Robert Scott, courtesy Little Fish Comic Book Studio
Robert Scott, longtime operator of San Diego’s Comickaze Comics, has reportedly passed away. The former department store manager opened his Clairemont Comickaze store in the early '90s, an era when comic publishing, distribution, and retailing was seeing a resurgence thanks to successful indie publishers and important mainstream comics that would later become iconic graphic novels and film fodder.
As of October 2015, Scott was also running a Comickaze outlet at Liberty Station, across the courtyard from IDW Publishing’s Comic Art Gallery. The shop frequently holds community outreach events like Free Comic Day, Walking Dead Day, and coloring competitions. Open 365 days a year (and 366 during leap years), his stores often host well-known creators for signings, and hold special events and comic release parties for both major and indie releases.
Back in the early '80s, Scott organized a comic book convention at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley, ten years before before Paul Martinez started his own convention there with two partners. Martinez's first Mini-Con at the Scottish Rite Center was in November 1992, while Robert Scott and his partner Ray Wong did a convention at the same venue as early as 1982. Around the same time, Scott and Wong ran a comic shop on Moraga Avenue, right off Clairemont, not far from where Comickaze would open a decade later. One of Scott's comic shop locales formerly hosted a Pacific Comics store (before Pacific's owners became successful publishers themselves).
In 1997, seeing a need for comic retailers to be able to exchange important buying and selling intel, in direct interaction with publishers and distributors, Scott founded the Comic Book Industry Alliance online hub, running it until around 2006. He also ventured into self-publishing with his own comic book, The End, as well as co-publishing the novel Wasting the Dawn with local book and comic publisher IDW.
His retail savvy was impressive, if competitive. In the 1990s, I delivered flyers for San Diego's Greatest Mini-Con to his Comickaze store near Comic Gallery. Scott told me he would stay open an hour later than Comic Gallery to give himself an advantage.
He would not let me leave flyers for Paul Martinez's San Diego Quarterly Con of 2009. Scott said he did not want to support someone else's business. Paul Martinez once worked for Scott's comic shop, it may have been his first job. If I remember correctly, Martinez was 14 years old when he worked for Scott.
Godzilla comic featuring Scott's Comickaze store on the cover
There was a Godzilla comic book promotion in 2011 in which a comic book store owner could have his store stomped on by Godzilla on the cover of a 500 copy variant. The condition was that 500 copies had to be ordered. Later on, all the covers were collected in a Godzilla publication. As I looked through the collection of Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1 covers, I noticed two covers showing his Comickaze store. He must have ordered 1000 copies! After discovering this, I nicknamed him Godzilla Man.
Longtime San Diego Comic-Con International principal Jackie Estrada, of local comic publishers Exhibit A Press (Wolff & Byrd: Counselors of the Macabre), posted on Facebook "I was shocked to wake up to the news that Robert Scott passed away yesterday. Robert has been a foundation of the comics community in San Diego for decades, especially through his two Comickaze shops. He also ran a message board for comics retailers and other industry folks, the Comic Book Industry Alliance. Robert was a wonderful guy with a wry sense of humor and love for our medium."
Former local comic publisher William Schanes posted "Shocking, I’d known Robert for close to 40 years, as he was a Pacific Comics retail store customer."
Midnight comic release party at Comickaze's shop on 5517 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard
Jamie Coville of the comic history website TheComicBooks.com notes Scott's important role in organizing the Comic Book Industry Alliance, which evolved into one of the first notable online comic shop owner coalitions. "I have to say, Robert's retailer board had I believe a significant impact in shaping the current direct market. It was the first online meeting place where retailers and their business partners could communicate daily about common issues. Among the things that sprung forth either in part of because of that board was the FOC - allowing retailers to adjust their orders up or down just prior to the publishers going to press, Street Dates - as proposed on the board by Paul Stock regarding using a fee based system to pay for a secret shopper program to help police it, and ComicsPro, an organization of comic pros that can speak to their issues with one voice."
"Comic retailers had often complained that when they brought up issues, they were often treated as if they were the only ones who had that problem," says Coville. "Meaning it wasn't a major problem that was going to get addressed anytime soon, if ever. Through the board, and later more formally through ComicsPro, that was quickly revealed to not be the case, and common issues were at least heard, and sometimes addressed, by retailers and publishers."