Review by Woodrow Phoenix
A tremendous heatwave in Moominvalley is followed, naturally by an equally tremendous tropical storm. The unusually extreme weather conditions are perfect for germinating a box of strange seeds found by Little My and suddenly there are orchids, bamboo and a host of other lush jungle foliage in and around the Moomin house. The only thing missing from this scenario: wild animals to give Moomin’s Tarzan impressions the proper backdrop. But Stinky has an idea to take care of that. The zoo is not too far away…
Moominvalley Turns Jungle is the tenth 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 using colour palettes that don’t go with their subject matter too well .
These small flexicover books appear under D&Q’s children’s imprint Enfant, but Tove Jansson created these strips to entertain newspaper-reading adults. While these stories appear visually to be a perfect fit for children, 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 Moomin and the Martians.