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Page Strip 2 panels
Wild Stars artwork shown above without text are 2001-2016 by Michael Tierney.

Wild Stars Anniversary Logo

History of the Wild Stars -- The Eighties

michaelspelunkingphoto By Michael Tierney

In the Eighties, I took the next step.

Collector's Edition in 1984

Disillusioned with the novel submission system, I decided to illustrate the Wild Stars myself. My years in printing had taught me every phase of print production, so the only things left to learn were the retail and distribution aspects of publishing. I opened my first comic book store, named Collector's Edition in 1982, to start the process of figuring these things out.

Collector's Edition still operates today at 3217 John F. Kennedy Blvd., in North Little Rock, Arkansas (72116). My second location, aptly named The Comic Book Store, was opened in 1989, and still operates today at 9307 Treasure Hill, in Little Rock, Arkansas (72227).

Michael 1984

The photo on the right ran with a 1984 article about Collector's Edition in the newspaper. What's interesting about it from a historical point of view isn't the X-Men #1 or Giant-Size X-Men #1, not even the Avengers #1. In the upper right hand corner of the picture is a Howard the Duck #1, with a cover by Frank Brunner. Remember this when you get to the chapter on the New Millennium.

Notice Wild Stars in the center of the lefthand rack in this other 1984 article.

I also used the name Collector's Edition when I started releasing the first of my Wild Stars comics. I would later decide that the name was too generic, and changed over to the name of Little Rocket Publications (being based in Little Rock, Arkansas, you can guess where that name came from). But there was an upside to the name of Collector's Edition. Whenever distributors were late in paying, they'd misinterpret who I was when I called and, thinking me a collection agency, payments were then promptly made.


Volume One #1 was the introduction to life in the distant Wild Stars and the war in which they were embroiled with a wolfen-like race known as the Brothan.


This issue also introduces the key characters of Daestar, a telepath with secrets to hide, and Erlik of the Wild Stars. Erlik is a son of a character referred to only as The Ancient Warrior, the subject of Moonshadow, which is my longest novel from the Seventies. The Ancient Warrior's greatest gift to his children is immortality. Like anyone, he and they can die by violence. But they are impervious to age. Hopefully, someday I can share Moonshadow with the general public (the 2008 Limited Edition Hardcover is sold out), and explain the how and why that the Ancient Warrior and his children are exceptions to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Daestar was always intended to be the character who opens the door to that particular tale.

(2014 Update: The Daestar/Ancient Warrior connection finally begins to unfold
in the sequel, Wild Stars 2: Force Majuere!)
Wild Stars II

This issue also introduces Carthage, a nephew of Erlik. Unhappy that the Ancient Warrior's immortality only passes to the first generation of his offspring, Carthage has stolen possession of a planet that Erlik wants back, and will only give him that opportunity by forcing Erlik to gamble ownership of two planets for one.


In the middle of this, an impending attack by a Brothan battlewagon on a Death Run becomes evident.

Back then, I considered it cheating to use reference for artwork (I would later change my opinions on this), and with a production schedule in mind, the artwork was all produced in less than a month. In retrospect, I wish I'd taken a different approach.

Released in the Summer of 1984, the Wild Stars came out just before the start of the infamous Black & White Boom and Bust of the Eighties, and was sold through the different comic book distributors of the day.

wsportfolio I decided to literally go back to the drawing board for my next project in 1985. With the Wild Stars portfolio, I changed my style to incorporate pencil with ink. The portfolio tells of the 'testing' process that serves as a rite of passage for warriors of the Wild Stars, and of the great love in Erlik's life.

But the production process was a difficult one. After the initial negatives were botched, I went into the camera room and helped shoot the final product myself.

While satisfied with the final product, I realized that the technology in printing was not yet conducive to reproducing pencil art work in a cost effective manner.

Michael's ATF Chief 17 offset press

I returned to working with ink for Wild Stars, Volume Two #1, releasing it in Winter of 1988, right after the Black & White Bust. I really poured my heart into this one, and actually printed it on my own printing press in my garage.

Wild Stars Volume 2 #1 opens with Erlik dealing with the murder of his last survivng brother, Vickerus (father of Carthage), and the destruction of Vickerus' homeworld.

This issue also introduces the character of Carlton MacKanaly, a human with severe memory problems, who'd been recruited by the Wild Stars to act as a representative of Earth, a symbolic First Marker of modern Earthmen among the diverse races found in the stars.

Things do not go well. And a Brothan attack on First Marker further complicates matters. During that attack, readers get their first glimpse of Genghis Champlain, an adversary who will figure prominently in future issues.

This issue also introduces Erlik's daughter, Akara, who was bringing the Wild Stars fleet to aid her father, until both she and the fleet were seized by a mysterious, armored man.

Now nothing stands in the path between the murderous Brothan and planet Earth except Erlik, First Marker, and their two ships... one of which is a scout ship with empty gun ports.

Wild Stars ad from the 1980s
(Both sides from an advertising flier shown above)

To my knowledge, WSv2#1 was the first comic to feature foil stamping or die cutting on the cover, possibly the only comic to feature die cutting on the back cover, and was also printed by the artist and creator. To make each copy even more special, on one page there was a mountain seen in the background where I used a printer's technique to slowly fade it away throughout the print run. If you have a copy with a solid mountain, it came from the first of the run. However faded the mountain is will tell you where it was produced during the printing process.

In this way, each copy of Wild Stars Vol. 2 #1 is like a individual, unique art print.

Yeah... I'm the one who started the whole cover gimmick thing. Blame me.

And when it was done, I decided that it'd been way too much work, and sold my printing press. But I wasn't done with the Wild Stars. Not by a long shot.

Up next: the turbulent Nineties. Learn the reasons why, as a comic retailer and Comic Buyer's Guide Trendwatcher and Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Advisor, that I refer to this time period as The Dark Age.

Under The Wild Stars novel

Up next... the Nineties!

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