Moomins Galore
August 13, 2006 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Moomins! The Moomins, created in 1945 by artist and writer Tove Jansson in this story, went on to become a series of books beloved by children in the 60s and 70s and then a British TV show in the early 80s. The Moomins’ fame is so all pervading in Finland that they have their own amusement park and museum but they somehow have never gained as much of a foothold in the US. Why are the Moomins so popular? Some of the books are surprisingly philosophical and even dark and some of the characters are downright seditious; the Moomins, for all their humor and love, are often a little bleak. Tove Jansson, who modeled many of her characters on people in her life, was as talented an artist as she was a writer; here, for your delectation, are her illustrations for The Hobbit. Previously on Metafilter.
posted by mygothlaundry (36 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
yay!, says the boy with a hattifattener sticker on his iBook (purchased in Tampere). thanks mygothlaundry! those Hobbit images are new to me and great.
posted by Marquis at 8:01 AM on August 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

And because this just wouldn't be complete without a self link, image, here is what sparked this post: the discovery at the recent mefi/mecha Asheville weekend, that Matildaben and I have identical Little My tattoos.
mgl matildaben matching tattoos
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:04 AM on August 13, 2006

Wonderful, thank you.
posted by paduasoy at 8:14 AM on August 13, 2006

Now, wait. Mormons are hobbits?
posted by Sailor Martin at 8:17 AM on August 13, 2006

I actually have plush toys from the late 80s of all of the Moomin characters. My favourite has always been Snufkin. In seventh grade I made up my own role playing game based on the books (which nobody would play). Those books are still great.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2006

And what about these Moomins?
posted by phylum sinter at 9:05 AM on August 13, 2006

Drawn and Quarterly will be putting out a Moomin collection this fall; in the meantime, they're putting up a new Moomin strip every day here.
posted by leesh at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2006

Moomin stamps from Finland. And we love Muminki in Poland.
posted by pracowity at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2006

Hey, I remember those guys. :)
posted by Foosnark at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2006

thank you.
posted by jimmy at 10:04 AM on August 13, 2006

Thanks for the reminder. I borrowed a picture book with these characters from the library when I was 8, and was never able to find it again.

The drawing style I remember was a little different - full color, large pages with lots of panoramic detail (approaching Where's Waldo levels), and set in what appeared to be the 17th century, with Moomins engaged in some epic war. Does that sound right? It was a lot darker than what I'm seeing linked in this article, but the characters definitely looked like Moomins.

New Haven public library children's room if anyone's interested in looking. =)
posted by migurski at 10:06 AM on August 13, 2006

Jansson later recounted that she first drew the Moomintroll figure on an outhouse wall as an ugly caricature of the philosopher Immanuel Kant.


things i have learned today:

1) tove jansson was a woman
2) she was gay
3) moomin = kant

this is seriously a great post.
posted by jimmy at 10:11 AM on August 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

Tove Jansson was a lesbian? Cool. I only read a couple of Moomin books as a kid but every time I see one today, I smile. Thanks, mygothlaundry.
posted by mediareport at 10:13 AM on August 13, 2006

The drawing style I remember was a little different - full color, large pages with lots of panoramic detail (approaching Where's Waldo levels), and set in what appeared to be the 17th century, with Moomins engaged in some epic war.

migurski - I'm pretty sure you're thinking of Peter Cross' spectacular, touching Trouble For Trumpets. Like the Moomin books it's one of the dearest books of my childhood (and adulthood!), but it's sadly out of print. Copies go for about $100.
posted by Marquis at 10:15 AM on August 13, 2006 [2 favorites]

Holy crap, this used to be broadcast here in SA except it was dubbed into Afrikaans. It was high up there on the 'trippy cartoon list' (still behind reigning champion Spartacus and the Sun though)
posted by PenDevil at 10:31 AM on August 13, 2006

Never heard of these before. Many thanks!
posted by hank at 10:40 AM on August 13, 2006

Marquis - that is the same book, thanks!
posted by migurski at 10:50 AM on August 13, 2006

Here's the cover of Trouble For Trumpets. They look somewhat similar to Moomins, but the snouts are different.
posted by migurski at 10:55 AM on August 13, 2006

This is good.

Looking forward to the Drawn & Quarterly book.

Thanks for the post.
posted by plep at 11:07 AM on August 13, 2006

Awesome post, thanks!
posted by interrobang at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2006

This is a wonderful post. Thank you, mygothlaundry.

I go to Finland often and I have noticed how you can get almost anything -- from clothes and paper goods to cups and plates -- either with the Moomins or the Marimekko flowers printed on it.

Lovely tattoos, btw.
posted by sveskemus at 12:22 PM on August 13, 2006

A new world to explore.... I was raised by Wombles, and never got introduced to the Moomins. Thanks, mgl!
posted by steef at 1:11 PM on August 13, 2006

My mother spent some time in Sweden, and I'm pretty sure that the Moomin books were some of the first actual books she was able to read in Swedish.

Thanks for posting this, I'd forgotten all about the Moomins!
posted by anjamu at 1:40 PM on August 13, 2006

We read Finn Family Moomintroll when I was in third grade and I loved it - then my family moved and I didn't see the book again for years. As an adult I came across a copy and when I reread it it was even better than I remembered.
When a good friend of mine was dying a few years ago I got a Moomin book to read to her - I'm pretty sure it was Tales From Moominvalley. I was expecting something easy and fun for her to listen to, but it was strangely existential - much gloomier than Finn Family Moomintroll. We agreed that it was weird for a children's book, but it turned out to be an excellent choice under the circumstances.
posted by smartyboots at 2:31 PM on August 13, 2006

Moomins? Never heard of 'em.

(Great post!)
posted by hattifattener at 2:51 PM on August 13, 2006

The books are absolutely fantastic. They're well-written and magical and moody and psychological. But I really dislike what I've seen of the English translation. You all have to learn Swedish now. Really, it's worth it just for the Moomin books.
posted by martinrebas at 4:00 PM on August 13, 2006

The cartoons used to scare the daylights out of me when I was little - seriously creepy. Top post, though!
posted by prentiz at 4:30 PM on August 13, 2006

Great stuff! Thanks, mygothlaundry :)

Was raised on the moomin books, amongst others. Musta read each one at least a dozen times :D

Also regret not using Moomintroll as my username here, and I'm too cheap to fork over another $5.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 PM on August 13, 2006

ah, there's hattifattener above! *waves*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:45 PM on August 13, 2006

migurski, there is a big full color Moomin book that I came across once as a child too - it's about a Hemulen who built a fun park, and then he hated all the noise, so he banned the children, but eventually he let them back in if they promised to be quiet. It's a big, full color, almost psychedelic oversize book and I've only seen it maybe once myself.

I'm so glad everyone likes this! Iwas raised on the Moomins; I have no idea why, since my family has no Nordic ties at all. I think my mother just happened across the books somehow and liked them. I've raised my own children on them too, on the same water stained hardback copies I had; my son is 14 now and he reads Abbie Hoffman and the Anarchist's Cookbook - and the Moomins. We always seem to go back to the Moomins.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:46 PM on August 13, 2006

I loved the moomins when I was a kid, I'd forgotten all about them.
posted by The Monkey at 10:26 PM on August 13, 2006

I love the Moomins! I'd never heard of them in the US - even though I was the biggest bookworm ever - but my Aussie husband has been introducing them to me as bedtime stories. My favorite character is Sniff. I love how he's always screaming and running after shiny things. (Favorite quote from Comet in Moominland: "Five horrible experiences... It's beginning to be monotonous!")

Coincidentally, I posted about the Moomins recently on my blog and a Finnish reader actually just sent me a postcard from the Moominland amusement park, complete with Moomin stamp and postmark. I really need to scan that in...
posted by web-goddess at 11:26 PM on August 13, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Moomins TV theme song.

Lovely post and thread.
posted by nickyskye at 7:07 PM on August 15, 2006

I've been on holiday so missed this, but just wanted to say - wow. Amazing post. Thank you so much.
posted by greycap at 3:51 PM on August 19, 2006

Excellent. The television series was a favourite of mine growing up, going where no other programme seemed to in tone or mood. I should really hunt down some books.
posted by nthdegx at 3:59 AM on August 20, 2006

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