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Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip

John Sewell
#1 · Posted: 12 Jan 2008 23:44
I've just got the first two volumes of these reprints of the London Evening News' Moomin strip, which began in 1953, and was written and drawn for the first five years by the Moomins' creator, Tove Jansson (her brother Lars then took over and kept the strip going until 1975!)

It's splendid stuff - the art is of course in the same charming style as the early Moomin novels, and the carefree, innocent nature of the family is superbly captured (especially in Moomin On The Riviera where they're totally confused by the lifestyle of the idle rich in the South Of France.)

There are a few things which set the strip up as distinct from the novels. Moomintroll's first meeting with the Snork Maiden is different to how it's described in Comet In Moominland, Sniff is a much more mercenary and unlikeable character, and poor old Snufkin hardly gets a look in! There's also the non-novel character of Stinky, who I thought was created for the animated TV series until now.

There's also a certain dark humour to some of the stories, given that the strip was aimed at a much older audience than the novels. The Snork Maiden is a fickle thing, frequently leaving Moomintroll heartbroken. On one such occasion, he decides to commit suicide by drowning, but finds "it's a pity I swim so well." Fortunately his long-lost parents turn up in a rowing boat to rescue him! In Moomin's Winter Follies he even tries to kill a rival by shoving him over a cliff! The Snork Maiden herself comes into her own in the Riviera story, winning millions at the casino, and embarrassing Moomintroll with the skimpiness of her bikini (which is weird, seeing as how she usually doesn't wear anything anyway!)

The most macabre section is when, after Moominmama has inadvertantly killed a huge wild pig on a remote island, she proceeds to roast the poor thing on a huge fire for the family to eat. "I hope he hadn't any wife... but it had to be done," she says! Needless to say, the pig's wife does indeed turn up, and after chasing the Moomins into the sea, says that she doesn't really mind that they've eaten her husband; "Yes, in fact he was an awful bore... But I tell you, you'll have to dig a hole for his bones."

These are beautifully presented hardback books, with cloth spines and simple, bright cover images in three or four colours. They're published by Drawn and Quarterly in Canada, but seem to be readily available in the UK (I found my copies in the graphic novel section at Waterstones.) Very nice volumes to have, and I'd thoroughly recommend them to anyone who either read the Moomin books as a kid, or who might still read them! (looks guiltily at bookcase!)
#2 · Posted: 13 Jan 2008 21:34

I wonder how well-known Moomin-tales are round the world. Here in Finland you can't avoid Moomin no matter whether you like it or not (because Tove Jansson is a Finn). The animated Moomin cartoons (30 min. long, made in Japan) are maybe the most popular Moomin product here, they are easy to follow for kids, and believe me, kids are crazy about them. I have read the novels first and later, when adult, I've watched the animations with my son.
John Sewell
#3 · Posted: 15 Jan 2008 20:51
tuhatkauno wrote: I wonder how well-known Moomin-tales are round the world. Here in Finland you can't avoid Moomin no matter whether you like it or not (because Tove Jansson is a Finn).

They're definitely well-known in the UK - I remember my old infant school teacher reading my class Comet In Moominland nearly 35 years ago! The 70s stop-motion cutout TV series is also well remembered by those of a certain age, though it didn't get shown over here until the early 80s.
#4 · Posted: 30 Mar 2012 11:20
You can read the first 90 Moomin daily strips on publisher's (Drawn & Quarterly) home page.

The first five volumes collect the Tove and Lars strips (titled Moomin, The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip). The 6th volume collects the Lars strips (and drops Tove's name).

Lars, just a writer, learned how to draw so that he could continue Moomin after Tove! That's real dedication...

He wrote and drew the strip from 1961-1974. It's very hard to notice transition from Tove to Lars, except maybe there are little less details in the background.

I have read the novels first and later, when adult, I've watched the animations with my son.

Moomin animations are still running on Finnish television. I don't think they will ever stop showing them.

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