The five-part series explores how and why the creations of Finnish artist and writer Tove Jansson have been embraced globally, from Scandinavia to Japan.
Moomin Characters will launch ‘The Moomin Phenomenon,’ a five-part audio documentary series narrated by actress and producer Lily Collins, well known for her role in Emily in Paris, and the multi-hyphenate English actress, singer, comedian, and screenwriter Jennifer Saunders, widely recognized for her role as Edina Monsoon in the TV-series Absolutely Fabulous. The Moomin Phenomenon tells the story of how the Moomins went from being characters in a series of Finnish children’s books to a worldwide phenomenon with fans all over the globe, its own philosophy, hundreds of licensed products, and an annual turnover of over 650 million euros.
The Moomins first appeared in The Moomins and the Great Flood, a story written and illustrated by the Finnish artist Tove Jansson and published in 1945. They were catapulted onto the global stage in 1954, when the London Evening News commissioned Jansson to write a Moomin comic strip which ran for an incredible 20 years and, at its peak, was syndicated in 40 different countries.
‘The Moomin Phenomenon’ explores why fans feel such a deep connection to the characters that Tove Jansson created and the unique philosophy of Moominvalley, where the values of love, equality and courage are ever-present. It asks how and why so many artists – from writers and musicians to designers and jewellers – have been inspired by these stories, and how the brand
balances its licensing programme with the importance of preserving the integrity of Tove Jansson’s body of work. Finally, its looks at the life and legacy of Jansson, an incredible woman who lived
according to her own rules.
Featured in the podcast, amongst others, are:
- Actor Samuel West, who is a lifelong fan and whose daughter is named after a character in the Moomin stories
- Designer Rika Kawato, who has made Moomin fabrics for the Japanese market for 10 years
- Publishers Nat Jansz and Mark Ellingham, who were behind the Moomin x Oxfam collaboration which raised millions of pounds
- Philosopher Sanna Tirkkonen, literature professor Björn Sundmark, and Tove’s biographer Boel Westin
- Composer Lauri Porra, who has recently created a new audio identity for Moomin Characters (…and is also bass guitarist in the power metal band, Stratovarius!)
- Jeweller Harriet Vine, who is the co-founder of Tatty Devine, an east-London based jewellery brand with a Moomin range
- And a fan named Malin Tjernström, who gets her third Moomin tattoo whilst being interviewed for the podcast!
The podcast is hosted by comedian and actor Jennifer Saunders, who is “evangelical” about the Moomins, having voiced the character of Mymble in the recent TV adaptation, Moominvalley. Saunders discovered the Moomins as an adult when her youngest daughter became “fanatical” about the stories.
Jennifer Saunders, narrator of the podcast, said: “My personal admiration for Tove Jansson is huge, but through this podcast I’ve become aware that I’m not alone – she is truly worshipped all over the world, and rightly so. The uninitiated sometimes see the Moomin stories as being only for children – and they are wonderful children’s books, of course – but having come to them as an adult, I fell in love with the philosophy and the charm. There’s something for everybody and every mood. The stories are dark sometimes, and that’s brilliant. I love how all emotions and the internal workings of our minds are there on the page. And they’re funny too!”
Lily Collins, narrator of the podcast, said: “I am thrilled to share the Moomins with new adults and children who will become inspired by these loveable trolls just as I have been. I first discovered the series and its magical illustrations as a child growing up in the English countryside. There is so much to learn through Tove’s writing about equality, respect for nature, and how to break out of your comfort zone in search of an adventure. I try to bring all of these themes into my daily life as an adult and still today return to the Moomin stories again and again. My husband and I have even started our own Tove Jansson collection of artwork and personal letters that we deeply treasure and
will pass down for generations to come.”
Sophia Jansson, niece of Tove Jansson, said: “Tove was an incredible artist and an exceptional person. She wasn’t afraid of walking her own path and was true to her ideals, and these things fed into her creations – they’re part of what makes the Moomin stories so special. I’m very happy that her work continues to resonate so deeply with people all around the world today.”
Antonio de la Cruz, the producer of ‘The Moomin Phenomenon’, said: “Producing this podcast has been such a joyful experience. Those of us who have always had Moomin in our lives can sometimes take its profound impact for granted, so it’s been really wonderful to have the opportunity to explore that in-depth. From speaking to a paediatric doctor who leads a project to integrate Moomin values into the entire care chain of a children’s hospital, to artists who deeply feel the influence and spirit of Tove in their own work, it has been illuminating, fun and inspiring throughout.”
‘The Moomin Phenomenon’ was produced by Third Ear Creative, a Scandinavian podcast group, on behalf of Moomin Characters. Antonio de la Cruz was the producer and Melody Lovelin was the researcher. Tove Leffler acted as executive producer and the sound engineer was Gustav Sondén.
It is available to download now on all podcast platforms.
Image of Lily Collins ©Moomin Characters 2023