Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Moomin’s constant reading of poems and novels has turned him even dreamier than usual. “I wonder why the heroine in a book is always much more beautiful than the one at home,” he muses as Moominvalley is flooded by a rainstorm. Dutifully going out to rescue stranded travellers, Moomin dismays his girlfriend Snorkmaiden by bringing the beautiful and marooned La Goona to the Moomin house. The men are all bewitched (“How does it feel to be so beautiful?” Moomin asks her. “Oh, I am used to it,” she says) and Snorkmaiden finds her diva-ish rival to be completely intolerable. “Don’t you see, she’s a VAMP!” Snorkmaiden tells Moomin. “Well, vamps are people too, aren’t they?” he replies. It looks like a job for Mymble, who has vast experience of hopeless love affairs. But her romantic advice only leads to further complications.
Moomin Falls in Love is the ninth of Tove Jansson’s 21 stories originally created in daily, black and white comic strips for the London Evening News between 1954 and 1959. The complete run is collected in five large hardcover volumes of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip and Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, a single, slipcased compendium volume. This newer series of small, landscape format, flexicover books takes the Moomin strips and repackages them in individual volumes with each story newly coloured by the editorial team at Drawn and Quarterly to give each small book extra kid-friendly appeal. Unfortunately the colouring is frequently at odds with Jansson’s art, introducing many graphic shapes and background additions which disrupt her original layouts, and is intrusive enough to prevent a five star rating.
Parents should note that while these stories appear visually to be a perfect fit for children, Jansson wrote the Moomin newspaper strips to amuse adults first. The ideas, dialogue and situations are sophisticated, subtly existential, philosophical and often quite abstract. Jansson is an expert with layered narratives so that all her stories work on multiple levels, but there’s a lot here that will fly over children’s heads entirely and need explaining. Next in the series is Moominvalley Turns Jungle.