While not a villain in the fictional world of The Moomins, Moominpapa and the rest of his family really used to set me on edge when I was small. It’s hard to describe but something about their vacant, piercing eyes and their emotionless, mouthless faces used to get me extremely worried and paranoid about what their true intentions were. I remember not being able to look away from the TV because I didn’t know what they’d do when my back was turned. My mother took this behaviour to mean that I loved The Moomins and she’d put it on specially, trapping me in their blank gaze for the entirety of the episode.

I’m interested to see what the reaction will be to this choice of “villain”, some people I know were very suspicious or afraid of the Moomins, but others adored them. Which version of Tove Jansson’s stories it is I was petrified by at a very early age, I can’t be sure. I remember it being much more melancholy and surreal than the popular 1990’s Japanese animation. My best guess is that it was the Polish stop motion animation broadcast in the UK between 1983 and 1986 (so I would have been between 2 and 5 years old) which had an eerieness all of its own. In this episode Moominpapa reaches instinctively for his shotgun upon the arrival of the Groke.

The original comic strip and picture books by Tove Jansson remain a wonderful artistic achievement (Drawn & Quarterly’s archives of the comic are beautiful books) but I still get a chill every time I see a Moomin by surprise.

Next week: Judge Doom!


  • Marc Ellerby says:

    Man this is a good one. I like how you’ve made Papa more menacing than he actually is with the shading and pose.

    When I was teaching last, I was banging on about Tove and the moomin story books and how dark they can be. How the main characters are usually isolated and shy like Toffle. D+Q are going to bring them out later this year and I can’t wait.

    On another note you should so look into doing a little postcard set of these for the cons later in the year. They’d go down a storm. Maybe have a look at Moo?

  • Lizz says:

    THIS IS AWESOME!! I want a tshirt of this!! I like his cellulite moomin podge and hairy tail, creeeepy!

    He’s looking around like the scary red midget lady in Don’t Look Now, as if just disturbed from some scary moomin murder. Ah moomins. I think I like them for the exact reason you hate them!

  • John Allison says:

    Oh Adam, scared of the Moomins. Other things that scared you at the time: wet leaves, cardboard, string, baked beans. A world of terror for the young Cadwell.

    Very good picture though.

    I liked the mouthless series so much that when the Japanese series emerged later, friendlier with animated mouths etc, it seemed dreadully wrong! My Moomins did not have mouths!

  • Mark Higgins says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s something about Scandinavians that just can’t be trusted.

  • Rory Hodgson says:

    I do not recognise this show. When I watched it, it was animated. It did not have puppets. It must be the Japanese animation.

    I was still scared when I watched the show though. Not by the Moomins, but by those few episodes where some scary creature appeared at the end of their garden, somewhat like the great sludge monster that shows up in ‘Spirited Away’.

    I’ll see if I can find a link….

    Aw, shit, turns out it’s the groke, the one they mention in that episode you’ve embeded above.

    That thing gave me nightmares for years and yet, like you with the show in general, I was strangely engrossed.

  • Lee says:

    Jesus Christ, this actually shit me up when I seen it.

    Very sinister indeed Mr Cadwell.

    Don’t know if you were a fan, but please consider Mogdred from my own fave kids show Knightmare.

  • Abby says:

    Thanks! That’s scared the crap out of me now!

  • Ella says:

    Nooooooooooo! What have you done to Moomin Papa?