MOOMIN reviewed in the Las Vegas Weekly

“Comics that operate on dream logic and arcade logic” / Las Vegas Weekly / J. Caleb Mozzocco / December 28, 2006

Finnish artist Tove Jansson's beloved creation Moomintroll made the jump from children's books to daily comic strips in a 1953 strip for the London Evening News. The strip ended in 1960, but Moomin's fame has long since conquered the world. He's always been particularly popular in Scandinavia and Europe, but also, of late, in Japan.

Despite his renown, Moomin's strip adventures have long been absent from American book shelves, an unfortunate state of affairs that Drawn and Quarterly rectifies with this gorgeous, oversized collection, the first in a series that will eventually reprint the entire half-decade of Moomin strips.

In temperament, Moomin is an innocent, idealistic child, one given to runs of bad luck and Byronic melancholy. He's sort of like a mix of Charlie Brown and Eeyore, in a cute little pygmy hippopotamus' body.

When we first meet Moomin, he's fretting over the number of unwanted houseguests he has crowding his home, and his unwillingness to tell them to leave, which would be "ill-mannered." An attempt to surreptitiously drive them out, egged on by his friend Sniff, leads to a bizarre series of events.

Of course, Moomin's entire life is seemingly a bizarre series of events, as Jansson's plots operate on a sort of random dream logic, zigging and zagging on new, wholly random plot points. The first of the four loose storylines in this volume, for example, is about Moomin and Sniff's quest for fame and fortune, and it involves brief stints as snake oil salesmen, convicts, modern artists, sideshow freaks, big-game trappers and fortune-tellers. There's also a magic plant that turns people into balloons, a beauty contest, a ghost, some brigands, a gigantic sea monster and magic seeds that grow demanding relatives.

It must have made for a strange read in a daily paper, given how the story spills from strip to strip. It's nothing at all like the formulaic two panels of set-up, one panel of punch line gag strips that dominate our newspapers today. In fact, the late Jansson's innovative use of panels and understanding of the medium make her Moomin strips seem far more modern than many 2006 comic strips.

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