Everybody give a big thank you to Drawn & Quarterly Press, which has begun reissuing Tove Jansson's Moomin comic strips in graphic novel form. The second volume just arrived at my door and like the first it's a beautiful oversized book featuring the antics of the hippo-like Moomin and his family. From dealing with obnoxious neighbors to doing ridiculous things for love, the Moomin family's adventures are funny, surreal, sometimes melancholy, and always rich and whimsical. In less skillful hands, this would be fodder for sticking one’s finger down one’s throat in revulsion at the treacly whimsy of it all. However, Tove Jansson was a pragmatist and also, if her work is any indication, a wise person. Beneath the gentle surface of Moomin there is a sly, wicked wit and much non-didactic commentary about the world and people’s place in it.
Something must be said about the effortlessness of these comic strips. There isn’t a word or image out of place. I cannot think of another comic strip that gives me as much pleasure as this one. There is also something uniquely calming and stress-relieving about reading Moomin that I can’t quite put into words but has something to do with the effortlessness I mention above. As Neil Gaiman says, "A lost treasure now rediscovered--one of the sweetest, strangest comics strips ever drawn or written. A surrealist masterpiece. Honest." You owe it to yourself to check it out.