They're simple questions. Who am I and what's
my connection to Edgar Rice Burroughs? And what's the deal with all the
I discovered comics at a train station during
an emergency trip to KU Medical Center. Fortunately picked out some good
stuff, as this would be my only entertainment for the better part of my
Third Grade school year spent in isolation for what was explained as a
rare form of terminal leukemia. I was lucky to beat the odds and did enough
homework to graduate with my class. But the doctors advised that because
of the physical trauma, I'd never reach age 30. Activities like football
went right out of consideration, because there was no way my parents were
paying any more medical bills. Had to settle for solitary sports like Track
and Cross Country.
My first encounter with Edgar Rice Burroughs happened
indirectly through the Gold Key comics by Russ Manning. Didn't actually
read the comics at first, having seen on a spinner rack the covers of Tarzan
and the Jewels of Opar. Found them interesting enough to search
out the book at the local library. Eventually went back to the Tarzan comics
and was enthralled by the work by Russ Manning. Didn't have much interest
in the black and white movie versions on TV, even after my parents said
that Tarzan actor Jock Mahoney was a cousin. Then discovered the Mike Henry
Tarzan movies at the theater, and became a fan.
It took a while to try Burroughs' Martian novels.
Titles like Chessmen of Mars and Thuvia, Maid of Mars
gave the mental image of people playing chess while a maid shuffled in
and out with fresh linens. But once I discovered The Warlord of Mars,
all of the fantastic worlds and rich publishing history of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Read everything Burroughs that I could find. Even
wrote Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. directly and made some of the best investment
purchases of my life with money earned as a paperboy. My personal collection
of Burroughs' work now includes all of the
original comic books plus First
and later edition hardcovers and paperbacks.
While the eternal optimism of Burroughs' writing
was only one influence out of many, it has been one of the longer lasting.
Nearly every job '’ve ever done has been connected
to printed publications. From paperboy routes starting in grade school,
I worked my way up to Mail Room Supervisor at the local newspaper while
in High School. Then skipped college and went straight into printing, and
was managing the Fast Print Division of International Graphics by the age
In 1982 I opened my first comic book specialty
in North Little Rock, Arkansas, at the age of 27. My second location, The
Comic Book Store, soon followed in Little Rock, along with nominations
for the Star*Reach Retailer of the Year and the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics
Retailer of the Year awards.
Was featured in an article about retailers in
the May 2005 issue of The Comics Buyer’s Guide.
In addition to writing Market Reports for numerous
publications, I've been an Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide advisor
since the Nineties, and have contributed Trendwatcher columns to every
issue of the Comics Buyer's Guide since they switched to a monthly
magazine format in 2004. Also contributed reviews that include every Tarzan
comic from Dell through Gold Key, DC, and Marvel.
When it came to naming my own corporation, I took
inspiration from Edgar Rice Burroughs. But I only did the last name, thinking
that; "If it has the same pronunciation as the negative term of Tyranny,
may as well have some fun with it." Called my corporation Tierney Inc.
stores were a Destination Comics! feature in the April 2010 issue of The
Comic Buyer’s Guide.
But reading and retailing weren't my only interests
in books. I’d decided to learn the retailing side because my ultimate goal
I'd actually started writing when I only knew
two words; 'stop' and 'go,' and drew the rest sequentially. Was very active
with journalism in High School, including being editor of the school paper
during the short while that it ran as a supplement in the local newspaper,
and went to the KU campus for the State Finals in Sports Writing one year.
My assignment was to interview former Kansas football star and future Super
Bowl MVP running back John Riggins. Didn't win, but sure wish I’d
gotten to keep a copy of that contest entry.
My first published creative story was accepted
while in Junior High School, and ran in the fan pages of Warren's Eerie
Magazine #37. While the trademark term wasn't yet used, this was my
first tale of the Wild Stars. And, like Burroughs did with Tarzan,
the Wild Stars would become a life's work.
Started self-publishing in 1977 with the Multiversal
Scribe Magazine and in the Eighties started doing comic adaptations
based on one of the books from a series of Wild Stars novels written in
my publishing imprint, I initially used the name of my first store, Collector’s
Edition, and later switched to Little Rocket Publications. Being
based in Little Rock, Arkansas, you can guess where that name came from.
The concept behind Wild
Stars is that 75,000 years ago mankind first migrated into space and
colonized planets circling the brightest stars in the night sky.
This is where all the legends of Space Gods and
UFOs come from. Now, their war with a genocidal alien race has spread back
Wild Stars Volume 2 #1 in 1988 was not
only the first comic known to be created, written, illustrated, and printed
by the same person, it was also the first comic to feature foil-stamping
and die-cutting on the front cover, as well as on the back cover. This
was years before the cover gimmicks that became prevalent in the Nineties.
I also used a printer's trick on one page to fade out a background mountain
throughout the run. If you have a copy with a solid mountain, it's from
early in the run. The more it's faded the later it came in the 2000 copy
run. This was my attempt to make each copy into a unique art print. This
issue was valued at $10 a copy in a recent price guide.
Produced over a 20 year period, these chapters
of this first major story arc were collected in the 25th Anniversary Edition
collection of Wild Stars: The Book of Circles hardcover.
One reviewer surmised; “Upon reaching the middle
of the book, the reader will be no closer to catching up with the plot
that he is now certain is a runaway literary freight train with track continually
being laid down in front of it as it progresses forward. Not until the
climax of the story are the seemingly disparate threads brought together
for an elegantly simple ending, leaving the reader feeling much like a
stupefied Watson at the end of a Sherlock Holmes adventures.” Which was
exactly my goal.
Another reviewer called it; “A strangely compelling
read, as if the damned thing just wouldn’t leave my hands until I got to
the end. It’s the equivalent of a long line of dominoes being set to fall
-- events happen in such rapid succession.”
The title of the collection, The Book of
Circles means that once you finish, you could reread it and discover
other layers of the story that was described as; “Filled to bursting with
subplots and hidden storylines that aren't always apparent on first blush.”
Had one customer read it 5 times, and I could still point out details that
Only saw two negative reviews. And one of those
was by an editor whom I've done work for ever since.
was flattered when a news article covering the printing of Wild Stars
Volume 3 #1 was featured on the front page of the style section of
the state paper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A second honor came
later on the front page of the High Profile section in 2009, which was
more all-career encompassing.
The Wild Stars were written for readers
who enjoy the adventure and excitement of a Burroughs tale and are available
in print and in digital on every format from the Apple app to Amazon's
Kindle and Barnes and Nobles' Nook.
I also had fun designing a couple of boardgames
based on my work and that of Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Tarzan Triumphant
"I am the Apeman"
boardgame was licensed by ERB Inc., but neither it nor my Wild Stars:
Celestial Clockwork were ever produced by the manufacturer.
Did do a rough draft to complete Young Tarzan
Ponders. Felt privileged when Danton Burroughs gave me the opportunity
to work on this Tarzan fragment. Hopefully it might still see publication
And about the childhood predictions by doctors
convinced that I’d never make age 30? Never knew another survivor
for very long. The lesson I took was to best accomplish your goals today
and always have fun with what you do. And always be obnoxious
to obstacles , which is how I became a Master
certified scuba diver and batted over .900 in softball at the age of
50. I described that birthday as only being halfway through the first hundred
I hope you enjoy the scans from my comic collection
as much as I do sharing them.