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Comic Pick of the Week October 9th 2013

Great Stories selects…..


Coffin Hill #1 (Vertigo)







Vertigo Comics is DC’s harder edge comic line, and as the cover for Coffin Hill #1, you may agree that this is not for the average spandex super-hero reading comic fan.  But I admit an affinity for the horror genre when done right, and the Vertigo line has been offering up some pretty good stuff over the past year or so (check out New Deadwardians and Saucer Country to name a couple).  So, it is with this morbidly hopeful heart that I swiped this one off the local comic store shelf and forked over the $3 for a story spun by the mind of novelist Caitlin Kittredge (Black London series) with artwork handled by Inaki Miranda (Fairest).


Eve Coffin, the protagonist of the story, was a naughty little teenager into all of the wrong things in her home town of Coffin Hill (named for her more than well-to-do but very cursed family), including drugs and witchcraft to name a few.  When she returns to her hometown a decade later a gunshot survivor as a Boston police officer, she discovers that the sins of her past have caught up with her in the most supernatural of ways.




Coffin Hill is off to a terrific start.  Kittredge is already weaving a fascinating yarn and Miranda’s pencils are a perfect compliment to the mood and tone being set.  I’ll be on board for issue two when it hits, and I encourage you to get a copy today (if you are of the mature reading age, of course).


Great Stories are everywhere!



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Fresh Popped Corn: October 2013 Movie Trailers

Once per month, we will be taking a look at movies released for the upcoming month, and telling our readers where we would be spending our movie dollars each week, based on the look of the trailers.  Links to the chosen trailers will be provided so you can see just what we are so excited about.  Movie release dates are subject to change.


October 4th

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock kick the month into high stratosphere with the outer space thriller Gravity.    Runner Runner sees Justin Timberlake take on gambling kingpin Ben Affleck.  Parkland retells the story of John F Kennedy assassination with a host of talent that includes Billy Bob Thornton, Zac Efron, and Paul Giamatti.  Giamatti pulls double duty this week as he appears alongside Paul Rudd in the off-beat comedy All is Bright.  Dario Argento does classic horror with Dracula 3-D with Rutger Hauer as Von Helsing.  Adam Scott stars as an unwitting subject of study in children of divorce who is forced to confront his parent’s fifteen year battle in A.C.O.D.  Bad Milo is a dark comedy/horror about a demon who lives in the intestines of a man in one of the weirdest movies you may likely see.  Grace Unplugged has a young church performer (AJ Michalka) rebel against her reformed rock singer father to make her own way in the big wide world.  Nothing Left to Fear is a atmospheric horror from new producer Slash (of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame).  While Gravity certainly looks to be great, and will almost certainly rule the box office this week, Parkland is looking like a pretty compelling look into one of the darkest moments in modern American history.  Check out the trailer for a closer look.


October 11th

This week was the most release-heavy of October, including all of the limited release films.  Starting things off, we have the sequel Machete Kills with Danny Trejo, Mel Gibson, Alexa Vega, Amber Heard, and many others.  Robert Rodriguez writes and directs all of the mayhem.  Captain Phillips tells the true story of a Somali pirate takeover of an American freighter with Tom Hanks starring and Paul Greengrass in the director’s seat.  Romeo & Juliet is a classic re-telling of the Shakespearean tragedy, and also features the third movie this month starring Paul Giamatti. This guy is busy!  Not to be outdone, by Amber Heard is also seen in two movie releases as her much delayed horror spin All the Boys Love Mandy Lane finally gets a release.  Sweetwater is a frontier grudge match between a fanatical preacher, renegade sheriff, and a butt-kicking prostitute starring Ed Harris, January Jones, and Jason Isaacs.  Brad Dourif plays the voice of the famous killer doll in Curse of Chucky (yes, it is Halloween people!).  I Will Follow You Into the Dark continues our scary movie trend in time for the holiday and seems to be a more sophisticated ghost story starring Mischa Barton.  CBGB tells the story of the rise of the famous New York City punk club with Alan Rickman and Malin Akerman.  Zero Charisma seems to be Napolean Dynamite for fantasy game geeks.  And Escape Plan is the Schwarzennegger/Stallone pairing in a prison action movie everyone demanded, right?  Captain Phillips is looking like the clear winner here.  Greengrass is best known for the Jason Bourne movies and his standout United 93, and this one looks to be of the same quality we have come to expect.




October 18th

All is Lost is about a solitary man sailing solo across the ocean when disaster strikes, starring Robert Redford.  Hellbenders with Clifton Collins Jr. is about a group of dysfunctional exorcists who take on the toughest jobs the Vatican is asked to handle.  The Fifth Estate tells the story of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his war on the establishment.  Torn is a drama about two women who lose their sons in a mall explosion, only to find out that each of their departed is suspected of being the perpetrators of the crime.  Stephen King’s Carrie gets the remake treatment, this time with Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz playing the role Sissy Spacek made famous.  Ja Rule stars as a drug dealer who confronts his demons for a woman in I’m In Love with a Church Girl.  Kill Your Darlings has Danielle Radcliffe shed his Harry Potter image as poet Allen Ginsberg.  Ben Foster also stars.  The Counselor stars Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Michael Fassbender in a Ridley Scott film about a lawyer who get in over his head with a drug dealer.  Finally, Paradise gets the Russell Brand kiss of death in a “comedy” about a repressed church girl (Julianne Hough) who breaks loose in Sin City.  Make it three for three in the serious drama category this week, as we hop aboard the SS Redford for his scary seafaring adventure.  Check out the trailer for All is Lost below.



October 25th

Ok, we promise not to pick another ocean drama for you folks who are subject to sea sickness this week.  Bad Grandpa from the crew that brought you the Jackass movies is up first.  Johnny Knoxville is out to shock you again with more crazy inappropriate antics as he dons the old man makeup and takes his 8 year old “grandson” out on a cross-country trip.    Spinning Plates is a documentary about three incredible restaurants and the various forms of tragedy their proprietors meet, and how they move past it all.  Blue is the Warmest Color is a foreign movie about a young girl who attempts to learn about love through a relationship with a blue-haired girl with a similarly unorthodox view of life.  But what better way to celebrate Halloween than checking out the creepy Skinwalker Ranch, a found footage film that attempts to explain the legend of a rural Utah community with a potentially supernatural problem.  Check out the trailer below.



And with that, Great Stories would like to ask what you are most looking forward to seeing at the movies?


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week October 2nd 2013

Great Stories selects……


 Whiteout Vol 1 (Oni Press)





This week we are delving back to 1998 for a story created by the one and only Greg Rucka.  Great Stories must admit a sort of love affair with Rucka’s writing and we sincerely hope that the perception of rose-colored glasses does not dissuade you (the reader) from seriously considering the purchase and enjoyment of this awesome tale.  The picture above is actually from the graphic novel collection that was released by Oni Press in 2007, and can be found on Amazon as well as the Great Stories retail site (at least for now).  The story caught the eye of Hollywood as well, as it was optioned for a movie release starring the lovely Kate Beckinsale in 2009, but took some serious liberties with the characters.  As well, the movie did not even come close to capturing the quality and feel granted us by Rucka’s words and Steve Lieber’s art, but it did grant the story some extra exposure to the commercial market elements.








Whiteout was originally released as a four issue series (cover art can be seen  above and below) and the story features two very powerful female leads.  U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko is stationed on Antarctica, and she has a problem.  A killer is on the loose in one of the most harsh and dangerous environments on the planet.  And the presence of an undercover British agent may complicate matters even more.  The claustrophobia and isolation of the setting is palatable, especially as visually presented through Lieber’s pencils.  And Rucka has a gift for making characters come to life while making a connection to the reader.  He moves the action and plot development along at a satisfying pace as well as closing the story with a really great final panel.  Hardcore mystery bloodhounds may balk at the lack of a total misdirection, but I think Rucka’s more direct storytelling approach is more a result of wanting to give us a character piece (the subject being a wounded and displaced Carrie Stetko) as opposed to a swerve that would overpower the true star of his story.  Suffice to say, it works well and leaves the reader wanting more (which Rucka & Lieber kindly provide with the sequel Whiteout: Melt, which is not previewed here).









For novelist Greg Rucka, Whiteout was his first foray into the world of comics.  And he obviously caught the attention of the DC and Marvel brass with this debut.  Before long, he would be writing Batman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and Daredevil books.  Greg Rucka had arrived, and you can recapture his debut on the comic scene with Whiteout, a creator owned independent work worthy of your attention.


And for added entertainment, you can go rent the Hollywood version with the aforementioned Kate Beckinsale.  Just don’t expect that one to measure up with the source material.  😉




Great Stories are everywhere!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week September 25th 2013

Great Stories selects…..


The Trial of the Punisher #1 (Marvel)







For Punisher fans, we are by and large still lamenting the loss of the last unlimited series, written by the talented Greg Rucka.  Marvel decided to pull the plug on that wonderful series in favor of putting Frank Castle into the Thunderbolts team book.  And with it came an update to the characters physical appearance as well as the introduction of a red skull to blend with the team composition.  Fashion faux pas aside, the character just does not belong in a team book.  Castle has always been a more solitary figure.  He is a lone wolf that has never played nice with others.  So, fans such as me, continue to buy Thunderbolts to support the marketability of our beloved anti-hero without actually enjoying the journey of the story as we should.  Enter the 2-issue Trial of the Punisher.




Debuting today, this particularly satisfying Punisher yarn was actually written more than two years ago by Marc Guggenheim (Arrow).  Finally, after visits to various editors over time, Marc’s story was finally given the green light.  The art is being handled by Leinil Yu in the first issue with a seamless transition to Mico Sauyan for issue two.  And the story, in true Punisher style, will hit you pretty hard right off the bat with a very cool opening confession by Frank Castle himself in a local NYC precinct.  This story is a court-room driven tale, but that does not mean it is without its visual and contextual excitement.  In fact, the first issue is ripe with fantastic sequences and plot development.  And the last panel is really going to have you guessing what Frank is scheming in a situation that voluntary places him in the cross-hairs of an execution for a capital crime.


So, while Marvel fumbles around with their long-range Punisher plans, sink your teeth into this mini for some awesome traditional Punisher action with a twist.  Trial of the Punisher #1 is on sale today at your local comic shops!


Great Stories are everywhere!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week September 18th 2013

Great Stories selects…..


Century West (Image) in Trade Paperback




In a week featuring lots of continuing stories from long-running series, and not much new stuff to peak the interest of yours truly, I happened upon the trade paperback new release of Century West, a story of the American West in a transitioning world of technological breakthroughs that ushered us into the 20th century.  Eagle Award winner Howard Chaykin provides the story and art for the book, indicating that this should be viewed as a true labor of love-type project from the man responsible for the art in the first ten issues of the original Star Wars film adaptation series, as well as the cutting edge movie Heavy Metal.


Century West is a story of cowboys, outlaws, and a law man’s struggle between a world being left behind and the brave new world ahead of him.  Century, Texas used to be the quintessential frontier town, but it is transforming before Robert Ford’s eyes and things will never be the same again.


So, listen to the sounds of a boot-born spur, the roll of the tumbleweed, and the brazen call of an outlaw challenging the authority of a badge once more.  Mr. Wayne and Mr. Eastwood would be proud of you.


You can find Century West in a comic shop or book store for a fair bargain of $7.99.  Shoot, if that ain’t a deal.


Great Stories are everywhere!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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The Front Row View #1: Slayed at the Box Office

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man. 




    It’s always perplexed me how many good movies have bombed at the box office. Case in point, Bryan Singer’s recent release Jack the Giant Slayer. This hybrid of the fairy tales “Jack the Giant Killer” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” was one of the most entertaining big-budget fantasies to be released within the past few years. In the wake of the success of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, Hollywood has sought out just about any Children’s /Young Adult’s property with elements of fantasy that it can get it’s hands on. Many of them have been bloated with special effects and  devoid of anything approaching decent story construction or character development (‘member those?). With some of them, it felt as if I’d had my head inside a video game for 2 hours.

Not so with Jack the Giant Slayer. This was a beautiful and fluid fantasy from one of our most talented filmmakers. Some of the action sequences both rival and surpass those in  the recent The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The first full view of the giants, with one of them standing in the background and then rushing up to snatch up one of the characters, is an amazing use of the space afforded by the wide screen (and yes, the use of space is something else that’s in danger of extinction on today’s movie screens—witness all of the recent action thrillers with action sequences that are so crowded, smashed together and over-edited that it’s difficult to see what, if anything, is going on). Amazing too is the actual climb up the beanstalk, a long and tense sequence that calls to mind the illustrations of great storybooks of the past.



The cast was also well-chosen, with Nicholas Hoult doing a solid job as the hero and the ever-busy Stanley Tucci acting out a memorable villain without hamming it up too much.

Why then, did this fail? Are people getting tired of effects-laden fantasies?  Or was everyone going to see the heavily hyped and mediocre Oz the Great and Powerful instead?



Unfortunately, gone are the days when most movies were in theatres long enough for word of mouth to build. If a movie doesn’t do blockbuster business it’s first weekend, it’s as dead as someone falling from the top of a giant beanstalk.

Can anyone else think of any neglected movies that they’ve admired over the years?


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Comic Pick of the Week September 11th 2013

Great Stories would like to first observe the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01.  The victims, families, and all people both in America and around the world who felt the effect of that chilling day are close to our hearts this and every day.  God Bless You All!


And now……


Great Stories Selects……


Mighty Avengers #1 (Marvel)






Spinning off of the current major storyline in the Marvel Universe (Infinity), the new Mighty Avengers assemble and it is quite an interesting team with not the most usual suspects that the average comic reader might guess.  Leading the team is Luke Cage, who recently gave up his gig leading the Thunderbolts in his last team book.  The Superior Spider-Man adds some gravitas, but after that you have White Tiger, Spectrum, and Power Man (as well as some mysterious figure not identified).  Not the biggest names in the annals of Marvel history, but ones that could very well make for a very interesting book and infinite (pun intended) storyline possibilities.  For now, however, Infinity rages on and this team is contending with Thanos’ henchmen, The Marauders somewhere in deep space and far away from the rest of us human-types.


So, hop on board with writer Al Ewing and artists Greg Land and Jay Leisten for the newest Avengers venture and what could prove to be one of the most intriguing teams assembled in some time.


Mighty Avengers #1 is on sale everywhere with multiple covers for you collectors!

Great Stories are everywhere!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Fresh Popped Corn: September 2013 Movie Trailers

Great Stories’ new column for our movie trailer preview series is here.  Once per month, we will be taking a look at movies released for the upcoming month, and telling our readers where we would be spending our movie dollars each week, based on the look of the trailers.  Links to the chosen trailers will be provided so you can see just what we are so excited about.  Movie release dates are subject to change.

September 6th

The first week of the month boasts only one big release along with a bunch of moves in more limited release.  Riddick is the third installment of the Vin Diesel series that started with Pitch Black so many years ago.  The trailer looks to be a cross between the first two pictures in the series (with a focus on both the action and horror genres).  Touchy Feely is an independent starring Ellen Page about a masseuse who is suddenly averted to human touch causing havoc in her marriage and career.  Adore stars Naomi Watts and Robin Wright as two moms who tread down a dangerous path through growing love affairs with each other’s sons.  Hell Baby is an off-beat comedy/horror flick about an expecting couple who move into a cursed home, starring Rob Curddry and Leslie Bibb.  Il Futuro is a foreign film starring Rutger Hauer as a fading film star who is romanced by a young woman who may have more then good intents.  Bounty Killer is a mindless actioner that takes place in a world whose governments have all been replaced by corporations who wage wars of profit.  Kristanna Loken and Matthew Marsden star.  Its a fairly bleak week at the box office as the summer movie season goes through its death throes.  In spite of not enjoying the Chronicles of Riddick, we are hoping that with the help of Diesel’s co-star Karl Urban (Judge Dredd), this franchise can get back on track.  Check out the trailer below.




September 13th

After a week of over the top gory sci fi action, what do we have to look forward to?  A slew of films are on the docket.  The Family stars Robert DeNiro and Michelle Pfeiffer as recently witness protected heads of a crime family who find that while their identities have changed, the lifestyle is not so far behind them…a dark comedy for sure with some good star power.  Insidious 2 continues the march towards the Halloween horror season.  Informant is a documentary look at a man whose radical leanings find him in lockstep with a group of domestic terrorists but working with the FBI after a seeming crisis of conscience.  Jayne Mansfield’s Car stars Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, and Billy Bob Thornton star in a movie about two very different families whose union is fraught with struggle following the death of one familiy’s matriarch.  And While We Were There stars Kate Bosworth as a woman in an unhappy marriage who begins to fall for the advances of a younger man.  We are hoping The Informant is playing somewhere close by because the documentary looks absolutely compelling.  Failing that, Jayne Mansfield’s Car has an outstanding cast and looks like a very entertaining night out at the theaters.  Check out both trailers below!






September 20th

The official end of summer only two days away, the kids are back at school, and James Gandolfini returns before our eyes larger than life on the big screen as the object of affection for one woman (Julianne Dreyfuss) and the object of disdain for another (Catherine Keener).  Will the women’s shared friendship allow for the success of romance in Enough SaidThanks for Sharing is a Mark Ruffalo/Gwyneth Paltrow drama comedy about recovering sex addicts, Battle of the Year will attempt to dance its way to the top of the box office as a team dance competition draws competition from all over the world.  The Colony sees Lawrence Fishburne and Bill Paxton lead a group of post-global warming apocalypse survivors against the threat of starving cannibals.  Haute Cuisine portrays the life of the woman who became chef for French President Francois Mitterand.  A Single Shot with William H Macy and Sam Rockwell relive events that look strangely familiar to the great movie A Simple Plan.  COG sees a young intellectual integrate into what he views as a lowest common denominator culture but begins to find respect for those around him and their values.  Prisoners looks like a grab you by the throat kidnap thriller starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhall, and Terrence Howard.  Meanwhile, Chris Hemsworth puts down a different type of hammer (sorry for my obligatory Thor joke) to lock horns on the race track against his arch-nemsis (Daniel Bruhl) in Rush.  Lastly, Stephen Dorff plays an Israeli fighter pilot who is shot down over Beirut and strikes an unlikely alliance with a Lebanese youth to escape his captors and return home safely in Zaytoun.  It is the last entry for this week that has our attention.  Zaytoun looks like a winner.




September 27th

As we inch our way to October and the beautiful fall foliage (for those of you lucky enough to live in a similar climate!), kids all around the world will be looking for Italian food to fall from the sky with the release of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Inequality for All is a documentary that follows Carter and Clinton Administration official Robert Reich as he advocates his brand of economics for America.  The relationship of real life pen pals Johnny Dark and actor/playwrite Sam Shepard is explored in the documentary Shepard & DarkAs I Lay Dying has James Franco take on William Faulkner’s classic novel of a family that is seeking to honor the wishes of their dying mother.  Secret Lives of Dorks features cameos by Jennifer Tilly and Jim Belushi as a high school geek seeks his dream girl.  Through the Never features a Metallica roadie running a simple errand that takes him on a very unexpected and dangerous journey.  We Are What We Are looks to be a frightening movie-going experience as two young girls are brought into some very unorthodox family traditions after the death of their mother.  Baggage Claim features Paula Patton in a mad rush to find romance when her one remaining sibling is engaged to be married and she determines to not be the only sibling without.  And finally, Don Jon has Joseph Gordon Levitt discover the meaning of a real relationship and love in spite of his more shallow pursuits and hobbies.  It’s a huge lineup of films, but we are going the classic literature route with the theatrical presentation of As I Lay Dying.  Don Jon, We Are What We Are, and Prisoners al looks like solid entries as well.  But check out the trailer that rose above this good list for us.




What are you most looking forward to seeing this month at the movies?  Great Stories would like to know!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week for September 5 2013

Great Stories Selects…..


The New DC World Event


Kneel before———–you must know this guy, right?




 Zod takes over the pages of Action Comics


Every title in the DC Universe gets a major shakeup as the villains become the stars and their own covers.  The New 52, DC’s most recent re-launch, throws us this latest twist in a nice neat package of standard and alternative covers that are sure to tempt the collector in you.  Some books are harder to find than others, but we will let you feast your eyes on just a handful of the titles that were released this week for your enjoyment.  Now, don’t waste any more time and rush out to find out just how out their minds DC’s creative teams really are these days.


Black Mantra makes Aquaman finally cool?


Solomon Grundy is a scary dude in Earth 2



Harley Quinn is not Batman’s ideal date in Detective Comics



All of these title and more rogue gallery mayhem are out in stores now from DC!

Great Stories are everywhere!!!


Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week for August 28th 2013

Great Stories Selects…..

Locke & Key Alpha (IDW)







Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, is an accomplished writer on his own.  With the novels “NOS4A2”,  “Heart-Shaped Box” and “Horns”, as well as the short story collection “20th Century Ghosts”, he is carving out his own little spot in the halls of horror-themed fiction.  Having read both his short story collection and first novel, I can say with certainty that his gift for spinning a yarn is a hereditary boon.  Locke & Key, however, may be his most impressive work to date.  The graphic novel might be his most impressive work of them all, however.  Telling the story of a mysterious house in a small Massachusetts hamlet that hold some amazing secrets for a family that has been afflicted with serious tragedy.  We don’t want to spoil this series for you, and even though the current issue of Locke & Key is our pick of the week, readers should really do themselves a favor and pick up the graphic novel releases with a story that originated in February of 2008.  The first collection, available in hard cover and paperback, is entitled “Welcome to Lovecraft”.  “Head Games”, “Crown of Shadows”, “Keys to the Kingdom”, and “Clockworks” all followed as the formal collections to the monthly comic series.  We cannot recommend this series highly enough.  Along with “Morning Glories”, this may be the best long-running independent comic series on the market today.  And once you get caught up on all of that reading, pick up the story in “Locke & Key Alpha #1”.




Great Stories are everywhere!



Chris (for the Great Stories Team)