on 3 February 2007
If you don't know the Moomin comic strips - originally created for the London Standard in the 1950's - then this is a treat. Tove Jansson's quiet and quirky observations of life, as represented by the eccentric Moomins are every bit as endearing here as in the full length books. The strips were a huge success, continuing into the '70's when her brother, Lars took over. Only one annual was ever published in Britain (in the fifties) and it is wonderful to at last have these wonderful strips revived for all to enjoy.
Tove's independant view of life, her fiercely non-capitalistic stance and pacifist tendancies all shine through these bizarre, unexpected and utterly individual stories, which see the "De Moomins" mixing with film stars on the Riviera (including "the great little Audrey Glamour") and transforming old ladies into randy young men, with magic potions! Hers was a unique talent and these glorious strips are in the ame class as Herge's Tintin, or the Peanuts strips.
Her economy of line and brilliantly understated humour are quite remarkable and the production of this book is a real class act. Just the drawings are worth the purchase price alone. Drawn and Quarterly are to be congratulated for a beautifully put together volume - the first of several - not showy or ostentatious, but lavish and discreetly handsome, as befitting the glorious delights within. It is utterly unmissable - and another magnificent side of the work of this quiet genius.
If, like me, you have loved the Moomin family since childhood, you will have read all the quirky, unique books in the series, many , many times. If so, you may be surprised to find, as I was, that these comic strips exist, and allow us an unexpected opportunity to re-enter the world of Moominvalley.
In a way comics are the ideal medium for Tove Jannson, the illustrations to her Moomin series are as fine as the effortlessly brilliant stories. Her sense of fun and rather unworldly viewpoint are showcased in these strips as well as her beautiful artwork.
Having said all that, these strips perhaps lack the shade of gloomy darkness that make the Moomin series of books so memorable, "Moominvalley in November", for example, is almost bleak in outlook. Also, the characters are all slightly different from in the books, which is a bit distracting at times.
Even so, these collected newspaper strips are a hugely welcome addition to any Moomin fan's library.
on 1 February 2009
The Moomins were written and illustrated by Tove Jansson, a classic bohemian figure, who lived for much of her life on a small island in Finland, from where much of the inspiration for these quietly surreal strips came from. The stories are full of delicate and poignant observations of life, much like her adult prose, and sing with a homespun, joyous wisdom.
The moomins themselves are curious, wonderful, often confused, upside down, and surprising emotional. Each character is rich and full, despite the miniature nature of the format: very little text, and small, often sparsely detailed, economic illustrations. Janson managed to pack so much of everything into these strips, and incredibly, each individually published small strip is successful in its own right, away from the larger arcs of the story; something which seems to get even better as she gained experience of working in this way.
Ostensibly, you might think these stories are for children, like the moomin books, however, they were acually made for adult publication and where circulated in newspapers in over 40 countries through out the world. Children from perhaps 7 years old (perhaps even younger) could certainly get a great deal from them, not least the fabulous adventures of Moomin himself, or the funny auxilary character like Sniff (who just seems to think of money and fame), and Stink (who seems equally cynical).
I came at these strips after having read Janssons adult fiction, namely The Winter Book and The Summer Book, where she quickly established herself as one of my favourite authors, and with some familiarity with the Moomins cartoon. I was not disapointed. My only problem when i had finished the first of these 'Complete' collections, was the disappointment over returning to the normal world, and having to wait for the next book to arrive.
There's a little bit of these characters in all of us, but that doesn't stop me wishing i was a moomin, or that i could just 'live in peace, plant potatoes and dream'.
on 5 September 2014
I first came across this book in 1959 when a friend's sister sent it from England. I was instantly hooked and every time we visited our friend, I buried myself in it and only emerged for meals. I was always enchanted by Tove Jansson's illustration skills, attention to detail and wonderfully quirky Scandinavian humour. So it was with great joy that I saw this reprint and pounced! I pick up this copy on a regular basis and my enjoyment is 100 fold in light of my experience as an illustrator and painter. A few years ago I was sad to see that Jansson had passed away, but it was a delight to read about her long and interesting career.
on 25 April 2014
Having grown up on Tintin cartoon strip, reading Moomin in this format has been no problem for my 9 year old. I thought I might have caught Moomin too late for him, but he's been ensconced in Moominland ever since choosing this collection of stories. Great children's stories, beautifully written and illustrated, which feed the young imagination.