And Then I Read: MOOMIN Vol. 7 by Lars Jansson


There can’t have been many comic strips that were begun by a female writer/artist and then taken over by her brother, but that’s the case with the “Moomin” strip begun by Tove Jansson. Tove created the Moomins in a series of charming fantasy novels for children, then developed the comic strip for a British newspaper at their request. Her brother Lars was good at languages and did the English translations from the start. Though born into a family of artists, Lars had always concentrated on writing, producing quite a few novels apparently (I haven’t seen any of them). After a few years Tove tired of the strip’s daily grind and Lars began writing the stories, and eventually took over the art as well, after a six-month crash course in cartooning like his sister, with help from their mother.

The Moomin strip continued with equal success for longer with Lars than it had with Tove, and the four storylines in this volume are very entertaining. There isn’t as much of the poetic fantasy as Tove put into the books, but Lars had a talent for social and societal satire and humor that was perfect for a daily strip. Here we have the Moomins (sort of a cross between Winnie the Pooh and a hippopotamus) as colonists on what they think is an unknown continent, but which soon proves to be full of their old neighbors and rivals; young Moomin joining the scouts, but not willingly; Papa Moomin inheriting a large farm and the family trying out the farming life, while not having a clue how to do it; and finally the Moomins prospecting for gold, and starting their own local gold rush.

Fun stuff with characters that are all more complex and resourceful than they seem on the surface, just like many people. Recommended.

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