I just finished the second volume of Tove Jansson’s collected Moomin comic strip. I’m a long time fan of the Moomin children’s books, and the first volume of the comic strips was amazing, but this one…I don’t know. A little disappointing, I think. The goofy stream-of-consciousness wackiness of the first volume seems to have hardened here into a formula; in each story, an outsider comes into the Moomin’s lives, tries to change the Moomin’s ways, succeeds briefly, but is then sent packing when the Moomin’s realize that their quiet bohemian life of domesticity shot through with occasional imaginative flights really is perfect, and they don’t need to become healthier/neater/freer/more moral.

The targest are fine; I’m all for sneering at health nuts and hippies. And there are great moments; The strip where Moomin declares “In moments like this, there is an inner soaring, a will to…” and then cracks his head diving into a sheet of ice is goofily literary in a way that’s almost Schulz-worthy. And the third story is pretty great all through, largely because the outsider here, the violent and mischievous Little My, is granted as much sympathy as the protagonists. But overall, the Moomins end up portrayed as naif moral paragons, and that makes the comic seem kind of smug. Hopefully, though, this is just a blip, and Jansson will be back on her game for the third volume….