The first Moomin book, The Moomins and the Great Flood, was published in 1945, marking the beginning of all the Moomin stories the world has come to love. By this time, Tove Jansson was already a respected artist, which shows in the skilful illustrations of the book as a mix of delicate watercolours and pen and line ink drawings.
Illustrations from the first Moomin book The Moomins and the Great Flood
However, The Moomins and the Great Flood wasn’t the first time Tove Jansson showed the Moomintroll to the world. She created paintings with Moomintrolls already during her time studying art in Finland and abroad.
The first Moomin-like characters were seen in Garm magazine in 1943.
Tove Jansson’s painting in Garm magazine in 1943
Throughout the years, Tove Jansson made both minor and bigger changes to the illustrations and texts in the different editions and language versions of the Moomin books.
Browsing through the different versions, it’s also easy to notice how the Moomin characters have changed and developed over the decades.
In the first Moomin books, the Moomins have narrower noses
In the first Moomin books, the Moomins have narrower noses than in the later books or editions of them. (Tove Jansson didn’t write ‘snout’!)
Moomintroll reached his roundest in the illustrations for Moominsummer Madness, which was published in 1954, the same year as the first comic strip began to appear in England.
Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll illustration from the book Comet in Moominland from 1946, 1951, and 1968.
In the first Moomin books, Moominmamma is presented without an apron
Details, like accessories, that are now distinctive for each character also changed with time. In the first Moomin books, as well as the first Moomin comic Mumintrollet och jordens undergång, Moominmamma is presented without an apron. Her black handbag, containing all kinds of important items for any emergency, was what differentiated her from the other characters.
Illustration from the first Moomin comic Mumintroller och jordens undergång from 1947.
The idea for Moominmamma’s apron came from Charles Sutton, the leader of the Associated Newspapers syndicate, who worked with Tove Jansson to sell the Moomin comic strips to UK newspapers.
Throughout the different versions and editions of Tove Jansson’s books and comics, their delicate watercolours, different illustration styles and changes to character presentation, the Moomins have remained beloved and recognised around the world since 1945.
Can we really say where Moomin characters come from? For sure, Tove Jansson drew a lot of inspiration from her life while creating them.
Do you when Tove Jansson started drawing Moominamma wearing an apron? In the first Moomin books, as well as in the first…
The secret of Moominpappa inspiration is that Tove Jansson‘s father, Viktor “Faffan” Jansson can be seen in the character of Moominpappa.
How did Moominpappa and Moominmamma meet? Do they have any relatives? Is Moomintroll their only son? Explore the Moomin Family Tree to find out!
“The Moomins and the Great Flood” is the first published Moomin story, often seen as a prelude to the eight Moomin novels by Tove Jansson.
Curious about the first Moomin picture book? Watch our short documentary about the Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My.