Review by Woodrow Phoenix
Moomin’s Winter Follies is the fifth of Tove Jansson’s 21 stories originally created as daily, black and white comic strips for the London Evening News between 1954 and 1959. As winter arrives in Moominvalley, the Moomin family begin making plans to hibernate as they do every winter, and as they and their ancestors have always done. But when Moominpappa decides it’s too boring to go through with, they go outside and are drawn into a winter sports competition by Mr. Brisk of the Great Outdoors Association, who bowls over Snorkmaiden and Mymble with his thrilling manliness. “Mr Brisk is wonderful,” says the utterly smitten Mymble. “He has made me understand… that we are all degenerate weaklings!” Bullied by the athletic Mr Brisk into strapping on skis (“Well, Moomin, are you a cowardly weakling?”), Moomin and his decidedly unathletic friends need to come up with ingenious solutions to prevent being forced to compete. But how else can they win back the respect and affections of their womenfolk?
This flexicover edition is an attractive size, and features art that has been newly coloured by the editorial team at Drawn and Quarterly to give each small book extra kid-friendly appeal. Unfortunately the colouring frequently detracts from Jansson’s original layouts by adding horizon lines and other shapes that interfere with her graphically sophisticated designs. The colour palette is particularly disruptive here, with the glacial white of snow and ice instead presented as lime green landscapes with pink skies, intrusive enough to affect the overal rating. Readers unfamiliar with this story who would like to see it as Jansson intended should pick up Book Two of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip or find it along with the other 20 stories in Moomin: The Deluxe Anniversary Edition, a single, slipcased compendium volume.
This series appears under D&Q’s children’s imprint Enfant but parents should note that Tove Jansson created these strips to entertain newspaper-reading adults. The beguiling images will pull younger readers in easily, but much of the dialogue is more complex than any children’s book and will need explaining. Next in the series is Moominmamma’s Maid.