23. James Friel says:

    I heard about two hours ago, and I’m still in shock.
    I knew him for 26 years, and during that time he was both a customer and an employer–but always a good friend.
    Warren Ellis said that we can’t afford to lose him, and he’s right.

  24. Back when I was just starting out reporting on the retail market, Rory was incredibly helpful — he was always willing to share what he could about the business with anyone who could learn from it, no matter how busy he was.

    My condolences to his friends and family.

  25. Thank you so much Rory, for all your patience and help over the years. I’ll miss our conversations on the future of comics (OK I missed those already, it’s been awhile), also missed are the ridiculous recall of knowledge you had on any subject for every dumb question I had and the time you took to answer them. I still am no closer to understanding pogs or Babylon 5, but that’s OK. Thanks for the job. Thanks for the rides (to San Diego several times). Thanks for loaning me the van (sorry it got broken into). Thank you for having the faith in me and Josh to help make Wow Cool a (sort of) successful distributor in the 90s. Thanks for being our best landlord… and customer. Thank you for having the vision to hire a knowledgeable staff of specialized buyers for your store and making it one of the best resources of that kind. Thanks, also, for having a nice looking store with a friendly and helpful staff. There aren’t too many places (if any others) I used to work at that I could say that it was nice to return for a visit. I think you’d appreciate that, so I’ll just leave this here.

  26. Donald Reents says:

    Sad News. My first boss was Rory when he was the manager of The Gambit (game store on Telegraph Ave.) back in the late 70’s. When we worked together, we were a good team as we both were there because we wanted to be working in a field of our interest while also earning a wage we could live off. In 1980, we were told by the owners of The Gambit they would be closing their Berkeley store at the end of the year. After I opened Games of Berkeley that June, Rory would frequently call to me to send customers for games they did not have in stock or could not get any time soon. This was very helpful in developing a clientele for my shop. As others have noted, Rory was always there to help as much as he could and this was just one small example. The comics industry has definitely suffered a loss today. Obviously, my condolences go to the family and close friends.

  27. I can’t believe that Rory will no longer be around, informing and leading the comic book industry to higher ground. I knew that he was in bad health, but I thought he would stick around forever, based on tenacity, and sheer force of will.

    Rory seemed to me to have the permanence and inertia of gravity. To hear that he won’t be around any longer is inconceivable.

    I must disagree with those that said that a few more of him would have changed the industry. An army of Rory Roots was not necessary. Rory Root was an army of one.

    It will be a shock to go to the Ape, WonderCon and San Diego, and not see him dominate the room with his oversized presence. It will be a shock to attend an industry function and not see him brain storming countless ways to move the industry ahead for the benefit of all concerned.

    This is horrible, horrible news for the comics industry. The more you know about Rory, the more you will agree. Rory Root was a tireless champion of the industry who can never be replaced. We will never see the likes of him again.

    The brightest light in comics retail has just gone out.

  28. Rory’s generous spirit reached across the miles to touch those whom he never met in person and his tireless enthusiasm for comics and all arts influenced many who were never able to shake his hand. Love and gratitude to his family.

  29. Rory is one of those people that try as you may, you could never say anything negative about. In a time when I had turned away from comics, Rory brought me back. I worked next door to him everyday for close to a year, and shared many a cup of coffee, or tea, soda, etc. every year since. Rory embodied all the things that I love about comics, both as a community and as a medium.

    He offered me support and guidance from the time I started at Dark Horse, and I will miss him when I sit on the steps of the San Diego Convention Center this and every year from now on.

    Rory is truly one to make us all hope there is a heaven.

    Life for the rest of us will never be the same.

    Rest in peace, old friend…

  30. Rory was a noble spirit in the world of retailers, but he was also a tough fighter for the diversity of comics and the potential they had. His program of trades into libraries was just one of many touches by Rory that continues to live on.

    I knew him on a business and personal level. Been to his house, ate at his table, played poker, marveled at his collection of books from floor-to-ceiling in every room. He did not simply sell comics. He lived it with a passion.

    It is an unfair world. Rory is already being missed.

  31. Everything I want to say about Rory has been said so many times by the people above me. Rory was a comics star, a legend in retail and seeing him was always one of my San Diego highlights.

    Gutted. Utterly gutted.

  32. Rich Johnson says:

    I met Rory back in my early days working at DC Comics when I was attending ALA and BEA for the company and was amazingly impressed by him. He just got it. He was an advocate for this medium like no other. The fact that he exhibited at a library conference and saw that there was growth potential for graphic novels in that market was – at the time – groundbreaking. I think there are a handful of people who deserve an honorary Eisner for their work in promoting the medium and for seeing what the future could be and Rory is one of them.

  33. Jim Higgins says:

    This is just really bad. I hate having to think about it but of course I will. Rory deserves to have this many people thinking about him. Him dying young is bullshit and a goddamn shame. Rory was a good man.

  34. I am still in shock. I’d like to echo everything Lee Hester said about Rory. He’s just always been there, since the real direct market came into existence, doing his best to set the standard for everyone. As I recall, his store was the first to receive the Will Eisner Retailer Award.

    Rory was a pioneer in working with librarians and getting them involved with graphic novels, including putting together a recommended reading list that I remember using back in the late 1990s, so that’s another area where he helped to advance our industry and artform.

    I just can’t imagine Comic-Con without him.

  35. Kat Kan says:

    Rory helped so many libraries and librarians back when not so many of them were carrying graphic novels and comics. Back in the years before every professional library journal carried graphic novel reviews, he promoted them for libraries. When we met and worked together for one day at the 2001 ALA Annual Conference, he gave me so much good advice and encouragement, he recommended even more graphic novels for me to read (I was already reading a lot, writing the first ongoing graphic novel column in library literature and reviewing for Diamond’s website for librarians and educators). I also watched him deal with a lot of different librarians, some enthusiastic, some not so – and he treated each and every one of them with kindness and respect.

    I totally agree with Rich Johnson about the honorary Eisner. Rory was a visionary, and we librarians benefited greatly from his vision and passion.

  36. Sharon Cho says:

    Alex Amado called me up last night with the sad news. Rory, there was so much to thank you for, I only hope the many times I walked into your store and walked out buying $200-300 worth of graphic novels helped. You were indeed a force of nature around for comics and you will be missed, even from ex-comics pros. Many were the days of tough, energy-sapping days at conventions, only to walk out for a cigarette and see you on the sidewalk with your mug of coffee and a grin on your face. My walk would speed up as you raised your hand in a gesture of greeting, even as you continued your conversations with three or four people standing around you. I knew around you, there were always interesting conversations AND somehow, by the end of my cigarette, I would feel revitalized and ready to face the masses again. Thank you, Rory.

  37. It’s amazing to see the impact that Rory Root has had on the comics community. He was a titan. And he will be missed. But his impact will be lasting.

    I’d like to share a personal anecdote about Rory. I met him at the San Diego Comic-Con. At the Comic Relief booth, I showed him my mini-comics. 1000 STEPS TO WORLD DOMINATION. On the spot, he offered to buy ten copies of each issue. That was (40) copies of my little books. And God bless him, I left there walking on air because of his generosity.

    A couple years ago I was in Berkeley and got to see Comic Relief. A stunning array of comic books and graphic novels. His store demonstrated his love of the medium and his support for independent comics. He set the bar very high.

    Godspeed, Rory Root.

  38. David Scroggy says:

    I am sad to hear about Rory’s passing. In the early days of Comic Book Expo, he was always a strong contributor of ideas for programs that would use the event to improve and elevate the retailers. He was vocal about industry issues, but always reasonable in his approach to them.

    His passion for the graphic story was equalled by his encyclopedic knowledge of the medium in all its myriad forms. And he supported it, as well, investing in new artists, publishers, foreign editions, small press and all the rest. He had a knack for knowing which material would be of interest to which readers, and tirelessly cross-pollinated worthwhile material among fans and professionals who would likely never have encountered it except for Rory.

    I remember in the early 1990’s when “raves” were happening around San Diego. These events were held in old warehouses and other venues of that sort, and were promoted with colorful little cards that would appear in hipster locations a day or two prior to the event. Although I never actually went to any, I started saving these colorful cards, as they seemed like a neat pop culture item reflective of a certain time and place.

    I mentioned this to Rory when I saw him at a convention somewhere, and lo and behold, he was doing the same thing up in Berkeley. So we started swapping them, each sending the other big manilla envelopes full of our local cards. Rory was quite taken with the purity of it all- while obviously collectible, there was no dollar value attached to any of it. It was just fun. And that’s what made it pure, and therefore Rory’s kind of thing.

    That type of pure love for the medium is all too rare on the business side, it seems. It is our loss that a little bit of our collective self has moved on.

  39. Mike Friedrich says:

    A huge hunk of my life has just been suddenly ripped away. I’ll miss Rory a lot.

  40. Rest in Peace, Rory Root.

    Thank you for having been such a great person.

    Thank you for having been my local retailer at such a critical time in my career.

    Thank you for being one of the people that made me happy to work in comics.

    I’ll miss you.

  41. Larry Brown says:

    Rory was my friend. I can only hope I was the same in return. I want to say more but I can not properly express my grief in words. All I can say is he was my friend and I will him.

    I wish Todd and the rest of the Comic Relief staff the best during this time of mourning.

  42. Funkateer Ralph says:

    Rory was one of the few folks in this business that I enjoyed talking shop with.
    It’s going to be strange not seeing him at his booth at the conventions.

    Comics and Retailing has lost a true original!,
    Funkateer Ralph

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