I learned to great shock and sorrow this morning that Rory Root, owner and operator of Comic Relief in Berkeley, has passed away. Rory was a phenomenal presence in the comic industry, and I remember fondly being first introduced to him by Beau Smith as having "the best comic store anywhere" when I was still working for TMP at the ComicCon as a teenager. When Beau discovered I was going to go to college at UC Berkeley, he made sure I knew Rory before going.
During my time at Berkeley, Rory was always interesting and encouraging, especially when I began my greater foray into theory. His was the first store that carried my Early Writings on Visual Language book on theory, and always made sure I did booksignings with them at ComicCon.
Rory once took me to lunch on the auspices of giving advice for future bookselling. He was always quick to introduce me to people he thought might give me good exposure, one time unexpectedly taking one of my books out of my hands to give to a blogger saying "Trust me, this will be good publicity." (He was right)
He was a fixture in this industry, and a wonderful friend and benefactor. He will be greatly missed.