Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Comic Genius #1: Morning Glories

Dear Readers,

Comic Genius is a brand new featured series at the Great Stories blog that shall serve to promote what we think are the best stories being told in the graphic novel format.  The suggested reading material may represent something quite fresh and new, or it may be a call to re-visit an old and forgotten yet classic book/tale. 

I must cop to being a gigantic Marvel Comic fan, and spent many years reading those books under the Marvel flag almost exclusively with forays into some DC Batman titles, as well as the occassional Dark Horse Comics project.  I was turned off by McFarlane's Image Comics in the 90's from a creative standpoint, though I was very sympathetic to the business reasons for its creation.  That being said, Image has really been impressing me of late with some very solid book series.

This month, Great Stories would like to raise your awareness of an awesome series called "Morning Glories" written by Nick Spencer with interior artwork by Joe Eisma and cover art by Rodin Esquejo.  Spencer wrote Existence 2.0 for Image Comics, also the flagship for Morning Glories, and it was well-liked enough to be optioned as a movie by Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes studio and is currently in development. 

Morning Glories was one that I happened upon when walking into a New England Comics store to visit a friend, and the conversation turned to the subject of the incredible TV show, Lost.  And with that perfect segue, he handed me a copy of the first trade paperback of the aforementioned title.  I opened my wallet and, after reading the first few pages, knew it had been money well spent. 

Morning Glories tells the story of a group of very special students recruited from around the world to attend the prestigious Morning Glory Academy.  What the students don't know is that Morning Glory Academy is not at all what it seems, and the students all share something in common that goes beyond the normal.  The characters, at first, seem like the typical line-up of high school archetypes.  Casey is the intelligent and beautiful blond with perfect parents who has it all going for her.  The Indian-American Zoe is the tough as nails, mean, and pretty cheerleader.  Hunter is the almost invisible book nerd raised by a single Dad.  Ike is the spoiled rich kid with a sordid past.  Jun is a principled and serious student from Japan.  And Jade is the moody emo-girl, also raised by a single parent.

Although the stereotypes are all typically present, the events that ensue are anything but.  The comparisons to Lost, as alluded to in the author's own description of his book, are well founded and present in the flashback stylization that helps to flesh out the characters in awesome detail.  The characters have been written intelligently with actions that are consistent with the individual motivations and character traits born within. 

It is quite simply very difficult to keep from being pulled into the writer's world.  And the artwork by Joe Eisma is very good, capturing the essence of the story well within the panels and giving it a very clean look that suits the material well. His characters are drawn expressively, which I appreciate, and lends to more effective storytelling.

I want to say so much more about the book, but to do so would betray the great plot developments that author and artist have in store for the reader.  25 issues into the monthly comic, you can pick up the first 19 issues in trade paperback form in three collections starting with "For a Better Future" (collecting issues 1-6), continuing in "All Will Be Set Free" (collecting the second story arc issues 7-12), and "PE" (collecting issues 13-19).  The fourth collection, "Truants" will be released this May.

Spencer has mapped out a complete beginning to end story that runs 100 issues, which is eight years of comic life.  If the next six years of story are anything like the first two, we are all in for a treat.  Not to mention that you could very well be looking at a perfect candidate for a TV pilot, able to match the success of the last graphic novel to small screen adaptation that has taken the industry by storm.  Oh yes, that little show called "The Walking Dead" is exactly what I am referring to. 

I sincerely hope you give this book a look and come back to let us know your thoughts!  Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and come back again soon for another visit.  :)

Chris (for the Great Stories team)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Great Stories Business Update

Greetings to everyone in the blogging community!

We just wanted to take a brief detour from celebrating the creative aspects of our world to let you know that Great Stories has hit a major developmental milestone as a formally created corporation.  We are now officially Great Stories, Inc.  It is a very exciting time for our business, and we wanted to share with you all that the small seed of an idea that began in December 2011 has indeed grown into something more in these past fifteen months. 

It all began as an e-Bay business, which soon expanded to Amazon.  Following the successful launch of a self-operated business retail site in July 2012 (, the entity grew social media arms through Facebook, Twitter, and of course this very blog.  We have had a very eventful first year, and will continue to seek new venues and marketplaces to grow the Great Stories brand. 

As we mentioned in the very first post on our blog, there are great plans ahead.  This is only the beginning of a journey that we anticipate will bring many surprises with it.  Thank you for being a part of the evolution of a brand new start-up company that shares your passions of creativity and adventure.

Our next blog will cover a very cool graphic novel series that we hope you may add to your reading list.  Look for it to appear here in the next few days!

Chris (on behalf of the Great Stories team)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March Theatrical Releases Part Two

Great Stories previews the movie hitting theaters for the weekends of March 22nd and March 29th!

March 22nd
Admission (Focus Features)- Tina Fey stars as a Princeteon admissions officer who visits an alternative high school on a recruitment assignment and discovers a previously unknown connection to a very gifted student, as we as finding romance along the way.  Paul Rudd also stars.

The Croods (Dreamworks)- Animated family feature about the first pre-historic family and their first adventure together as they travel from the safety and confines of their cave home.  Stars the vocal talents of Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Nicolas Cage, and Emma Stone.

Olympus Has Fallen (Millenium)- Gerard Butler stars as a haunted secret service agent on the President's (Aaron Eckhart) detail.  When a full scale invasion of the White House by terrorists threatens the leadership of the country, it is up to him to set things right and find redemption.  The ensemble cast also includes Morgan Freeman, Cole Hauser, Ashley Judd, Dylan McDermott, Rahda Mitchell, and Angela Bassett.

Great Stories Pick:  Olympus Has Fallen
We are locked and loaded for a a pretty exhilirating looking thriller, and Gerard Butler has a certain appeal in these types of roles.  We haven't seen D.C. threatened like this since Jack Bauer was all over our TV screens, which seems like forever and a day.  And who didn't like Jack Bauer?  That's right!  As for the other releases, The Croods family fare is great for the little kiddies, and is sure to drum up some decent ticket sales.  As for Admission, well, what can be said?  That is one that we will be refusing to pay for at the Box Office. 

March 29th
The Host (Open Road)- Teen dramas just got another potential flagship franchises as Saoirise Ronan takes on alien hosts that are taking over earth one body at a time, in this Body Snatcher-type sci fi flicks.

Tyler Perry's Temptation (Lionsgate)- Brandy Norwood, Vanessa Williams, and yes, Kim Kardashian, appear in this drama about an unhappy wife in a marriage that is going through the motions when an attractive stranger enters the picture threatening to turn everyone's workl upside down.

Family Weekend (Arc Entertainment)- Matthew Modine and Kristen Chenoweth star as a couple of very unconventional parents whose child-rearing style are rubbing their eldest daughter (Olesya Rulin) the wrong way.  The motivated teen gets the idea to re-educate her parents in this quirky comedy.

The Place Beyond the Pines (Focus Features)- Ryan Gosling plays a carnival stunt motorcyclist who returns home to rekindle romance with his old flame (Eva Mendes) and is surprised to learn he has a son.  Meanwhile, star rookie police officer (Bradley Cooper) is out to make a name for himself as well as a difference under the shadown of a corrupt police chief (Ray Liotta).  The paths of the two men are inextricably linked when Gosling chooses a life of crime to provide for his new family.

The Evil Dead (TriStar)- The remake of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead promises big scares and a new facelift to the franchise which spawned the cult-classic Army of Darkness.

Great Stories Pick:  The Place Beyond the Pines
The trailer for Pines looks fantastic, and the talents of Gosling and Cooper as two of Hollywood's fast rising stars is undeniable.  Factor in a dash of Ray Liotta, and you are in for some great entertainment.  It is a little bit funny that Drive was a movie that starred Gosling as a Hollywood stunt driver who turns to criminal activities.  Is he risking being typecast as a stuntman?  LOL.  But the story looks solid and we can't wait to see how it all plays out.  As for the other entries for the last weekend in March, The Host looks to be one of those tween movies that could go either way.  Movies marketed towards the teen audience are a tough game, as they tend to be what a Snackwell is to the dessert world.  A treat that just isn't all that fulfilling without the real ingredients.  In this way, the stories they tell tend to lack edge and sophistication.  Family Weekend might be a good rental, in that same vein as the off-beat Juno.  We refuse to see anything with Kim Kardashian in it, so Tyler Perry's Temptation is off the list.  The Evil Dead remake is intriguing, but we are more interested in a sequel to Army of Darkness and a continuation of Ash's story as opposed to yet another Hollywood reboot.

We hope you all have an awesome week!

Chris & the Great Stories team

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Theatrical Releases Part One

It is the first Friday of March, and that can only mean that it is time for Great Stories to preview and give our quick thoughts on the March movies release schedule based on the trailers we have seen.  We are going to split this one up into two posts this month since we have five weeks of releases.  So, without further adieu, here are the movies being released for the weekends of 3/1, 3/8, and 3/15!

March 1st
21 & Over (Relativity)- From the makers of The Hangover, comes the latest in trip down debauchery lane.  Just replace the wedding party with college-age kids intent on making their passage to 21 a memorable occasion.

Jack the Giant Slayer (Warner Bros)- Bryan Singer, director of the X-Men, brings along Ewan MacGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson, and Stanley Tucci into the fabled world of Kings and Giant-kin, based on the well-known children's story.

The Last Exorcism II (CBS Films)- Eli Roth produces the sequel to the successful original which sees the return of Ashley Bell as the young demon-afflicted girl who now deals with her condition in the aftermath of her family's demise.

Phantom (RCR Media)- Ed Harris plays a Soviet submarine captain and David Duchovny returns to the big screen as a KGB agent with his own agenda in this underwater thriller.

Great Stories Pick:  Jack the Giant Slayer
The trailer to Jack the Giant Slayer had us genuinely excited for a big screen excursion.  Bryan Singer is a proven commodity as director, and the film just has fun written all over it.  Solid cast, and what it not to like about creating a "larger than life" representation of such a great children's classic?  You may not be able to bring your overly young children to see this one with the PG-13 tag, but it is certainly something the older kids and you could enjoy!  21 & Over had that been there and done that feel to it.  Heck, the trailer had already screamed out The Hangover even without the crack marketing team telling you it was from the same people who brought you said movie.  The only thing that caught the eye was the appearance of a certain Dharma Initiative celebrity (for you Lost fans out there).  The Last Exorcism was an excellent movie, filmed in that lost footage style with plenty of atmosphere and good acting from a cast of unknowns.  The trailer for the second movie has us far less interested, as this sequel takes on a narrative style approach.  It is good to see Ashley Bell return to her role, but the premise seems to take away from the mystique of the origiinal's surprise ending.  Phantom, on the other hand, had us very interested when reading the synopsis.  Another tale in the mold of Hunt for Red October screamed for attention, especially with Ed Harris, whose acting chops are well known and David Duchovny of X-Files fame playing the role of the antagonist.  But the lackluster preview trailer dulled our excitement.  Again, Jack the Giant Slayer looks to be the sure-fire winner of the week!

March 8th
Dead Man Down (Film District)- Colin Farrell tries to amend his ways after the terrible Total Recall remake with this moody mutual revenge flick.

Oz the Great and Powerful (Disney)- Another classic children's tale re-done with a new spin will attempt to bring families flocking to the cineplex with James Franco and Mila Kunis taking the leads.

Emperor (Lionsgate)- Tommy Lee Jones plays General MacArthur as he visits Japan just after their surrender in WWII, charged with the responsibility on how to deal with Emperor Hirohito.  Matthew Fox (of Lost fame) co-stars as General MacArthur's chief investigator.

Great Stories Pick:  Oz the Great and Powerful
Let it not be said that this was an easy call for us.  Emperor looks fantastic, and history/WWII buffs will probably be in for a treat with this picture.  But Oz the Great and Powerful looks to be another winner for Disney.  James Franco is one of Hollywood's great young actors with many good roles to his credit, and this one seems to hold a bit of magic and wonder for all ages.  Add in the beautiful Mila Kunis, as well as supporting roles by Michelle Williams and Rachel Wiesz and it is hard to argue with the strength of the cast.  As for Dead Man Down, the trailer makes a strong case for some attention, but we are a bit trigger shy after the last two big screen appearances from Farrell in the terrible remakes of Total Recall and Fright Night.  It makes one wonder if his script choices are a reflection of a poor agent or his fading star.  Maybe we can be pleasantly surprised?

March 15th
The Call (TriStar)- Halle Berry stars as a 911 call operator who is witness to the repeated crimes by a sadistic killer and is forced to take a more active role in catching him before he commits his next crime.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (Warner Bros)- Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi star as childhood friends who are bonded together by their love of magic and make a carreer of it until their commercial appeal is replaced by a new magician in the public eye.

Spring Breakers (A24)- A group of wayward young girls (including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens) steal some money to afford the spring break of their lives when they meet a local drug runner/arms dealer (James Franco) who takes them even deeper into the underbelly of the criminal world leaving the girls to ponder the choices that led them there.

Upside Down (Millenium)- Kirsten Dunst stars in the sci-fi drama about the inhabitants of twin planets who share incredible proximity and atmospheres but strangely different gravitational rules.  Also separated by socio-economic differences, a man and a woman defy their societies and risk it all to be together.

Great Stories Pick:  The Call
The Halle Berry movie seems to have enough tension and excitement to carry us through the weekend without falling asleep in that nice comfortable stadium style seat at the local theater.  And after playing it safe with two family-style films in the previous weeks, we felt the need to charge up the adrenaline a bit.  As for the other releases, Steve Carrell's comedic take on the business of magic and illusion had some appeal, but not enough to sway us.  After all, comedies are just as good on the small screen, so we can wait.  Spring Breakers makes James Franco a bit of a commercial cannibal as he will have had two straight weeks of film release.  His portrayal of a scummy drug dealer is certainly a far cry from his wholesome image in Oz.  While the film has potential, we will just have to wait and see.  Upside Down screams art-house independent  and introspective.  We love that movies can have a higher level of sophistication, but we prefer to read those types of things as opposed to seeing them on the big screen.  Maybe good for a rental?

March 22nd and March 29th coming soon!

Chris & the Great Stories team