Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

To Publish or Not to Publish?

book-fork-road_09

This is a whimscial artwork I created for The Writer magazine. It is on the topic of letting a book go once it turns out that it is not really taking you anywhere, and shows a puzzled-looking humanoid book scratching its head in disbelief at a road fork.

book-fork-road_09_02



Monday, January 4th, 2010

My Tove Jansson Shrine

tove-jansson-books

As a special New Year treat, in my longest post ever, I have put together scans from my collection of books by Tove Jansson, the Finnish writer and illustrator of the famed Moomin series. These include original Swedish-language first editions, translated editions in a variety of languages, and even a signed copy. Click on the images for larger versions! And Happy New Year everybody!

  1. Personal Recollections
  2. Original Editions
  3. Translated Editions
  4. Comic Strips
  5. Secondary Literature

My relationship with Tove Jansson’s work has always been quite intense. When we were Very Small, my mom gave us Tove’s moomin books to read, and we literally devoured them, re-reading them over and over. (As a matter of fact, I have been doing it up to this day.) I have always been an ardent admirer of Tove’s stories and illustrations which even today, for me, rank among the greatest artwork ever created. Tove will always be dear to my heart.

Here are two links to Tove Jansson articles on my website:

In 1993, while spending two months in Rome sketching and drawing away, I stumbled across the Italian translation of a book by Tove’s which I wasn’t familiar with at the time, Magia d’inverno (Trollvinter). While I don’t speak much Italian, I was surprised to discover while reading along, or trying to, that even though I didn’t really understand what was being said, in some strange way I felt what the story was all about, simply because the world of Tove Jansson seemed so very familiar.

I was so surprised at this discovery that I decided to write to Tove through her Italian publisher, and to tell her about this, and let her know my general appreciation for her; I am afraid I also sent along some drawings I had made during my stay in Rome (mind I was rather young at the time).

tove-jansson-letter

Moomin stamps on a letter to me from Tove in 1993

Images (c) Tove Jansson

Below: close-up view

moomin-stamps

To make a long story short, I found a reply from Helsinki in my mailbox upon my return – Tove had written back! Her hand-written letter smelled of heavy chain smoking. The stamps on the envelope showed some of her Moomin characters, and she added an note with an arrow, stating, “Moomin stamps!” She also sent me a signed book of hers, which I thought was indescribably lovely a thing to do.

We later exchanged another letter when I inquired about doing an interview for a magazine for which I had written an article about her shortly before. She declined, quite understandibly, because she felt she was now at a stage in her life where she really didn’t want to give interviews any more (she was almost 80 back then).

ehrliche-betruegerin

Die ehrliche Betrügerin

Rowohlt (Germany 1993)

Signed for me by Tove Jansson in 1993

Tove belonged to the minority of Swedish-speaking people in Finland. I have here put together scans of Swedish-language original editions in my collection of Tove Jansson’s work.

mumintrollet-pa-kometjakt

Mumintrollet pa kometjakt

(Sweden 1956, 1st. ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

hur-gick-det-sen

Hur gick det sen?

Gebers  (Sweden 1981)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

vem-ska-troesta-knyttet

Vem ska trösta Knyttet?

Norstedts (Sweden 1991)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

farlig-midsommar

Farlig midsommar

Gebers (Sweden 1957)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

trollvinter

Trollvinter

Gebers  (Sweden 1957, 1st ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

osynliga-barnet

Det osynliga barnet

Gebers  (Sweden 1962, 1st ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

Tove’s books have seen a widespread international readership. These are some of foreign-language editions of her books, including the little Ravensburger Verlag editions of which I think it is fair enough to say that they had a profound influence on my childhood, and on that of my brother and sister.

moominland-midwinter

Moominland Midwinter

Ernest Benn (UK 1958, 1st ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moominland-midwinter-paperback

Moominland Midwinter

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (USA 1992)

Paperback, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moominpappa-sea

Moominpappa at Sea

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (USA 1993)

Paperback, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moominpappa-sea_pb

Moominpappa at Sea

Puffin (UK 1984)

Paperback, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moominsummer-madness-inside

Comet in Moominland

Henry Z. Walck (USA 1961)

Hardcover, front image (c) Tove Jansson

moominsummer-madness

Moominsummer Madness

Henry Z. Walck (USA 1961)

Hardcover, front image (c) Tove Jansson

comet-in-moominland-hardcover

Comet in Moominland

Henry Z. Walck (USA 1967, 4th ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

comet-in-moominland

Comet in Moominland

Ernest Benn (UK 1965, 3rd ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

muminvaters-wildbewegte-jugend

Muminvaters wildbewegte Jugend

Benzinger (Germany 1963, 1st ed.)

Hardcover, front page (c) Tove Jansson

papa-moumine-mer

Papa Moumine et la mer

Live de poche (France 1987, 1st ed.)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

sturm-im-mumintal-hardcover

Sturm im Mumintal

Benzinger (Germany 1955, 1st ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Li Rommel

sturm-im-mumintal

Sturm im Mumintal

Otto Maier Verlag (Germany 1969)

Softcover, cover  (c) Lilo Fromm

drollige-gesellschaft-hardcover

Eine drollige Gesellschaft

Deutscher Bücherbund

(Germany, 1954, 1st ed.)

Hardcover, cover (c) Lilo Rommel

drollige-gesellschaft

Eine drollige Gesellschaft

Otto Maier Verlag (Germany 1968)

Softcover, cover (c) Lilo Fromm

finn-family-moomintroll

Finn Family Moomintroll

Penguin (Great Britain 1964, 2nd ed.)

Softcover, cover  (c) Tove Jansson

komet-mumintal

Komet im Mumintal

Otto Maier Verlag (Germany 1970)

Softcover, cover (c) Lilo Fromm

magia-inverno

Magia d’inverno

Salani gl’istrici (Italy 1992)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

(I bought this one in Rome.)

memoires-papa-moumine_02

Les mémoires de papa Moumine

Live de poche (France 1987)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

(Bought in Abidjan – yes, Ivory Coast!)

memoires-papa-moumine

Les mémoires de papa Moumine

Live de poche (France 1986, 4th ed.)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

Tove Jansson was not only a wonderful writer but also a one-of-a-kind artist. In the 1950’s she was approached by an English newspaper to transcribe some of her stories from the books into comic strip form so as to make them accessible to an even greater audience. While she jumped at the idea and seemed to enjoy working in this format at first, after a few years she felt it was too much limiting her artistic impulses. This was when her younger brother Lars decided to take over the strips, a venture he continued to pursue for decades to come, syndicating them around the world trough Bulls syndicate.

Tove’s and Lars’ Moomin strips are unique in the world of comics – their humor is strange, to say the least, sometimes dark, often mysterious, and usually quite off-centered. Quite surprising by this token, I find, that they actually managed to find an audience at all.

Artistically, they rank among the very best that the world of comics has ever known, single-handedly employing two illustration styles – limited line strokes where too many details seemed unnecessary; and impressionist depictions of landscapes and weather phenomena to support the action, and also, I think, to please the artistic eye always in search of contemplation.  In particular, the way that the two Janssons are able to visualize forces driven by nature, such as stormy skies, ocean waves and grottos, I find unparalleled in the world of comics, with the exception perhaps of the likes of Carl Barks who created many of Donald Duck’s most captivating stories in the 1050’s and 1960’s.

mumintrollet-5

Mumintrollet 5

Gebers (Sweden, 1960)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-21

Mumintrollet 21

Almqvist & Wiksell (Sweden, 1974)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-13

Mumintrollet 13

Gebers  (Sweden, 1970)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-4

Mumintrollet 4

Gebers  (Sweden, 1958)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-11

Mumintrollet 11

Gebers  (Sweden, 1968)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-12

Mumintrollet 12

Gebers  (Sweden, 1969)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-5_horiz

Mumin 5

Jensen & Palmgrens (Sweden, 1979)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumintrollet-3_horiz

Mumin 3

Jensen & Palmgrens (Sweden, 1978)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

mumin-7

Mumin 7

Alvglans (Sweden, 1980)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove & Lars Jansson

moomin-strips_01

Moomin Book One:

The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip: Drawn and Quarterly (Canada, 2006)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moomin-strips_02

Moomin Book Two:

The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip: Drawn and Quarterly (Canada, 2008)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moomin-strips_03

Moomin Book Three:

The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip: Drawn and Quarterly (Canada, 2008)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

moomin-strips_04

Moomin Book Four:

The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip: Drawn and Quarterly (Canada, 2009)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

jorden-gar-under

Jorden gar under

Tigertext (Finland 2007)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

Tove’s first comic strip from 1947

jorden-gar-under_02

mumins-erben-schloss

Die Mumins erben ein Schloß

Otto Maier Verlag (Germany 1974)

Softcover, cover  (c) Lars Jansson

mumintal-wird-ein-dschungel

Mumintal wird ein Dschungel

Otto Maier Verlag (Germany 1973)

Softcover, cover  (c) Tove Jansson

These are a few books and conference materials on the life and works of Tove Jansson which I have collected over the years. I am still kicking myself that I didn’t go to that Tove Jansson conference in Tampere in 1994 where the goddess herself was actually present…

Tove-Janssonin-maailma

Conference on Tove Jansson

Tampere, Finland (1994)

Excerpt from conference brochure

Illustration (c) Tove Jansson

vid-min-svans

Juhani Tolvanen:

Vid min svans!

Schildts (Sweden, 2000)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

vid-min-svans_02

vid-min-svans_03

mumin-tampere

Mumin: Das Mumintal

Art Museum Tampere, catalog

Tampere, Finland (1991)

Softcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

ord-bild-liv

Boel Westin:

Tove Jansson – Ord, bild, liv.

Schildts (Sweden 2007)

Hardcover, cover (c) Tove Jansson

kruskopf-tove-jansson

Erik Kruskopf:

Bildkonstnaren Tove Jansson

Bonniers (Sweden 1992)

Hardcover, images (c) Tove Jansson

Tampere-Art-Museum

Tampere Art Museum catalogue

Tampere (Finland 1992)

Cover (c) Tove Jansson

Eine drollige Gesellschaft

Otto Maier Verlag (Germany 1968)

Softcover, cover (c) Lilo Fromm