In all, nine books were released in the series, with five picture books and a comic strip also written by Jansson being released between 1945 and 1993.
The Moomins have since been the basis for numerous television series, films and even a theme park in Finland.
The books in the series, in order, are:
The first book, known in English as The Moomins and the Great Flood (Originally: Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen) was finally published in English in 2005 (though only in Finland). Some view it as a prequel book to the main Moomin stories, however the general consensus is that it is the first book.
There are also five Moomin picture books by Tove Jansson:
The books and comic strips have been translated from their original Swedish and English into many languages.
The Moomins also appeared in the form of comic strips; their first appearance was in the popular London newspaper The Evening News in 1954. Tove Jansson drew and wrote all the strips until 1959 when she lost inspiration, saying that she no longer had time for painting or writing. After this her brother Lars Jansson, who could duplicate the style of drawings and texts accurately, took over the job until 1975 when the last strip was released. The strips were made in English and then translated to other languages.
Drawn and Quarterly, a Canadian graphic novel publisher, is releasing a new reprint series of The Evening News strips, beginning in October 2006. The first two volumes of Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip are currently available, with three more volumes planned to follow.
In the 1990s, a comic book version of Moomin was produced in Scandinavia after Dennis Livson and Lars Jansson's animated series was shown on television. Neither Tove nor Lars Jansson had any involvement in these comic books, however in the wake of the series, two new Moomin comic strips were launched under the artistic and content oversight of Lars and his daughter, Sophia Jansson-Zambra. Sophia now provides sole oversight for the strips.
The series is set in the fictional Moomin Valley, in Finland. It is here that the Moomin family decide to live at the end of The Moomins and the Great Flood, where they live in Moominhouse, a lighthouse.
The Moomin family itself comprises of Moominpappa, Moominmamma, and their son, Moomintroll. They also have an adopted son, Sniff, who is not a moomin, but is in fact a small rodent.
The life partner of Tove Jansson was the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä, whose personality inspired the character Too-Ticky in Moominland Midwinter. Moomintroll and Little My can be seen as psychological self-portraits of the artist. The Moomins, generally speaking, relate strongly to Jansson's own family - they were bohemian, lived close to nature and were very tolerant towards diversity. Moominpappa and Moominmamma are often seen as straight portraits of Jansson's parents Viktor Jansson and Signe Hammarsten-Jansson. Some of Jansson's characters are on the verge of melancholy, such as the always formal Hemulens, or the strange Hattifatteners who travel in concerted, ominous groups. The novelist Alison Lurie has described the Groke, a black, hill-shaped creation with glowing eyes, as a walking manifestation of Nordic gloominess - everyone she touches dies, and the ground freezes everywhere she sits.
The Moomin stories have a very humane message. The books have caprices and utterances which ponder life and ways of the world. Snufkin comments on freedom: "One can never be entirely free, if one admires someone else too much." Little My expresses possession: "Possession means worries and luggage bags one has to drag along."
The Moomin novels describe the musical activities of the Moomins, particularly those of Snufkin, his harmonica with "trills" and "twiddles." All Moomin characters sing songs, often about their thoughts and themselves. The songs often serve as core statements of the characters' personalities.
This music was heard outside Moomin Valley after they went live on theater stage in Stockholm. Director Vivica Bandler told Jansson in 1959: "Listen, here the people want songs". The earlier version of the play was cast in Helsinki with no music.
Helsinki based pianist and composer, Erna Tauro was commissioned to write the songs to lyrics by Jansson. The first collection consisted of six Moomin Songs (Sex muminvisor): Moomintroll’s Song (Mumintrollets visa), Little My’s Song (Lilla Mys visa), Mrs. Fillyjonk’s Song (Fru Filifjonks sång), Theater Rat Emma’s Words of Wisdom (Teaterråttan Emmas visdomsord), Misabel’s Lament (Misans klagolåt) and Final Song (Slutsång).
More songs were published in the 1960s and 70s when Jansson and Lars Jansson produced a series of Moomin dramas for Swedish Television. The simple, yet effective melodies by Tauro were well received by the theater and TV audiences. The first songs were either sung unaccompanied or accompanied by a pianist. While the most famous Moomin songs in Scandinavia are undoubtedly Moomintroll’s Song and Little My’s Song, they appear in no context in the novels.
The original songs by Jansson and Tauro remained scattered after their initial release. The first recording of the complete collection was made in 2003 by composer and arranger Mika Pohjola on the Moomin Voices CD (Muminröster in Swedish), as a tribute to the late Tove Jansson. Tauro had died in June 1993 and some of Jansson's last lyrics were composed by Pohjola in cooperation with Jansson's heirs. Pohjola was also the arranger of all songs for a vocal ensemble and chamber orchestra. The same recording has been released in a Finnish version in 2005, Muumilauluja. The Finnish lyrics were translated by Kirsi Kunnas and Vexi Salmi.
The Moomin Voices Live Band (aka. Muumilauluja-bändi) is dedicated to exclusively performing the original lyrics and unaltered stories by Ms. Jansson. This band is lead by Pohjola on piano, with vocalists Mirja Mäkelä and Eeppi Ursin.
Independent musical interpretations of the Moomin stories have been made for the screen versions in Poland, Great Britain and Japan. These lyrics, however, often contain simple slogans, and the music is written in a children's pop music style and with no lyrics by Jansson. These songs contrast sharply with the original Moomin novels and Jansson's pictorial, descriptive and witty lyrical rhyming, as well as Erna Tauro's Scandinavian-style songs (visor) which are occasionally influenced by Kurt Weill.
A Moomin opera was written in 1974 by the Finnish composer Ilkka Kuusisto.
Twenty new Moomin songs were produced in Finland by Timo Poijärvi and Ari Vainio in 2006. This Finnish album contains no original lyrics by Jansson. However, it is based on the novel, Comet in Moominland, and adheres to the original stories. These songs are "easily adoptable" and aimed at children, but they are also claimed to appeal to a more mature Finnish Moomin audience. The songs are performed by Samuli Edelmann, Sani, Tommi Läntinen, Susanna Haavisto and Jore Marjaranta and other established Finnish vocalists in the pop/entertainment genre. The same twenty compositions are also available as standalone multimedia CD postcards.
The Moomin Boom (muumibuumi in Finnish) started in the '90s, when Dennis Livson and Lars Jansson produced a 104-part animation series in Japan named Tales From Moominvalley, which was followed by a full length movie Comet in Moominland. Moomin books had always been steady bestsellers in Finland, but the animation started a new Moomin madness both in Finland and abroad, especially in Japan, where they are the official mascots of the Daiei chain of shopping centers. A large merchandising industry was built around the Moomin characters, covering everything from coffee cups and t-shirts to plastic models. New Moomin comic books and comic strips were published. Moomins were used to advertise Finland abroad: the Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport was decorated with Moomin images and Finnair painted big Moomin figures to its Japan-line airplanes. The peak of the Moomin Boom was the opening of the Moomin World theme park in Naantali, Finland, which has become one of Finland's international tourist destinations.
The Moomin Boom has been criticized for commercializing the Moomins. Friends of Tove Jansson and many old Moomin enthusiasts have stressed that the animations banalize the original and philosophical Moomin world to harmless family entertainment. An antithesis for the Disneyland-like Moomin World theme park is the Moomin Museum of Tampere, which exhibits the original illustrations and hand-made Moomin models by Tove Jansson.
The Jansson family has kept the rights of Moomins and controlled the Moomin Boom. The artistic control is now in the hands of Lars Jansson's daughter, Sophia Jansson-Zambra. Wanting to keep the control over Moomins, the family has turned down offers from the Walt Disney Company.
The name of the Russian rock group Mumiy Troll is a variant of the Russian name for the Moomins. Swedish progressive rock band Ritual have used the idea of Moomins in various songs, including: "Seasong for the Moominpappa", "Moomin took my Head" and, recently, a whole concept album dedicated to the furry 'trolls', The Hemulic Voluntary Band.
The Moomins were selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Tove Jansson and Finish Childrens Culture commemorative coin, minted in 2004. The obverse depicts a combination of Tove Jansson portrait with several objects: the skyline, an artist's palette, a crescent, and a sailboat. The reverse design features three Moomin characters.