Thinking Critical Interview with Michael Tierney

Michael was on with Wes of Thinking Critical to talk about the closure of his retail fronts and the state the comic industry.

He also confirms that he IS working on the next installments of Wild Stars, which we are planning on serializing next year alongside Paul O’Connor’s Badaxe comic, Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose & Meerkat, and more!

Now is as good a time as any to support Michael in his transition to being a full-time writer! Catch up on ALL of the Wild Stars in one go in the 35th Anniversary Omnibus or read the Individual Volumes.

Why I Like Duck Comics

I swear that it is a coincidence that I started getting into Duck Comics around the same time as Jon Del Arroz, but now is as good a time as any to get into them.

I always loved Duck Tales as a kid, and rewatching them on DVD as an adult recently, I found they held up really well. Except, maybe for the Gizmoduck stuff, which kinda dragged… I had a few Duck comics as a kid, and I remember I liked them, but I don’t remember anything about them [except that Scrooge sells a steam calliope to a hermit in the mountains]. Haven’t had any in years.

Well, over the last few months, during Covid, to support Michael’s store, I hit the back-issue boxes hard. One of the 50-cent finds was a readable copy of Don Rosa’s Return to Plain Awful. It was a lot of fun! I ended up grabbing one or two others here and there, and enjoyed those as well. Then I started grabbing any I could find at flea markets, because a)they were cheap, b) they were really good!

Duck Comics have been teaching me to abandon a lot of autistic collector habits, like looking for consecutive runs, filling in gaps, worrying about continuity, etc. With one or two exceptions, most of what I have are 70s reprints of 50s stories. The weak cover game on most disney comics was a bit of a hurdle at first [they are almost always generic covers featuring one of the characters against a plain background], but I learned to not worry about it and trust that whatever was inside was good.

One great thing about Duck comics is that, for the most part, each issue has several short stories, each some kind of exciting adventure in a strange or exotic place, or there’s some nutso scheme that Scrooge is trying to pull, or Donald is trying to get a job with disastrous results. The average Duck comic is basically like an issue of The Wide World Magazine, only with Donald or Scrooge instead of some mustachioed British expat.

So, here is a silver-age Duck Comic I picked up at the con for $3 [an amazing find and an amazing bargain, really.]

Image

Weak cover game, right?

The first story is Donald Duck has a snow-mobile and he wants to be a mailman. He’s promised a job, but only as a back-up mailman for if there’s enough mail to go the island in the middle of a frozen lake. So, to help out, his nephews send all sorts of crazy crap in the mail.

Image

Well, the white rats chew their way out and start gnawing the ropes holding all the mail down. Then things go full-on Final Destination as the gas tank gets punctured and lighter falls out.

Image

Of course, there’s a [somewhat] happy ending–Donald survives and even finds steady employment!

Image

Every multi-page story is about as weird and crazy, but the best part is that they’re unpredictable. The Ducks don’t ‘have to win’ every time. If they’re looking for treasure, sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t. If Donald’s looking for a job, sometimes he gets it, sometimes he doesn’t. If Scrooge has a wild business plan, sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. You never really know going into it, so the stories keep you on your toes. The writing is also miles above and beyond contemporary cape comics; it bucks the trend of silver age writing that’s just endless words, narration, and the characters describing what’s happening on top of everything.

Plus, you can take just about any page and you can find shitpost / reaction meme grade material.

In short, read some Duck Comics!

Image

Central Arkansas Comic Stores Closing Their Doors

It’s with a heavy heart today that I picked up my consignment copies of Cirsova from The Comic Book Store on Treasure Hill Road in Little Rock.

After nearly 40 years, Michael Tierney is closing his shops.

He’s sold his Collectors Edition property on JFK in North Little Rock, the lease is up on The Comic Book Store at the end of this month, and he’s found a buyer for all of his inventory.

While this is very sad for his many loyal customers, in many regards it’s a blessing for Michael who is moving into a highly active retirement. He’ll still be fulfilling comic mail orders for subscribers, engaging in his duties as a city councilman, and working very diligently on his writing. If all goes according to plan, he should have a new Wild Stars novel read for next year among myriad other projects.

If you’re in Central Arkansas, now is the time to swing by his shops before it’s too late.

If you’re not in Central Arkansas but want to support Michael, now would be a great time to check out his Wild Stars series published through Cirsova.

For more information about Michael’s stores, the future of his pullbox customers, the Wild Stars, and more, visit http://thewildstars.com/.

I’ll be at Saline County Comic Expo in Benton, AR over the weekend and will have a handful of Wild Stars stuff with me, including the 1st editions of Wild Stars III. If you stop by and pick some up, be sure to swing by The Comic Book Store on Saturday afternoon, and Michael will sign them for you for free!

Some Thoughts on Retail-Markdowns, Wholesale Rates, Returnability and Comics

The other day, after talking with Michael Tierney about getting into stores as indies, I found myself thinking about my own experience experimenting with “cheap” and returnable product and the Alterna Comics experiment.

These days, I always recommend writers publishing books minimize the retailer markdowns and avoid returnability.

You can set your book at 55% or 30%.

I tell people “Always mark down for as little as you can and still be available for purchase on platforms that people buy books.” Anything else is just handing money to the platform selling your book, and you don’t actually increase orders or sales, because all stores order and stock to market. If you’re returnable, you risk losing your shirt if your books don’t sell and get stripped.

With Alterna Comics, the gimmick, we’ll call it, was that they are incredibly cheap to produce [Alterna prints on newsprint], so they could be offered to retailers at incredibly cheap rates [their SRP is $1.50; wholesale is probably 50 cents]. The problem is, retailers order and stock to market.

Just like Barnes & Noble isn’t going to see that your book is 55% off wholesale or more and say “we’ll order a ton of these and push them because we can order them cheaply!”, comic retailers aren’t going to order a ton of issues to stock just because the SRP is low and it’s “low risk”.

For independent comics, just like independent books, you’re largely looking at a market that serves existing fan niches. Copies are fulfilled when people who want to buy them ask for them to buy, whether it’s through Amazon or through a LCS retailer.

Even shops that go heavy on indies might buy one of any title just to check it out, whether it’s a $1.50 book or a $5 book. But they’ll order as many as people ask for. Just like if my book is only 30% off, Amazon will still order as many as people pre-order.

So, the solution is not to minimize unit costs in ways that appeal to retailers, but to effectively market your product to readers so that they’ll demand it from platforms. And if there’s demand on the platforms, you can charge a reasonable rate that will make you money.

I’d be remiss to leave out at the end of this that the new Cirsova is out through Amazon this week! [Both in softcover and eBook]

Summer Special 2 2020 cover 0.03 Front Only

 

 

Mongoose & Meerkat Art Arrives Safe & Sound + Comic Retailer Round-table w/Michael Tierney

The original illustrations by DarkFilly for Jim Breyfogle’s Mongoose and Meerkat arrived Saturday.

On one hand, sorry for the lousy focus–my tablet is a potato. On the other hand, for those of you who haven’t read the stories, this gives you an idea of the art style without too many spoilers.

We have three days to go for this Kickstarter, and you can still get your hands on one of these original pieces of artwork.

Also last week, Cirsova author, Wild Stars creator, and LCS owner Michael Tierney appeared on a round-table discussion with, among others, notable online comic shop personality Comic Perch and renowned comic-creator Mike Baron.

They discuss the impact of the comic industry shutdown plus DC’s efforts to do an end-run around Diamond to ensure that the comic shops are getting SOME product.

Michael’s central Arkansas stores have been weathering the storm as well as could be expected; he’s managed to stay open for an entire month with no new product, but as you might imagine, it has been lean times in Little Rock.

Now would be a fantastic time to pick up a Wild Stars from him, particularly since you can get the Wild Stars 35th Anniversary Omnibus cheaper from him than from us, due to some issues with Lulu’s platform migration.

As usual, Michael has a dozen irons in the fire, including his Beyond the Farthest Star web strip and several others we can’t talk about, but we hope to have some new Wild Stars news in the near future. In the meantime, it sounds like Troll Lord Games is gearing up to start printing the Wild Stars RPG–no release date yet, but we’re guessing “soon”.

Cirsova Publishing Author Michael Tierney On the Comic Industry Shutdown

Michael Tierney was on with RJ Carter of Critical Blast last night talking about the Comic Industry Shutdown in wake of the COVID19 pandemic.

There’s talk that new comics will not be shipping until June at the earliest, which is absolutely killer for these businesses. While you can say “buy backstock!” and “buy some trades!”, and that does help, it’s a bandaid. Subscriptions of weekly comics are these stores bread and butter. There are some people out there saying “nobody buys new comics anyway, they’re all trash!” but these people have no idea what they’re actually talking about. Every week, there are several dozen titles coming out with several hundred people buying multiple titles every month.

No new product is going to kill these stores.

Do what you can to support Michael. We are.

What we’re doing:

Every week, I’ve been going in, spending 2 hours or more going through the bargain bins. I’ve picked out every remotely interesting looking indie title I could string an reasonable runĀ  together. I’ve made it through the M’s. I’ve also bought supplies [boxes, bags, boards], since right before the shutdown, he got a big order of supplies in. Plus I need them for the literal hundreds of floppies I’ve been buying.

What you can do:

If you’re in central Arkansas, you can do what we’ve been doing [but I’ve kinda picked the bargain bins clean in Little Rock through the M’s… but you may find something YOU like].

You can buy Wild Stars. If you’re not in Arkansas, you can buy them online from the links here. If you find copies of the Wild Stars hardcover on eBay, Michael is listing these himself; he’ll sign and personalize them for you.

If you ARE in central Arkansas, go to his stores, buy copies of Wild Stars from him, not us!

For more info on Michael Tierney, his comic stores, the Wild Stars, visit his website www.thewildstars.com.

Gundam Best Girl Sayla + Michael Tierney Talks About the Comic Industry Shutdown

Back in February, we held a UC Gundam Best Girl Tournament.

We promised that we’d draw the winner of tournament on the art cover of Hell Arisen #1 and auction it off to raise money for Cirsova. Then I got really sick for several weeks. But here it is, Sayla Mass, who was crowned by the People as UC Gundam’s Best Girl. It’s on eBay here.

Image

Also, on Saturday, Michael Tierney spoke with RJ Carter of Critical Blast about the state of the comics industry in the wake of the Diamond distribution shutdown in response to COVID19.

Cirsova Christmas Sale! Wild Stars & Duel Visions

Merry Christmas from Cirsova!

We have some big sales and promotions going on over the holidays.

The Wild Stars omnibus is half-off on Lulu! [Get another 15% on top of that with promo code LKAB317CD].

Omnibus Cover 0.05 Front Only

Also, Book of Circles is available at 1/2 off the cover price through our Aero store!

WS 1 Shark

Also, starting tomorrow, eBooks of Duel Visions by Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen will be only 99 cents [we’ll post a reminder]. Right now, though, you can get the paperback for as low as $4!

Featured Image -- 13516

Interview with Critical Blast

Last Sunday, I was on with RJ Carter of Critical Blast. We were supposed to have Michael Tierney with us, but his computer at home is a potato and could log into StreamYard.

I was a little under-prepared, because this was supposed to be Michael’s stream and I was just gonna chill and let him do most of the talking.

Be sure to buy as much Wild Stars as you can so we can afford to get Michael a computer that he can actually stream on!

Also, don’t forget, we’re accepting submissions now!