Rory Root, 1958-2008|
posted May 20th, 2008
The comics community is mourning the passing of Rory Root, co-founder and longtime sole proprietor of Comic Relief: The Comic Bookstore, in Berkeley, California. He was a much beloved figure in the comics world, turning his customers onto new comics (especially graphic novels), encouraging new creators whose comics he carried before anyone else would such as Roberta Gregory (and the mini-comics of our very own Patty Jeres!), and even inspiring those who worked at his store such as Ed Brubaker. As Scott Morse writes on the Blog@Newsarama, “He was an incredibly kind, generous man, always willing to extend a hand, always, ALWAYS pushing new talent and nurturing guys that were stuck in creative blocks.”
Along with acting as a mentor for so many in the comics world, he encouraged the form of comics itself. As Shawn Saler writes on the Comic Relief website, Rory “insisted on ‘The Comic Bookstore,’ because for him Comic Relief was never really a comic book store that happened to sell a lot of graphic novels; it was a bookstore.” He was a great champion of the graphic novel form. Today’s market for graphic novel is due in part to Rory’s pioneering efforts.
Rory was well-known for his love of diversity in comics. Erik Larsen says on the Blog@Newsarama, “His store is a veritable treasure chest of cool stuff. This is the kind of store most readers can only dream about and Rory was the glue that held it all together.”
Prism turned to Rory for help to plan its Retailer Panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2006. He was an enthusiastic participant in helping Prism formulate ways to get more LGBT comics into direct market stores and in turn, to help retailers attract more LGBT customers.
“He loved comics and they loved him back. Many in the industry have lost a dear friend. He will be sorely and deeply missed,” says Patty Jeres, his friend and Prism Board member.
A memorial will be held in June. Many have left their reactions and tributes at the Blog@Newsarama though there are tributes to be found throughout the internet.
Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).