Where Waldo Really Is… or… Who He Really Is
Question seven, inspired by this article.
University of Chicago: “So where is Waldo, really?”
This is a question that is not necessarily the one you should be asking. What you should be asking is, “Where did Waldo come from, really?” For you see, Waldo’s real name is actually Wally. The famous “Where’s Waldo?” books are actually “Where’s Wally?” in all other countries, besides the United States and Canada.
He was a real living breathing man, until he was transported into his own works of art by use of some strange and lost magic. His full name is Wallace Allan Wood, born June 17, 1927, and supposedly committed suicide the 2nd of November, 1981. Wallace, or Wally, as many called him, was an intense man who obsessed over his works. Wally was instrumental in developing new ways of storytelling in the media of comic books. He worked hard to develop a way to integrate the story line of a specific comic book, especially when it came to “boring” dialogue. It was a process he called 24 panels. An ex-coworker of his took his idea, and without permission renamed it “Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work!!” then posted it in the Marvel studios. Wally was so distraught over the theft from a man who was always jealous of him that from that point on he decided to go ahead with his plan to transport himself into his own art, an idea he’d had since the late 1950’s. Wally was so obsessed with his creations because he planned to be in them. He wanted a long and happy life in the world of his own creation, so it had to be perfect.
Unfortunately, Wally soon grew weary of his own world. He put so much detail in his work, he forgot about adding more people. When he’d go from panel to panel, he’d always have just a few people in mind when he drew them, so when he’d go to have a conversation, it always ended up being the same thing, over and over and over again. The women he drew were even worse. These ideas came from not some specific person he enjoyed in life, but one-dimensional women, from his own mind. All they ever did was take off their shirts and ask Wally if they loved him. Even in a world of his own creation, he started to go mad. His life was slowly turning grey and losing all its flavor, and he traveled to the black and white art more frequently; spiraling down and down in his despair he looked for men with guns and violence in their eyes. But they always seem to look beyond him. Always talking about space, aliens, jungles and wild animals, the love of good or wild women; the men of his creation were single-minded in their conversations. Wally was always trying to get them to see meaning, to question existence, to probe them deeper to whom he wanted them to be. But it never went beyond what he thought that real men thought about. Wally had many people he called friends in this world, but he was always suspicious of them, he constantly believed that they had ulterior motives to steal from him.
Wally began formulating plans to seek out another plane of existence. He remembered that he drew the book of spells in his art once, but in a rare collection, and it took him several years to find it. He found a spell to influence other artists. He couldn’t influence politicians, or bankers, or scientists, because he was not one. This magic was limited. He also couldn’t possess a mind and control a body, but he could whisper, softly influence those of similar mind-sets. The book he researched, which was part of an art collection owned by a man in London, told him he needed to be in possession of the book as he cast the spell. So who would be looking at the art collection of Wallace Wood at the time he was taken to casting the spell? None other than Martin Handford, creator of the “Where’s Wally?” books. Wally was able to influence Martin, as he gazed at Wally’s work, to create another Wally and give him people and places galore to visit. For that brief few seconds, Martin gazed a future of a character who existed outside the bounds of time and space, littered with characters and situations that would never bore, always being gazed at by children and adults alike, searching for the elusive Wally that was hidden, but happy at last. Now Wally had a new venue of panoramas, of plethora of people who may gaze for hours at him, Him! But Wally was happy now. He never wanted to leave this universe.
There were times that Wally influenced Martin or other burgeoning artists writing to Martin, to create new characters who would always be with him. Scenes and people always changed but Wally had friends who were always with him. Sometimes it was hard to find his friends, but that was the excitement of his existence now. He will be forever in these books. Perhaps someday, when Martin is long gone, Wally will be able to rest when all works of Martin’s have disappeared from the face of the earth, for Wally no longer has the book of spells, and as long as there is one “Where’s Waldo?” book in existence, Wally will be there. And that may be a long, long, albeit happy time for Wally.
Wally learned that a world that you, yourself create is never what it is all cracked up to be. You need to live in others creations to know the true meaning of life, of relationship.
- The Origin of “Where’s Waldo” (todayifoundout.com)