New Tove Jansson web site offers an immersive guide to the Moomins creator

Moomin Characters Ltd has launched a brand-new website which celebrates the life and work of Moomin creator and multi-talented artist, Tove Jansson – and, hopefully, it’s an impressive treat for her many fans around the globe.

Tove Jansson's self portait with the Moomins © Moomin Characters
Tove Jansson’s self portait with the Moomins © Moomin Characters

Styled as an immersive exhibition, the new website at www.tovejansson.com gives fans and newcomers to Jansson’s work the opportunity to understand how intricately her life and her creative output were intertwined, by presenting them side-by-side.

Smoking girl. Self portrait by Tove Jansson 1940
Smoking girl. Self portrait by Tove Jansson 1940

Still in development, with more features to be added next year, the site already offers a biography and extensive gallery – this featuring not just here Moomins work, but covers for GARM magazine, and paintings – and a ‘Tovepedia‘ – a treasure trove of facts about the creator, including her work as a cartoonist.

In 1947 Tove Jansson was commissioned by Ny Tid, a left-wing periodical (edited by Atos Wirtanen, Tove’s lover at the time), to produce a Moomin cartoon strip. Her first cartoon story, Moomintroll and The End of the World, was serialised from 1947 – 48. Then, in 1950, following the breakout success in Britain of Finn Family Moomintroll, she was approached by London’s then highest circulation newspaper, The Evening News, to create a daily cartoon strip.

Examples of the Moomins newspaper strip created by Tove Jansson and published in the London Evening News in the 1950s.
An example of the Moomins newspaper strip created by Tove Jansson and published in the London Evening News in the 1950s

For Jansson, this was a life-changing commission, providing her with the financial security she longed for. The first Moomin strip was published in September 1954 and promoted via a London-wide billboard campaign. “The Moomins” engaging plots, clarity of line, humour and playfulness (the strips often ‘broke out’ of their frames) proved a triumph and the cartoons were published in 40 countries, reaching over 20 million readers. 

Tove and her brother Lars Jansson © Per Olov Jansson
Tove and her brother Lars Jansson © Per Olov Jansson

However, Tove Jansson felt increasingly constrained by the relentlessness of newspaper production and in 1959 handed over the task of the daily strip to her younger brother, Lars Jansson, a skilled author and illustrator in his own right. Lars would successfully continue the Moomin cartoon strip until 1975. In recent years, the complete strips have been republished, in English by Drawn and Quarterly, and other languages, in five volumes.

Drawn and Quarterly Moomins Collection - Volume One
Drawn and Quarterly Moomins Collection – Volume One

It’s early days for the site, but there’s plenty to enjoy already. Visitors are able to get new insights into Jansson’s creations by learning about what was happening in her life while she was working on the books, comics, paintings and illustrations she is so loved for.

You can explore her childhood home in a bohemian artist’s studio, which evoked my own experience of meeting sculptor Barbara Hepworth in her St. Ives studio as a child, dive into details of her rich oil paintings, and learn about the struggle of an artist with many talents who was trying to fulfil both her inner curiosity and balance that with the increasing the demands of an ever-growing global audience.

Images, video and text will bring Jansson’s personal story to life, from the influence of the Second World War, to falling in love with a woman at a time when it was still illegal to be homosexual in Finland.

Tove Jansson painting © Eva Konikoff
Tove Jansson painting © Eva Konikoff

Web Site Launch Celebrated with Online Screening of Rare Film

To celebrate the launch of this unique new showcase of Jansson’s work, Moomin Characters Ltd is also holding the first global online screening of the film Tove and Tooti in Europe, produced by Handle Productions, on 9th December at 3.00pm GMT.

This rarely-seen-before film uses footage shot on an 8mm Cine Camera by Tove Jansson and her long-term partner, the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä, known as Tooti, as they documented their travels around Europe. The footage dates from 1972 to 1993 and includes scenes from Paris, Venice, London, Madrid, Dublin, Iceland and Corsica.

Another 8mm Cine Camera documentary shot by Tove and Tuulikki, called Haru, Island of the Solitary, was recently screened in the same way to celebrate Moomin Characters Ltd raising over one million euros with their #OURSEA campaign to help save the Baltic Sea.

The live stream attracted thousands of Tove Jansson fans from around the world, demonstrating the huge appetite from fans to see this archive footage and learn more about her life.

One of the most polluted seas in the world, you can still contribute to the #OURSEA campaign to save the Baltic here.

Sophia Jansson, Creative Director at Moomin Characters and niece of Tove Jansson, said: “With this website, we wanted to create the richest and most comprehensive digital gallery and online resource that exists for any artist worldwide.

“Our hope is that it will be the most brilliant introduction to Tove’s work for newcomers, and that there will also be something new to discover for even the most committed fans. As Tove’s niece, it is very moving for me to see her life and her work presented in such a beautiful way and now accessible to people all over the world.”

Tove Jansson in her studio in Helsinki around 1948 © Per Olov Jansson
Tove Jansson in her studio in Helsinki around 1948 © Per Olov Jansson
Tove Jansson on Klovharun.© Per Olov Jansson
Tove Jansson on Klovharun.© Per Olov Jansson

The website www.tovejansson.com is currently available in English, Swedish and Finnish. Further content will be released in phases, with more material to come about the people and places that were important to Tove Jansson.

Eventually, visitors will be able to step into the Moominhouse, learn about lovers becoming lifelong friends and important artistic collaborators, and a family that supported Tove in her bold, uncompromising approach to life and art.

• To join the global screening of Tove and Tooti in Europe on Thursday 9th December, please sign up via the Eventbrite page

• One of the most polluted seas in the world, you can still contribute to the #OURSEA campaign to save the Baltic here

Buy Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip Volume One from AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

All images © Moomin Characters™

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Art and Illustration, Books, Comic Creator Spotlight, Comics, Creating Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News, Other Worlds

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