The Savage Critic(s) | Brian Hibbs | A Titan Passes: RIP Rory Root
I feel like I've just been punched in the chest.
Rory Root, owner of Comic Relief in Berkeley, and a tremendously great friend of mine, just passed away following a brief coma after surgery for a ruptured hernia this weekend.
Rory and I had a lot of shared paths in comics retailing -- we both worked at the Best of Two Worlds chain in the Bay Area. He managed the Berkeley store, and I managed the SF one, before we each opened our own stores, he two years ahead of my own.
Rory was a confidant, a friend, a mentor, and always always ALWAYS, whether I wanted it or not, a sounding board....
Comic Relief, once upon a time, had a second store in San Francisco, about eight blocks away from mine. He hadn't opened it on purpose, in fact, he was there to help out a friend who had gotten locked into a bad lease due to the actions of another. At no point we were enemies, however -- he used to call me "Mr. Macy", and I'd call him "Mr. Gimble" like we were out of A MIRACLE ON THIRTY-FOURTH ST., sending customers freely back and forth between the stores, knowing that making sure people got the book they want was infinitely more important than any kind of rivalry. When CR went in, sales actually INCREASED because there were now two excellent comics shops within walking distance of one another....
But there are few retailers, publishers or creators who spent any amount of time with the man and didn't walk away learning a dozen things about how comics work the way they do, and what things that could be done to make things better. It is the loss of that generosity of his knowledge (and it was truly encyclopedic and broad) that is going to be the loss that the comics industry is going to face over the next years. If only we had a few dozen Rory Roots, we could have utterly transformed the entire industry.