Moomin Animations – Thrills and Cuddles 25.4.2019 – 26.1.2020
Many different animated versions of Tove Jansson’s (1914–2001) beloved Moomin books have been produced over the decades; many readers will be surprised to hear that the earliest versions date back almost 60 years. Who among us doesn’t cherish fond memories of growing up with Moomin tales on TV?
Most of us can distinctly remember the mounting sense of suspense as the Moomin adventures unfolded upon the screen – yet the thrills never grew too scary. There was always the cosy warmth of the Moomin world to make us feel safe and snug again. Sharing the experience with family and friends doubled this dual sense of adventure and cosiness. The Moomin animations bring back cherished childhood memories for many of us, while for many parents, they bring back fun moments spent watching TV together with the kids – or a moment’s respite from the daily grind as the kids sat with their noses pressed against the screen. Some of us also fondly remember endless Moomin marathons shared with friends.
The very first Moomin film to premiere on TV was a German black-and white marionette animation filmed in 1959. The first Japanese animations came ten years later, and the first Russian version following in the 1970s. At the end of the 1970s a Polish puppet / cut-out animation aired in a number of countries. To date the most famous Moomin animation ever made was the Japanese Delightful Moomin Family series, which had its TV debut in 1990. The series aired in over 120 countries, followed by repeated reruns. A brand-new Finnish-made animated series by Gutsy Animations – Moominvalley – had its international premiere in spring 2019.
Whether your happy memories of Moomin animations are based on the famous Japanese series or the very earliest versions, you can now sit down and relive the experience at the Moomin Museum. There will be TVs showing different versions of Moomin animations in various techniques from different periods. The exhibition will also look at the history of animation, including a peek at the latest production by Gutsy Animations. The exhibits include archival material such as different manuscript versions, hand-drawn sketches, ready animation drawings, three-dimensional models, sound samples and digital mock-ups.
A feature common to all the animations of the past 60 years is that each one offers its own unique take on Tove Jansson’s Moomin books and comic strips. Past animations also feature many of Jansson’s iconic original images, such as Moomintroll and Snufkin on the bridge and the Moominhouse sitting cosily in its spot in the valley. Alongside the animations, the Moomin Museum will present original illustrations from its collections – the “master versions” to which all the later animations owe their existence.
Fairytale Cabin is the Moomin Museum’s exhibition featuring the unsung achievements of the Finnish illustrator Usko Laukkanen (1930-2000), who carved out a long, rich career during an era when illustrators received little recognition. Their work was in fact often published uncredited. Though Laukkanen’s work is loved by many, his name is lesser known among wider audiences.
Laukkanen was a highly versatile illustrator and comic artist. He is known primarily as an illustrator of children’s picture books and textbooks. A whole generation grew up with his illustrations for the Finnish Children’s ABC and First Reader (1958) and its later editions, as well as the textbooks he illustrated for the Otava and Valistus publishing companies.
Among his crowning achievements was his self-authored book Laulumaja (Song Cabin, 1956), which placed third in a Nordic picture book competition and was the only Finnish book ever released in the Tammi publishing company’s Little Golden Books series. Translated editions were published in a number of countries.
Picture books and fairytales were important to Laukkanen, an industrious illustrator who spared no effort adding lively touches and perfecting every detail of his illustrations. The works in the exhibition are all original drawings, in which the colours glow brighter than ever seen in print.
Later Laukkanen worked as a commercial artist (for clients including the Finnish Road Safety Council and Postipankki Bank) and animator (notably as the creator of Esso’s ‘tiger in the tank’ commercial from the 1960s). Towards the end of his career he chiefly worked for Satukustannus. He illustrated dozens of picture books for this Tampere-based publishing house from the 1970s to the 1990s, some of which were translated into Swedish and Russian.
Laukkanen additionally made a mark as a comics artist. His best-known series Masto ja Märssy (Mast and Crow’s Nest) was published in the Finnish comics periodical Sarjis in the early 1970s. He spent decades working on his unpublished Captain Kidd strip. Laukkanen received the Puupäähattu Award for Finnish Comics Artists in 1988 in recognition of his small yet distinctive body of work in comics art.
Fairytale Cabin was produced in collaboration with the Finnish Comics Museum.
Three short films about Tove Jansson and the Moomins.
The Moomin Museum’s first temporary exhibition, Tove Jansson and the Moomins, presents the evolution of Jansson’s Moomin figures, including her black 1930s Moomins, her satirical 1940s cartoons for the political periodical Garm, the first 1950s Moomin souvenirs, and the 1990s Moomin animations. Highlights include an animated version of the very first Moomin drawn by Jansson when she was a teenager. Other special attractions include her early Moomin comic strips published in the Swedish periodical Ny Tid in the 1940s, Faun puppets from the 1950s, the very first Moomin mug produced by the Arabia porcelain company, and numerous original cover illustrations custom-designed for specific language editions.