Moomins move in cycles. One day I’ll get some sort of actuarial table made to prove this, but it seems possible to date someone according to if and how they were exposed to Moominmania.
Older, English Moomin fans will remember the newspaper comic strips. This is the first collected edition of those strips, published in 1957 by Allan Wingate (£450):
The best and most baffling thing about this volume is the introduction by acclaimed crime writer Margery Allingham - I’m still trying to work out quite how she came do it. She effs the ineffable by explaining the eternal appeal of these strange creatures:
“Surely this series is that very rare thing, an instantly recognisable work of art? To be certain of this, I submit, one only has to consider a single drawing. Art experts are forever lecturing us about purity and economy of line and sometimes the layman is privately put about to discover precisely what the jargon means. But here there is perfect line and perfect economy and nothing else whatever to get in the way.”
So the Moomins are art, and this is something we can understand as little children or as adults, however we first experience their curious shapes and indomitable characters. It’s the saving grace of the Moomin tat industry that a Moomin ennobles anything it touches and cannot really be degraded even in the most pointless and faux-whimsical format.
Older Finnish and Swedish readers will remember (and younger fans can now buy reissued or iPad versions) Jansson’s beautiful cut out picture book Hur Gick Det Sen?, featuring Mymble and Little My (Schildt, 1952, £500):
And, as if to prove the natural link between detective fiction and Moomins, I’ve just discovered that one modern translator of this is book is Sophie Hannah, my favourite modern crime writer.
There you have it - an improbably Venn diagram with at least one Moomin/Allingham/Hannah fan in the centre.