Every culture on Earth has fairy tales and yet we hear the same few European stories told again and again. I’m creating a series of picture books telling lesser-known fairy tales.

The first book in the series is the ancient Japanese tale Shita-Kiri Suzume (the tongue-cut sparrow). This story tells of a kind woodcutter, his greedy wife, and his friend, an injured sparrow he nurses back to health who turns out to be a powerful fairy and a few monsters in a box.

Through the story, kindness is rewarded, friendship and service are valued, and anger, greed and malice are punished.

While the setting is fantastical, much of the visual reference including plants, clothing, homes and vehicles, is rooted in the Jomon Period, Japan’s Neolithic era. The art will have a feel of accuracy, mixed with timelessness and wonder. So, it won’t belong to any particular time period.

I’m hand inking each page with kuretake fude and brush pens, then adding subtle digital colors based on pallets from the Japanese woodblock prints of Hiroshi Yoshida.

The pages are all thumbnailed, some inked, and the story plotted.