Recently I picked up a copy of a trade paperback called The Hulk: The End. It collects two tales by writer Peter David, placing the green behemoth into two dystopian futures. Obviously one is The End. The other is a tale told some years earlier called Future Imperfect. In the foreword, there's a note about an Easter egg of sorts that the artist, George Perez, put into the first splash page of that story. Perez, a visually expressive artist with a particular talent for drawing crowd scenes, drew a street scene in this future world, with a crowd of people, including one person who by all rights shouldn't have been there. It was Perez' idea of a gag, and after all, this guy is known for hiding in crowds.
Yes, it was Waldo. And sure enough, after much scanning, there he was, smiling among the crowd in this future world as he always does, looking surprised to be discovered.
Waldo, of course, is the star attraction of Where's Waldo, the series of children's books featuring our hero in red and white striped shirts and toques who spends his time hiding in crowds on large splash pages. One page he might be in Paris on Bastille Day. The next he's in Times Square. And after that, he's attending a coronation at Westminster Abbey. Then he's jetting off to ancient Egypt. Apparently he must have access to time machines and teleportation technology. You can find him in pages like these; yes, they can be enlarged to scale, and yes, he's there....
Each time, children look through the page, looking among a crowd of people for any sign of Waldo, who inevitably will turn up, smiling, seeming to be astonished at being found. Then he's off yet again to the next page to hide and wait for his reader to find him. It's ideal for kids of a certain age, perhaps not so much for adults, who only need one time to find Waldo on a page. Adults will remember. For kids of the right age, with their very selective memory, they'll forget where Waldo was, so each time coming back to the book will bring them the inevitable "there he is!" moment on each page.
Yes, selective memory. It must be the same way their brains are wired that allows them to be able to recite all the vital stats of a dinosaur at a museum, while at the same time allowing for the following conversation to take place:
"What happened to your socks?"
"I don't know...."
"I just gave them to you five minutes ago."
"Yes, I told you to put them on."
"Oh. I forgot."
I assume that bit of dialogue sounds familiar to the parents among my readers?
Granted, there are times when Where's Waldo can be too difficult. Perhaps the kid was dropped on their head too many times as a kid. Perhaps their parents were breeding too close to the gene pool. In such cases, the book must be made more simple.
Waldo has inspired some less then savoury sorts to follow in his footsteps and spend their time hiding and eluding being found. Until that recent bullet in the head that ended the game, this fellow had been doing it for years.
Waldo comes from a whole family who like doing this sort of hiding in crowds thing, and dressing in red and white stripes. Say hello to Waldo's sister Willow.
The question we must ask is... why does Waldo hide? Is he on the run after a broken marriage? Did he commit a terrible crime? Is he a member of the Witness Protection Program? Does he merely find it amusing to make people search for him? Or worse... is there no reason?
Rumor has it the KGB had a Waldo program back in the bad old days of the Cold War. Somehow I don't think I could fit it into my writings...
That Waldo. He'll never stop his compulsion to take shelter in a crowd.
Mind you, not even Waldo can hide from the greatest detective in the world....
The Dark Knight was understandably irritated as he hauled Waldo into the terminal at the Gotham City airport, and had to express his anger in a way Waldo might understand....
Sometimes the best place for Waldo to hide is in plain sight, among a crowd at a Waldo convention.
Finally, the authorities caught up to Waldo. During the takedown, they broke his glasses. It didn't take long for Waldo to have the charges dropped.
Is this the reason Waldo feels compelled to always be on the run?
Or is it bad memories of a bad night like this one?
Then again, that's a picnic compared to this horrific nightmare...
If you spend so much time hiding from everyone, you'll never find yourself, Waldo....
Rumors that Waldo ran afoul of an organized crime family remain unsubstantiated.
Coming in 2012: Where's Waldo: The Movie.
This brings us, of course, to the one great love of Waldo's life, Miss Carmen Sandiego, who's known for her jet setting ways, constantly being on the run. They have so much in common, and from the moment they met, it was love at true sight.
Waldo and Carmen have a Casablanca thing going on here....
Of course, there are so many other ways for Waldo to market himself. It's a pity JK Rowling didn't use him for the Harry Potter books, isn't it?
You know, Waldo, there's only so long you can go on hiding. What if no one finds you? What if the air runs out?