They're simple questions.
Who am I and what's my connection to Edgar Rice Burroughs? And what's the
deal with all the comic books?
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 opened up.
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
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 of 22.
In 1982 I opened my first comic
book specialty store,
Edition, 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
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 was publishing.
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 the Seventies.
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 to Earth.
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
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 he’d missed.
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 someday.
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.