Moomin, by Tove Jansson
'Moomin', by Tove Jansson.

Born into a creative family, Tove Jansson studied art in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris. She is part of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, and her books were originally written in Swedish. She is best known as the creator of the famous 'Moomins', troll-like people who went on to gain international popularity.

Prickinas och Fabians Ãventyr, by Tove Jansson
'Prickinas och Fabians Ãventyr' (Lunkentus, 1929).

She was an illustrator and cartoonist for the Finland-Swedish satirical magazine Garm from the 1930s until 1952. She made satirical cartoons, among others about Hitler, and illustrated translations of books by J.R.R. Tolkien and Lewis Carroll. Among her earliest comics were 'Prickinas och Fabians Ãventyr' in Lunkentus (1929), 'Fotbollen som Flög till Himlen' in Vårbrodd (1930) and 'Palle och Göran gå till sjöss' in Allas Krönika (1933).

Fotbollen som Flog till Himlen, by Tove Jansson
'Fotbollen som Flög till Himlen' (Vårbrodd, 1930).

Jansson drew her first 'Moomin' troll as part of her signature underneath her political cartoons. She created her first book with the 'Moomins' in 1945, called 'Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen' ('The Moomins and the Great Flood'), and it was followed by several others. Ny Tid published the first comic strip with the characters in 1947, 'Mumintrollet och Jordens Undergång'.

Palle och Goran ga Till Sjoss, art by Tove Jansson
'Palle och Göran gå Till Sjöss' (Allas Krönika, 1933).

It wasn't until 1954 when 'Moomin' became a running feature in the Evening News in London, England. She drew 21 long stories from 1954 to 1959. From 1958 on, Tove was assisted on the strip by her brother Lars Jansson, first on the script, then also on the artwork. Lars wrote the texts in English to help facilitate international distribution. 'Moomin' appeared in the Evening News until 1975. Tove, who was also a novelist and illustrator of children's books, took charge of the Moomin's licensing. 

Moomin, art by Tove Jansson (1956)
Moomin strip in Dutch.

The Japanese are especially big fans of the Moomins, and a long-running animated series of the Moomins was produced in Japan. The 'Moomin' comic strip collections published in Canada by Drawn & Quarterly since 2006 have attracted favourable attention in North America as well. The surest sign of her enduring popularity with the Finnish population occurred in 2004, when she was a nominee during the election of "Suuret suomalaiset" ("The Greatest Finns"). She ended at the 19th place. In 1995 an asteroid was named after the Moomin trolls.

Tove Jansson was an influence on Roman Muradov.

photograph of Tove Jansson

Series and books by Tove Jansson you can order today:


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