“Here is the quintessential New York survivor’s story, told with warmth, humor and vibrancy. And there’s even a chase scene.”
-Junot Díaz (Drown, This is How You Lose Her, Pulitzer Prize Winner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao)
Hey readers — my first published comic, THE STARS BELOW with artist Rich Ellis,is now out from Monkeybrain Comics!
And here’s what people are saying…
“This is terrific! It’s like the best wordless picture books I used to love as a kid! The artwork…is amazingly good.”
-David Small (Caldecott Medal Winner; National Book Award Finalist, Stitches)
“You did a GREAT job. A++“
-Kevin Church (The Loneliest Astronauts)
“A wonderfully little story about birds, the world, and seeking new heights & new discoveries. I loved this, the art is great. Cheap, fun, totally worth it.
“Rating: BUY IT“
-Aaron Meyers, Two-Headed Geek Comicast
“It’s well-done. I’m impressed with creators that can do wordless stories without confusing or boring the audience, and I’m particularly taken with the panels where the bird gets stars in its eyes. There’s even a chase scene!”
-Johanna Draper-Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
“I had a feeling that I would really enjoy this comic. I was not wrong, as this wordless story from Zack Smith and Rich Ellis was at times a fun little adventure and other times very poignant, and a nice little story about how even the littlest of guys can strive for more, and how sometimes there is a little wonder just around the corner for each of us. Ellis’ art fit perfect for the story, as his cast was very emotive (very necessary for a wordless story) and he did a really great job of selling some of the points that readers needed to reach for a bit more.
“Altogether, this is about as much as you could possibly want from a $0.99 comic, and something that I’d be glad to share with audiences both young and old. Highly recommended from yours truly, and it’s a lovely little tale that is better experienced than written about.
“Final Verdict: 9.0 – Buy”
-David Harper at Multiversity Comics
“I want to thank Zack Smith, Rich Ellis, and Monkeybrain Comics for making this available. It is charming from cover to cover and a feast for the eyes and imagination [...].
“The artist, Rich Ellis, is the artist on Chris Roberson’s MEMORIAL for IDW. According to writer, Zack Smith, Ellis knocked this thing out as a fresh graduate from art school and before working on MEMORIAL. It is an impressive early effort by a strong talent. Smith, himself, has crafted a unique vision here that stands strong as an independent work in a crowded marketplace of super-heroes.
“Monkeybrain is making this comic available digitally for only 99¢ at this link. At that price, everyone out there should buy a copy. And, hey, why not buy one for your nephew and niece as well. This is good for all ages and is excellent.”
-Keith Howell, AICN Comics
“The Stars Below (link)
“This one-shot written by Zack Smith and drawn by Rich Ellis (of IDW’s Memorial) is probably the strangest of the bunch this week. Not that it’s particularly gruesome or preposterous, but the story it tells is something not often seen in the realm of comics. The Stars Below follows a pigeon (not a Disney-esque talking pigeon, just a normal pigeon) who gets kicked into a planetarium where it sees the stars for the first time. Since the urban canopy of New York prevents him from seeing the stars, he sets out to perch on the tallest building he can find to get a glimpse of the real thing.
“In a medium of capes, guns, boobs, gore and spells, finding a comic that’s simply about a bird trying to fly to the top of a building may seem ‘quaint,’ but the story really picks up when a falcon attempts to make the pigeon his lunch. Smith’s story is some classic story-telling fun and Ellis is able to capture a great deal of emotion in a pigeon’s face, even without spoken dialogue or a single thought balloon.”
-Andrew Leslie, Freakin’ Awesome Network
“ A beautifully illustrated fable that is sure to a spark a sense of wonder in children and adults alike,The Stars Below is a brief but worthy chapter in the annuls of Great Animal Comics and undoubtedly the first (maybe the last?) to make a hero out of a Pigeon.
-Matt Sargeson, Weekly Comic Book Review
“The Stars Below is utterly charming and a welcome change of pace from the comics I usually find myself reading. There is no dialogue and no color, but the story enchanted me from beginning to end. I’d recommend this one to young and older readers alike, and at only $.99 on ComiXology, The Stars Below is a great read all-around.”
-Kelly Knox, Wired.com’s Geek Mom Blog
“Yes, it is a book about a pigeon, and yes it has no dialogue or colour, but it is utterly compelling and quite mesmerising. Smith’s pacing of the story is sublime, with subtle scene setting, dynamic action and a sweet ending. Meanwhile Ellis’s work oozes charm and character making the pigeon’s emotions clear without ever resorting to cartoonish anthropomorphism. With some beautiful and clever layouts, including a splash page of the bird being chased through an office block by an eagle and a brilliant Will Eisner inspired final page, this is a real showcase for Ellis’s deft touch.”
-Alex Thomas, Pipedream Comics
“(10/10 ) I suppose I should probably provide a disclaimer here that I am not a particularly big fan of pigeons. A counter disclaimer is that I am in general terms a pretty big fan of animals, and it is thus interesting to see in this case the relatively simple story of an urban animal. At first glance there is not much depth to this story, but below the surface there is a lot more. The lead character (a pigeon) struggles to find a place in the city, and even for survival at times, but eventually finds something else. This kind of speaks to those people that don’t ever take a moment to look at the stars and think about our place in the universe, and how we would never do this for a creature like a pigeon (considered by many to be a pest). However, that is the end result here and it is actually quite beautifully accomplished.”