Uncle Oojah’s Big Annual 1929

Not clear if there was a 1928 annual. Uncle Oojah’s letter at the beginning of this annual says, ‘Last year, I’m sorry to say, I left my shopping too late.’ I wonder why there were no dates, not even on the inside covers until the late 1930s.

Published in 1928 for the following year, this is almost the last time Thomas Maybank contributed his wonderful illustrations to the annuals. Sadly he died on 27 March 1929. There are some of his illustrations in the 1930 annual. As in the 1927 annual, the colour plates are by other contributors but there are plenty of pen and ink drawings by Maybank in this 1929 annual. Unfortunately, the physical quality of the annual seems to have been downgraded, perhaps a consequence of economic stagnation in the UK and the impending Great Depression. From this point until 1937, the annuals are made of very cheap cardboard and thick, absorbent paper pages which sometimes cause the pen and ink drawings to be a little fuzzy. Consequently I have never been able to find a copy in anything but fairly poor condition. They are hard to open and read without pages coming loose. The colour plates are two colours only now, and the pen and ink drawings simply in black and sometimes over-inked. It’s a shame because there are some very entertaining features in this annual.

20180329_10412620180329_104049The main story is a classic example of Oojah ineptitude. Uncle Oojah and his retinue, Snooker, Don and Jerrywangle, decide to build a hotel. Well, until Uncle Oojah gets lazy and just magics one up instead that is. What follows is a series of predictably chaotic episodes, several involving broken crockery. Unwisely, at one point, Lord Lion and his family decide to pay a visit, followed by Doctor Dromedary and his cousin, Captain Camel. Pa Piggins seems to have been demoted from Prime Minister to bell boy and Binky Bear, still really only a baby, is given the task of making stew for the visitors.



There are also numerous activities for the enthusiastic modeller and even an opportunity for some modern day cross-gender dressing for those who are inclined that way. I especially like the ‘Jolly Game’ which seems to involve getting your dad to attach sharp pieces of metal to the front of glorified paper aeroplanes and then throwing them around in the vague hope they might hit a cardboard cutout nest.