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Martin Handford

Author of Where's Waldo?

165+ Works 9,460 Members 71 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Image credit: Martin Handford


Works by Martin Handford

Where's Waldo? (1987) 2,386 copies
Find Waldo Now (1988) 1,748 copies
Where's Waldo? In Hollywood (1993) 955 copies
More Fun With Waldo (1992) 33 copies
Fun With Waldo (1992) 28 copies
Missä Vallu? (2011) 5 copies
Swords of Steel (2015) 5 copies
Where's Waldo Fun Book (2009) 3 copies
Donde esta wally (1996) 1 copy
Kan du Finde Holger? (1987) 1 copy
Kus on Volli? (2003) 1 copy

Associated Works

Strange Stories for Strange Kids (2001) — Contributor — 211 copies
Beasts in Velvet (1991) — Cover illustration, some editions — 117 copies
Interzone 259 (2015) — Illustrator — 10 copies
Interzone 257 (2015) — Cover artist — 7 copies
Interzone 263 (2016) — Illustrator — 7 copies
Interzone 266 (2016) — Illustrator — 6 copies
Interzone 267 (2016) — Illustrator — 5 copies
Interzone 271 (2017) — Illustrator — 4 copies
The Citadel Journal 16 (1996) — Contributor — 1 copy
Space & Time 133 (2019) — Illustrator — 1 copy
Inferno: v. 11 (1998) — Artist; Cover artist — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Hampstead, London, England, UK



Why did I search for you?
Your absence echoing your presence back to me, a single chord, sublime in its simplicity, haunting in its resonances.

Was it loneliness, then? The summer stillness of my childhood room? A world outside for the children who loved soccer and music and insects; a world closed to me by gates invisible yet solid as steel?

Or, perhaps, empathy? Your eternal stare reminded me of my father, leaving a handful of notes on the table as my parents went out to dinner. Your ability to disappear so quickly, so guilelessly, was that of my mother in a crowded room. Anybody but me, it seemed.

Was it ownership? To an intellectual boy in a dusty town, so little is his own. Something tangible. A place to write my name. "This Where's Wally book belongs to...".

Fantasy, sure. Any of my long string of child therapists would have drawn this conclusion from the top of the deck. The Cake Factory. The Odlaw Swamp. The Mighty Fruit Fight. These were places into which one could comfortably retreat, like well-worn memories from a time one had never lived, like something passed down in the songs of hope and woe sung by the balladeers who kept my ancestors' souls warm throughout those long, medieval winters.

Obsessive-compulsiveness, said one therapist - of the newer school - but my lack of interest in cataloguing the exact time on every clock in The Corridors of Time sent that theory spiralling rapidly toward the bin. She became the latest on the list of rejected specialists, quickly reduced to "the one with the Miss Piggy garbage bin" in family anecdotes.

For my own diagnosis, perhaps it was fear. Fear. For if I could not even find Wally and Wenda and Woof, how was I ever to find a future? The world would always be off-brand Lego and movies taped to VCR from the television and sitting politely on the sofa while adult guests enjoyed pâté and cheese, every so often deigning to ask me a question to which they had no interest in the mumbled answer.

Loyalty? I had long fancied myself to be noble. I had followed Wally and friends through four weighty tomes; what kind of a Sancho Panza would I be to abandon them at this juncture?

Looking back, from somewhere further down the mountain, I delude myself into the notion that my search was born of love. (The stroke of death, says Shakespeare, is as a lover's pinch, which hurts, and is desired.) The feeling came much easier to me then. A quick wit, an innovative outpouring of words and ideas, and emotion arose. Not to the surface - "never to the surface" is on my family crest - but somewhere close beneath. The bubbling cauldron, the fiery furnace, the precarious rope-bridge of human sentiment which was tamped down amongst my human companions but could dance effusively between the pages of a book.

With hindsight, I may never know why I searched. Why I still search. As the fires and floods claim our land, however, I am drawn to an undeniable truth. The worst of nature will ravage us. The worst of corporations, the worst of anger and hate, the worst of human evil - all will have their fill. But what they claim is only ever corporeal, ephemeral, at heart physical. What they must leave behind are memories and ideas. The two greatest innovations of our species.

Perhaps it was enough to know that I would carry Wally with me. Forever would I know that no matter how lost Wizard Whitebeard became (his chronic shoelessness a source of great concern to my younger self), no matter how many cunning plans Odlaw devised, how many hills and dales were scoured by Wenda and Woof, they would all end up together, on the final page, waving their farewells. I knew that some companions will never leave us. Some ideas will never be destroyed by folly. Some memories must remain.

Because the secret of this life is that we never find that which we seek. We find so much besides that the journey replaces the destination. We all must begin with a list of items to search for. But we all must learn that the real search begins when we reach the end of the list.

It is the knowing how to search that will save us.

And by Wally I was saved.
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1 vote
therebelprince | 2 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |
Perhaps I had always had hope.

Perhaps it had only been washed away temporarily by the waters of time and life.

Perhaps the barbs had never struck me, the teenage yearning been a mere dream, the doubts and thwarted ambitions really echoes of other people's lives and not my own.

For in these moments I knew only that there was a town, a camp site, an airport, a safari park. That these places held the mysteries of the universe. A misbehaving vacuum cleaner. Flight controllers playing badminton. Five men blowing up a balloon.

These were not mere abstractions. These were gifts of the Magi. Peace offerings, or, less charitably, sops to Cerberus.

There were no special editions in those days. We were not yet attuned to such expectations. We weren't quite like the previous generations, apparently happy with a cardboard box or playing outside until nightfall. Still, though, we asked little beyond the joy of finding. The quest was the reward itself.

The hope which had long since subsided reappeared by nightfall. It was dressed in red and white strips, carrying a walking stick. (There was supposed to be a camera and a mallet as well, but they had been dropped along the way and not yet found.)

The hope remained.
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therebelprince | 31 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |
When the final war came, we could not say it was a surprise. We had been warned for years, even decades, that our world was becoming divisive. Splinters of opinion running down the very spine of our culture. Yet we remained largely unprepared.

In those days after the satellites came down, we lost the internet, our connection, telecommunications outside of our own continent. Space was a battlefield now. Those of us who could help the refugees from burning countries did what we could, while the children of the coastal cities were sent inland to seek sanctuary.

It's the songs that I remember most. Who knows where the first voice came from, but as the war stretched on, the singing was the key to our resilience. At first millions fought on each side, but the soldiers of the oppressors realised gradually - hundreds first, then thousands, then many more - that they were fighting for their own demise. Soon it became the many resisting the few, and yet somehow the few still seemed triumphant. They had prepared such an intricate web that they held on to so much of what we needed: the fuel, the industries, the media, the deeds to so many of the homes. The battle to reclaim our land was hard-fought and hard-won. And what greeted us at its conclusion was rawness and pain. A world to rebuild. A cycle to begin again.

When we returned to the ancient texts, however, we discovered the depth of our existing knowledge. How much we had learned from our hunt for Wally, even if the Americans did insist on calling him Waldo, a translation barrier that caused no small fracas during the transition.

We realised now that our enemies were no more than Dracula with a teddy bear. That we must fight with the continued vigour of an underwater cat. That we must make it through the majesty of an dragon cave chase. We had been given the gifts and insight we needed to complete the race of life, and find ourselves at the great gluttonous feast of chapter 1.

And we discovered, too, as we shared songs and fellowship around the campfire, that we had all been beguiled and bewildered by that final Land of Wallies, haunted by the sense of our very self as one of a seething mass, guests at a dreamlike parade in which we are both the spectacle and the spectator.

We know at last that what is to come can never be like it was before. We emerged with hopes not dashed but becalmed, honour restored, glory resisted in favour of contentment.

We know where Wally is now, but we keep him just out of sight. To keep the journey going by choice without need for reward.

We are home. And to know that Wally is nearby, scampering behind a mermaid or a dwarf or a bespectacled waiter is all we ever needed to know.
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therebelprince | 7 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |
When Wally returned, we knew he was not as before. His clothes were the same, that memorable striped livery, but in his eyes, in his smile, lay the ravages of time.

Was it the fame which had changed him? Perhaps. He had become a star of the screen, an international totem, a universal Rorschach test - representing hopefulness, frustration, the eternal quest... what you will.

We welcomed Wally in with that delicate mix of awe and disdain with which old friends greet newfound celebrity. We found in him a figure changed, but not by fame and fortune. His dry wit and natural compassion were unaffected, his world-weary eyes still sparkled when he saw dancing girls or clowns or the other novelties which seemed to flourish in his presence. Instead, it was clear he was yet another victim of that old common arbitrator: Time.

When one has seen the world, they say, one finds the path home. For Wally, though, that path had always seemed opaque. He had made a life in the margins. He was the human lacuna, the man in the mist, the faithful companion never quite within reach. And now, after so many years, he felt no more sure of where his journey would end. Worst of all, it was our fault. His attempts to form a détente with Odlaw forever dashed because of the public's demand for a recognisable villain. Their desire to remove the influence of that old straight white man, Wizard Whitebeard, rejected due to a misguided sense of tradition. And that eternal beating of the drum, calling Wally, Wenda and their friends to disappear into the crowd once again.

To disappear but never to be forgotten: that, ultimately, was what had changed our friend so powerfully. The knowledge that no party, no panorama, no amount of pandemonium could allow him true anonymity. They would always be there - searching for him, calling his name, demanding to discover him. To millions, he was merely an object, a riddle. When would he ever just be Wally?

I pray only that one day the streets will empty, the world go silent, and that peace descends just long enough for him to wander, unspotted, unnoticed, through this vale of tears.
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therebelprince | 2 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |



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