IN THE WORLD of comic books, heroes and villains alike have an origin story—a tale that illustrates how they came to be. Superman began as an alien message in a bottle from the doomed planet Krypton, gaining his powers from the light of our yellow sun. Spider-Man took on his great power and great responsibility after being bitten by a radioactive spider and failing to prevent his Uncle Ben’s murder.
For Micheal Tierney—owner of Collector’s Edition in North Little Rock and The Comic Book Store in Little Rock, and creator of the Wild Stars series of comics and novels—his origin story was rooted in the diagnosis of a rare, and usually terminal, form of leukemia when he was 8 years old. After spending a whole year in the hospital undergoing treatment, Michael not only survived against all odds, but now credits the experience for where he is today. “The isolation there, you kind of learn to be self-sufficient,” Michael says. “You kind of make up your own stories and this and that. And that was when I read my first comics. My parents had brought me in a Turok: Son of Stone and an Uncle Scrooge comic.”
Michael’s experience with cancer ultimately came to define his life, largely because even after his recovery, the doctors who treated him told his parents he likely wouldn’t live past the age of 30. Having more than doubled that milestone, the passion for stories and storytelling he developed during his time in the hospital only grew as he got older, culminating in both the opening of central Arkansas’ first comic book store, Collector’s Edition in North Little Rock, in 1982, and the debut of his comic book series Wild Stars in 1984.
“I’ve always been goal-oriented,” Michael says. “Like, OK, I’ve got these stories to tell. While I’m still alive, I better get them out there. So I just keep chugging them out.”
In October, Michael and the local press Cirsova Publishing will release Wild Stars IV: Wild Star Rising, 35th-anniversary editions of Wild Stars I-III and a deluxe 700-page omnibus hardcover collecting all four volumes. For more information, visit thewildstars.com.