The Oojah Annual 1924

The main story in the 1924 Oojah Annual, ‘The Tower of Oojahland’ is great fun. After some truly bizarre adventures beneath London, involving time travel and rodent-style justice, in the 1923 edition, this year’s offering seems almost tame; still bizarre in places, but less randomly so. There is more focus to the story and perhaps for the first time we begin to get a sense of the structure of Oojah society. Pa Piggins is not yet prime minister but Lord Lion and General Gorilla play their part and Oojah, though still referred to as Flip-Flap, is the more familiar bungling, forgetful elephant of later stories.


The other notable feature in ‘The Tower of Oojahland’ is that Jerrywangle, Oojah’s anarchic nephew, plays a major role for the first time.

Oblivious to the consequences of his actions, he terrorises the Gorilla Guard, triggers various explosions, causes the Great Oojah to take to his sick bed and then administers turpentine in place of medicine. Doctor Dromedary has his work cut out and Ma Kanagroo is drafted in to nurse Jerrywangle when he too goes into a decline, induced by a severely restricting waistcoat.

Meanwhile Snooker, Oojah’s kitten-cat, seems to be the only one who is fully alert to Jerrywangle’s antics. He takes great delight in debunking the cheeky young elephant and is quick to challenge Jerry’s boasting.

Evidence of Jerry’s burgeoning pyromania appears in a short cartoon about firework’s night. Not one for the health and safety conscious parents of the 21st century!

There are dozens of additional short stories and cartoons throughout the 1924 annual, some instantly forgettable and others worthy of further development. I am especially drawn to the character, Pidgypodge, who only appears in a couple of short comic strips.

Peggy and Pidgypodge

There are plenty of stories about elves and fairies for people who like that kind of thing. Personally I prefer the Oojah derived vignettes such as ‘Jerrywangle’s Tasty Little Dinner’, ‘Professor Foozle’s Weather Windmill’ and ‘Flip-Flap Makes the Gooseberry Jam’.

There is also an abundance of things to make (mostly from matchboxes) such as a wheelbarrow, trains, tower bridge and instructions on ‘How to Make Pinhole Pictures’ (A Splendid Pastime for a Wet Afternoon, according to the authors).

Jerrywangle Pillow FightThis is a real annual enthusiast’s annual. There is great variety. The art is vivid in places and the colour plates and pen and ink cartoons are full of energy and some might say, perched on the brink of lunacy. It’s a great shame no-one seems to have copies of the original Oojah supplements to the Daily Sketch which appeared on Saturdays during the 1920s.