Hattifatteners ordering cocktails?

by John Holbo on September 16, 2006

HattifattenloungelizardDrawn & Quarterly’s long-awaited Moomin, the Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip vol. 1 is delayed until October, but in the meantime they are releasing a strip a day from the publisher’s site, and you can download a 6-page PDF preview sample.

I have been so curious and eager. I’ve read and enjoyed moomin books since childhood and am not ashamed to say I once answered a daughter’s innocent, ‘why did you want to have children?’ with a less innocent, ‘so I could read them moomin books.’ Which was a wretched half-truth. (Belle and I also have plans to construct a plush Groke toy for children’s beds. It will have an opening in which you insert one of those athletic injury cold paks, so in the morning your bed has a horrid cold spot.) Until last year I didn’t even know there had been a long-running moomin newspaper strip.

Now that I see samples for the first time, my feelings are mixed. On the one hand, the art answers gorgeously to my need to feed my eyes on all the antlers and pajamas and especially the triangular noses and the over-sized ones. But the characters are all changed.

Hattifatteners who demand cocktails?

Where’s the small jolt of the silent, nordic, static electricity of vaguely yearning existential dread in that? No Moominmamma and Moominpappa? Sniff as an incompetent, pushy get-rich-quick schemer, played to broad, slapstick effect? Silly fake elixir of youth turning old ladies into old men who roar off after can-can girls? Obviously I must withhold judgment, but it looks as though – at least initially – Jansson didn’t trust the subtle tones of her storytelling to the three-panel form and somewhat condescended to it, letting lovely pictures do all the work. Or maybe she just has to grow into it.

You can pre-order from Amazon – and at a good discount: Moomin, the Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip vol. 1.

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09.16.06 at 8:04 pm



David Weman 09.16.06 at 12:38 pm

The strip is very differnet from the books. It’s written strictly for adults, for one thing, and is humorous and satirical. There’s less wisdom and lyricism. I think your expectations were all wrong, and so your dissappointed, but the strip is quite good too (IIRC). You have to take it for what it is.

I don’t think a condescension against the comics form has anything to do with it.


bill 09.16.06 at 1:10 pm

“…But the characters are all changed….” Maybe the artists did too.


John Holbo 09.16.06 at 8:22 pm

Oddly enough, the artist wrote the strip at the same time she was writing the books. A few had already appeared, making her popular. But several left to go. So they ran in parallel.


julia 09.17.06 at 1:10 am

One of the first things I did when I found out I was pregnant was hit Books of Wonder for a set of Moomin books.

Just my luck, HM is now a firm fan of Little My.


smooth corroborator 09.20.06 at 5:47 am

Actually these comics were written and drawn (after 1959) by Tove’s brother Lars Jansson.


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