“Where’s Wally” published in the US and Canada as Where’s Waldo?, is a British series of children’s puzzle books created by English illustrator Martin Handford. The books consist of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations depicting dozens or more people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. In 1986, Handford was asked by his art director at Walker Books to draw a character with peculiar features so that his pictures of crowds had a focal point. After much thinking, he came up with the idea of “Wally”, a world traveller and time travel aficionado who always dresses in red and white.
- Wally, whose name was localised for certain international editions, for example Waldo in the United States and Canadian editions. In the first two books, Wally wandered alone and was the only person to be found in every illustration. Over time, more characters were added to find in each scene.
- Wilma, Wally’s friend first appeared in the Ultimate Fun Book, and was replaced by her identical twin sister Wenda in the Where’s Wally: The Magnificent Poster Book.
- Wenda, A friend of Wally who replaced her twin sister Wilma for In Hollywood (although she previously appeared in The Magnificent Poster Book).
- Odlaw, Wally’s nemesis, who made his print debut in The Magnificent Poster Book. He appears nearly the same as Wally, except that his clothes are yellow and black striped instead of red and white; his glasses have a blue tint to them; and he has a moustache. He also has a British accent in the television series. Although we are told “his bad deeds are many”, he is not depicted in the books doing anything particularly nasty. However, in the television series, he is frequently seen to be attempting to steal
- Wally’s magical walking stick. His name “Odlaw” is simply a reversal of the spelling of “Waldo”, the American name for Wally, although he is called “Odlaw” in the United Kingdom as well.
- Woof, Wally’s dog, first appeared in The Ultimate Fun Book, where he was identified as Wenda’s dog. Only his tail can be found, with the exception of the final page of Where’s Wally: The Wonder Book, which depicts all of Woof, and the six activity books released between 1993 and 1995 (the first book of which is titled The Truly Terrific Activity Book), where Woof shows himself to the reader.
- Wizard Whitebeard, first seen in The Fantastic Journey. His signature is his exceptionally long beard, which is often the key to finding him. In his first appearance, he was responsible for sending Wally on a quest to discover the truth about himself, and he has tagged along on Wally’s travels ever since. His appearance in The Ultimate Fun Book, however, is in just one scene (“Old Friends”) and his presence is unmentioned in the book and acts as one of the background characters.
- The Wally Watchers are Wally’s devoted fan-club that first appeared in Where’s Wally? The Ultimate Fun Book (1990). They turn up wherever Wally goes, dressed in the same red-and-white striped outfit. 25 appear in most books, though there are 99 of them in the Ultimate Fun Book.
In the earlier books, a character appears in every scene, which the reader must look to find out who it is. This is because no information on the characters is given in the books aside from the task to look for them. The characters appeared as background characters and all had something unique to them (like blonde hair or a ginger beard).
In some cases, characters from previous scenes would also appear.