Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Winter arrives once again in Moominvalley. It promises to be extra cold as the snow descends. “Do you think Mr Brisk will be back this winter?” muses Snorkmaiden, dreamily. “Winter’s awful! I won’t have skiing and cold and Mr Brisk!” says Moomin. The family decide they aren’t staying awake this time and begin preparing to hibernate, but as soon as they’re all in bed their sleep is interrupted by one visitor after another asking to stay with them for the season. The last uninvited guest to turn up is a little Nibling who adds to the turmoil of the already disordered household by looking in every drawer, cupboard and cranny, uncovering everyone’s secrets. Who can sleep under those conditions?
This series of small, landscape format, flexicover books takes the Moomin strips and repackages them in individual volumes. Each story has been newly coloured by the editorial team at Drawn & Quarterly to give them extra kid-friendly appeal. Unfortunately the colouring is frequently at odds with Jansson’s images, introducing graphic shapes and background additions which disrupt her original layouts. As with Moomin’s Winter Follies the eccentric colour palette in this story undermines the art, with warm yellows, pinks and browns wrecking the glacial winter atmosphere Jansson generates in her drawings. This flexicover book appears under D&Q’s children’s imprint Enfant, but parents should note Tove Jansson created these strips to entertain newspaper-reading adults. While these stories appear visually to be a perfect fit for children, the sophisticated emotion, clipped dialogue and subtly existential situations are often quite abstract. Jansson is an expert with creating layered narratives and all her stories work on multiple levels, so this story is easily understood, but the ironic commentary will fly over children’s heads entirely and some events will need explaining.
Despite a very similar title Moomin Winter has nothing to do with Moominland Midwinter, one of Tove Jansson’s nine Moomin novels. This is an entirely different tale, and it is number 19 of the 21 stories originally created in daily, black and white comic strips for the London Evening News between 1954 and 1959. The other strips are collected over five large hardcover volumes of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip and are also available complete in Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, a single, slipcased compendium volume.