Fans of pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, fine European art and the off-beat "Far Side" comic may find they have something in common when they look under the Christmas tree this year: a 1986 calendar.
Holiday shoppers are finding calendars to follow just about every American fad, and can fall back on cats, horses or nature scenes for the less trendy people on their gift lists.
"Calendars have become a statement for people," said Ed Malinowski, president of the New York-based U.S.A. Book Expo. "They're as popular as bumper stickers and T-shirts."
Calendar sales peak in the Christmas season, because of the approaching new year and because, priced generally under $20, they make relatively inexpensive gifts, said Dana Tyson, a spokeswoman for Waldenbooks.
Not surprisingly, she said, calendar pages reflect the latest trends.
Cabbage Patch calendars, for instance, were quickly cleaned off the shelves two years ago when the craze for the dolls was at its peak.
This year, "Miami Vice" calendars are moving faster than the Ferrari that transports the flashy cops on the hit television show. "It could be a record-breaker," Tyson said of the calendar, which tops the list of requests at the nationwide bookstore chain.
For those who prefer marking time with the voluptuous Joan Collins or her sister stars of the night-time soaps, there are "Dynasty" and "Dallas" calendars, both selling well, Tyson said.
Not all calendars latch onto fads that may fade before the last page is torn off.
Perennially popular are those picturing Sports Illustrated's swimsuit models, the Sierra Club wilderness photo series and "Far Side" cartoonist Gary Larson's weirdly philosophical animals.
Sports fans can hang up Hulk Hogan of the pro-wrestling circuit or a women golfers calendar that includes several revealing shots of Jan Stephenson.
For $90, there are calendars featuring art reproductions from Europe, and for those scared off by that price tag, there's novelist Stephen King's "Year of Fear" calendar.
In all, said Malinowski, calendar sales reached nearly half a billion in 1984, and are up 20% to 30% this year. One reason for the wide selection, he said, is that all it takes to get into the calendar business is an idea and access to a print shop.
The variety of wall calendars is likely to increase for another three or four years, said Nick Clemente, executive vice president of Price-Stearn-Sloan publishing in Los Angeles.
Clemente said the desk calendar market is already saturated, but Malinowski held out hope for growth in the area of organizers, which combine appointment books with note pads, pen holders or calculators.
"All these yuppies are into planning," he said.