And Then I Read: MOOMIN Volume 5

Well, I’ve given up trying to predict how many volumes this entire series will be. I thought the third was the last, then then fourth, and here’s another. Reading the fine print, I noted that these episodes were written by Lars Jansson, the brother of artist and Moomin creator Tove Jansson, who handed over first the writing of the strip, then the drawing to Lars, according to Wikipedia. That source says Tove drew it until 1961, and these strips are © to 1959, so I guess there may be more volumes to come. And apparently Lars continued to write and draw it for many more years after Tove left it completely.

Now that I (think) I have that sorted out, this is a fun read, just as good as the previous volumes. There are three stories, the first of which, “Moomin Winter,”  involves the Moomin family at home trying to hibernate through a hard winter, and failing because visitors keep showing up and involving them in all kinds of activities. It’s a social comedy of manners in which the apparently mild and agreeable Moomins give in to all sorts of unreasonable demands, but eventually find a way to triumph. Next is “Moomin Under Sail,” a classic adventure at sea, where Moominpapa is in his element, or so he thinks, and everyone else tries to make things work for him. There’s an irritable captain to really run the ship, and all kinds of other whimsical and entertaining characters along the way. Third is “Fuddler’s Courtship,” back in Moomin Valley again, and another comedy of romance and manners. Fuddler is even more shy and self-doubting than the Moomins, who try to help him, which always leads to trouble.

The art is charming, and I think continues to get more accomplished as the strip goes along. Tove’s figures now move with more grace and have lots of subtle body language that adds a lot to the feature. I’m not crazy about the pale yellow paper it’s printed on, but the paper and binding quality are quite good. I wish Drawn & Quarterly would supply a little more information on the series in these volumes, all we get are a tiny volume number, smidgens of information on the indicia page, and the same rather bland author bio in each one. That’s my only complaint, though, I’m grateful to have the chance to read these strips, being a longtime Tove Jansson and Moomin fan, and if more come out, I’ll certainly get them.

Highly recommended!

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