Moomins are odd looking creatures who most resemble hippos, and were the invention of Finnish artist Tove Jansson. The originally started life in a series of books, the first of which appeared in 1945. This book was called The Moomins and the Great Flood, and it told how the Moomin family came to live in the Moominhouse in Moominvalley.
The main hero of the stories was Moomintroll, who was a young inquisitive Moomin who was fascinated by the world around him. His mother and father, Moominmamma and Moominpappa, also featured heavily. Moomintroll had a large extended family who often came to stay, including a female Moomin called, no not Moomingirl or something like that, but bizarrely The Snork Maiden?!
Other frequent guests of the Moomins were Snufkin, a wandering lad who played the harmonica, and the frankly scary Little My, who seemed to have a permanent scowl on her face and who got irritated about things very easily. Little My lived almost permanently with the Moomins, and despite being a bit disruptive at times could often be useful to have around.
My first encounter with The Moomins came in the form of the stop motion animated series which was first made in 1977 but didn’t make it to UK screens until 1983. The show was beautifully made, with the characters being animated in front of highly detailed backgrounds. The Moomins were slightly three dimensional and were made from some kind of flocked material, which led to the show being dubbed The Fuzzy Felt Moomins.
There was something about it though that felt almost creepy, even when nice things were happening. I always had this feeling that some horrible impending doom was about to befall Moomintroll, and he and I were both powerless to do anything about it.
Perhaps part of the reason for the general creepiness was that the Moomins didn’t appear to have mouths, and of course Little My always seemed to look scary just by virtue of her explosive character. Even the music was spooky, played mostly on the flute but with a strange cooing sound going on in the background. It still sends a slight shiver down my spine when I hear it.
As well as this TV series there have been several other TV and film adaptations, and in the 1950’s the Moomins also had their own cartoon strip in the London newspaper The Evening News. Today there is even an art museum devoted to the Moomins and they have their own theme park in Naantali, Finland, called Moominworld. The characters have even appeared on the sides of some Finnair aircraft.