Page 45 Review by Stephen
I never thought it was so difficult to get wrecked.
I seem to have no trouble at all.
The Moomin family, however, are struggling to sink their ship. Theres no wind to speak of to bash their boat against the rocks, and the only rocks they can find are far too submerged. Theres not even a decent sandbank in sight.
Only the Moomins would want to beach themselves, but why? Because of their thirst for adventure! Its what sets so many of their stories en route to delirious disaster: Moominpapa is an insatiable pioneer plus once Moomintroll gets a bee in his bonnet or an idea into his hippo-like head he cannot let go, inevitably dragging poor Snorkmaiden along with him while Moominmamma dutifully follows behind, picking up the pieces. Shes rather like Gerald Durrells mother in the likes of Birds, Beasts And Relatives, isnt she?
This time young Moomintroll has become obsessed with Robinson Crusoe, but its not just the concept of shipwrecked survival, its the very letter of its lore that must be obeyed. They must take everything with them that Robinson Crusoe took, even if it fell to the bottom on the sea like lead and so wasnt even used.
Now where shall I get three kegs of gun-powder and ten muskets?
Once safely shipwrecked Snorkmaiden forages for food leaving Moomintroll to ham-act delirious then despair (its all in the book) and drive them all mental with his strict judgements of what other modes of behaviour are or are not genuinely Crusoeish.
I remember my best friend Anita, post-punk to the core, indulging in a packet of peanuts in Nottinghams Dragon Inn. She wore the most beautiful, arm-length, black silk gloves into which she nonchalantly poured the salted contents before picking them off her palm one by one. NOT terribly gothic! she said with a moment-relishing smile.
Lars Jansson not only pillories Moomintrolls manic behaviour but the book itself in which Mr Crusoe Esq failed to fish though surrounded by sea, and never once took a walk around the island.
He didnt? How stupid, he might have found anything!
But look, he might have found people! He might have been rescued before enough had happened to fill more than a few pages!
As to the cartooning, its an exuberant as ever and I loved the strip (for these graphic novels are composed of single-line strips) after which, having irritated the Captain of a ship hes stowed away on (one that looks rickety enough to sink) with his overenthusiastic pessimism, he sabotages the submerged hull by drilling right through it. The sailors hoist Moomintroll over their heads, pressing him to the top of the ceiling which of course is the panel border itself, and Moomintroll pulls his weight down on it, so wrinkling the very border.
All of which is the tip of the iceberg (which would have been handy): a quick and skinny dip into the first dozen pages. Do enjoy the rest!
[The cover colours as shown are gorgeous, but Id argue the virtually day-glo orange Drawn & Quarterly have substituted on the spine is even more delicious. Its turned it into a lemon and tangerine mousse and looks very tasty in our window on these darker days.]