For those of you who didn’t know Rory Root, he was a legendary Bay Area comics retailer who did a lot to advance the evolution of the comic book store into a cool hangout and move away from the Comic Book Guy’s Android’s Dungeon stereotype. I think Matt Fraction has written the most thoughtful and informative eulogy so far.
I didn’t know Rory that well, but like everybody else who knew him at all, he left an impression on me and I have a story. The one I recall took place in 1999-2001 or so, during the opening morning of Comic-Con International in San Diego. I had arranged to to go in early to buy some original John Cassaday artwork from a dealer, but being the young idiot I was, I’d given no thought to how I was meant to get in without an exhibitor badge and was hit with the realization that I’d have to wait in line all day and potentially lose the art.
I got off the phone with the dealer, who said he’d sell me an exhibitor’s badge so I could come in and buy the art, but I’d have to wait a while because he was still busy setting up and doing other advance sales.
Rory and some friends happened to be standing nearby while I was having my crisis. He said, “How much is he asking for the badge?”
“Fifteen bucks,” I said. (I think)
“Done!” said Rory, who instantly removed a blank badge from his bag and tossed it into my hands with an enormous grin. Not only did he help me out of a jam, but he also got another WEF’er to sport his store’s badge and help take down his booth after the con.
It’s not a very epic story, but when you’re quite young and still getting high just on the con and the comics themselves, it was a fabulous moment; like sneaking in backstage at a concert. I never forgot it.
RIP Rory, and thanks again for the help.