From Manga to Moomin

Most of you know that I am a huge fan of all things cute and Japanese (Stay tuned for my review of MeruPuri if you don’t already know that.) But cuteness is international, as I discovered last year when I picked up the second volume of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip.

What initially attracted me to the book was its pink and green cover with a picture of a bewildered-looking hippo. Inside, there was a loveable family of Moomins, who are creatures that look like hippos but are definitely NOT hippos, as you will find out in Volume 3 when the zookeeper tries to take them to the zoo.

In addition to the Moomins, there are all of the interesting people who live in Moominvalley. My favorite character is Mymble, who is very fanciful and romantic. In the first volume, she is kidnapped by pirates and she tells Snorkmaiden– Moomin’s girlfriend– that it was wonderful. (She is totally my kind of girl.)

Mymble and Snorkmaiden and Pirates, Oh My!

There is also Little My, Mymble’s angry little sister who is always up to mischief, and Snufkin, Moomin’s best friend who is a wandering minstrel.

The whole series is filled with whimsical moments, and the plot has a little bit of everything. There is romance. For example, in Volume 2, Mymble and Snorkmaiden fall for a handsome skier who visits Moominvalley, which of course makes Moomin jealous. There is adventure, both in Moominvalley and abroad. In Volume 3, a Martian travels to Moominvalley and wreaks all sorts of havoc and Moominpappa moves his whole family into a haunted lighthouse.

Moomin is a Finnish comic strip, originally published in the newspaper Ny Tid, but it really took off when it was published in the Evening News by the Brittish Associated Press. At the height of its popularity, the Moomin comic strip appeared in over 120 newspapers in 40 countries, and it has spawned children’s books, TV shows, and even its own theme park. (I really want to go!) The Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly is now releasing a compilation of the comic strip in English, and we have volumes 1-3 in the system. Volume 4 is being released at the end of the month. So, keep an eye out for it, and while you’re waiting, why don’t you read some of the Moomin children’s books available through Interlibrary Loan?

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2 Comments

  1. Great review Mimi!
    Only I have to say that after living 11 years of my childhood in Finland, I had no idea Muumi (the correct way to spell it ;-) yes, I’m “Pikku Myy” or Little My) was a comic strip. I have watched tons of children’s TV programs and was actually a little shocked when I read the comic strip version. I was totally expecting some little kiddy stories likes the ones on TV… Although Little My will always be feisty even in the kids version :-)

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