I'm still stunned by this news. Maybe I'll have more to say later on, but I just thought I'd pass the word along to those of you who were fortunate enough to have met Rory.
I wrote up a little something that I'm sending over to Tom Spurgeon, for the Comics Reporter website, but I'll post it here, too, in case he can't use all of it, but mostly just to have a record of it myself:
The last time I saw Rory Root (and I'm tearing up over the fact that I'm starting a sentence with those words) was two weeks ago, on Free Comic Book Day. It's very appropriate that's my final memory of him, since that's what Rory was all about--not just getting people to read comic books, but making sure that they were going to read comic books that they'd love to read. A steady stream of customers passed through Comic Relief all day, and Rory effortlessly shifted gears from one visitor to the next, chatting up thirty-somethings who'd just seen the Iron Man movie, mothers with eight year olds, manga-reading high schoolers, librarians, 'zine creators and all of the other curiosity seekers who came through his shop that day.
The reason that Rory's the gold standard for comic shop owners, though, is that's how he ran Comic Relief every day. Whether you'd never set food in a comic shop in your entire life or you observed Wednesday afternoon as your Sabbath, Rory was able to recommend the perfect book for anyone. I think the only thing Rory loved more than reading was getting other people as excited about reading as he was.
I think that my favorite thing about Rory is that he wanted everyone in the entire comics business (creators, editors, publishers, reviewers, retailers, readers...EVERYONE) to know everyone else, probably in the hopes that we'd achieve some sort of comics Utopia if we all came together as a big, happy comics family. Rory corralled me after the Eisner Awards one year to make sure that I got to introduce myself to Neil Gaiman, and Rory was just as enthusiastic when it came to introducing me to some high schoolers who'd just printed up their first mini-comics. As long as you'd made some attempt to be part of Team Comics, Rory welcomed you with open arms.
I could go on and on about what Rory's done for the Bay Area comics community, and for the global comics community, and as I type this, my inbox is filling up with messages from dozens of people who could also go on at length about what Rory's done for each of them. I'll miss him as one of the most valuable resources of comic knowledge in the world, but I'll miss him even more as a friend.