Word has been spreading like wildfire this afternoon, that Rory Root, owner of Comic Relief in Berkeley, is in a coma following complications from hernia surgery. ComicsPRO has more.

Difficult news today— Rory Root, owner of Berkeley CA’s (and world-famous) COMIC RELIEF, is in a coma in an Oakland CA hospital.

Shown in the center of this 2007 photo with retailing friends Jim Hanley, Mike Cresser, Derrick Taylor and Ralph Mathieu, Rory has had a number of health issues in recent years. His latest seems to stem from a ruptured hernia that requires extensive surgery this past weekend.

You would have to search long and hard to find anyone in the business side of comics as respected and loved as Rory. He is always there with advice, kind words and wisdom. You can read a sampling of his most recent words in this retailer roundtable with Elizabeth Genco.

I called up Comic Relief in Berkeley and spoke to a store employee who had no further updates than what is known. Rory is at Kaiser in Oakland, for those who have been asking, and is in the ICU. His family asks that you keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

I send my best to Rory and his family.


  1. I sure hope Rory pulls through this one.

    Rory’s condition reminds me of how the store I used to managed in North Hollywood called Rookies & Allstars met it’s untimely fate – when it’s owner, John Lindsay collapsed at the cash register because of constant hip surgery and was over -anesthetized on the operating table.



  2. Rory is one of the heroes of comics, generous with his time and advice, dedicated, and he has an amazing store. If there was someway to duplicate it for other cities, it would do great things for comics — but to do that, we’d need more Rorys. Let us hope that we at least continue to have the services of the one Rory we’ve got.

  3. My fingers are crossed and prayers said for Rory. A great guy, and truly one of the retailers that pushes comics to be something more than what it all-too-often settles for.

  4. I just got word from another mutual friend of Rory’s that he actually just passed away. I’m really bummed. He was a great guy.

  5. Oh, no. My heart just sunk into my gut. Rory was always a gentleman, a real friend to comics. I’m so upset.

  6. I’m devastated by the news about Rory. He was the person that made my Friday nights glow for the past few years, because I’d stop by Comic Relief every Friday to get my pull list and, more importantly, talk to him for as long as he’d tolerate my presence. I adored him without reservation, and I’m heartbroken to hear that he’s passed away. I hope that there will be some sort of place or event where his friends and customers (and those that fall into both categories, since I’m sure they number in the thousands) can show our affection for him.

    RIP, Rory.

    Thank you for reporting on this and keeping us updated.

  7. This is very sad news, I’m sorry to hear of Rory’s passing. I’ve known him for years, since I was a teenager ditching school to browse the mini-comics in his store. All thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

  8. I just heard myself. I knew him for over 26 years, worked for him in a part-time capacity at shows and on the back counter buying old books for almost ten. He could be maddening at times, but he was a good friend ALL the time. He was also one of the brightest people I ever knew, and in many ways one of the most decent.
    In over 20 years in wholesale distribution from the mid-70s to the mid-90s, I never knew a retailer who did more for the field, or who had a better idea of how the industry was going to progress. He hadn’t been able to spend much time in the store for months because of poor health, and it drove him crazy not to be able to be there–he was very much a hands-on manager.

  9. Man terrible new. I remember Rory when he had his shop up on Telelgraph Ave and I used to run between it and Comics and Comix as a teenager trying to find the hot issues of the mid 80’s. When his store moved to University Ave it set the standard in my young mind of what a professional comic shop could be like. I live in Western NY state now, but always loved to go back to Comic Relief when I was in the neighborhood to visit.

  10. He put really cool books into my hands, and he ran the BEST comic book store in the United States.

    So sorry for the loss to his family, his friends, the staff, and all of comics.

  11. Rory Root has been a hero of mine since I moved to Berkeley. Lucky for me, I lived a short walk from Comic Relief. As anyone who has ever been there knows, having Rory Root as your local retailer is a rare and wonderful experience.

    When I think of Rory, I remember him as always supportive of any fledgling pro, always ready to offer advice, always knowing what to suggest to the different tastes of his customers. He is the kind of guy who somehow knows how to keep his shop wonderfully abuzz and alive with ‘that feeling’ of being somewhere that matters. These things are far from automatic. They take fierce commitment and a kind of talent and love of one’s life that I still feel blessed to have been able to observe.

    Rory also has a really great eye for talent. His staff, in my experience, always know their stuff. Sharp kids. Bright and sarcastic and full of personality, or those kinds of introverts that smolder at you as fair warning: speak to be heard when you ask them for something, lest you waste a moment of their very intense internal dialogue.

    Am I romanticizing? Hell no. Seriously, I’m not. Rare people create rare environments, and attract rare people into their sphere. Rory Root is this kind of person. I hope to be able to see that smile of his again soon.


  12. I appreciate everyone condolences, the family will be having a memorial. when we figure out what Rory would want us to do (hahaha control) We will post again. Thank you..his favorite sis (his only sister..family joke) Lots of love…Karen