When a passenger plane with more than 200 people on board goes missing mid air, the world takes notice. When that plane still hasn't been found 19 months later and people have stopped talking about it, the internet makes it a joke.
Where's MH370: How Long Until You Give Up? is a satirical children's search-and-find book in the style of Where's Waldo. But instead of trying to locate the infuriatingly hard-to-spot, striped-shirt-clad Waldo, you're looking for pieces of MH370, the Malaysian Airlines plane that disappeared without a trace over the South China Sea in March, 2014, with 239 people on board. Debris that washed up on Reunion Island (a French island just east of Madagascar) in July is suspected to be from the plane, but what actually happened on board remains a mystery.
It's pretty solemn fodder for a pithy, cartoon-illustrated book, but that's not all that surprising considering the source. Where's MH370 was created by Mathew Carpenter, the self-described "evil genius" behind the website ShipYourEnemiesGlitter.com, a viral campaign that broke out earlier this year allowing Carpenter to quickly sell his creation for $85,000. If you've already forgotten, SYEG let customers send envelopes stuffed with annoying, impossible-to-remove glitter to their enemies for the modest fee of $9.99. Carpenter later said he created the site in part to show how easy it was to create a viral site and profit off of the media's unending thirst for content.
North Korea is one of the many locales where you can search for debris from MH370.
nd that's likely what's happening again, but it's yet to be seen how successful this second endeavor into the sensational-for-profit market will be. I sent Carpenter, who hails from Australia, an email to find out more about his latest stunt:
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I was a big fan of Where's Wally (editor's note: 'Where's Waldo' is called 'Where's Wally' most places in the world, except for Canada and the US) growing up. You have these amazingly detailed illustrations that not only keep you entertained for hours, but feature fucking hilarious Easter eggs if you look close enough.
The idea for Where's MH370 came from brainstorming what the hardest thing to find in the world is. Over the past year or so, it's been MH370 so in the end it was a no-brainer to jump in & make it.
What made you want to create it?
I personally wanted to read a Where's Wally type book that instead focuses on finding MH370. Realizing no-one would ever make something like it, I decided it was something I would have to do myself.
How long did it take?
It took the better part of 8 months from just being an idea to being fully published.
Do you think it's still topical?
I think as long as the final resting place is unknown the world will be fascinated with what is essentially one of the biggest mysteries of the 21st century.
Any concern about copyright issues with Where's Wally or are you pretty sure you're covered as a parody artist?
I'm not concerned about any copyright issues.
It's a little bleak, do you think people will appreciate your sense of humor?
I think a lot of people will love it. Others may hate it and find it offensive, and if they do they can submit a complaint to us. The form can be found in the FAQ page on our website. (Author's note: the complaint button is a mailto link with the subject line "I'm a little bitch.")
Would you ever give this book to an actual child?
I would and I have. They loved it however children are terrible at searching for missing planes.
Which scene is your favorite? Did you do all of the illustrations yourself?
I think my favorite scene is definitely Hell. I loved having the power of deciding which C-list celebrity and political figures got to pass straight to the eternal fires of Hell. The illustrations were done by a very talented illustrator who wishes to remain anonymous.