Flip-Flap The Great Oojah

Flip-Flap The Great Oojah 1920

This is the first ever Oojah story, published by McClelland and Stewart Ltd, Toronto 1920. It was originally printed in the Daily Sketch beginning on 18 February 1919 and subsequently published in book form here as ‘Flip-Flap The Great Oojah’. Don, a young boy, is enticed by Flip-Flap, an elephant to run away to ‘Never Mind Where’. In this version they set off at 500 miles an hour and in 3 minutes they arrive in a new world. Here Don makes friends with the Sparrow Imp, is mocked by the Raven Bogie, abducted by a kangaroo, dumped on an evil one-eyed elephant by an eagle and has to hide in a snail shell.

This first Oojah story is wildly imaginative and has a sinister undercurrent lacking in the later annuals of the 30s and 40s. Oojahland is portrayed as a land full of unpredictable beasts and riddled with risk. Flip Flap, the Great Oojah is wreckless and anarchic compared with his later, avuncular characterisation. His obsession with chocolate cigarettes threatens his own destruction, Don is cast more in the mould of a young hero rather than the two dimensional, token man-child of later years. One wonders what caused Flo Lancaster to tame her menagerie of rampaging elephants and militarised rhinos. Oojah even looks wild in the illustrations by Thomas Maybank.