Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week: Where's Waldo?

I wanted to participate in all the Banned Book Week blogging shenanigans without actually having to read anything. Lucky me, Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford was one of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 1990s. 


I went to the library to check it out, excited to revisit Hanford's alliteratively titled modern classic about a bespectacled adventurer who travels to crowded locales and becomes lost among the wacky assemblage of people. I was ready to dissect the book, pick it apart! Yes, I'd find Waldo, but I'd also examine each page with a scholarly eye and try to determine how something so quaint and seemingly innocuous could also be so controversial. Sure, Where's Waldo? has no discernible literary or educational value, but in my humble opinion, that isn't enough to get a book banned. 


When I went to retrieve Where's Waldo? from its shelf in the picture book section--the library computer assured me that it was checked in--it wasn't there. I don't know if librarians get their jollies by hiding copies of Where's Waldo? or if the book was missing because some Christian fundamentalist stole it, but rather than waste precious moments of my life searching for the book, I just checked out Where's Waldo? in Hollywood--figuring that it would be even more risque than its precursor, considering the iniquitous setting.


If you've never "read" Where's Waldo? in Hollywood, allow me to summarize the plot: Waldo walks though various movie sets (a silent movie, a western, some confusing sci-fi-dinosaur-horror epic, etc.). It's hard to spot him at first but then you find him and then the book is over. 


At first glance, the only morally questionable thing about the book is the price: A whopping $12.99. 


But when I looked a little closer, I found these shirtless prisoners...
Obviously a nod to HBO's Oz and prison sex in general. There was also this drunk cowboy, holding a bottle, and winking as if to say, "drink alcohol, kids. You and I both know that it's the coolest!"
Otherwise, the book is harmless. I'm not sure why the original was banned (something about side boob? I don't know) but I imagine the complaint was lodged by someone who was just really frustrated about not being able to find Waldo and then manufactured some bogus moralistic reasoning to justify the grievance. 


I mean, c'mon. It isn't as if you're looking for Waldo and then when you find him, he looks like this: 

24 comments:

Kylee said...

Im laughing out loud. seriously though.

that picture of waldo is great.

your new header is great.

the end.

Leonnie said...

I now want to work at a library just so I can be all meta and hide where's waldo books. good stuff

Roxanne and Lorraine said...

If Waldo looked like that I think more people would be interested in finding him, no?

Lor

Plum said...

Good call on the Waldo book. Sometimes the best books are the ones that don't require reading.

Simon said...

Waldo is a national treasure, dammit!

I like the new banner.

Barbara said...

I used to love Where's Waldo books. I had no idea they had caused such controversy.

As always, your drawings kick ass. Like the new header image :)

Tabs A. Geek said...

Best picture of Waldo ever.

And I loved those books as a kid. Hard to believe any of them could be banned... especially if they okay a winking drunk cowboy and shirtless prisoners.

Christina In Wonderland said...

Dude, I would so hang out with that Waldo. He seems like my kind of guy. Lol. And I seriously love your new header!

Amiee said...

Love that post.
Not sure why but Waldo is called Wally in Australia. It's a great name of course just wonder why they bothered?

Nicki said...

So THAT'S why everyone's always looking for Waldo. He's got the booze!

....and the Communist Manifesto!

Megs said...

I didn't even know Waldo was on the list!

Maybe there's a cartoon orgy in the middle of one of the crowd scenes?

nikki said...

What an LOL post! I'm officially including you in my BBW roundup!

Kids' books are the hardest things to find on library shelves. Because...you know...kids get into them and screw everything up. My son tries to take Mo Willems' pigeon books and put them with Curious George. For no other reason than he thinks Pigeon and George should play together.

Georgina Dollface said...

I had no idea! Poor Waldo, pushed to the edge and villified, when all he wanted to do was blend in.
I love, love, love the hew header! (But I really did like the TMNT falling of the skateboard too - that make me crack up every time I saw it. Have you got it in the archives somewhere, where I can, like , visit it? - G

Jess said...

Excellent. Great Waldo!

MJenks said...

Aside from full-frontal boob, side boob is the absolute best. It can't be for that reason.

homebetweenpages.com said...

Because I'm a nerd, I went searching for the reason why Where's Waldo was banned. And from Wikipedia, I got this:

The book has been challenged in libraries and schools because of a topless woman near the upper right of the "On the Beach" scene. It ranks #88 on the American Library Association's "100 Most Frequently Banned Books" list because of the exposed breast. The banned book list actually tracks "challenges" (attempts to have books banned) rather than actual bannings. The woman was covered up for the 1997 special edition release.

A similar happening occurs in "The Campsite" where children open a tent on a man while he is undressing. In the original, although his genitals are blocked from view by his hand, he is clearly naked. In the 1997 special release, however, he is wearing white briefs.

moxobee said...

Amiee, he's called Wally in the UK too. No idea why they would have thought that "Waldo" is a more marketable name for North America, but that's not as ridiculous as challenging the book for a little topless bathing. Totally harmless, not to mention something I never noticed as a kid pouring over that book hundreds of times.

RMb said...

it breaks my heart a little that this is on the banned books list.

... but the rebel in me is totally going to buy all of them for my daughter now! haha

Satia said...

Someone complaining because they couldn't find Waldo. Love that! I'm with you. Can't think why this book would be challenged. People are strange. Just when you think you have reached limit of just how very strange, someone says or does something to make you realize that it can get still stranger. Like, you know, those mice with human brains.

Ooh . . . maybe it was the mice with human brains that tried to challenge the book. It makes sense. Do we really know how well their little mouse eyes would work with all the detail on those pages? And to be honest, the books are awfully thin and aren't much of a meal for a munching mouse to really enjoy.

Clearly, mice are strange too but only if they have human brains so it goes back to people are strange. (Not as strange as this comment which was, I assure you, written by a person.)

classbookworm said...

"I don't know if librarians get their jollies by hiding copies of Where's Waldo?"
That made my day!

That Kind of Girl said...

...your modernized Waldo looks an awful lot like one of my ex-boyfriends. Disconcerting.

Jen said...

Seriously Amber. Modern Waldo looks like one of my co-workers. Complete with Marx texts. I could hug you for it.

Also, RIP TMNT header. You made me laugh every time. But the new one is equally awesome.

Missed Periods said...

I like the idea that your version of Waldo is what he grew up to be. Like, after years of being lost in the crowd, he just kind of gave up.

Catherine said...

This book is an American Classic! Also, why are the mommies complaining so much? Are they looking THAT HARD for Waldo? They must really stink at it, which is why they found all of those "racy" images!