Moomin and Family Life
by Tove Jansson, 1955

Moomin and Family Life is the second collection of Moomin comic strips to be collected in book form. It is also absolutely not cannon, insofar as there is a Moomintroll cannon. Beware, spoilers follow.

Moomin is sad because he has lost his house, money, and girlfriend (we don't learn why this has happened). He swims out to sea to drown himself, but changes his mind when he meets some nice folk out for a row in their boat. These are Moominmamma and Moominpappa, and it takes everyone very little time to recognize that Moomin is their long lost son.

Despite having just found Moomin, Moominpappa mentions offhandedly that he is bored, and wishes something "exciting and awful" would happen. Moomin comes across some mysterious footprints, and the family sets about defending their home, a project which falls through when it turns out it was just Snufkin walking about in his too-big boots. Moominpappa restates his boredom, so Moominmamma suggests that they go out for a sail in the rising gale; this sets the tone for the Moominparents throughout the comics.

On the trip, Moominpappa finds a crate of swear words (they look like bugs), and they decide to send them off to their rich Aunt Jane as a prank. Then Moominpappa and Moominmamma decide to sneak out in the middle of the night, running off on adventure and abandoning Moomin. As an authorial decision, this is fairly bananas, and I can only assume that I don't get the 1950s Swedish sense of humor.

Anyway, the tearful Moomin runs off to live with Snufkin for a bit, and when an angry Aunt Jane comes to tell off the Moomintrolls she is greeted by trickster Sniff, who decides to fleece her for all he can. He plays off Aunt Jane and the others to maximize profits, and in the midst of all of this a guilt-ridden Moominmamma comes back to find that Moomin has run off to hide from Aunt Jane.

Finally, we officially meet one of my favorite characters: throughout this story and the last, a small critter has been following the characters around, occasionally sounding warnings and patting someone on the shoulder. About the time that Moomin discovered the footprints, a small, throwaway end-panel switched this critter with another -- its cousin Shadow. Shadow is delightfully inconsistent; it appears that it was the critter that alerted Moominmamma to Aunt Jane's arrival, causing her to check in on her son, but when Moomin now speaks to him, Shadow claims that no one has noticed him before. Shadow has been mirroring and entering in the action all along, but no one, usually including the reader, really noticed him.

Anyway, shadow is so happy to be spoken to that he fetches Snork Maiden to come help them. The cast are now all assembled but not yet together, and there is a slap-stick showdown, with everyone eventually reunited, Sniff rich from bribes and embezzlement from Aunt Jane, Aunt Jane in happy tears from the revelation that the Moomins are playing tricks on her because they are fond of her, and Snufkin quietly fishing on his own. All is well, and our story ends.

This story, along with the next few, strike me as a bit out-of-character for the Moomins; chaos and silliness are par for the course, but Moominmamma is not cruel. The other characters fit themselves pretty well, and in general this story is more cohesive than the previous. The next couple of stories will break setting in jarring ways, but they are all good fun, which is, after all, the point.

The first book in this series was Moomin and the Brigands; the next in the series is Moomin on the Riviera, and is an even sillier story than this one.

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