Moomin — eccentric comic masterpiece from a legendary children’s author



I remember the (Polish?) stop-motion TV series from the 70s-80s, and it seeming extremely dark and creepy to my young self. When I tried to find some examples of it a while back I ended up with the Japanese cartoon, which seemed way too light in tone in comparison.

Also, its awesome theme tune.


Moomins are said to be trolls.
Aren’t trolls supposed to be somewhat… unwelcomed… here?

I’ll show myself out…

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The comic strip is wonderful, but really for adults. The books (illustrated lightly) are for kids. And highly recommended for kids. They are truly magical.


We have The Book About Moomin, Mymble, and Little My. @frauenfelder, I think you’d love it (though it’s aimed more at 6-10 year-olds, so yours might be too old).

Every page has cut outs that lead you to the next page – sometimes you can see three or four pages further on, and it all works.

(lots more pages visible on Google)


The books were pretty big in Russia, and I remember reading them as a kid in the late 80s/early 90s. It always seemed incredible to me that so few people had heard of them in the US.

Snufkin is the best. He’s on a whole other level of the game.


What version are you referring to? There have been three Japanese animated TV series and from what I’m aware the creator was very pleased with the 90’s version.

I wouldn’t say Tove Jansson is a children’s author. She’s more of an author with qualities appreciable for both young and old kids (adults). There’s both the magical and adventurous parts of the stories, but everything is also deeply impregnated by melancholy and dark themes.

Haven’t read the translated versions, but I’m afraid that the wonderful and enjoyable style of Tove might get lost. Anyone who’ve read both swedish and translated versions?


“fishermen who run long lines slowly through the water hoping to catch
fish (and of course you have to steer well clear of them because you
don’t know where those lines are going).”
That would be trawling.

Trawling is with a net. Trolling is with a line.


I have happy childhood memories of reading about Moomintrolls late at night, hiding under the bedclothes so the light wouldn’t give me away …

I say the print books are well worth reading even for adults, and get progressively darker as they go along. The last one, Moominvalley in November, is downright bleak at times.

Lovely to see Moomin (or as we call them, Muumit) and Tove Jansson, our national treasure, being celebrated here. :smile: Since the last year was the 100th anniversary of her birth, her life and works have been in the media frequently. She is well-known for having had a female life-partner who inspired a character in the Moomin series, and who she collaborated with together and filmed two documentaries about their later life (one about living their summers on an island and one about travelling the world - I watched them recently) Tove Jansson spoke for diversity and led a very natural, bohemian life, so she’s a great role model.

I love everything Moomin. The original books are great, and even though they are technically children’s literature, they can certainly be enjoyed by adults as well. The fifth book, called Moominland Midwinter (Taikatalvi in Finnish, which literally means Magic Winter but the just name sounds really beautiful in Finnish), is especially more introspective and deals with heavier themes.

The picture books I personally enjoy immensely, because Tove Jansson drew the art herself and it is just beautiful. See @SamSam’s pictures above from “The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My” (Which has the much better title of “Kuinkas sitten kävikään?” in Finnish, lit. “What happened next then?”), which has some of the best and craziest illustrations:

“Who Will Comfort Tuffle?” is another great one. It’s about loneliness.

Then there are the the comics, which can be… well, I’ll let the comics themselves do the talking:

Then there was the Polish stop motion animation series and of course the 90s “anime” (weird to call it that, even if it is correct, since it was a Japanese/Dutch/Finnish production) series and related movies. There were two more Japanese anime series before that, but they were never shown in Finland. Don’t let the light tone of the 90s series fool you, it’s very well made and mostly shares the same stories as the books. Some parts also scared the crap out of me as a kid, like the character of Mörkö (or Groke):

There’s even a Moominland in Naantali (not even an hour’s drive away from where I live) and a Moomin museum in Tampere, which gets a lot of Japanese visitors. Moomin is big in Japan.

Also, as a random extra fact, did you know Tove Jansson illustrated the very first Finnish edition of the Hobbit?


I own the entire set. I wish I didn’t.

I love Jansson’s work. I grew up on the Russian translations of the Moomin books. I re-read the English translations years later (Swedish text being beyond my abilities, alas). When I saw these books, I jumped at the chance to buy them after just a cursory glance; I knew how amazing a storytelling Jansson was, how could I possibly miss the chance to introduce my daughter to the Moomins?

Except these are the comics, not the books. And they make no sense. I don’t know if it’s the quality of the translation, something I just don’t get about Scandinavian humour, or me just getting old, but the conversation is stuttering, the jokes don’t line up with the punchlines (when there is a punchline at all), and I can’t empathise with the characters. The books were magical. They still are. The strips… not so much.

I was introduced to the Moomin books by a Swedish friend…she’s fluent in English and thought the English translations wet quite good.

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No one ever said Usenet could spell.

But can you fish?

Trolling can be phonetically confused with trawling, a different method of fishing where a net (trawl) is drawn through the water instead of lines.

The strips strike me strongly as Scandinavian humor, but also as being for adults. They were for a paper. More dry humor and Freud, less magic. But I like them! They’re just a different experience.

Alas, that image link isn’t coming through for me. Those books look wonderful: the ones I read as a child were more sparsely illustrated.

So…were the Moomintrolls written first in Swedish or Finnish?