Today's Google doodle honors Charles Dickens on his birthday. On the letters, you can see characters such as Tiny Tim of "A Christmas Carol" (one of my favorite works, in all forms, including the movie Scrooged and the Mr. Magoo cartoon). I always appreciate Google's playfulness; it's a great way to enliven a dull page.
Google has been customizing its search site in earnest since 2000, and has produced more than 1,000 doodles. They vary by country, and you can browse the archive for various versions. Here's a bit of history from Google: In 2000, the company's founders "asked current webmaster Dennis Hwang, an intern at the time, to produce a doodle for Bastille Day. It was so well received by our users that Dennis was appointed Google's chief doodler, and doodles started showing up more and more regularly on the Google homepage. In the beginning, the doodles mostly celebrated familiar holidays; nowadays, they highlight a wide array of events and anniversaries from the Birthday of John James Audubon to the Ice Cream Sundae.
"Over time, the demand for doodles has risen in the US and internationally. Creating doodles is now the responsibility of a team of talented illlustrators (we call them doodlers) and engineers. For them, creating doodles has become a group effort to enliven the Google homepage and bring smiles to the faces of Google users around the world."