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Comic Book Shop Pioneer And Historian Bob Beerbohm Had Died At 71

One of the earliest comic book retailers and comic historian Bob Beerbohm has died, from cancer, at the age of 71. RIP,

Article Summary

  • Comic book retailer and historian Bob Beerbohm, has passed away at 71.
  • Beerbohm co-founded the first comic book chain store, Comics & Comix.
  • He contributed significantly to comic history and early art preservation.
  • Peers remember Beerbohm for his passion and deep knowledge of comics.

One of the earliest comic book retailers and comic historian Bob Beerbohm, author of Comic Book Store Wars, has died, from cancer, at the age of 71. Born on the 17th of June, 1952, Bob Beerbohm was buying, selling and trading comic books as a teenager in the late sixties, and set up the Californian comic book store Comics & Comix Store #1 near UC-Berkeley campus in 1972 with Bud Plant and John Barr. The shop went on to host comic conventions, and become the first comic book chain store. Best of Two Worlds was Beerbohm's first solo comic book store, opened in November 1976, and later expanded into a chain with other partners. Best of Two Worlds went out of business in 1987 due to the massive flooding of its central warehouse in Emeryville, California a year earlier. He also bought and dealt in original art, and was principal in exposing some of the figures who somehow required unreturned artwork from publishers to sell under the counter. In recent years, he also wrote for, and was quoted by, Bleeding Cool, and you can read past articles, including some of his antics in the direct market, here. And he was still posting about comic book history –  and having a go at his nemesis Roy Thomas – on the day that he died. Here's how many remember him.

Bob Beerbohm RIP
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Harry Knowles: Well, one of my personal Comic Dealer Gods has passed away. I've known Bob Beerbohm all 52 years on planet Earth that I've existed. He was friends with my Dad way back in the earliest days of San Diego and Berkeley cons. Back when Leonardo DiCaprio was in diapers crying in the shop. I interacted with Bob fairly often actually more days than naught online. In person I hadn't seen him in over a decade but the last thing I bought from him in his shop was this Rick Griffin rough for the inside back cover of ZAP #11… it's a Map of Hades by Rick that Bob was selling for Griffin's wife. It now hangs in Dad's room, but it always makes me think fondly of Bob.

Paul Gravett: The news is only just sinking in, that we have lost the great pioneering comics historian, retailer and collector Bob Beerbohm. His was a life of passion in pursuit of the deeper history and knowledge of comics, not least the discovery of America's first comic book, Rodolphe Töpffer's The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck. What contributions he made – and yes, he was a descendent of the reknowned British cartoonist Max Beerbohm. He also founded the Platinum Age List, which continues to this day and also at Platinum Era Comic Books & Periodicals. Listen and learn here from one of his interviews from 5 years ago on Comic Book Historians – we all stand on the shoulders of giants and Bob was truly a giant himself:

Guy Lawley: I just heard that comics dealer and historian Bob Beerbohm has died, a few months after being diagnosed with a late stage bowel cancer.
Among many other achievements, Bob was pre-eminent in promoting the importance of Rodolphe Topffer's oeuvre, especially 'Obadiah Oldbuck' (a New York bootleg of an English bootleg of a Parisian bootleg of a Topffer picture story from Geneva!).
Bob found a copy of this 1842 publication and realised it was (in his terms) 'the first American comic book'.
We might have disagreed about the specifics of that 'definition' but not about the book's importance.
It led to Bob, and his colleagues, opening up a whole field of Victorian era US comics (or proto-comics), as reflected in a series of very valuable entries in the Overstreet Guide, and elsewhere.
Facebook gave me the means to communicate with Bob about that and other topics, to the enrichment of my comics knowledge.
And it meant he knew how much I and others admired his courage in the face of his cancer; the last in a long line of health issues he endured.
Bob will truly be missed, and most definitely remembered.

Nicky Wheeler Nicholson: Bob Beerbohm, one of comics true real life characters has passed away. Bob had an obsessive knowledge of comics that will be the standard from here on as far as I'm concerned and incredible archives to back it up. He was not one to be taken lightly and let's not go there. My contretemps with Bob was over his insistence that "the Major" virtually copied Bob's beloved early British Comic–Comic Cuts. I eventually gave up attempting to explain the difference including citing the article he gave to me! It wasn't worth losing his friendship. I'm grateful for his continual generosity of his knowledge and archives. So here you go Bob, rest in peace.

Cliff Biggers: I just saw the news that my friend, fellow long-time comics retailer, and comics historian Bob Beerbohm passed away yesterday. Bob had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis and had indicated that his health was declining, so I shouldn't be surprised, but I am nevertheless. I found Bob to be an amazing source of information about the earliest days of comics retailing, and he had fascinating stories to tell about so many of comics' greats. I am thankful he shared as much as he did while he still could, and I will miss seeing his informative and provocative posts here. (This news, following the loss of my dear friend Jim Moore yesterday, remind me again that I seem to have reached that age where "you either mourn or you are mourned.")

Joe Patrick: The industry suffered a huge loss yesterday when comics historian Bob Beerbohm lost his battle with cancer.
I knew Bob from my time at Krypton Comics in Omaha. Bob would rumble up to the door in his dilapidated van and clean us out of Golden and Silver Age bags and boards (which we would have to haul out), haggle with our boss for a discount on his supplies or whatever comics caught his eye, and then drop a series of lengthy anecdotes before rumbling back out. Bob was a curmudgeon, a bit of a crank, and he NEVER stopped talking. At the time, his visits seemed like a hassle, but he always had something interesting to say. I left Krypton in 2007, but reconnected with Bob over social media a couple of years ago. The comics knowledge that came out of this man never ended. He was a fierce advocate for the preservation of the comics art form and a huge proponent for creator's rights. He wanted Jack Kirby to get the credit he truly deserved for creating the Marvel Universe and he didn't have too many kind things to say about Stan Lee! He was posting amazing stories about the history of the medium, the dawn of the direct market, and the birth of Comic-Con until the day he died.

Benjamin Le Clear: Because I grew up in the Haight-Ashbury blocks from a Robert Beerbohm comic book store – I mistakenly thought the whole world was filled with comics and not just the Bay Area. The first comics I ever saw and were too afraid to buy were ones he was selling. While I'm sad at the news of his passing today, I'm grateful that I was able to tell him before that happened that a future DC Archivist and defender of her comic collection was born out of the racks he stacked and housed. So much of my view and understanding of comics come from being a child witness to the comic book store wars he waged and the bay area's once robust and vital direct market. I am also humbled and inspired by the fact that he was posting on comic history until his final breath.

Tony Gleeson: I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my long time friend Bob Beerbohm. We first met through an early internet message board and then in person at San Diego Comic Con. I'm not sure if i was the one who originally got him in touch with my then boss Neal Adams, but I recall phone conversations between the two (regarding Bob's book in progress on the history of the comics market) just a few feet away from my own draughting table. My daughter Lexie and her apartment mates, then in school at Berkeley, put Bob and daughter Katy up for a short stay and were regaled by his stories of Jerry Garcia and Rick Griffin. He was a guest at Casa Gleeson when he had surgery done here in town at Cedars Sinai Hospital; another time, his truck and trailer got to be guests of a different sort on our street when he had some personal business to take care of in the area. He helped out a buddy of mine when I couldn't get him a guest pass for Comic Con by making him an honorary staffer at Bob's booth. Anybody who knew Bob would tell you he was sui generis– one of a kind. I especially value that in a friend. I shall miss him. My deepest condolences to Katy and all of Bob's family and friends.

Johnnie Reisler: The comic book world lost its resident Professor Emeritus yesterday and I lost a good friend. Katy Beerbohm-Young lost her father Robert Beerbohm after a courageous battle against cancer. Robert knew more about the history of the comic book medium than anybody hands-down, and he and I spent countless hours talking about it. I learned so so much from him. He didn't always say the right thing nor was he easy to understand or get along with, but he was so passionate and truly harmless. Few like him remain in the comic book industry and we all are in debt to him for the research, care and service throughout the years on the comic con circuit of which, in its humble beginnings, Bob Beerbohm was an anchor. Your personality was large, your spirit is felt. Thanks for the Devil Dogs #1 and the Ship Ahoy with the L.B. Cole cover. They are NFS.

David Terrero: Saddened to hear that we've lost a true force of nature in the World of Comics. A true Comic Art Historian – perhaps one of the first in the community of comics to truly deserve that title – and a Hometown Hero to many – Bob Beerbohm.
Such a wealth of knowledge. Like many truly passionate individuals, Bob didn't mind offending the faint of heart; never backed down from a fevered discourse in efforts to shine a light on what he knew and amazing Art that he discovered.
Rodolphe Töpffer- considered by most to be the Father & Inventor of the Comic Art medium – his significance might have been largely forgotten & lost to History were it not for Bob and his chums.
This book that Bob contributed to can still be tracked down online from time to time for those willing to tackle the hunt. It is worth having.
Rest well in a better place, engaging in passionate debate with Töpffer, McCay and all the Greats. Happy to have known ya – even just as a whippersnapper.

Dennis L Barger Jr: If you did not have the fortune meet, know, follow and read the amazing comic history contained in the mind of Bob Beerbohm you have truly missed out, much like the ones that did are missing him today. Rest well sir, your work here is done.
I can only imagine what stories we will never hear and are lost to time

Gregory Wright: Many of us have sparred over various historical bits of comic book history with Bob Beerbohm. Some of it pretty spirited. Some of it may have been over the top. He'd been putting together a history book of sorts that I hope will somehow get put together and get out there. He could get pretty cranky at times. Could have been all the health issues he had, or just his passion for history as he saw it. He knew everyone. He had stories from everyone. And he SHARED these stories. I enjoyed sparring with him even when he crossed the line. It tended to get even more information uncovered by other creators who were also sparring with him. I never took it personally and corresponded with him directly over FB to bury hatchets and clear the air a few times. Bob passed away yesterday. He knew it was coming. He had wondered if some folks might celebrate his death. Sometimes the sparring went in a direction that got personal for some. Most folks I know would never for a second celebrate his death. I think we made that clear. I think or at least HOPE we were able to make him se that despite a lot of differences and disagreements, he was appreciated for his passion for the comics industry. I'm sorry for all the pain he's been through with his health issues, and sorry to know I won't get another chance to spar. My deepest condolences to his family and friends. RIP Bob…you won't be forgotten.


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from The Union Club on Greek Street, shops at Gosh, Piranha and FP. Father of two daughters. Political cartoonist.
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