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Comickaze’s Robert Scott Had Passion For Pop Culture

Bookstore owner died last week

Tribute To Comickaze Owner Robert Scott

Reported by Beth Accomando

Robert Scott, owner of the two Comickaze Comics, Books And More stores in San Diego, died suddenly last Tuesday from health-related issues at the age of 57.

Journalists are supposed to be objective, but not an arts reporter. I get to have opinions and share a subjective point of view. So, when I heard that Scott had died, I felt the loss personally. Not only had he guided me to some breathtaking comic books and graphic novels but helped me understand the comics industry better and appreciate the diversity of what creators offered.

He and his staff had also guided my son through many manga and comic book choices, and he was a great source for gift suggestions. All I had to do was mention some of the things a friend or family member liked and he'd immediately have recommendations. He was also a wonderful and generous supporter of my Anime Club that I ran for a number of years at my son's middle school. He knew comics and he knew how to share his passion with others.

Entering Scott’s Comickaze store in Clairemont was always an adventure. You had to navigate through an obstacle course of boxes spilling over with books that had tempting titles and even more tantalizing artwork on their covers. I always felt that if I picked the right box or dug deep enough I would unearth a treasure to rival the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Scott was like Indiana Jones collecting these artifacts in the hopes of sharing them with a wider audience. Alonso Nunez of Little Fish Comic Book Studio remembered how Scott would light up when you’d asked for something obscure.

"You could see him get like a twinkle in his eye," Nunez recalled. "He was like, 'I've got the stuff.' And it was just a comics store it wasn't a library but it felt like he went over and blew dust off some old tomes and was like, 'This is what you need!'"

Scott firmly believed in the neighborhood comic book store and decided to make Liberty Station the location for his second Comickaze store, which had a slightly different look and personality from the Clairemont store. Scott explained why in a 2015 interview.

"This is the first time I've actually had a chance to design a store beforehand and usually it's 'OK, our lease is up we need to find a place,' and not miss any days of sales in between," he said.

The Liberty Station store was in an arts district across the courtyard from IDW’s Comic Art Gallery. It was less cluttered and more neatly organized but it boasted an equally eclectic selection of books. But both stores were dedicated to spreading an appreciation of comics as an art form.

"He would go above and beyond most retailers in terms of putting his money where his mouth was and buying stock from local creators to help support them and he was such a invaluable resource," Nunez said.

Bringing together fans and creators was especially important to Scott.

"I think it's really important one for the creators to be able to meet the public and see who is reading their work," Scott told me at a 2012 book signing for "Supernatural Law" by San Diego author Batton Lash. "It's also, I think, important for the fans to be able to put a face to the names on their credit pages. A lot of people still think that comics are made automatically by computer or something like that inside. It's nice for them to actually see the people that are doing all the hard work."

And Scott was one of those doing the hard work said his younger brother, Brock.

"I want to say he was in his early 20s probably when he opened his first store," Brock Scott recalled. "He never turned back. It was his love. It was his life's passion and he started at an early age and it just kept going and kept going with it and building his empire."

That empire reached beyond his store to bring comics to schools and libraries and to educate people about the art of comics.

"Robert did such a great job of not only curating his stores, having a huge amount of not just the standard amazing superhero stuff that you might find anywhere but also the kind of weird funky European stuff, independent stuff, local stuff, and he had a really strong interest in the education of comics and so it was always really great to talk to him about those things," Brock Scott said.

The future of Scott’s two stores is uncertain.

"He put you know 25 hours a day into that store and both of those stores literally I mean it was it was his life's passion, it's what he spent all of his time doing," Brock Scott said. "I don't know that there's somebody that can fill those shoes and I don't know if there's two people that can fill those shoes."

Robert Scott’s death is a huge loss to San Diego’s pop culture community and Brock is just realizing what his brother’s impact was.

"I knew he had the comic book store. I knew he would host little events there but I just didn't really understand the depth of what he did until I started reading a lot of the messages of support and condolence after his passing," Brock Scott noted. "I guess that's really the most important thing that I want to get out there is that his love for the community, his love for the people that he talked to, and he appreciated all of them probably as much as they appreciated him."

Scott’s family is hoping to keep the stores open so his legacy and passion for comics can live on.

Photo by Beth Accomando

Robert Scott in 2015 as he was opening Comickaze at Liberty Station.

Robert Scott Remembered

Chris Ryall, president and publisher/CCO of IDW Publishing

I first knew Robert as a retailer and then as the head of the CBIA retailer forums, before I ever worked at IDW. But ever since I moved down here from L.A. in 2004, Comickaze was a regular stop, one of the best stores in the city. Robert was a big supporter of local talent and us as the local publisher, and we did a lot of joint programming, from creator signings at his shop to book launches to Free Comic Book Day events.

And then when he opened a second shop right across from our Liberty Station HQ, it cemented that publisher/retailer partnership even more. And gave me a comic shop right across the lawn, which was really one of the most prominent dreams I ever had as a kid.

I hope Comickaze, which has been such a steady, supportive presence in the city, and a great gathering place for comic fans of all stripes — the Clairemont shop also has the best children’s section of any comic store in the city — can carry on the legacy he leaves behind. It’s a very sad thing to lose Robert like this but would be even more sad if his legacy, the wonderful comic community he built in this city, couldn’t keep alive his dream of spreading comics to the masses.

Tom Waltz, manager, Creative Development/senior editor, IDW Publishing

Robert Scott was a true San Diego treasure and his passing is a huge loss for our community. He was a bonafide pop-culture geek, a die-hard and outspoken San Diego sports fan (Padres, Chargers, Gulls, you name it!), an adept mentor and enthusiastic cheerleader to many aspiring comic book creators (including myself) and fans, a loyal friend, and a wonderful family man. Robert was also the longtime manager of an online forum aimed at bringing together comic-book retailers nationwide to discuss the industry he so loved. Over time, the forum became an invaluable tool for creators as well, giving those trying to break into the business a handy platform to reach retailers with their work that might otherwise go unseen (I know — I was one of those new creators once upon a time). Robert was a great guy and I’m going to miss his wry wit and sage creative advice and opinions. But mostly, I’ll miss his ready smile whenever I walked into his store.

Photo credit: Jackie Estrada

Comickaze owner Robert Scott and comic book creator Batton Lash at Liberty Station store in 2016, both died this year.

Jackie Estrada, Eisner awards administrator, Comic-Con International and author/publisher, Exhibit A Press

I knew Robert for more than 25 years, going back to when he opened his first store. He was particularly supportive of local comics creators, including my late husband, Batton Lash. Robert hosted signings at his Liberty Station store with Batton (for volumes of his "Supernatural Law" comics series) and with me (for my "Comic Book People" books of photos taken at Comic-Con and other events). We always had a great time at his events, which brought together members of the San Diego comics community. Robert also worked "behind the scenes" in a number of ways, including running an influential message board/forum for comics retailers for over 20 years, and serving as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards. I will miss his wry sense of humor and his commitment to the medium that he loved.

Photo credit: Keithan Jones

KID Comics owner and creator Keithan Jones with Robert Scott at his Liberty Station Comickaze store.

Keithan Jones, owner/creator, KID Comics

He gave me the opportunity to be a legitimate publisher by allowing my indie-comics to be sold at his stores. That was a big deal to me. He also offered advice on how to proceed in the real world market. I considered him a friend and a mentor. I will miss him.

Maryelizabeth Yturralde, co-founder, Mysterious Galaxy San Diego

Robert Scott and Comickaze seem to always have been part of my personal and professional life. Robert opened Comickaze in Clairemont just shortly before partner Terry Gilman and I opened Mysterious Galaxy. Comickaze was our family's annual destination every year for Free Comic Book Day, even the decade that we lived in Arizona, since we were almost inevitably in San Diego for FCBD which tended to fall on the same weekend as Mysterious Galaxy's Birthday Bash. Son David Mariotte, now an editor at IDW Publishing, bought his first comics at Comickaze's Clairemont location; now the Liberty Station one is a convenient stop, located right across the courtyard. Not only did Comickaze and Mysterious Galaxy have a collaborative relationship, including co-sponsored author events with Cory Doctorow, Jeff Smith and Jen Wang, to name a few, but also we co-exhibited at The San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books and other smaller local genre events. It was always a pleasure to visit with Robert when I picked up comics or ran into him at the local grocery store or movie theater, whether we were discussing Captain Marvel and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or sharing our experiences and outlooks as independent businesses. I will miss my friend, and all he contributed to the community.

Photo credit: T.J. Shevlin

T.J. Shevlin (in SPider-Man sweatshirt) and Robert SCott (in Joker glasses) at Liberty Station.

TJ Shevlin, San Diego store manager, Super7 and former IDW Comic Art Gallery manager

I'm very sorry to hear about the passing of Robert Scott. When we opened up the San Diego Comic Art Gallery, he was a major supporter of the events, the talent, and, most importantly, the fans. We were lucky to have Comickaze as our neighbor and that was thanks to Robert's passion for the medium. He spread the joy of comics however he could — from his kids reading space in the store all the way to his support of San Diego's independent comics scene. He'll be missed by all of us who knew him. He always attended the local comics events, whether it was the big stuff we did at IDW or the smaller shows featuring the local indy talent. His presence there was a reminder that the community was always more important than the sale. The community aspect always seemed to be important to him.

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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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