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2002: 365, 24-7: the many faces of African American theme calendars. (Cover Story).

Mass-market calendar publishers and black presses are opening the floodgates of African American theme products this coming year. Say so long to generic black-and-white calendars. Track your days with an exciting selection of subjects and images that celebrate the enthusiast in us all.

"When you see a calendar in someone's office, it's a reflection of something they love or something that engages them--a hobby or an interest," says Robin Haywood, director of calendars and book publishing at Ronnie Sellers Productions, which just published the first calendar of artist Faith Ringgold. Haywood was introduced to Ringgold's "Women on the Bridge" series a few years ago. Her favorite piece was "Tar Beach." The calendar, Faith Ringgold: African American Artist (Ronnie Seller, ISBN 1-569-06291-9), is a collection of 12 paintings by Ringgold with notes about each piece. The companion address book will be available in January.

"There is a market for African American calendars," says Haywood. "At trade shows, people specifically ask us for African American theme products" she added.

Cherysse Calhoun of Marcus Books in Oakland and San Francisco sees the market growing as well. "People come out and ask for ones that have been out for a few years and expect them the following year," she says. I Dream a World (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, ISBN 1-556-70564-6), Women of the African Ark (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91576-2) and The Art of Annie Lee (Shades of Color, ISBN 1-891-93224-1) calendars always go first."

"The calendar market is really big for us," says Sonia Babers, owner of The Black Book Worm in Fort Worth. "I never thought it would mushroom like it has." Her customers are indicative of the trend. In the past, calendars start selling at her store as the holidays approached. Now she gets inquiries as early as September. Her bestsellers are Women (and Men) of the African Ark (Pomegranate, Men, ISBN 0-764-90885-5) and 365 days of Black History (African American Greetings, ISBN 0-764-91553-3).

Top sellers at Afro Books in Memphis include the African American line from Pomegranate as well and the semi-nude photo calendars from Rundu (Rundu Enterprises, ISBN 0-962-99877-X). "Those sell a lot," says Pius Eze, bookstore manager.

"We've been around for 13 years and every year there are a lot more ethnic calendars," says Eso Won Books owner James Fugate, who says some customers come into his Los Angeles store only for calendars, spending as much as $200 on them alone.

"There are also a lot more retailers selling black merchandise. Where we used to order 150 [calendars], we now order about half of that because people pick them up at other stores. We outsell those stores per capita, but we still lose business to them," says Fugate.

Black Press CEO Courtney Hines agrees that the calendar market is booming, so his company Shades of Color is branching out from its best-selling art, swimsuit and sports calendars. They will be introducing a line of porcelain figurines and greeting cards based on the work from their Girlfriends: A Sister's Sentiments calendar (ISBN 1-891-93240-3) by artist Cinde Wallace.

"It's a tough market because the big players are out there now," says Hines, "but I don't think their merchandise is going to do well because right now their products are generic."

Support your local black booksellers, who will more than likely carry your favorites for 2002.

Great newcomers

If you loved the book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry, why not treat yourself to the calendar version this season? (Algonquin Books, ISBN 1-565-12327-1). And, who can resist adorable images of little black boys and girls playing grown-up? You can enjoy them everyday with SoulKidz ... I Love You Because (Day Dream, ISBN 0-768-83831-2).


The photography of the African American Quilts calendar (Good Books, ISBN 1-561-48324-9) is so colorful that you can almost feel every stitch on these award-winning quilts. Whether it's the wall or mini-wall edition of Newark Museum's collection of African Textiles (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91442-1, mini-edition, ISBN 0-764-91578-9), these calendars are monthly reminders that art does not only exist on a canvas.


Calendars are perfect gifts for the music lover who has everything. Jazz connoisseurs will scat over Francis Wolff's photographic archive of jazz greats in The Blue Note Years (Universe, ISBN 0-789-30557-7) or Herman Leonard's collection in Classic Jazz (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91608-4). Reggae music icon Bob Marley is celebrated with a self-titled calendar (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91533-9) of photographs and anniversaries. The Blues (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91448-0) honors another American music classic with 12 black-and-white photos and artist mini-biographies. Track your days while remembering the house that Berry Gordy built. It's the official 2002 calendar from the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit (Universe, ISBN 0-789-30579-8).

Returning Favorites

Calendar lovers can anticipate favorite titles making a comeback this year: African Kings (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91468-5); Great Black Americans (Holloway House, ISBN 0-870-67875-2); Black Ball: The Negro Baseball Leagues (Pomegranate, ISBN 0764-91447-2); African Ceremonies (Harry N. Abrams, ISBN 0-810-97907-1); and the works of renowned Harlem Renaissance photographer, James VanDerZee (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91584-3).

Fine Art

Art calendars continue to be a huge part of the calendar market. Egyptian Treasures from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo (Harry N. Abrams, ISBN 0-810-97941-1) is an excellent resource for future archaeologists. Also check out the Egypt from the Air calendar (American University in Cairo Press, ISBN 9-774-24658-6).

The Smithsonian Institute and the Anacostia Museum in Washington, D.C. has put together, Jubliee! A Year of African American Celebration (Universe, ISBN 0-789-30602-6) as its first calendar project. The works of Jacob Lawrence return this time with prints from the D.C.'s Moore Gallery. Entitled Community (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91614-9), it features paintings Lawrence did from 1937 through 1998. Watercolorist Julia Cairns depicts scenes of African life in her calendar, Celebration (Landmark, ISBN 0-768-84000-7). West Indian themes and female figures are the inspirations of Caribbean artist Shan Kelly Cecilio's self-titled calendar (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91419-7). African American Art (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91446-4) features the work of 12 artists from the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York City. Artists include John Biggers, Romare Bearden, Charles White and Hale Woodruff.

Swimsuit Shots

Skin calendars still heat up sakes. Get 16 months worth of sultry poses from model Nichole Robinson (Day Dream, ISBN 0-76883911-4) Tyson Beckford dresses up and down for the ladies every month in his self-titled calendar (Day Dream, ISBN 0-76883997-1) Didn't mean to throw out your old issues of Vibe? Here's another chance to see your favorite celeb photos stripped from its pages in the Vibe Magazine Calendar (Universe, ISBN 0-789-30604-2) Shades of Color returns with two of their hottest selections: Onyx (ISBN 1-89193238-1), black-and-white photos of well-toned black men, and SBM: Spirit of Black Men (ISBN 1-891-93242-X), whose images will make your momma blush.

Datebooks & Engagement Calendars

Iyanla Vanzant's fans will be happy to know that her latest book has been adapted into a date book. Until Today! 2002 (Universe, ISBN 0789-30544-5) is a collection of weekly self-help lessons from the best-selling author and talk-show host. Read a new Bible verse everyday with the Original 365 Bible Verses-a-Year calendar (Workman, ISBN 0-76112254-0). If you prefer an interesting bit of history each day, you'll enjoy the 365 Days of Black History engagement calendar (Pomegranate, ISBN 0-764-91474-X) or the popular item from a black-owned press, Afromation: 366 Days of American History (MYKCO Communications, ISBN 0-96463410-4). Are you tired of carrying a journal and an appointment book? The Sacred Journey 2002 (Pomegranate, ISBN 0764-91574-6) may be a solution. This daily journal not only lets you schedule daily activities, but you can also jot down your thoughts and goals. The 2002 Book Lover's Calendar (Workman, ISBN 0-761-12250-8) has 365 pages of literary notables, anecdotes and reading suggestions at your fingertips. Learn about new and old authors before you head to the bookstore or library.

Calendar Shopping Made Easy

If you are unable to find these calendars in your local or online bookstores, you can order them directly from the publisher.

* Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill distributed by Workman Publishing, see below

* The American University in Cairo Press,

* Andrews McMeel, Universal Press Syndicate, 816-932-6700

* Day Dream Landmark,

* Good Books, 800-762-7171,

* Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 800-345-1359 (x874)/212-206-7715

* Holloway House Publishing Group, 323-653-8060,;

* MYKCO Communications,

* Ronnie Sellers Productions, Inc., 800-625-3386,

* Shades of Color, 800-924-1811,

* Pomegranate Communications, Inc., 800-227-1428,

* Universe (distributed by Andrews McMeel, see above information)

* Workman Publishing, 800-722-7202/212-254-5900,

Cori M. Murray is the assistant health editor at Essence magazine. Last summer, Murray was one of the judges for the 2001 Women's Sports Foundation Journalism Awards. She has been a reporter and fact-checker for Vibe magazine,, and The findings her thorough search of black interest calendars for 2001 appears on page 27.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Cox, Matthews & Associates
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Murray, Cori M.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Cover Story
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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