It has been a while since the last post, and for an unexpected reason. I had set out to find the first and last episodes of each of the Moomin strips, and give some background on the stories. This turned out to be something of a complex task. Wikipedia and other sources has the strips running in The Evening News until 1975, and it quickly became apparent that this was not the case.

It turns out that, out of the blue, The Evening News wrote to Lars Jansson in 1968 and brusquely told him that they were cancelling Moomin. This was something of a shock for Lars; The Evening News was the first paper to run Moomin and this had come about via a lengthy collaboration between Tove Jansson and then-editor Charles Sutton, who made the gruelling trip by sea to Helsinki to set up the deal. By 1968, Moomin had been widely syndicated, but the Evening News was still the original.However, times were changing and they felt that Moomin’s genteel whimsy had no place in their ‘modernised’ paper.

The final Moomin story printed in the paper was Sniff Goes Good, and the last strip ran on Saturday, 29th June 1968.

“Suddenly I realised that I would soon be unemployed,” Lars recalled. “For me, it was sad to read that letter, because it came during a time when I still thought that drawing comics was fun.” Moomin continued to run in other papers all over the world up until 1975, but the loss of the Evening News – and a third of his income – led to Lars losing heart. “When I began to dream about the Moomins, I realised it was time to stop. There was no big drama associated with the matter,” said Lars. “For sure, by the mid-1970s, the Moomins had already seen their best days. The last few years were difficult, because I had lost my narrative zest. It made it harder than ever to find new ideas to the series.”

In Autumn 1974, he drew his final strip, which ran on April 16th 1975. The Evening News replaced Moomin with Harry Hargreaves’ long-running Hayseeds, introduced in a similar manner to Moomin a decade earlier.

But which papers ran the later strips, and for how long? This is where the trail goes fuzzy, and I’ll report my findings in future posts.

In the meantime, here’s the intro to Hayseeds and – shown for the first time in nearly fifty years – the last two Moomin panels ever to run in the Evening News.