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