The tale of a worm in love, two spiders at Christmas and some fleas with enormous dreams. These are almost fairy tales, magical fables both written and beautifully illustrated by David Lee Smyth, in an exquisitely bound edition printed on recycled paper and including a recording of each story. Conundrums and conversations to contemplate by the light of the moon and the rustle of leaves, our favourite is a requiem for a smiley ladybird gazing into a droplet of water. The book would make a lovely gift for either adult or child.

David is an artist, musician and actor. Mooseman is the company he runs with his wife Kylie. Together they work on animation, film and art design for CD’s as well as publishing. Inspired by their great working relationship and intrigued by their many pursuits we asked Kylie a few questions about their joint venture:

What are both of your backgrounds?

My background is in theatre, then spending a considerable amount of time in Los Angeles in and around the film industry.

David’s background is in art and creation, whether that be visual, music, performance or story telling.

How long have you collaborated as Mooseman?

Mooseman was created in November 2010. We began it together and continue to do so in partnership.

How long has David been writing?

David has been writing concepts and ideas for projects and characters for approx 15 years, and he just said over my shoulder probably since he was a child, alone is his room playing with his dolls, action figures! he said, so 30 years!
What came first the aesthetic, the ideas for the illustrations or the stories themselves?

The stories came first, back in 2004. David had an old exercise book and wrote for over four months at train stations, on buses, in cafes, where ever his was and whatever came into his head at the time. They were recorded in 2006 and appeared in a conceptual art exhibition in 2008. Feedback on the stories is what began the creation of the first volume of Almost Fairy Tales.

What materials did you work in for these illustrations? And the stories? Note book or computer? What was the writing process?

All the art for the book was done on individual lino prints and printed on recycled paper in our living room. All stories were typed out on an old 1950’s Olympia type writer. Nothing was computer generated. Even the books were printed on recycled paper and handbound. David created the handwriten font for character dilogue and the front cover was done using the old school stencils!

Fairy tales were originally an oral tradition is this why you decided to include the CD?

The CD came before the book as David has many character voices that he felt wanted to tell the stories. One has been made into an animated short, The Teeny Tiny Water Droplet. We have a plan to animate more in the future.

How long did it take to get the book together?

From the original stories, which are all hand written in an old exercise book, to the final book you have in your store took six years! Although once the book was decided upon, all the art and the design took just over a year.

How many more volumes do you expect to create and what else are you keen to publish?

There are sixty short stories to choose from, but some of them will exist alone, maybe as animations, or even short films. I do however see maybe another two to three volumes.

Any advice for the self-publisher or would-be fairy tale writer?

Nike beat us to, just do it! Oh, maybe read them to people you trust and see if they like them. Then save up some money to do exactly what you want, but then be prepared to make adjustments to your ideas to get it done. And there is no shame in starting small.

What new projects do you have planned and what are you two working on at the moment?

The Day the Mouse Died: A very True story


Almost Fairy Tale Volume 1 by David Lee Smyth. Moosman, Australia, 2010. In an edition of 500 this book is a hardcover in white embossed buckram with a companion recording of stories -$50. Take a listen to Spiderwrap and Three Fleas Who Said Please.