Classic Graphic: The Moomin stories

moomin_history_tove_jansson-cfb36ad907e5b10ec440f2105589c600                               pee-hoo

Today is the birthday of Finnish author, artist and cartoonist Tove Marika Jansson. Tove was born in Helsinki on 9 August 1914 and died on 27 June 2001 at the age of 86.

Tove Jansson was a member of the Swedish speaking minority in Finland. She was raised by bohemian artist parents, who encouraged a love of nature and an appreciation of diversity in their children. Tove studied art in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris. Her siblings also grew up to become artists.

Tove Janson is the most widely read Finnish author outside her own country. Shemoomin_by_marzymarrs-d8wj23y received wide recognition for her short stories, novels, picture books, plays and a comic strip. Tove also exhibited paintings and graphic art and was commissioned to create public art works. Although Tove wrote for both children and adults, she is best known and loved for her Moomin stories.

230px-Finn_FamilyIn 1945 Söderström & Co published Tove’s first Moomin story The Moomins and the Great Flood in Swedish. This was followed by Comet In Moominland in 1946 and Finn Family Moomintroll or The Magician’s Hat in 1948.

Tove continued writing about the adventures of the Moomin family throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 the International Board on Books for Young People awarded Tove the Hans Christian Andersen award, which is the highest accolade that can be given to a writer or illustrator of children’s books.

Following the translation into English of her books Tove was approached by a British publisher to transform her Moomin stories in a comic strip format. In 1954, the famous London newspaper The Evening News started to publish it. In order to allow his sister more time for her visual art projects, Tove’s brother Lars Jansson took over drawing the comic strip from 1960.  It ran up until 1974.

In 1970, Tove ceased writing Moomin stories with the publication of her ninth and last Moomin book Moominvalley in November. She later published a somewhat eerie children’s picture book called The Dangerous Journey in 1977, which is about different characters but takes place in the world of Moominvalley.

Tove went on to write an acclaimed novel for adults, which focuses on the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother who are living on an island. The Summer Book (1972) is her best known work of fiction which has been translated into English. Throughout her life, Tove produced six novels and five books of short stories for an adult audience.

Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories have been adapted for film, the stage, television series, an opera and a theme park. Her books have been translated into several languages.

You can reserve books about Tove Jansson’s life through the One Card Network online. Visit the official Tove Jansson website at http://tovejansson.com/

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CharactersA friend asked me to post about Tove Jansson, so I decided to explore the world of the Moomins, to discover why both children and adults are still captivated by them.

So you may ask, what exactly is a Moomin? Are they really trolls?

Fear not, the Moomins are not your average ugly, stupid trolls lurking in the mountains or under bridges, lying in wait to catch their next meal. The Moomins are cute, kindly fairytale characters who are plump and white and resemble hippopotamuses! They are intelligent, literate and make their home in a tower in Mooninvalley, living alongside a host of eccentric characters.

Tove’s stories are full of lighthearted humour. Her simple and colourful ‘retro’ style illustrations will appeal to children. She cleverly parodies many different concepts in her Moomin stories, from becoming famous, vanity, the theatre, the legal profession to buying unnecessary modern kitchen gadgets.

Young Moomin or Moomintroll, as he is known in the original Swedish version, is a sweet-natured, brave and somewhat naïve character, making his way in the world. Moomin lives with his close knit family, his mother Moominmamma, father Moominpappa and girlfriend Snorkmaiden.

Moomin familyThe Moomin family is always ready to embrace new experiences, meet new people and welcome them into their home.

Moonminpappa enjoys reading and philosophising. Moominpappa’s romantic view of himself leads to all sorts of grand plans such as moving his family to a lighthouse so he can write a grand novel. The more practical Moominmamma takes pride in her home and loves her garden. She prefers to live simply but comfortably.

Moominmamma is skilled at making others know that they may not have made the best decisions, without making her family feel bad about themselves. Her serenity helps us to realise that everything will eventually turn out okay. However, Moominmamma is not immune from falling into the trap of keeping up appearances and competing with her neighbour Mrs Fillyjonk!

Pretty Snorkmaiden is a dreamer. She and Moomin are devoted to each other.  However, she can be insecure, overly concerned with her Snorkmaidenappearance and with getting Moomin’s attention. The adopted Little My causes chaos in the Moonmin household but she is perceptive and brings other characters down to earth with her sharp observations.

Tove Jansson’s work is original and surrealOn their numerous adventures, many of the characters that The Moomin family encounters are of indeterminate species. For example, at first glance Too-Ticky appears to be human, until you notice her strange birdlike feet. The fearless Little My is so small she can fit incharacter_mymble_familyto the pocket of her half-brother Snufkin. She looks remarkably like her mother, older sister Mymble and her seventeen younger siblings. A ghost who haunts a lighthouse resembles a sausage with legs!

The Moomin books teach us about the importance of family and friendship and about accepting others for their uniqueness. They value living a simple life, staying close to the beauty of nature and just being happy. The Moomins are always ready to help other characters, as everyone is important and needs a purpose.

You can borrow the Moomin stories and graphic novels (which comprise episodes from the Moomin comic strip) across the One Card Network. Tove Jansson’s work has also been adapted to bring her characters to younger readers, through a series of new picture books. Search the catalogue online, or enquire next time you visit the Library. Why not also visit the official Moomin site: https://www.moomin.com/en/

And yes, I could be hooked.

Did you know… that today is international Batman day?

Created by Bob Kane, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 way back in 1939, the second major costumed superhero to be introduced by DC Comics after Superman. The Dark Knight is ranked second only to Superman in IGNs top 100 Comic Book Heroes of all time and has been adapted to both the small and big screen, with perhaps the most iconic portrayals being Adam West in the 1960s Batman TV Series, Michael Keaton in 1989s Batman (directed by Tim Burton) and Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Next year (2016) will see Ben Affleck take on the role in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In comics, Batman has been written by such legendary figures as Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Grant Morison (who actually killed Bruce Wayne in RIP/Final Crisis) and Scott Snyder.

Almost as memorable as the Caped Crusader himself are his Rogues Gallery of villains which includes the sultry Catwoman and Poison Ivy, the fear inducing Scarecrow, criminal mastermind The Riddler, back-breaking Bane and the immortal Ras Al Ghul. None of these can compare, however, to the Clown Prince of Crime, the psychotic Joker

Why not checkout the library’s collection of Graphic Novels or DVDs and live the excitement that is…BATMAN.

Classic graphic

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: The Graphic Novel.
Campfire Graphic Novels. Adapted by Laurence Sach and illustrated by Rajesh Nagulakonda

Pride and Predjudice

Jane Austen;s Pride & Prejudice, The Graphic Novel

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if Jane Austen was alive today, she would be in possession of a sizeable fortune, derived from the sale of her novels, other works of literature based on her characters and film adaptations.

Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, the Graphic Novel is a worthy and modern adaptation of Austen’s popular novel designed to introduce new readers to the original classic. Or for those who already know Austen’s work, the graphic novel provides an opportunity to revisit and enjoy the memorable story of the Bennet family.

I can understand how challenging reading the novel can be for younger readers, after ploughing through the nineteenth century prose at sixteen, as part of the school curriculum. At that age it is easy to miss the humour that Austen puts into Pride and Prejudice, to not appreciate her cleverness and insight as a writer, and as one of my colleagues once commented, “To understand what Elizabeth and Darcy actually saw in each other”.

The story in the graphic novel stays true to the original work. All of the principle episodes and well-known lines are included. What impressed me about this adaption of Pride and Prejudice is the editing. The dialogue and plot unfold well, without the reader having to piece together the story in their minds from random episodes. Austen’s main characters come alive, as Laurence Sach effectively portrays their unique personality traits, in combination with Rajesh Nagulakonda’s illustrations.

The style of the illustrations is simplistic and they are painted in subtle tones of colour. However, I did like them. Characters have a waxy look to their faces but they really do display emotion. Backgrounds, interiors and furnishings are well drawn. Overall, the panels depict the look and feel of daily life for the landed gentry in the Regency period.
The graphic novel also gives readers a summary of Jane Austen’s life and her career as a writer.

You can reserve Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: The Graphic Novel through the One Card Network. Reserve it through the online catalogue or enquire at the Library.

Did you know…about Godzilla?

Godzilla_(2014)_posterOn Thursday, Legendary Pictures will be bringing the monster Godzilla back to the big screen in an epic blockbuster that has been more than four years in the making. But what do you actually know about the titular monster?

 

 

 

The original Godzilla from 1954.

The original Godzilla from 1954.

The creation of Godzilla can be attributed to no single person, but rather a collaborative effort between Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, Director Ishiro Honda and special effects genius Eiji Tsubaraya. Inspired by the bombing of Hiroshima , Pacific Nuclear Tests and the incident involving the fishing boat Lucky Dragon 5 in addition films such as King Kong and The Beast from 20 000 Fathoms. These three men bought to life the story of an ancient creature, awakened and irradiated by atomic testing that proceeded to lay waste to Tokyo.

Godzilla as he appeared in 2004s Final Wars.
Godzilla as he appeared in 2004s Final Wars.

A serious film, the creature served as an allegory for nuclear weapons and the devastation they had wrought on Japan. The film was dubbed and re-cut for release in the West in 1956, re-titled as Godzilla – King of the Monsters. A box office smash in Japan and quite successful in the West, Godzilla would go on to star in a multitude of sequels, divided into the Showa (1954-1975), Heisie (1984-1995) and Millennium (1999-2004) series.

The first all-American made film was released 1998 by Sony/TriStar to somewhat mixed reactions. Will the Legendary Pictures effort prove to be more satisfying?

Before seeing the film, why not check out some of the old Japanese movies, or compare it to the TriStar effort, or why not check out some of the great Graphic Novels being produced by IDW Publishing.

Did You Know About DC Comics and the New 52?

DC LogoTwo years ago, DC Comics (publishers of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, etc) made a highly controversial decision. In the conclusion of their Flashpoint crossover series, all of their titles were rebooted to Issue #1.


That’s right – all of them
!

In Flashpoint, the Flash had inadvertently altered time and tried to return the universe to its proper course. A mysterious woman (later revealed to be Pandora) appeared and altered time yet again – merging several ‘universes’ together to form a new ‘core reality’.

Referred to as the New 52, DC Launched 52 titles, all at Issue #1. Something of a ‘soft reboot’, most titles were now set 5 years after Superman made his public debut. with some of the old story elements retained, while others (such as the various ‘Crisis’ crossovers, Superman’s marriage to Lois Lane and Batman’s death) were removed. Costume designs were updated as were some characters and even powers being changed radically.

Designed as a new ‘jumping on’ point to attract new readers, their decision was Rebirth_GScreen_front_lres1met with some anger on the part of long standing fans and collectors, myself included. I have since revised my opinion as the stories, particularly the Justice League titles by Geoff Johns, have clearly been building up to something.

Last year, Johns teased us that something called the ‘Trinity War‘ was coming. This event, which crossed over between all three Justice League titles, has just concluded and leads us directly into the New 52’s first Crossover: Forever Evil where, in the aftermath of the Trinity War, the villains take over the world!

Why not check out some of the New 52 stories such as Justice League: Origins, Batman: Death of the Family, Action Comics: Superman and the Men of Steel or Green Lantern: Rise of the Third Army and see what you think of the New52.

VALVE presents…

Any modern gamer has heard of and probably played something from the Valve back catalogue of games, including classics like Left 4 Dead, online multiplayer giant Team Fortress 2, to the revolutionary Half Life, and the ridiculously popular puzzle games Portal and Portal 2. Valve has released a large stylish hardcover volume of collected graphic novels based on some of these successful franchises called Valve Presents: The sacrifice and other steam powered stories.

Follow Left 4 Dead  protagonists Bill, Zoey, Francis and Louis in the first days after the green flu outbreak in The Sacrifice.  Read about Team Fortress 2’s  Saxton Hale in an amusing 50’s style comic book series, and see what goes on with the staff at Aperture Laboratories as Chell is continually tested in Lab Rat.

Valve Presents is a great expansion of the Valve universe into the graphic novel format.

Classic Graphic: Moby Dick

Written by Herman Melville , adapted by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Pascal Alixe for Marvel Comics.

There have been film and television adaptations of Herman Melville’s classic American novel Moby Dick and even an opera, which was recently performed in Adelaide.  Now we can read the graphic novel.

Set in the nineteenth century America, Moby Dick is the story of Ishmael, a young American man who goes to sea in order to relieve a bout of depression.  His plans do not go as expected when he secures employment among a strange, multiracial crew on the whaling ship Pequod, under the command of the fanatical Captain Ahab.  Rather than fulfill their whaling contract, vengeful Ahab leads his crew into mortal danger across the world in pursuit of killing the white whale they call Moby Dick.

Roy Thomas has attempted to remain faithful to the tone of the original text rather than modernising the language for his graphic novel.  He provides the reader with an introduction to Herman Melville’s original novel and a concise biography of the author.

Pascal Alixe’s illustrations are excellent.  Alixe uses subdued tones of blue, grey, green and brown to create an atmosphere through which we can visualise the cold, bleak coast of New England and what it would be like aboard a sailing ship in treacherous seas.

Facial expressions superbly convey the emotions of each character, especially the crazed Captain Ahab and add to the high drama of the story.  Those readers who are familiar with Moby Dick on film will not be disappointed by the graphic novel’s rendition of the Polynesian harpoonist Queequeg, who is a favourite character of many people.

After the horror of seeing Japanese whaling vessels pursuing whales on the television news at least you can rest assured that when reading Moby Dick that the whale will come out on top.  As a modern reader, I found it interesting to consider that the issue of whether the whale would survive to be important to me but to readers in 1851, the morality of whaling probably did not come into question.  Moby Dick is even referred to as a great fish!  Moby Dick was essentially about one man’s obsession, to the point of madness, in seeking revenge against the greater force of nature.  Reading Moby Dick, one learns not only about the superstitious nature of sailors but also of how much people used to believe in the concepts of fate, omens, retribution and the wrath of God.

Readers should be aware that this graphic novel features illustrations of whales which have been hunted and killed.

You can search the Library’s online catalogue to reserve the graphic novel Moby Dick or Herman Melville’s original novel, a DVD or even a children’s version of his classic work.  Or enquire next time you visit the Library.