Just a few weeks ago, Tov Jansson was released in German cinemas, a biographical film about the legendary Finnish painter and author Tov Jansson (1914 to 2001). Unfortunately, the glamorous action went at the box office, but that suited Jansson, who wasn’t easy with her art either. And who was fascinated by drowning. This actually appeared in my first comic strip. It was published in 1947 and was called “Mumintrollet och jordens undergang” – Moomin and the end of the world.
I did not here? I didn’t even ten years ago. So I visited the Moomin Museum in Tampere, Finland, and bought the Swedish catalog (Jansson was part of the Swedish-speaking population in Finland). The story was printed there. On the other hand, it is missing in the complete eight-volume edition of Moomin’s Illusions, which was published in German by Reprodukt Verlag a few years ago. The reason for this is simple: the full version, created as an international collaboration, includes only those comics that Jansson drew for the English daily newspaper “The Evening Star” from 1952 onwards that established the author’s fame in Great Britain and the United States.
Things seemed worse in Germany, but when Kristina Maidt Zinke claimed in her highly personal conclusion of the first recently published German translation of “Moomin and the End of the World” that Jansson’s characters are “rarely found in this country,” I can personally answer that I did not grow up And I read not only Moomin books, but my wife and some of my close friends did too. Moomin readers may not be as frank about their infatuation as the Donaldists say (I know what I’m talking about). Both groups are largely identical.
But now to the comic. It was written for the Swedish-language weekly magazine Ny Tid, published by Jansson lover Atos Wirtanen in Helsinki (the two wonderfully reluctant love stories appear widely in Tove). Jansson had never drawn comics before, but she did draw her first two Moomin books; So she doesn’t have to think about character design anymore. For the story, she chose the content of her second book “Comet in the Moomin Valley”, but a lot has changed in the 26 comedy episodes. The plot is shorter (each weekly episode contains only six pictures, and the book was about two hundred pages after all), however there is More characters. For Jansson, she also wrote A Drolly Company in 1947, her third book from Moomin, and this, unlike Comet in the Moomin Valley, whose horrific content did not attract much to the parents of a potential audience, was a huge success. So the expanded set of characters was also used in comics, and above all the conspiring children Tofsla and Vifsla in their secret language – a self-portrait of Tove Jansson’s homosexual love affair with Vivica Bandler, which can already be recognized from the name. (If the parents of the potential audience had known!)
There is a lot in these stories, but – to reassure parents … – you don’t have to know everything. Because what matters, especially to kids, is the great way to tell the story. You feel safe, even when it comes to the end of the world. Notably the comical episode in which Moominfather nervously awaits the return of his son, the title character of Moomintrollet (in German only Moomin): “My son will not be home in time for the apocalypse!” Late, not about the horror event.
However, such great dialogues are not created in speech bubbles, but are found under the pictures – Jansson was initially committed to a Continental European comic tradition that operated as if for picture books. She didn’t turn into speech bubbles until after she entered the English speaking market, and her clients had to force her to do so. Well done, because the later comics look better.
Whereas, “Moomin and the End of the World” is more in the spirit of the “Moomin” cycle than satirical comedies, not only because of the content from the book series. Tove Jansson put all her love of things into her books, and suddenly she realizes that it is the materialists, not the devout metaphysicians, who really care about preserving the world, because they don’t have a kingdom from heaven to build out of. Moomins are materialistic and therefore environmentally conscious. And educated in preparation for what’s to come, there’s a character who says “The Fall of the West” by Oswald Spengler. Incidentally, this is missing in “Comet in the Moomin Valley”; When designing her comic, Jansson wasn’t content with increasing the number of characters. And Maidt-Zinke’s suggestion that the author could have been forced to end the series prematurely is, of course, nonsense. The story is told to the end, only at the end, which differs greatly from the book, in great detail, and 26 episodes correspond to exactly half a year from the time of publication – a typical case of a newspaper agreement.
The German publication place of this gem is Schünemann Verlag, who has little idea about the comics, which is why no reading sample on the website https://www.schuenemann-verlag.de/buchverlag/neu/ can be found mumin-und- der-weltuntergang.html; However, you can watch some episodes at http://www.saunalahti.fi/trygvsod/slammer/2007/Tove-Jansson-En-lycklig-serieteccknare.html, and the fact that they can only be watched in Swedish is somewhat true even It’s really good, because the German version also leaves the Jansson font in the comics (and thus also the Swedish text) unchanged so as not to ruin the harmonious visual appearance, and the translation is printed under it. This is also atypical, but given the subtle philosophical edition it is very attractive. It’s a really beautiful book. I was particularly pleased to note that some episodes from the beginning of the story were missing from my catalog in Tampere.
We owe the book to enthusiastic jansson editor Barbara Muller and fanatic Moomin Christian Panse, who provided the literal German translation. Noting how good it was when I read it, I immediately felt like I was returning to the comfort of my childhood room, where I had learned to read with the “companion of saliva”. And of course look too, because Janson’s photos are incredibly expressive despite their apparent naivety. Appearance and surprise are the same thing.