Home Retailing & Marketing Comic Relief closes; new store to open — UPDATE

Comic Relief closes; new store to open — UPDATE


To the surprise of few, Comic Relief, the once groundbreaking but recently troubled Berkeley comics shop, has closed, according to word on the street and an actual sign on the door posted by Image’s Branwyn Bigglestone.

As reported in December, Comic Relief has struggled in the two years since founder Rory Root’s death, with cash flow problems leading to Diamond ceasing shipments of new comics — pretty much the death knell for a comics store.

Rumors have flown recently of a new buyer, but not in time to stop the closing. In a comment on the earlier Beat story on Comic Relief, employee Jim Friel mentioned that he, current manager Chris Juricich and an unnamed third party were looking to buy the store and reopen it. We have some emails out on this and will report anything we find out.

UPDATE: Jim Friel emailed us with the following good news:

The inventory and fixtures, as well as custody of the two store cats, Ash and Ember, have been acquired by Jack Rems, founder and owner of Dark Carnival Books, an excellent science fiction and mystery bookstore which has operated in Berkeley for 35 years. No other assets or obligations were acquired. The store manager, Chris Juricich, and I were also involved in the buyout.

There will be a new store.

It will not be called Comic Relief. We’ll be announcing the new name some time between now and WonderCon.
All of the former Comic Relief staff who worked there at the time of closing will be employees. We hope that it will be located in the same spot, but that will depend on negotiations with the landlord: we have other options open.

We intend to make this the best comic bookstore in the country. It won’t be Rory’s store–that’s gone, like Rory, who was a friend of all three of us. We intend to incorporate the best of the old Comic Relief approach, and add to it.

  1. It had a great, and large, selection of all kinds of comic books/graphic novels; was spacious, pleasant and staffed by knowledgeable people.

  2. During the long months of December and January, a realistic renaming of the store could easily have been ‘Comic Sans’, given the dearth of weekly material that was made available to us.

    Now, between a strongly motivated staff, an experienced bookstore owner, an experienced buyer and grader well schooled in distribution practices, and my own odd background as comics dealer, self-published comics artist, fanboy, and once sales manager for an indy comics publisher, we hope to be able to pull it all together and make the NEW store something to be successful on the comic book industry landscape.

  3. I wish the new owner Jack Rems, a wonderful and prosperous reign. I would like to say not many people know of to what extent the massive debt Rory left when he died. The tax man comes first. He hated paying the government. He tried and was very successful at what he did, unfortunetly without HIM & his immense personality, contacts, and friends; the store failed. Too put all this blame on his family is uncalled for; considering no one had any idea of what we had to deal with. We were very lucky to have found Chris,he did an amazing job. And of course Jim stayed on -his knowledge is immense.And with their knowledge we developed the sales on the internet; something Rory had always wanted to accomplish. I saw how happy Todd is with that great job at Image, it is doing him good and he gets to travel! I hope the NEW comic store is as warm, friendly, and entertaining as Comic Relief was when Rory was alive and present.

  4. YAY!! The Escapist Comic Bookstore opens Tuesday night March 15th, 10pm at 3090 Claremont Av Berkeley CA near Dark Carnival, unveiling the “Wednesday comics” at midnight. The infamous Comic Relief cats should be there, plus surprise guest! and snacks!
    Can you come? :D Come on!

    3090 Claremont Av Berkeley CA 94705
    (510) 843-5002, 595-7637
    10am-7pm most days
    –>Not open until opening party March 15 10pm; Wednesday comics at midnight.
    If this succeeds we might do the midnight comics party weekly :D

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