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Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Vol. 2

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In the second volume of Tove Jansson's humorous yet melancholic Moomin comic strip, we get four new stories about jealousy, competition, child rearing, and self-reinvention. The Moomins try to hibernate in the fashion of their ancestors but insomnia places them smack-dab into a winter carnival with the winter-sports-loving Mr. Brisk. The fickle and eternally lovestruck Mymble and Snorkmaiden find themselves in competition over a thrilling new man. Moominmamma meets her new neighbor, the Fillyjonk, causing her to ...

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In the second volume of Tove Jansson's humorous yet melancholic Moomin comic strip, we get four new stories about jealousy, competition, child rearing, and self-reinvention. The Moomins try to hibernate in the fashion of their ancestors but insomnia places them smack-dab into a winter carnival with the winter-sports-loving Mr. Brisk. The fickle and eternally lovestruck Mymble and Snorkmaiden find themselves in competition over a thrilling new man. Moominmamma meets her new neighbor, the Fillyjonk, causing her to hire the depressed and secretive Misabel as her new maid. Mymble's mother arrives on the Moomin family's doorstep with her seventeen new children. Finally, a prophet arrives on the scene declaring that the happy Moomins are in fact not happy at all and need to get back to nature and be free. Moomin, of course, becomes more and more miserable the freer he gets.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A lost treasure now rediscovered—one of the sweetest, strangest comic strips ever drawn or written. A Surrealist masterpiece. Honest." —Neil Gaiman

"[Jansson's] work soars with lightness and speed, and her drawings only echo her writing: delicate but precise, observant yet suggestive . . . Jansson was exceptional, an exuberant explorer of emotional independence and interdependence, a liberating force." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Moomin is gorgeous, and is flat out the best Moomin book I've ever seen. Tove Jansson was a natural cartoonist. These strips are clever, gentle, witty, and completely engrossing." —Jeff Smith, cartoonist of Bone

School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up
A collection of comic strips that Jansson wrote during the 1950s for adults, based on the characters from her children's books. In this volume, the cute hippolike Moomins stay in their Scandinavian home and let the follies of the world-a self-glorifying athlete, snobbish new neighbors, or competing prophets-come to them. But folly can also be home-grown, as Moominpapa one winter decides that his family will eat pine needles and sleep on a pile of hay, because that is how their ancestors lived. Whatever the challenge, though, good sense always triumphs and all ends well. Jansson's gentle skewering of human foibles is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago. Teens will readily identify modern-day incarnations of Jansson's characters and appreciate her message that the path to happiness lies in being true to who you are and trusting in the support of caring friends and family. The whimsical black-and-white artwork conveys both the characters' emotions and the informality of life in Moominvalley.
—Sandy SchmitzCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

The Barnes & Noble Review
Pimple, a small dog, wears a muzzle at all times to hide his tragic secret. "He daren't show himself," explains his owner, Misabel, a maid. "He isn't very well turned out." When the two are hired to work at the freewheeling Moomin household, Pimple removes his muzzle and admits the truth: He only likes cats, not other dogs. Moominmama, the matriarch, is nonplussed. "Why does he take everything so tragically?" she wonders. "Cats or dogs...all that matters is that one like something." After being scolded by his mistress for his indiscretion, the dog that really prefers cats looks out at the big Nordic moon and thinks. "I wish I were more Moomin-minded..."

Would that we all were. In many parts of the world, Tove Jansson's Moomins -- a family of rounded, vaguely hippo-like creatures, with plump bellies and long snouts -- are as familiar as Mickey Mouse. There is a Moomin Museum in her native Finland and a Moomin World theme park in Japan. Her illustrated chapter books for young readers featuring the Moomin family and a motley assortment of creatures both real and imaginary, written between 1945 and 1970, have been translated into 34 languages. She found an adult audience as well when the now-defunct London Evening News began to syndicate a daily Moomin comic strip that she wrote and illustrated from 1953 through 1959; her brother Lars continued the strip through 1973.

The United States has been long overdue for a Tove Jansson renaissance, and with the publication of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, we may well get one. This series from Drawn & Quarterly -- Book One was released in the fall of 2006 -- collects the entire Tove Jansson comic strips for the first time in North America. Presented in oversized hardcover editions, with brightly colored cloth covers, they are a magnificent introduction to one of the wittiest, most generous, most gleeful artists of the 20th century.

Readers who are totally unfamiliar with Moominland will get a thorough introduction over the course of the first two volumes, with four stories each. Moomintroll, the only character often referred to as just plain Moomin, is a melancholy adolescent -- or perhaps young man -- who mostly lives with his parents (it may be interesting to note that Jansson lived with her parents until the age of 28). His sort-of girlfriend, the Snorkmaiden -- who looks pretty much like the Moomin, with a fringe of bangs -- is obsessed with jewels and often ditches him, albeit temporarily, for various swashbuckling characters. Moominmama wears an apron, sculpts the daily bread into fanciful shapes, and deems housecleaning less important than throwing a party, complete with fireworks and fancy hats. Moominpapa wears a top hat, drinks a lot of cider, and occasionally ditches the family for various artistic and philosophical pursuits, though, like the Snorkmaiden, he always returns at the end of the story. Little My is a tiny, topknotted thing whose physical attributes most closely resemble those of a human girl. Like the Snorkmaiden, Little My is obsessed with "manliness," which leads the two to both bond and compete with each other.

The Moomins' adventures provide a rambunctious portrait and parody of midcentury bohemian family life, a world that Jansson, the daughter of a sculptor and an illustrator, knew well. Neither rich (like the "millionairess" Aunt Jane, to whom the Moomins send a box of walking, talking "bad language") nor poor (like the "poor relations" who show up from time to time and at one point literally grow out of the ground), the Moomins subsist almost entirely on their capacity to play, invent, and imagine.

Readers who are well acquainted with the Moomins through Jansson's tales for older children, such as Finn Family Moomintroll (which have been in continuous publication through FSG), will recognize the same Moomin-minded spirit and sophistication in the comics. But here, Jansson's canvas is the adult world and she overtly and gleefully takes aim at real-world targets: religion, class, politics, and all forms of pretension, authority, and orthodoxy.

Often, Jansson manages to satire both sides of any situation. In "Moomin's Winter Follies," the Moomins defy their ancestors' tradition of hibernating each winter, only to fall prey to an overzealous winter games athletic director. In "Moomin Begins a New Life," a naturalist prophet comes to town, preaching free love and releasing the prisoners, only to be replaced by a competing moralist who wants to inflict guilt, sin, and punishment. The glorious "Moomin on the Rivera" begins with the family talking their way into a fancy private beach hotel, where they change their name to "de Moomin," hobnob with Audrey Glamour (whose thick lashes and slicked-back ponytail resemble that of Ms. Hepburn), and are admired for their "eccentricity." While skewering the pretensions of the elite, the same story also provides a cautionary tale about the silliness of romanticizing poverty, in the form of the faux-hemian Marquis Mongaga, who claims he would give up his vast wealth for " a little hut and a glass of sour wine" and is convinced that his art would improve if only he were "without food and warmth and happy, happy, happy!" (The Marquis's theory is disproved after a few nights living on the beach under the Moomins' leaky boat).

Jansson provides sly commentary on the art world she inhabits in "Moomin and the Brigands," when Moomin -- after discarding fortune telling and the selling of miracle elixir as money-making schemes -- is urged by his friend Sniff to make "something baffling! Bewildering!" Rejecting art as a path to fame and fortune, Moomin replies, "I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream."

That is, presumably, exactly what Jansson herself had in mind when she gave up writing the daily strip after five years, claiming that the deadlines involved in producing it had become less of a joy and more of a burden. In her later years, she moved to a small island with her lifelong partner, the Finnish graphic artist Tuulikki Pietil?. The two women collaborated on an illustrated version of Jansson's autobiography and, with their mothers, a series of Moomin portraits now in the Moomin museum. Jansson's relationship with Pietil? lends a particularly resonant reading to Moominmama's sympathetic treatment of the dog who really loves cats (though her solution -- find a dog and paint it with stripes -- can suggest any number of interpretations). "You just pretend and pretend!" scolds Misabel, the maid whose life at the beck and call of others has led her to believe that persecution and danger are the only things one can count on. Moominmama replies, "That's why we have such a good time!" As a prescription for a Moomin-minded world, it's as good as any we have. --Amy Benfer

Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus, and The New York Times Book Review.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781897299197
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 10/30/2007
  • Series: Moomin Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 88
  • Sales rank: 294,920
  • Product dimensions: 8.79 (w) x 12.30 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Tove Jansson (1914–2001) was born in Helsinki and spent much of her life in Finland. She is the author of the Moomin books, including Comet in Moominland and Finn Family Moomintroll. Born into an artistic family—her father was a sculptor and her mother was a graphic designer and illustrator—Jansson studied at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, and L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In addition to her Moomin books, she also wrote several novels, drew comic strips and worked as a painter and illustrator. In 1966, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her body of work. Jansson had a studio in Helsinki but spent most of her time at her home on a small island called Klovharu.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2008

    This is the best Moomin book

    I read all of the Moomin books as a child. These comic strips are even better because there are so many illustrations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

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    Posted February 16, 2011

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    Posted February 6, 2012

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