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Rory Root.
X-Ray Studios
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Many people have posted about this now. It's strange to see. I first met Rory 25 years ago, long before I began working in the comics field. Before the days of Comic Relief. Back when he worked at Best of Two Worlds on Telegraph Avenue. I was 11 years old and he caught me switching the price tags on old issues of Groo. Banned me from the store.

When Eric was 17 years old, He got a job working at Rory's store, Comic Relief. Eric then got my girlfriend at the time a job. So I ended up hanging out the store or conventions quite a bit, eventually working at Comic Relief myself. Rory never recognized me from my younger days as a price tag switcher. I always meant to tell him. Never got around to it.

I've been friends with the man ever since. Hanging out with him here and there. I hadn't called him in years, but his phone number is still memorized. Rory used to drive me crazy. Everyone is talking about what a great guy he was. I wish I could just jump in and sing his praises. I can't. Like all of us, he was deeply flawed. He was an incredible supporter of independent comics who will be missed for a variety of reasons. And he was a horrible boss that engendered frustration and bitterness in his emotionally abused employees. He was a fantastic friend who cared greatly about even the most casual of acquaintances. He was a lonely man whose entire sense of self was so heavily wrapped up in his store that he took care of it while his health deteriorated to the point of his death.

I'm in the process of recalling moments spent with him. And there are just so many. It's a bit hard to reconcile. He loaned me his car without question. He verbally abused me in front of customers. I threw a pair of keys at him. He gave me a raise I didn't deserve but did need. I sent him free pizzas.

He was a friend for decades. I spent the first few hours after his death numb. Then a bunch of ex and current Comic Relief employees went out to dinner. For years we have all seen this coming. It was expected. I always thought I was ready. But now I don't know how to feel.

I just wish I had been given an opportunity to say goodbye. I don't even know if I still have any pictures of him. I had to find this one online. I owe alot to the man and I don't even have a picture of my own.


*2003 photo by Whit Spurgeon

Landry, this is a beautiful post.Your third paragraph sums up exactly what Mike and I are feeling. He was a horrible boss, but a good human being. So much goodness has come from the vortex he created, the store that he loved. His health had been bad as long as I had known him, but still I am shocked.

Thanks. It's amazing when you think about how many of us there were. It's almost hard to keep track of who worked for the store, and everyone I've talked to has the same surprised feeling.

It's good to hear from you. Say hi to Mike.

This seems to me a very real story. I appreciated it.

Well said. Everyone's a mixed bag, especially in comics, eh?


Thank you for posting this!

I felt weird about saying- Rory was kind of horrible, right after he passed away, but you said it beautifully. I certainly respected him as a passionate advocate for indy comics and at the same time feared him as an employer.

Even though I'd seen this coming for some years, I wasn't really prepared for it to happen so quickly.

I knew Rory in the early days. He played my game, RuneQuest, hung out at the Chaosium, helped me find the comics I was looking for, was understanding when I went to work for Comics and Comix for a year. We played naval games together, talked comics together, and I believe I sold him my Avengers collection.
In later years I would stop by Comic Relief occasionally (though my usual comic shop was closer to home in Concord). I last saw him at ComicCon a couple of years ago. He didn't look well then, and apparently it didn't get better.
Take care, Rory. Thanks for everything.

Landry- thanks for putting the feelings that have been battling inside my mind into words. Rory could be a right bastard, but at the same time that guy gave me more advice than I ever needed (or sometimes wanted)
I just wish I could have thanked him for it.

Thanks, Landry. This really does get it right.

- Josh/Pete

Thanks

(Anonymous)

2008-05-21 11:53 pm (UTC)

Thank you Landry. Everyone has been gushing and I just couldn't. This is...right.

-Bethe

Thank You

(Anonymous)

2008-05-22 07:39 am (UTC)

I think the conflicting thoughts are normal... I find myself remembering about just how much of a pain it was to work for him, about the little things he did that would make working at the shop at times nightmarish, but at the same time how he would surprise you with his seemingly random kindness, and about how different he was once you stopped being an employee.

Good and bad, Rory was a part of my life as a comic fan from my trips to BoTW with you and Jose 25 years ago, my life as a working stiff at a job that holds just as many good memories as bad because of the people I worked with there, and my life as an 'adult', as I have brought Milo into the store on several occasions, starting the cycle over again. Rory always beamed when I came in with the 'lil guy...

Rory was a friend, and all of us who knew him knew his health was getting worse. Even knowing that, still this came as a shock to a lot of folks, myself included.

Even with his passing, though, there is a huge family of former and current employees and friends who where lucky to know him, even if at times it drove us nuts.

Joel B/ Mongo

It is kind of hard to listen to but this interview gets a lot of the Rory I remember:
http://www.morethanweimagine.com/podcasts/IRC23.mp3
Dylan

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