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280 pieces of Moomin artwork to go on display in east Japan city

"Moomin" sketches created by Tove Jansson are shown here. (c) Moomin Characters TM

MITO -- Some 280 pieces of artwork related to Moomin -- a popular character who has been loved for more than half a century around the world -- are set to go on display in this eastern Japan city.

    Original drawings and sketches that will be shown in Japan for the first time make up part of the "Moomin Comic Strips Exhibition," which will be held from Jan. 16 to March 14 at the Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki.

    Moomin was born as the protagonist of a 1945 novel by late Finnish writer and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914-2001), and he became the main character in a comic strip for a newspaper in 1947. Tove's younger brother Lars Jansson took over the Moomin comic strips, which were run in 120 newspapers worldwide at their peak.

    The exhibition that will tour across Japan was organized last year by Japanese film distributor Toei Co. to commemorate Moomin's 75th anniversary, and highlights the comic that made Moomin so famous. As the comic strips in the early years were printed using copper plates, the original illustrations were drawn with simple lines. The characters' precise moves and the frames of humorous scenes are of particular interest.

    The exhibition also shows Lars' comic "War and Peace of the Moomins," which has not been translated into Japanese, sketches of characters that appear only in comics and Moomin and Snork Maiden figures.

    Various characters live in Moominvalley. The museum's assistant head curator Sachi Nagamatsu said, "The works have the love to embrace everyone. I would like visitors to see this view of the world where many characters freely live together."

    The "Moomin and the Ten Piggy Banks" (1975) comic strip by Lars Jansson is shown here. (c) Moomin Characters TM

    The exhibition is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Jan. 18, 25, Feb. 1 and 8. For more information, contact the facility by phone on 029-243-5111 (in Japanese).

    (Japanese original by Kotone Nirasawa, Mito Bureau)

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