Getting Your Book Signed: Good Move or Bad Idea?

Collecting comics can be a pretty fun, if not costly hobby. It requires keeping up with current market prices as well as the know-how of what makes a quality book.

A lot of that weighs heavily on the cover. Having an original, un-restored version of the book cover is important, along with it having vibrant colours. Also having a cover fully intact improves the overall price of a book.

But what about when a creator signs a book? What happens then?

Surely if you have a copy of Jack Kirby and Captain America #1, you’d be sitting on a goldmine, right? What about a copy of Showcase #22 featuring a signature from Gil Kane?

Chances are actually, the book would be worth less.

Before you start shouting at the screen or balling your eyes out, let’s find out why – and see if you can do anything about it.

A lot of this hooplah about the quality of the book degrading over a signature can be somewhat blamed on the company, the Certified Grading Company, or the CGC. For a more in depth synopsis of the CGC, check out what I wrote about them in the past.

CGC Hulk 340

But if you wish to keep reading, I’ll make it simple: the CGC is considered the best of the best when it comes to grading comic books, magazines, cards, and many other types of relatively-flat, printed collectibles. If you get your book graded by the CGC, chances are the price of your book can increase by a small or large margin.

Considering there are a lot of scams within the comic book collecting hobby, the CGC are considered the best place to go to get the “truth” behind a comic book. Through their grading process, they have experts in restoration check to make sure the book is in its original form. From there, they will go through the entire book to guarantee the book is up to par and not missing any pages. At the end of the evaluation, they assign a grade on the book from .5 (Poor), to 10 (Gen Mint).

The CGC will then put the book in a transparent case along with a coloured label to tell the viewer what kind of book they are looking at. Blues are the most common as they represent basic, graded books. A Purple banner means the book has been restored, while a Gold banner means it has an authentic signature.

While I could write different stories about the other banners (which you can read in the blog I made about them), it is the Gold banner we’ll be focusing on. The Gold banner stands for the “Signature Series.”

Because the CGC has become a staple in the grading process, the general comic collecting community has agreed (somewhat – but that’s also a whole other article for another day) that what the CGC says is authentic, and so the books should be sold as such.

For example, if you have a non-CGC graded book (or an “unslabbed” book), it may only be worth $50. However, if you get your book slabbed, it may suddenly be seen as $100, or even more. That’s great news, no?

But with signatures, it gets tricky.

If you say, have a copy of Captain America #1 signed by Jack Kirby before his death in 1994, you cannot submit it for a Gold banner to the CGC. Even if you have photos or video of the event happening, they will not consider it for the Signature Series. This is because a CGC representative was not present at the time of the signing.

I hope you see where I’m going with this.

To receive a Gold banner for the Signature Series, a CGC representative must be present to witness the signature. Nowadays, CGC goes to just about every major comic book convention. It’s great money for them to do it. If you get a book signed by Neal Adams or Stan Lee with CGC present, they’ll grant you the Signature Series banner. But CGC only began in 2000, with their Signature Series starting in 2001.

Any books prior to 2001 cannot be submitted for the Signature Series as a CGC representative would not have been present – let alone the company was even around then.

That being said, you can set up a CGC-approved witness for a signing by contacting the company.

CGC Buffy

So let’s get back to the slabbing of the book.

For unslabbed books with a signature, the books are considered – to many collectors – not valuable, solely because there is no guarantee who signed it. Even if you have videos, pictures, and a great story to go along with it, CGC set the standard to signature books. A collector may be hesitant to purchase a book even if you provide the proof. This is only because in their minds, they may be aware of the CGC “standards” of the comic collecting industry.

So if an unslabbed book is worth $50, and slabbed it’s $100, surely a Signature Series book will increase the value even more, right?

Yet again, I’m poised to say the answer is both yes and no.

Why it may increase in value: a signed book that is authenticated by the CGC is considered more valuable than a signed book that is not authenticated. The reason is that CGC guarantees the book was signed by the signer. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. They guarantee the collector (or buyer) that the signature is real, and thus it would not depreciate the price of the book. They guarantee the signature is not just a “scribble.” It’s actually proven to be signed by Jim Lee!

On why it’s not increased in value: sometimes you get buyers who do not want a signature on a book – that it “ruins” the artwork on the cover. Even if CGC authorized the signature, it still may not be what the buyer wants. Effectively, that signature may have just shunned away a potential buyer.

Keep this all in mind if you’re a collector and are considering having someone sign your comic book.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Sound off below! Or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! And indeed, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comic Collecting and Price Jumps!

I was visiting one of my local flea markets recently and stumbled across a copy of X-Factor #6 from 1986. This book has some significance as it is the first full appearance of Apocalypse.

I saw it bagged and boarded on the wall at this particular flea market without a price. It had a sticker on the bag stating the comic was “NM.” (For those unfamiliar with the grading system, NM stands for “Near Mint” and represents a 9.4/10 when it comes to grading quality).

I asked the gentleman who ran the booth what he was asking for it. He had the price tucked in-behind the book because, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If regular people around here saw what these books went for, they’d get stolen from me.”

He lifted the book from the wall and revealed the price.

$120 (Canadian, by the way).

I was a bit shocked at the price. But before I move on, let’s backtrack a bit here.

XFactor 6

If it wasn’t obvious from this website already: I collect old comics. It’s a serious hobby of mine, and yes, it’s an expensive one. I love to go to shows and seek out the best deals on books: to compare prices, grades, quality, and experiences with other collectors.

While I’m big on finding old Horror and/or Atomic Age books, I have a particularly personal investment with Marvel books – especially the X-Men related books.

So when I see something X-related and the price surprises me, flags go off in my head. Why is the price the way it is? Why would someone charge so much for this book? I knew the NM price from the Comic Book Price Guide: around $50. Why was this price so inflated?

Of course, there’s the newest X-Men movie: X-Men: Apocalypse. But does that mean the price can fluctuate that high?

Well, yes and no.

Demand for the book would dictate the price. While I’m not at every convention or following all of the prices for every book out there, it seems as if recent demand has suggested the price of X-Factor #6 to inflate to a surprisingly high price.

However, the book’s sudden inflation is solely based around the movie. The book is actually quite common and may only be “up” for the short people that the movie is around.

It’s not as if movies transform viewers into readers either.

I remember when Iron Man 2 was released in theaters, I saw these numbers on The Beat:

02/10 Invincible Iron Man #23 – 50,027
03/10 Invincible Iron Man #24 – 49,239 ( -1.6%)
04/10 Invincible Iron Man #25 – 73,694 (+49.7%)
Iron Man 2 is released.
05/10 Invincible Iron Man #26 – 53,625 (-27.2%)
06/10 Invincible Iron Man #27 – 52,268 ( -2.5%)
07/10 Invincible Iron Man #28 – 48,690 ( -6.8%)
08/10 Invincible Iron Man #29 – 49,012 ( +0.7%)

Iron Man 2 Movie Poster

Now I had blogged based on these numbers when the movie came out all those years ago. But as you can see, there was no major influx of readers because of the movie.

That all being said, Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket Raccoon are friggen’ rock stars now, so who knows?

What I do know from collecting comics is that prices can be quite drastic when they rise and fall. While X-Factor #6 may even be considered a “steal” at $120, I personally do not think it would be a great investment for down the line.

But don’t take my word for it. Am I the be-all to end-all dictator of comic pricing?

Not yet.

Questions? Concerns? More questions? Ask away! Or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!

Six Tips to Buying Comics at a Comic Book Convention

ta Comic collecting can be a very demanding hobby. Not only is it difficult to keep up with prices and to find the best deal, but it’s important to know that you’re not getting ripped off. When in a comic book convention especially, things can seem hectic and you can feel pressured into something you did not feel comfortable with in the first place. Here’s a personal, if not, embarrassing story that happened to me when I first started collecting.

I saw X-Men #66 – the last issue of the series before it went into reprints – for a meager $20 at a local Comic Convention. The Comic Book Price Guide suggested a near mint (graded at a 9.2) copy of the book would go for $240.

I asked the retailer to take the book down and give it to me. I looked over the cover in the bag and couldn’t believe the price. The quality of the book was pristine. But there was no mistaking it as there was a big two inch by two inch $20 sticker right on the front of the bag the book was in.

X-Men 66

Realizing the great deal I was getting, I paid the man for the book and went on my way. It wasn’t until I got home did I see what had happened.

Had I opened the bag and pulled the book out I would have noticed that behind the large $20 sticker was a corner of the book that was obviously torn off and taped back on by the retailer. The sticker was covering up the defect! I was had! Or was I?

Let’s just say I had learned my lesson. As the years went on, I picked up on some other tricks about collecting comics at conventions. Here’s how you can guarantee to not fall under the same trap I fell into.

Open the Bag

Reading my story, it’s obvious that opening the bag should be the number one thing you do when you’re checking a book for quality. Whether it’s in a bargain bin or on the retailer’s wall, open the bag up and look at the cover. Check for defects and make sure the cover is all in one piece. Look at the staples, look at the vibrancy of the cover, and check for creases, tears, or touch ups. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, ask the retailer to open the bag for you for you to look at.

They’re trying to make a sale, so they are more than willing to let you nitpick over the book. You want to make sure that you’re paying for what you’re getting. Even ask them questions about that book’s history: who owned it beforehand? Was it touched up? Are all of the pages intact?

Open the Book

Another early collecting story of mine is when I picked up a copy of Fantastic Four #45 – the first appearance of the Inhumans and Black Bolt. While the cover was alright, I purchased the book and went through it later when I was at home. As I looked inside, there were clippings from the mail-away advertisements missing. So while the cover makes up the majority of the price, the interior of the book must also be in good condition to make the value. While you have the book out of the bag, by all means, flip through the pages of your potential investment.

House of Secrets 92

Don’t be a Booth Bum

Most Comic Conventions have more than one retailer. By all means, look at them all before you purchase your book. You can save yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars by being vigilant and checking/comparing prices from the various vendors.

Know What You’re Looking For

Go to these conventions with a goal in mind. If you’re looking for House of Secrets #92 featuring the first appearance of Swamp-Thing, know what the general prices are before going into the convention. Check out the Comic Book Price Guide and try to memorize the numbers. The book is often considered as the Bible to what book prices should be. You should never aim to pay more than what the book is asking.

Alternatively, you can use it as a reference guide to pricing and to help you find the version of the book in your budget. A good quality (CGC 2.0) version of House of Secrets #92 goes for around $50 according to the Guide. However, a near mint copy can start around $1200. However, you may find a vendor only asking $1000 for a 9.2 graded copy of the book – or maybe they’re asking $1300. The purchase is your call.

The Guide is NOT the Bible

Allow me to be contradictory for a moment. According to the Comic Book Price Guide, a near mint version of The Walking Dead #1 should be $800. However, it has been recorded beyond the Guide that the book can easily sell for $1500 or more.

While the Guide offers a great reference point to both retailers and collectors, the market can fluctuate the prices of books dramatically. For example: if someone wanted to pay $1500 for that quality copy of The Walking Dead, chances are the next book will sell for $1600, or $170.! Maybe even $2000! It’s important to do some additional research before you jump into the thick of collecting. You may just be in for a surprise when the book you want is surprisingly out of reach.

Iron Man 55

Plan Ahead

Think about a book and WHY it should increase in value. For example, we’re already two Thor movies in with a third one on the way. While a villain for the third film hasn’t been announced yet, it’s been heavily rumoured for years that The Enchantress will be making an appearance in the Thor series.

It’s probably best to buy Journey Into Mystery #103 where she makes her first appearance BEFORE she gets put into a movie. What if she never gets put into the film? The book will rarely ever depreciate in value, so it’s best to get a head start before everyone else.

I’ve always wanted to buy Iron Man #55 as I love Thanos. Iron Man #55 has his first appearance and before The Avengers movie hit theaters, it was heavily rumoured that Thanos was going to appear.

I’ve always stalled on buying the book – where a near mint copy would go anywhere from $20-$75 before the film was released. Once it came out, the book skyrocketed to over $800 at some conventions. A missed opportunity there.

Lessons Learned

You’ll never be 100% flawless from buying comics at conventions. There will be some point where you’ll get burned on price or realize the book you should’ve bought was at another vendor: it’s part of the comic collecting experience! It’s important to learn from your past mistakes, much like I have and blogged about that X-Men #66 experience before.

Nowadays, I do my best to stay vigilant and look for certain opportunities when they arrive! I once grabbed a near mint copy of Uncanny X-Men #266 – the first appearance of Gambit – in a dollar bin. The book could’ve easily went for $60+. But I knew what I was looking for and knew the prices. Not all vendors are perfect, you know! However, if it seems like too good of a deal – it may just be that price for a reason (but that Uncanny X-Men #266 went to me for $5 and it was sincerely in near mint condition – the retailer’s fault)!

So the moral of the story is to be prepared when going to a Comic Convention! If you do have any questions about collecting, ask away or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram!! And keep on Space Truckin’!

That Time I Was Lady Jaye

For the past few months, I’ve been reading articles, reading blog posts, seeing images, having some conversations, and reading some status updates from friends and family – mostly all on “the Facebook,” mind you – regarding what really defines masculinity and how the whole feminism movement is “ruining” whatever it is people are finding it ruin. I can see what all the hooplah is about though: men are suddenly getting pulled out of their comfort zones – being confronted with the sudden realization that “what makes a man” can be based on societal expectations. Uh oh, SpaghettiOs.

While I think we could talk for eons about the whole subject, I felt like sharing something that I hope would bring up a discussion of how the world can be full of expectations when it comes to defining roles and how it is really isn’t a norm.

Get this awesome patch here.
One of the things I saw on Social Media. Get this awesome patch here.

Once upon a time – and this may be hard to believe – but I was younger than I am now. It was the early nineties and I was busy watching cartoons with my closest friend and brother. Cartoons such as X-Men, Transformers, Denver the Last Dinosaur, and so on. When we weren’t doing that, we’d play games on our Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario Bros. 2, Guerilla War, Clash at Demonhead, Blades of Steel, BurgerTime, and many more.

Sometimes we’d find ways to incorporate the video games into our imaginative world of pretend play. We’d re-enact games like Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge by playing the game, then running around as an X-Man character. This also worked when we played road hockey after playing Blades of Steel. “Get the pass,” we’d say. Although we probably heard it as “Hit the Pads” or “Make the Pass” as the language in the game was a pretty garbled mess.

We’d also all watch the G.I. Joe animated series. We had a lot of fun with our action figures and on the odd occasion, we’d pretend we were G.I. Joes. We’d play the NES game, Captain Skyhawk and pretend we were on a mission to do whatever it was the Joe’s had to do. Fight Cobra? Defeat aliens? I don’t know. Why we just didn’t play the G.I. Joe game for NES still boggles my mind to this day.

However, when we played G.I. Joe, we picked who we’d pretend to be. My friend always chose Duke. My brother was either Snake Eyes or Roadblock. Me? I was always the bad-ass javelin-throwing Joe, Lady Jaye. We’d spend hours in front of the television and hanging out with one another as we defeated whomever it was we had to defeat in the video game – then we’d take the fight outside and pretend to fight Cobra as well. We were kids – it was fun!

Lady Jay? More like, Lady SLAY!
Lady Jay? More like, Lady SLAY!

Looking back at it now, no one ever told me it was “weird” to pretend to be Lady Jaye. All of us just picked a Joe we liked and was that person for the few hours when we pretended to be G.I. Joe’s. My parents never said anything to me about it. Talk about progressive parents. It probably made as much sense to them as seeing us young Canadian boys pretending to be Real American Heroes.

To me, Lady Jaye was and is still just another one of the Joe’s.

Later in my life, I picked up the G.I. Joe cartoon series on DVD and ploughed through it all. Reflecting on my childhood, you know what? Lady Jaye really was a bad-ass. The writers on the show did an excellent job not making sexist or misogynistic characters. And even if they did for an episode, the female Joe’s proved them otherwise.

Lady Jaye, Scarlett, Cover Girl, The Baroness, Dreadnok Zarana, Jinx – all of them kicked some serious butt. They were written as equals and no one ever said otherwise in the cartoon show.

Scarlett wrecks Dreadnok Torch
That time Scarlett didn’t give a damn what Torch thought

I even remember an episode dedicated to just showing how awesome the women Joe’s were. Spell of the Siren featured Lady Jaye, Scarlett, and Cover Girl as they had to rescue every male-Joe who was brainwashed by The Baroness. I can’t think of any other show that I grew up with that did anything similar to that outside of the X-Men animated series with Rogue and Storm. Even both cartoon shows managed to pass the Bechdel test!

It’s interesting to go back and see why I wanted to be Lady Jaye: she’s simply an incredible character! As a young boy, I never saw her as anything else but someone to look up to. As an adult, I still see the same thing.

Admittedly, I’m speaking solely about the G.I. Joe: Real American Hero TV series. While even the early Marvel comics have shown her in a positive light, a simple Google search can show you what she’s currently like in the mainstream – especially since the second live-action G.I. Joe movie.

Scarlett, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye from "Spell of the Siren"
Scarlett, Cover Girl, and Lady Jaye from “Spell of the Siren”

While I’ve tackled some other obvious issues regarding the way women are portrayed in comic books and in cartoons, I have to say that I’m completely surprised and impressed how these Joes were written and portrayed.

What my parents thought of me wasn’t based on them telling me how to live. It wasn’t them imprinting their expectations on me. They were letting me be me. And if you ask me, I think I turned out just fine.

But to my main point: Lady Jaye didn’t fill the traditional role of a woman or a man. She was her own person. When one thinks of G.I. Joe, few people would think women would be included in that group – let alone being able to name one of them. They’re JOES after all. You’d expect no women, right? But that’s the thing about societal expectations: what you think you know is not always what’s right. And while some of you may be thinking, “She was seen as one of the Joe’s because she was written like a man,” try re-reading what I wrote above and think about why you’re wrong.

I know I’m just barely scratching the surface with this topic, so for any comments, questions, concerns: sound off below!

My Top 15 Albums of 2015

I have been doing this annually since 2005, but I rarely mention it publically. I usually post these things on Facebook for friends, but I had a few people tell me they wish to see this on my website. So here we go!

15. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

Iron Maiden

With the band’s first double album, The Book of Souls explores many progressive concepts that really seem to harken back to 1984’s Powerslave. With three songs over ten minutes, the album expands on Maiden’s already great musicianship shows off their compositions. Save for the single, the rest of the album has a lot more technical prowess to it.

Watch the music video for the single, “Speed of Light”:

14. Himinbjorg – Wyrd


Folk black metal band Himinbjorg have always been rather absent from the music scene. Featuring the somewhat lackluster albums in the past, their newest release, Wyrd, steps up their songwriting and production game to a new level. With a vast array of song styles within the rather moody album, I have to say I was super impressed of the band’s change.

Listen to “The World of Men Without Virture”:

13. Symphony X – Underworld

Symphony X

Breaking new ground with 2002’s release, The Odyssey, the band now had to live up to certain expectations. With 2007’s Paradise Lost, they really pushed it to the limit. 2011’s Iconoclast fell flat. Now in 2015, Underworld brings them back up – not to previous standards, but pushing different standards and setting a new precedent for themselves. Unlike traditional SX fashion, the first few songs – while impressive – are not nearly as good as the last half of the album. Underworld mixes with new sounds and shows the listener that the old progressive metal band they once were is gone. With Underworld, we hear SX aren’t afraid to try something new and experiment again.

Listen to the opening track “Nevermore”:

12. Frank Zappa – Dance Me This

Frank Zappa

Even though he passed away in 1993, he had enough music recorded to be released up until now. Dance Me This, both Zappa’s 100th and final album, features Frank predominately performing with a Synclavier – a digital sampling device – along with Siberian throat singers. While the album is definitely an acquired taste, I can honestly say that even twenty-plus years after his death, Frank is still pushing the musical envelope with this album – making me hear things I’ve never heard before. This rings especially true with the final track, Calculus.

Listen to the opening title track and what is considered Frank’s final guitar solo, “Dance Me This”:

11. Amorphis – Under the Red Cloud


Another year and unsurprisingly another Amorphis album makes my list. Can this band do no wrong? They have a formula and they stick to it. However, unlike previous albums, Under the Red Cloud plays around with more musical themes outside of their traditional Finnish roots. Always impressing and improving on their sound, there’s no wonder why this band still dominates in the music world.

Listen to the single, “Sacrifice”:

10. Venom – From The Very Depths


Where did this come from? Never did I expect to see new Venom in a top fifteen list of mine, and yet here we are! While credited as one of the originators of the black metal genre, Venom has grown far away from that to the point. Fom the Very Depths sounds like a cross between bands like Testament, Overkill, and Motörhead. Pulse-pounding and relentlessly heavy, this new release breathes fresh air in the band and excites me for their next release.

Listen to the single, “Long Haired Punks”:

9. Sigh – Graveward


As expected, this Japanese band gives the listener more than they could ever expect. From the far-extreme to the slow-mellow, Sigh have always gone with the strange, purposeful “under produced” sound with incredible quality in their music. Graveward never ceases to impress throughout the entire album.

Be surprised! Listen to the single, “Kaedit Nos Pestis”:

8. Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed


This American tech-death band features a return-to-form after the disappointing 2012 release, At the Gate of Sethu. With crushing riffs and pulse-pounding drum beats, Nile’s newest release is perfect for the listener who’s looking to be blown away from the intensity the album provides. As usual, expect lengthy write ups about each song’s meaning in the linear notes.

Listen to the single/opening track, “Call to Destruction”:

7. Nordic Giants – A Séance of Dark Delusions

Nordic Giants

The debut full-length album from this English duo is nothing short of impressive. Almost as if each song is a soundtrack from a movie, it is difficult to explain what Nordic Giants are. With each song different from the other, featuring keys, trumpets, drums, guitar, operatic vocals – they are a rock band but with unconventional instruments. An absolutely breathtaking album. I’m confident it will impress.

Watch the music video to “Rapture”:

6. Torche – Restarter


After 2012’s lovely Harmonicraft, Restarter ups the ante and gets heavier, dirtier, and sludgier (new word) with overdriven bass, pounding kicks, and gruff vocals. Still keeping true to their song-writing roots, Torche simply makes the same music they always have, but they made it heavier. While that defaults as a bonus in my books, the band does so naturally without losing who they are. That alone speaks volumes to both the quality of the band and of this album.

Watch the music video to “Annihilation Affair”:

5. Arcturus – Arcturian


As a band known for helping change the sound of black metal, some would say their newest, Arcturian, is far from it. And you know, it certainly doesn’t sound like it would be considered black metal – yet it still is. Always different and never boring, Arcturian is the band’s first album in ten years and still sounds as if they never stopped being themselves along the way.

Listen to the first track/single, “The Arcturian Sign”:

4. My Dying Bride – Feel the Misery

My Dying Bride

As expected with a band name like this, My Dying Bride pushes your chest in and holds you there as you experience the sheer brutal sorrow of this album. From the gothic, poetic lyrics and dark sounds, Feel the Misery absorbs you into it and refuses to let go. Hands-down, one of the band’s – if not the band’s – best release.

Watch the video of the title track, “Feel the Misery”:

3. Ozric Tentacles – Technicians of the Sacred

Ozric Tentacles

Another first double album for a band in this list, the instrumental band Ozric Tentacles, release their fifteenth album in spectacular fashion. As a band that always seems to do something stranger than the last, Technicians of the Sacred still manages to pull some punches with the hefty variety of music it brings. Spoiler alert: I’m a big Ozric fan. I can say that this is their best album since 1993’s Jurassic Shift.

Listen to the full album:

2. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Steven Wilson

What Steven Wilson does for music is like what the sun does to plants for Earth. His newest release, Hand. Cannot. Erase., is bold, touching, emotional, driven, brilliant, moody, intense, beautiful, and oh-so much more. Blending both pop music and progressive rock, the album still features a concept, unlike most pop albums: and the concept of the album is remarkable, if not a bit depressing. Guest vocalist, Ninet Tayeb, provides a balanced contrast and freshness to both the album and Wilson’s production.

Watch the gorgeous music video to “Perfect Life”:

Watch the heart-breaking music video for “Routine”:

1. Riverside – Love, Fear, and the Time Machine


After the release of 2005’s Second Life Syndrome, the Polish band, Riverside (much like Symphony X), seemed to lose themselves in a couple of stale albums. Love, Fear, and the Time Machine changes everything and puts the band up on a pedestal that surpasses everything they’ve done.

Never slowing down, but hardly ever breaking the precedent set by the first track, Riverside finds their stride with the opening notes and continues through to the end. LF&tTM keeps a constant sublime and melancholic feeling throughout the album – right up until the final note is played. The album is calming, yet still intricate enough to satisfy the listener with the layers of beauty within each song.

Often upbeat, despite the rather relaxed mix and mastering of the album, LF&tTM features a variety of tunes that all share familiarity to each other while still being completely different in structure and theme.

For these reasons, and because it’s my most listened to album this year, does Riverside take the top spot on my list.

Watch the music video to “Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching)” – which pretty much captures the feeling of the album:

Listen to the single, “Discard Your Fear”:

Honourable Mentions:

Lonely Robot – Please Come Home

Kamelot – Haven

Moonspell – Extinct

George Kollias – Invictus

Paradise Lost – The Plague Within

Faith No More – Sol Invictus

Kylsea – Exhausting Fire

Spectral Lore – Gnosis

Most Disappointed:

Blind Guardian – Beyond the Red Mirror

Annihilator – Suicide Society

Royal Hunt – Devil’s Dozen

Questions? Comments? Agree? Disagree? What have you?

The Distomos – Now On Sale

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that I finished writing my first novel, The Distomos, at the end of October 2013. Now here I am – two years later – getting started to work on the final book in the series!

So to celebrate this momentous occasion for myself – and just in time for Christmas – The Distomos will be on sale for a limited time!

Ebook Copies
70% off
Now $2.99

Physical Copies
20% off
Now $19.60

I’m told the sale prices will take a short amount of time before they appear on these other fine retailers, however you can get the books and Ebooks from me directly, or from for the sale prices right away.

You can purchase paperback copies from:
Me! Just ask!
Barnes &

Ebook copies are available at:
iTunes Store
Barnes & Noble NOOK

The Distomos

Cover art by Matthew Therrien:


Mankind has taken to the stars; maintaining their empires through the belief in God. Peace and prosperity are kept through Church-appointed Templars: the police of the galaxy. But when the Distomos, a secret weapon from the Church falls into the hands of the enemy, two ex-Templars, Kieran Rhet and Normandie Jade, are hired to get it back.

With only a matter of time before interstellar war begins and the Distomos is used, friendships, courage, and faith will be tested when all seems lost.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

The Dark Side of Self-Publishing

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve decided not to take the self-publishing route for my next book.

“Why not?” you ask. Let’s get into the nitty gritty with the Dark Side of Self-Publishing.

You’re On Your Own

You would think that self-publishing is pretty self-explanatory: you’re on your own. It’s not “group-publishing” after all. So how could being on your own be an issue?

Speaking with authors, listening to author workshops, and just generally knowing other people in the field of writing can be pretty darn helpful when writing a book. Not only are they available to bounce ideas off of, but those people don’t care to hurt your feelings. When you’re grouped with similar-minded authors or are at least starting to get to know people in the field/related to your work, it’s helpful to have those like-minded folk close by to call up when you’re struggling with a particular scene or needing help to find the right word for something.

Zoidberg Book

Now obviously that kind of description above implies you’ve already been published or are connected to network of writers, editors, etc, to call upon. If you’re not involved with one, it is something you will get forced in to when it comes to sending your book to a publisher for print. Your book will need to be edited and proofread by the publisher team and thus opening the doors to a whole new world: acceptance and rejection.

Friends and family let you down easy and fluff a lot of things for you. Now I’m not saying my personal experience was like that, but it certainly helps to have someone who is more crass in their opinions of writing. Why not make that person some sort of professional in the field? Don’t do it alone!

The Scams

Writing a book is one thing. Learning how to publish it is an entirely different animal.

When I went about looking how to self-publish, I had to be very diligent to find what company was actually a legitimate publishing company. There are plenty of websites out there that sell themselves really well but actually provide little of any results. There’s a few that will publish your book but not provide you with any income. I know, right?

I won’t name names, but there were a few sites I considered that ended up having class-action lawsuits against them in other parts of the world. It’s important to do your research about these companies before you go any further with putting your hard-work to their potential scamming services. But a bit more on this later.

The Cost

Save up.

Empty Wallet

Remember: YOU are the publisher. You are using someone else’s service to PRINT and possibly DISTRIBUTE your books for you. Therefore all of the costs around printing and possibly distributing are entirely on you.

It’s strange to think of yourself as a publisher as you’re just one person, but that’s really what it is! You are your own publishing house and thus you’ll encounter a lot of the costs a publisher would have had to pay. Whether it be printing the books, buying rights to certain font, or getting someone to create the cover art of your book – it’s all on you!

While the final cost of the book heavily varies on how many copies you want to have printed and the quality of the overall book, expect say, 100 books to start around $1000 in your cost. This is a rough estimate in Canadian dollars, but hey – at least you have an idea to save up for something. So yes, that’s $10 per book – your cost.

The Learning Curve

You may think a book is a book: it has a cover, page numbers, a spine, an About the Author section – you’re all set. Right?

NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! NOPE! You’re not even close!

While explaining this section could take multiple blogs, I’ll try to make it concise: to guarantee your book to be mass-produced and accepted in book stores across the world (such as Amazon, Indigo Books, etc), you have to follow globally accepted publishing formats and standards to get your book into bookshelves.

These are including, but not limited to: making your margins meet properly within the pages of the book, using the proper, non-copyright font (ie. Times New Roman, Garamond – just because the font is in Microsoft Office does NOT mean it’s free to publish your book with it), make sure the font on the spine of your book meets within the sizing parameters, have a barcode present on your book cover, have numbered pages, have a copyright page in the front of your book, have multiple title pages at the beginning of your book, have an ISBN number, and so on.

While those are some examples, it’s important to know there are a lot of legalities to publishing a book. While your copyright claims the book to be yours, it may not hurt to register it for copyright as well.

A side about the fonts: this is what caught me off-guard the most. There are fonts within your computer that you can write whatever you want in, but when it comes to making money off of your book, you’re technically using a font that is not licensed for commercial use. So if you’re DYING to use a particular font for your book, you may need to pay up.

And remember: you’re on your own to figure this out! Get it right or it’ll cost you.

However, if you went through a publisher, you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.

The Fear and Expectations

You’ve done it! You’ve wrote your book, got it published and are ready to sell! Now what?

Get out there and sell! Wait, you only have friends and family buying? What happened? You printed 500 copies because you knew it was going to be a hit. Everyone said they’d buy a book! But now you’re finacally in the hole and sitting on boxes of your work without anyone willing to buy them.

And there lies the next problem with self-publishing: the support.

While you can take pre-orders from people before you order your books, you can’t guarantee they’ll still buy them. To make things even more difficult, once your book is published, you can’t just expect word to get out and people to flock to you for purchases. You need to advertise and you need to advertise HARD.

Go to conventions, go to libraries, go to poetry readings: just get out there and start pumping your book out!

I mentioned scamming services before, and I want to touch back on them. Some scamming services are even involved or connected to some of the big book stores. When it comes to trying to get your book into stores, if you’re self-publishing, you’ll have to fork out tons more cash to make it work as you’re essentially “buying yourself a spot” in a book store. When you use the self-publish service of these businesses, you’re told you’ll be guaranteed placement in stores, book signings, and the like. However it may not – and probably will not – meet your expectation in sales. It will only hurt you financially and emotionally, so it’s recommended to stay away from these kinds of places.

Some places even tell you they will not publish your book until it is professionally edited by their editors. They’ll pressure you into paying or harass you to work with them as they try to make you believe there’s no one else who’d accept your book. It’s sort of like a relationship gone bad.

Emperor Palpatine Book

On the bright side, if you go the route of a publisher, you don’t have to worry about doing all of the legwork yourself. Most of these publishers have their connections to the book stores anyway, so it’s just a matter of signing up with them and then bam! You’re in the book store! Remember: they want you to succeed as much as you do. They’re in it to sell your book and make money, not to scam you. This is why there’s very little – if any – upfront costs when going through a legitimate publisher.

If you’re a local author, some book stores do offer a bit of help, but that requires you to find out who does that and you’re stuck doing what they ask you to do. After all, they’re providing you with a service you’d not get elsewhere.

As for the fear: you don’t really know how well your book will do. You don’t know if it’ll end up dead on arrival. You don’t know if everyone who said they’d buy a book would actually buy one. You don’t know if you just sunk hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars into your book only to find yourself in the finacal hole for the next couple of years.

You don’t know and it’s pretty freaking scary.

But take solace: because you wrote a book and saw it through to its conclusion.

Speaking of Conclusions

I self-published my book and I saw my book through its conclusion. While I’m quite happy with how it went, I know it could have done better if I only had all of the time in the world to do what needed to be done. Unfortunately that’s impossible unless Earth conveniently switches to 54-hour days.

I enjoyed self-publishing and I got a kick out of learning all of the legalities and rules behind it. But I’m a strange person that enjoy boring things like that. You? Probably not so much. And while I did enjoy learning the ins and outs of self-publishing, I feel like I’ve put all of that behind me. I set out to make my own book – and I did it. Me and no one else.

Going forward, however, I do not feel like shouldering the responsibility of self-publishing again. There were a lot of things I could’ve done better – such as advertising, getting my book into stores, and having more professionals check out my book before it went to print. Alas, I didn’t and yet my book, The Distomos, still exists. I’m still really proud of it and glad it’s done.

So while I made self-publishing to sound scarier than it probably is, it’s more or less just a lot of work. A LOT of work. And also making sure you’re doing your due-diligence. Personally, I do not feel like doing that all over again. But that’s not stopping me, and I’m excited to see where my new venture takes me.

If you have any questions, stories, or comments about self-publishing, please let me know in the comments below. I’ll do my best to address everything you throw at me!

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’.