By James Viscardi Rory Root, one of the most profound comic retailers in the business, sadly passed away May 19. The founder and owner of Comic Relief (http://www.comicrelief.net) was known, loved and respected by many. One of Root's fundamental tenets when he began as a comic book retailer was to debunk the common stereotype that plagued most comic shops. Root wanted his people to come into his shop and truly enjoy the comic experience. There was always an open invitation for comic fans new and old to reminisce about their favorite heroes and speculate about upcoming new books. Root not only focused on the ever popular super hero comics, but also worked with up-and-coming creators to push their new releases. "Back in the mid-nineties when my friends David Mack, Greg Horn, James Hudnall and I were desperate to get our books out, we went on a West Coast signing tour for weeks and he was on board for us right away," said Brian Michael Bendis (SECRET INVASION). "He was so supportive and we all agreed that signing at his store was like a band playing the Forum or CBGBs. We were so grateful to be able to say we did." Root placed a major importance on back issues and trade paperbacks. He would often give new comic readers a quick rundown of a book's history, then suggest they read collections to be up to date. Captain America and Daredevil writer Ed Brubaker remembered, "There were a few days, spent in the CR warehouse with Rory, digging through overstock and constantly finding things I'd never heard of that Rory would drop everything to tell me about, and show me other obscure Euro or underground books he thought I'd like." Root also maintained contact with those in the industry. Senior Vice President of Sales and Circulation at Marvel, David Gabriel recalled: "When I started at Marvel over five years ago, Rory was one of the first retailers to call welcoming me to the industry. He then proceeded to detail everything that needed fixing, as well as list out things that could make us and the retailer community even stronger over the next few years. He called on a continual basis year after year, sent annual Christmas cards, and spent time discussing sales and trends with me at conventions; and while the things that needed fixing went away, he was always there for me with ideas and suggestions for how to grow the business. His advice, humor, and wisdom will be sorely missed." Also, Marvel's Vice President of Operations and Internet, John Dokes, said "Rory had a passion for life, comics, the fans who shared his interests and even those who didn't. He will be missed." Rory Root was loved by anyone who met him. "Every time I bumped into him over the years he was filled with enthusiasm and just the right amount of passion for this silly thing we do. We need twenty more of him, not one less," said Bendis. It's no secret that Rory Root and his shop, Comic Relief, has set the bar for other retailers high, and his memory and legacy will live on forever. Marvel would like to extend condolences to Rory's family and friends. For donations and more information, head over to http://www.comicrelief.net. Also if you wish to leave condolences, feel free to e-mail RRmemorial@gmail.com. Comic Relief The Comic Bookstore is located at 2026 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley CA 94704.