Analytical Interlude

Hello, O totally unexpected large audience,

This is called Dangerous Experiments in Comics not because these are Experimental Comics but because as normally a non-comics artist this is all an experiment.. as such you will have to put up with not only the disastrous chemical explosions, but also the tedious followup paperwork that is The Stuff of Science.

For instance:

On a more serious note, I think the pacing was the main issue in the last.. issue. And some of the lame gags. Hey at least I spared you this:

There seem to be, if not FAQs, a few Qs:

— What medium are you using?

These are pretty much drawn start to finish in Painter on a 12x Cintiq. The 5px detail Sumi-e and 10px coarse bristle Sumi-e, if you care about that kind of thing. Bubbles are drawn with the freehand line tool. Text is done with a lot of swearing because, Painter, I love you, but your text handling is terrible. If I was serious I would probably export the art and then use Illustrator for the dialogue, but then I’d have to plan ahead, wouldn’t I?

— Are you selling any art?

I will not sell my art, you bourgeois pig!! Because as it happens, There Is No Art. There Is Only Data. See above. I do have a print-resolution output of Ada Lovelace: The Origin by request of an educational institution; if you’re a teacher and want to put it up you can contact me and I’ll send you the file.

–Will there be t-shirts?

Um, sure? It hadn’t even crossed my mind, but it seems pretty straightforward to do, and now I want a t-shirt myself. Is there anything in particular people would like a tshirt of?

–Will there be more?

Ghu, I’m not being coy here, I really don’t know. I’m between films at the moment (I’m an animator) but this state of affairs won’t go on for too much longer. On the other hand, these are fun to do and I really want to do Vampire Poets. Ooh, and the one with Brunel. So, it depends on the craziness levels of work and how they intersect with my craziness levels, really.

— Will you marry me/accept my sexual favours?

You’d have to route that through my husband ;).

BTW Terrence Eden in the comments links to this uncanny coincidence– a comic about the software behind the financial collapse! The guy even looks kind of Babbagy…


  1. Mary Ellen on August 7, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Wups, silly me, didn’t see the Cintiq link above.

  2. Mary Ellen on August 7, 2010 at 1:08 am

    I’m not mathematical, or much of a geek, and I never heard of the (actual) Sterling Engine before (I thought it was a pun on “sterling” as a term of praise, as in “What a sterling idea, Holmes!”), and I don’t know set notation from my elbow… but I loved it anyway, so terrific is your characterization.

    Also, thanx for the info on your art process. Do you mind me asking what version of Painter you’re using, and what kind of drawing tablet?

  3. Marion Delgado on July 30, 2010 at 10:43 pm


  4. nekokami on May 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Make that 19 – I’m posting for a friend, as well, who loved it and was initially disappointed that you thought it had failed. Actually, 20 – I showed it to another friend, and he was in stitches. (Ok, I’m a doctoral student in educational research, working as a webmonkey by days, friend 1 is a unix kernel engineer, and friend 2 is a professor of finance… hey, you’ve got a wide range of fans!)

  5. Stephen Wells on March 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    It’s emphatically not a failed gag! It was a masterpiece, and perfectly crafted to appeal to your target audience of math/science/history/comicbook/economics geeks.

    Admittedly there are only seventeen of us worldwide but it’s a start!

  6. Alys on February 14, 2010 at 2:09 am

    “Failed gag”? Hardly! I loved every bit of it! Also, Ada’s emotional turmoil was conveyed perfectly. That one panel was packed full of coolness!

  7. Eva on October 27, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I thought the set notation pun was brilliant. :)

  8. Simon on October 9, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Good lord, it was a brilliant panel; don’t sell yourself short. And as for t-shirts, I must say, there are so many brilliant moments, but I feel your sketch of Isambard is a must.

  9. Kenny on October 5, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Puns: [place non-ASCII check mark here]

  10. Kenny on October 5, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Puns: [?]

  11. Elliot on September 28, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Wait, that single panel was the highlight of that update. The geekery was flawless! The only oversight was to expect everyone to understand it all!
    Love this comic!

  12. Gareth on September 23, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Latecomer to this comic, but I thought the ‘Sterling Engine’ was a reference to Bruce Sterling who co-wrote ‘The Difference Engine’ with William Gibson.
    The worst thing is that I’m a mechanical engineer by profession, so I should have immediately thought of the immortal, yet surprsingly unviable Stirling Engine.
    I guess I’m more of a book geek than engineer – sadface

    Love Ada, by the way!

  13. Chris on May 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Fantastic! :) :)

    Also, ! gag.failed?

  14. Skye on May 12, 2009 at 2:37 am

    T-shirt of the fan, please!

  15. Simon on May 11, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Will there be a future creative team-up with other comic & history nerdling Kate Beaton ( )?

  16. Betsy Hp on May 11, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Yay! This is brilliant AND popular! This means you must continue, right? So much peer pressure cannot be ignored! ;)

  17. literatewench on May 8, 2009 at 2:25 am

    “Puns” only belong in the set “poetry” if they also fall into either the set “alliteration” or “beautiful notion”. Otherwise, they fall into the set of “humor”, but only the subset that says “most people hate you for this sort”.

  18. sydney on May 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Wish there was a better way to reply to comments–

    Sooo, everyone loves the pun. You realize what you’re letting yourselves in for here.

    Terran– laughed for about 5 minutes over comment.

    Tshirts– will happen.. anyone have experience with these print-on-demand services? Someone recommended, as it has both europe and the US covered. Don’t know about ties or hair ribbons, but I do know a stained glass artist..

    Car re icons– sure, go ahead. I’m fine with people playing with the images, so long as they’re not involved in making money or getting into a land war in Asia.

  19. Ceridwen on May 7, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I got the pun and I’m non-mathematical. The set-up was in the Origins comic.

    Idiosyncratic view of crime
    Back to back
    Kid reading Calculus
    Billions of Blistering Barnacles
    To the Difference Engine!
    VanBuren and OMG! paper front w/Wellington
    The Duke of Wellington!
    Babbage reading the handicap formula
    Title Page Part II
    Let Us Crunch Some Numbers
    Oh God, we’re Doomed!
    It Shall Be Done By Steam
    Exploded Faces
    More Steamulus
    If some are impractical for tee-shirts, how about sets of four mugs with different panels on a single theme? Buttons? Notepad headers? Framed reproductions? School folders? Hair ribbons (the circle from 2D Goggles repeating)? Coasters? Chef aprons (Doomed!)? Checks?

    They also work great as backgrounds on desktops and cellphones.

  20. Car on May 7, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Would you be OK with people making user icons from your work?

  21. Helen on May 7, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    > and now I want a t-shirt myself. Is there anything in particular people would
    > like a tshirt of?

    Ada surrounded by math Ninjas!

  22. Dennis Gray on May 7, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    T-Shirts? I must agree with most of the afore mentioned; the back-to-back pose, the “Jeffries tube”, “More Steamulus!”, and any illustration accompanying “To the Difference Engine!” you care to create.

  23. Ellie on May 7, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    In agreement with many of the above, that panel really worked for me! It wasn’t too drawn out so the joke wasn’t flogged to death, it was nice and concise and very funny! After being linked here by a friend I have fallen in love with the comic already. You’ve got the steam punk thing down so well! Encore! Encore!

  24. Tcepsa on May 7, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    The pun panel was brilliant! I think the backstory set up by the previous Economy strip and Lovelace: Origins was plenty thorough to explain her conundrum, and the look on her face conveys her internal conflict quite eloquently!

    Also, I love her hair in the panel after the Model has crashed through the wall. It seems to suggest both her alarm (which is not something we see much of from her; Babbage seems much more excitable) at this unexpected turn of events and the force with which the Model vacated the room. I hope to see more!

  25. Gil on May 7, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    I got it. Please keep this going!

  26. Longshot on May 7, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    The totally unexpected large audience may have something to do with your webcomic making the rounds on Livejournal friendslists – it’s what drew me and a few others in (thanks to LJ user telophase), and HALLELUJAH THAT IT DID! High minded AND hilarious! Keep it UP! :D

  27. Matt on May 7, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Yeah, the pun panel was definitely full of win, not fail. I laughed out loud.

    Quite a few potential tees here: Ada Twittering on the fan, Ada in the “Jeffries tube”… “Let us crunch some numbers” and “It shall be done by steam!” would be awesome shirts, too.

    So, you say you’re an animator, hm? I love reading these cartoons, and I think they’d be awesome to watch, too. Just sayin’.

  28. Zander on May 7, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Oh yes. T-shirts, mugs, murals, postcards, neckties, samplers, stained glass windows, tattoos, anything.

    And if it comes to it, don’t you think there’s the germ of a movie in these characters? I do.

  29. EFH on May 7, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    T-Shirt. LABVTE Part 1, last panel. Just send me the bill.

  30. Terran on May 7, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    No, no — while the Joke Density Per Panel Unit (JD/PU) of this specific panel was a bit high, it does not yet approach the Munroe Limit, at which the comic implodes under its own density, collapsing to a humor singularity. Given the high geek coefficient of the audience, the humor tidal forces are well within design parameters of the readership. Empirical measurements (n=1) indicate that with high probability the gag transference efficiency exceeded 92% — well above nominal thresholds for most web comics. The comic safety engineering standards committee disagrees with the preliminary report’s assessment that this panel should have been re-architected into a multi-panel support structure. We feel that the gag was sufficiently supported by the cantilevered design provided by the initial panels in the strip, given the audience’s (memory stress)/(credulity strain) Young’s modulus.

  31. Johanna on May 7, 2009 at 5:26 pm

    I want a t-shirt of the Twitter gag where Ada realizes it doesn’t exist yet! Please?

  32. Cat on May 7, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I like the shirts idea. Greatly.

    I’d vote for either the image of them back to back, Ada with her pipe and … wee deathray thing … and Babbage with his … random weapon of some kind. Or else the image of Ada’s mother with a background of shadowy mathematicians.

    It’s all quite fabulous.

  33. Wren on May 7, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    No, no, no – I submit to you that that was the perfect pun. Or one of them. In all honesty, it is the second greatest pun I have ever heard. The first greatest involves a laboratory that has become sealed off, and the scientists are forced to eat the experimental animals. Of course, it all works out in the end, because there’s no wrong way to eat a Rhesus.

    I very much enjoy your experiments, and hope they continue!

  34. Ivan on May 7, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    That’s not a failed gag!

    For me that was the single funniest panel in the entire comic. I told a half-dozen of my friends last night that “I laughed for far too long at the panel with the Sterling Engine pun. (Though not at the pun!)” and sent them links here besides.

    Instead I say encore!

  35. Brian Olson on May 7, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    No, no, no, I am very glad you did use the set notation joke. I got it, and loved it! More, please!

    -Ozmar, the Geeky Fan

  36. bob on May 7, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Yes to T-Shirts!
    “More Steamulus” would have been great! Remember, you’re dealing with geeks here.
    I’ve never met a punster who didn’t insist after every pun how horrible they are.