Moomin [Volume 2]
By Tove Jansson
Drawn and Quarterly
In his native Scandinavia, Moomin is the subject of several animated series. His hippo-like face can be found gracing t-shirts and coffee mugs and the side of a full-sized McDonnell Douglas passenger plane in Finnair’s fleet. A Finnish themepark and separate museum have been erected in his name. Mention him to any Finn or Swede, and you’ll likely be greeted with the flood of memories generally attributed to characters on the level of a Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse.
Try the same trick in the States, and you’ll almost certainly find yourself on the receiving end of little more than a baffled stare or furrowed brow.
The lack of success on the part of Tove Jansson’s titular troll can’t be chalked up to cultural differences, however. For their part, Moomin and his family possess all of the universe charm of fellow European exports Babar and Tin-tin. Rather, the absence of recognition can be entirely attributed to the fact that, until Drawn & Quarterly stepped up to the plate last year with the first part of this series, Moomin had never seen the light of day in North America, despite the fact that a number of the strips were originally published in English.
This stunningly packaged second installment is another unmistakable reminder of exactly what we’ve been missing all of these years. Beautifully drawn and wonderfully scripted, Jansson’s masterwork follows the chapter length adventures of the Moominvalley residents, which play out like Pogo minus the political bent or Peanuts without the crippling depression. The Moomin clan are naturally curious, charmingly daft, occasionally nervous, and above all, ultimately happy.
That Moomin has been previously unavailable in our neck of the woods should be considered a crime. Fortunately, D&Q’s collection does the work justice, with books that would sit happily on any shelf next to Fantagraphics’ Krazy Kat, Peanuts, and Popeye collections—company with which Jansson’s work has every right to stand, a sentiment echoed by the quotes from Jeff Smith and Neil Gaiman that grace the book’s back cover.
However, this collection should be regarded as more than just quote fodder amongst the comics elite. Moomin deserves to be shared with anyone—adults and children alike—who have love for a beautifully crafted story.