Friday, December 14, 2007

Moomin and Miyazaki

For years, as a young library patron, then as a teen-aged library page, and now as a mom haunting the children's room for books for the Budza, I had always passed by the Finn Family Moomintroll books. I am not sure why. I think perhaps because I found the Pippi Longstocking books a little weird, and Finn Family seemed to hail from the same part of the world.

So it's been a real revelation to receive as a gift from my good friend Jim a copy of Tove Jansson's complete Moomin comics in a reprint edition from Drawn and Quarterly. These were Jansson's daily comic strip that she drew for a number of years before writing the books. The book was a huge hit with Jim's two sons, who fall on either side of my son in age. And it was an instant hit with the Budza.

How to explain the appeal? Some describe the Moomins as looking like a capybara, but I think they are more like a hippo, and there is some Totoro about them, too: I can definitely see them holding an umbrella, waiting for a cat bus, can't you? As for the comics' tone--concerned with adult things, knowing but not cynical--I detected something of Walt Kelley's Pogo in these. I thought the Miyazaki resemblance was just me, but it turns out there is a Finnish/Japanese Moomin cartoon that is, surprise! available on DVD in this hemisphere, on Amazon if not yet on Netflix.

An interesting discussion of the Moomin world, its appeal, and its subtext here in a wonky comics journal.

Link to a page about Moomin World, the Moomin theme park (!!) in Finland.

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