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Where's Waldo?

Welcome to a left turn in the Daily Doodles. I've been pretty solid at asking legitimate questions and sourcing answers, but today I just couldn't help myself... maybe i'm getting frisky because I'm nearing the end of this Doodle Year, or maybe I just really don't want to keep following "rules" for this book that shouldn't even have rules. Today is Martin Handford's birthday. Oh you don't know who that is? I bet you do, you just don't know you do!

Martin Handford was born September 27, 1956 and is an English children's book author and illustrator who had gained worldwide frame in the mid-1980s with the creation of theWhere's Wally series, better known as Where's Waldo in North America. AHHH, there you go, now you know.

Martin began to draw from an early age. He was roughly 4-5 years old when he first began to draw crowds by making stick figures on paper. After school, whereas many children would go out and play games and socialize, he choose to draw pictures instead.

"My earliest influences," Handford says, "were cinema epics and playing with toy soldiers. I attempted to recapture the excitement in my drawings, which started out as crowds of crude stick figures." As an adult, Martin Handford worked for 3 years in an insurance office, Crusader Insurance Company in order to finance his degree at an art college.

He studied at UCA (University for the Creative Arts) formerly known as KIAD (Kent Institute of Art and Design) in Maidstone, Kent. He continued to draw "what were always busy and militarily correct battle scenes" during his years enrolled at the art college. After graduating, Martin worked as a freelance illustrator who specialized in drawing crowded scenes for numerous clients.

In 1981, Martin created the album cover for The Vapors': Magnets. The cover features an darker route to his infamous Where's Waldo book series where a crowd of people forms the shape of an eye.

The turning point for his career came when he was asked to create a book that showcased his singular talent of drawing crowds. In 1986, Martin's art director at Walter Books asked him to sketch up a character with peculiar features so that his crowded illustrations had a focal point.

After much deliberation, Martin came up with the idea of a character named "Wally", a world and time traveling character who always dresses up in the familiar red and white striped shirt, blue pants and round black glasses. The character was born to provide a link between each scene illustration. "That is who Waldo is - an afterthought," he says. "As it turns out, the fans were more interested in the character than the crowd scenes."

As an artist, Martin's Where's Waldo book series have been immensely successful, selling more than 43 million copies worldwide in over 33 counties and in 22 different languages. For each illustration in the book series, it takes Martin up to 8 weeks to draw. "As I work my way through a picture, I add Waldo when I come to what I feel is a good place to hide him," Martin explains. Handford describes his illustration as a "full of both activity and entertainment. I have a love of situations which contain visual puns." He has described his personal favorite illustration of Waldo as 'A Tremendous Song and Dance' from Where's Waldo in Hollywood.

I was hoping to find the time and gumption to create a whole scene, but alas, it just wasn't in the cards. I think I got discouraged upon reading Martin himself takes 8 weeks to create a 2 page spread and I didn't want to give up my whole day working on my Doodle. It does make me wonder if there's a crowd image in my future for another stamina art piece!

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