THE SPIRIT OF ’86
If the 1986 calendars are any indication, we are due for an outburst of patriotism next year. For openers, the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty has prompted at least two calendars: The Statue of Liberty Centennial Calendar (Ruby Street, $6.95) features paintings of Miss Liberty by greeting card artist Hudson Talbott, whose impressionistic illustration for June shows the lady, looking sexy, picnicking in Central Park with a hunky-looking Empire State Building. The other is the Statue of Liberty: A Centenary Calendar (Pomegranate, $8.95), decorated with Alan Schein’s photographs of the statue, taken from every conceivable angle except through her nostrils. Amazingly neither calendar includes a reproduction of Emma Lazarus’ stirring, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” poem from the statue’s base. But in the battle of patriotism, the Centenary Calendar wins torch down since a share of the profits from its sale goes to the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation: The other calendar was printed in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile to other sorts of flag-waving. Painter Charles Wysocki, who makes Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell look like cynics, contributed 13 unabashedly sentimental primitive-style paintings to the 15th Americana Calendar (AMCAL, $9.95). America From the Air (Squarebooks, $7.95) shows Baron Wolman’s photographs from a Cessna four-seater plane of such scenic vistas as the Minneapolis skyline and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Transylvania County, N.C. American Folk Art (Universe, $6.95) reflects familiar works (Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks) as well as the little known, such as the sculpture Uncle Sam Riding a Bicycle; all the subjects are from the Museum of American Folk Art in New York.
A striking series of pop designs of a currently chic period of American history is featured in The ’50s Revisited (Universe, $7.95). Sen. Joseph McCarthy paints himself into a corner in Seymour Chwast’s Joe and the Lady in Red, and Lassie sits on a couch watching I Love Lucy in a collage by Gail Stampar. Unforgettable events are included in the calendar’s historical notes; for example in January 1954 Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe were married and TV dinners were invented. And what could be more American than pro wrestling? (Don’t answer that.) The Wrestling Calendar (Perigee, $8.95) glorifies Mr. Fuji, the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff among others.
The year shouldn’t lack for comic relief. Unfortunately B. Kliban’s old reliable Cat Calendar (Penguin, $7.95) is less funny than usual. Gary Larson brings his Far Side humor to a wall calendar (Andrews, McMeel & Parker, $7.50) and a 365-cartoon desk pad (Andrews, McMeel & Parker, $6.95). The tone of all of Larson’s madness is typified in a drawing of a hen feeding her bedridden offspring and saying, “Quit complaining and eat it!… Number one, chicken soup is good for the flu—and number two, it’s nobody we know.” In Glen Baxter’s Calendar (Penguin, $7.95) a typically off-the-wall painting for September shows two men playing chess as they ride on a log about to go over a waterfall. The caption says, “There was only one possible course of action left open… knight to queen’s bishop three.”
For Better or For Worse (Andrews, McMeel & Parker, $5.95) by Lynn Johnston, an easygoing feminist, shows a child peering at a new moon and saying, “Look, Mom… there’s a smile in the sky!” And Cathy’s Cheesecake Calendar (Andrews, McMeel & Parker, $6.95) isn’t what you’re thinking, guys; its illustrations by Cathy Guisewite arouse thoughts of pastry, not sex.
On the other hand the Varga Girl Calendar (Abrams, $7.95) is exactly what you were thinking about, gentlemen, as it flaunts all those impossibly voluptuous, perfect-featured gals drawn by the grand old sexist, Alberto Vargas. The women in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar (Sports Illustrated, $9.95) are slightly more realistic—we know they have names such as Kim, Renée and Paulina—but Brian Lanker’s photographs, shot in Australia, still make them look like monuments, even if they are constructed of flesh and blood.
Those whose idea of sports runs to the competitive can turn to Best of Tennis (Tide-Mark, $7.95), in which two French Open champions, Mats Wilander (1982, 1985) and Jean Borotra (1924, 1931) appear side by side. For the sedentary there’s the Scrabble Players’ Calendar (Seagull Graphics, $6.95), with such authorized words as kex (a dry, hollow stem) or crwth (an ancient harp). The Trivial Pursuit Silver Screen Day-at-a-Time Wall’/Desk Calendar (QuillMark, $7.98) asks such questions as “What 1935 Hitchcock film climaxed at the London Palladium?” (The 39 Steps) or “Who played the President of the U.S. in Kisses for My President?” (Polly Bergen).
There is a Miami Vice Calendar (Ballantine, $6.95) with lots of pictures of Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas looking sexy and tough; sometimes the shots are even in focus. This year’s MTV Calendar (Abrams, $7.95) is as chaotically designed as the network that spawned it; somehow, while Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays are noted, Madonna‘s (Aug. 16) is overlooked. The illustration for June in the Music Calendar (Schirmer, $8.95) shows three strangely dressed singers but it isn’t the Thompson Twins; they’re in Lorenzo Costa’s 1490 painting A Concert. Other works in the calendar are by Vermeer and della Francesca. Carmontelle’s Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart With His Father and Sister, from about 1763, shows the composer, almost 8 years old, jamming with Daddy Leopold and Sis Nannerl.
Literary types can consult the Alice Walker Calendar (Harvest/HBJ, $8.95) which contains an embarrassing number of photographs of The Color Purple’s author, as well as citing such birthdates as Mar. 25, shared by Aretha Franklin, Gloria Steinem and Flannery O’Connor.
The George Eliot Calendar-Diary (Harvest/HBJ, $12.95) includes many quotations from Mary Ann Evans, author of such classics as Silas Marner and The Mill on the Floss. This one is from an 1859 letter to Charles Bray: “The only effect I ardently long to produce by my writings, is that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and the joys of those who differ from themselves in everything but the broad fact of being struggling, erring human creatures.”
Where else but the Mystery and Suspense Engagement Calendar (Main Street Press, $7.95) could one be reminded that on May 1, 1936 Alvin Karpis, who followed John Dillinger as “Public Enemy No. 1,” was captured in New Orleans? There are also out-of-place but enjoyable photographs such as Barbara Stanwyck vamping for a publicity photo for the 1944 film Double Indemnity. Stephen King’s Year of Fear (New American Library, $7.95) answers the question, “Does the man never rest?” No, he doesn’t. There is art from King’s books, quotes from them and birthday acknowledgements for fellow fear merchants such as Rosemary’s Baby author Ira Levin (Aug. 27) and Rod Serling (Dec. 25).
The Artist’s Birthday Calendar (Abrams, S8.95) celebrates everyone from Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Paul Revere and Alfred Stieglitz (Jan. 1) to Giovanni Boldini and Henri Matisse (Dec. 31). The illustrations from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art collection are magnificently reproduced.
For collectors, the Marvel Super Heroes (Mayfair Games, $6.95) shows covers from famous Marvel Comics featuring the X-Men and their understudies, the New Mutants; it is also recalled, among other things, that the Hulk’s enemy, the Rhino, first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #41 in 1966.
Yankee Magazine’s Recipe Calendar (Yankee, $5.95) offers such tempting notions as pork chop roast with honeyed sweet potatoes (January) and marinated chicken salad (August); such New England dates in history as Bennington, Vt. Battle Day (Aug. 16) and Bunker Hill Day (June 17) are listed.
A philatelist could not ask for a better way to cancel the days than The Stamp Calendar (Penguin, $9.95), which features gorgeous reproductions of famous stamps from such places as the Cocos Islands, China and Togo, as well as the U.S. An oddity: a Turks and Caicos Islands stamp celebrates both human rights and the day in 1972 when Roberto Clemente recorded his 3,000th hit.
The Cabbage Patch Kids Daily Facts and Fun Pad Calendar (Abrams, $7.95) presents those hideous little people as having had real lives; June 10 is Rori Winola’s allowance day, for instance, and on Oct. 14 it’s a rainy day in Sybil Sadie’s town. The Celebrity Cat Calendar (Ralston Purina, $7) enables us to meet such creatures as Dr. William DeVries’ calico, Yankee, Linda Evans’ Balinese, She, and Bob Hope’s American shorthair, Bob.
And then there is the Beautiful Poland Calendar (Sormani, $5.95). Why not?