Author, Author

Greeting Comics Consumers! Toiling away in the echoing vaults of 2dGoggles Amalgamated Comics Industries today, IN SPITE of the beautiful sparkling sunshine and Royal Nuptials replete with (not enough in my opinion) ponies!

Remember when User Experience was going to be the simple breezy little quickie before I undertook the massive Vampire Poets? Ah Lost Innocence! I feel like Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s stakeholders may have done, when contemplating with dismay his blueprints for a modest ocean-going vessel; and I may well have as much difficulty in launching. Hopefully it will not KILL ME.

Many practical difficulties I’ve encountered on this one, but it’s the Human Factor that’s the stubbornest one. You may think it’s an easy thing to order one’s characters hither and thither on amusing adventures, but in truth I’ve been having a heck of a time getting the eminently sensible Guest Star of User Experience to take the necessary actions to unleash the hijinks. Diagram:

It’s very tempting to just pick her up and MAKE her do it but it’s an ungraceful process and The Author’s hand is awfully hard to photoshop out:

It has to be done indirectly, so maybe I need to sketch out a vector diagram or something, I don’t know,

But that’s a lot of math, and I believe I’d run into the 3-body problem pretty quickly.

The time-honoured way to handle these delicate matters is this:

But she wasn’t falling for it.

I could just get another character to get her to do this stuff FOR me, but this only presents the same problem with a different character… and lots of characters are even more difficult to wrangle than our Guest Star. Our Star for instance:

I’m kind of scared of Lovelace to be honest.

This is why Babbage is such a treasure, he’s always ready to expend enormous energy on highly entertaining schemes at the least suggestion–

But it’s not so easy to get him to successfully rope other people in! A difficulty the actual Babbage had in the actual timestream…

So I was a bit gloomy and stuck for a while.

But I’ve had some Ideas! Observe my subtle machinations!


Meanwhile, still looking into possible Kindle edition.. bear with me folks, lots on my plate AND the weather is reaaaaally nice for Pimms out there..

EDITED TO ADD: No identifications of the unlucky victim valued End User, who will be thoroughly tortured guest starring in User Experience? Hint: you will hug and squeeze her and.. No Victorian genius emerges unscathed from the pocket universe!


  1. Unmitigated genius | oookblog2 on March 6, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    […] Padua is simply marvelous: Author! Author! (just a bit, to whet the […]

  2. C. Berman on November 23, 2011 at 6:10 am

    Ever since reading the novel “The Difference Engine” sometime ago, and then reading everything I could find on Babbage and Lovelace, I was overjoyed to see this artistic/historical effort come to light. I think the author/artist makes remarkable use of the parallel universe/alternative history effect to create a truly entertaining and informative document. I just downloaded the new APP about these heroes and enjoyed it immensely and find myself hoping for more of the same. Given the advances in CGI over the past decade, what I would love to see is a full-length feature film over which our esteemed artist had autocratic and absolute control in order to preserve the original intent. I don’t thing such a production could fail. I am presently writing a Sci-Fi novel (I have 2 in print at the moment) in which Ada plays a significant but somewhat uusual and unespected role.

    Again, thank you Sydney for this masterpiece – the alternative world needs more contributors like you!

    Forensic & Consulting Oceanographer

  3. Anna Bowles on August 22, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    This is sufficiently fantastic that I’d have a print made of it if I could! I’ve merely managed to combine the eight crucial panels into an A4 printout to go on my wall however.

    I’ll be sharing it around the authors I know!

    Anna (children’s writer/editor)

  4. George on June 2, 2011 at 6:11 am

    A most enjoyable explanation.

    I think you and your other readers would find this particular page of a comic of interest: as it involves analytical engines.

  5. Clare DeVries on May 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Love the author/artist’s hand trying to control its creation! Another fascinating post.

    BTW I just came across a fun illustration of Babbage’s Difference Engine at Mattias Inks from May 6th that you might like:

  6. Schreiber on May 19, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Apologies, but I feel the urge to cite a kindred spirit: Dorothy Sayers.

  7. Kitteh on May 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I especially love the tiger. More big happy chasey puddies with their tails in the air are needed. Ever so much cleaner than monkeys! Fighting sudden craving for beer now, proving only that I am more suggestible than I would like to imagine myself to be.

  8. Dr. Quack on May 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

    So, adding a career as a ‘hand model’ to the CV, Eh? Where do you find the time?
    Lovelace conversing with a being she doesn’t believe in is nicely paradoxical. Is she a part of your dream, or are you a part of hers?

  9. E-wit on May 12, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Arrived at this one a bit late and breathless, but feeling in top form because I FIGURED OUT IT WAS GEORGE before I got to the winning comment. Smirk. Go Sydney!

  10. Anon, a Mouse on May 4, 2011 at 3:28 am

    ANOTHER TRIUMPH! It might be a one-off status update, but HOORAY!

    A friend of mine who holds a doctorate (or two) in literature sent me an email to say that you had just posted on April 30. Here is what he wrote:

    “Sydney is simply freaking brilliant!”

    You’ve blown his vast and gargantuan mind.

  11. Ken on May 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Inspired! (and inspiring!)

  12. The Bald Soprano on May 1, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Man, I wish I could draw in that style (or that well)…. *complete envy of tiger*

    I’m gonna go re-read Daniel Deronda again now….

  13. Kaazz on May 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    This. Was. Brilliant. (I’m afraid I can’t be literarily clever or witty, as I just crawled out of bed & haven’t had my coffee yet. Sorry.) The Lovelace panel was my fave!!!

  14. Ignacio on May 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Altho’ the Guest Star’s identity was clear to me, I am no random observer — books by and about her comprise a goodly portion of the books crammed into our lovely home.

    If I’m recalling it correctly, there was a mixed media illustration like this in Carl Sagan’s _Cosmos_ in order to convey the idea of multiple universes — or perhaps it was just a candy-colored hand with multiple universes exisiting/depicted (?) under a fingernail…

  15. RedScharlach on May 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I would say something eloquent and witty to elucidate my reactions at this narrative juncture, but “LOL” pretty much sums it up.

  16. P Dutton on May 1, 2011 at 7:09 am

    Syd, I love this!

  17. Alys on May 1, 2011 at 5:09 am

    That was AWESOME. I love your work. The sloping ground! The tiger!! “You are insane!” Ha ha ha! :)

  18. Valerie Aurora on May 1, 2011 at 5:02 am

    I eagerly await the Comical Interlude in which Lovelace, Babbage, and Brunel argue about the relative popularity of their t-shirts.

  19. the doodler on May 1, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Oh, this is wonderful. The subtle machinations! hehehe

  20. Ray Girvan on May 1, 2011 at 2:05 am

    Someone’s doing something inefficiently somewhere and you can be cleverer than everybody and there’s a gadget and street musicians possibly!

    Oh, that’s ghastly (the characterisation, that is). That’s exactly what would get my interest …

  21. EllaV on May 1, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Well, I wasn’t going to guess, but now that we’ve been TAUNTED:

    I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s the 5-years-younger-than-Lovelace Florence Nightingale? Mostly due to the collar shape, and… really no other reason.

  22. skauthen on May 1, 2011 at 1:32 am

    SO excited about Pimms! And Lovelace’s Persian slippers! I hope she is not keeping tobacco in them. That would be both smelly and uncomfortable.

    • Pete on May 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm

      Not everything is Holmes, you know?
      Thanks for this, by the way . . .

      • Kaptain Kobold on June 20, 2011 at 6:10 am

        “Not everything is Holmes, you know?”

        Everything that matters is, though :)

      • Pete on June 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm

        . . only after injecting a 7% solution of cocaine, I fear.

  23. Emma Bull on May 1, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Oh, my stars! I thought that hair looked familiar. And of course, the suspiciously rectilinear parcel in her grasp… Well, now I really CAN’T wait for this. (Of course, I was already having trouble with the waiting.)

    And thank you for a perfect depiction of character wrangling, in all its maddening glory.

  24. Alex on April 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    You will hug and squeeze her and..

    …call her George.

    Well played, madam, well played. Now, why would a great writer have need of the Difference Engine?

    • TuringTest on May 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

      I don’t know, maybe updating her Tweeter status?

      I notice George is using her female attires. Will we get to see an event that prompts her to prefer some sturdier and more comfortable men’s clothing?

  25. Ann Timoney on April 30, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    *rushes off to re-read ‘Middlemarch’ in preparation for L&B’s next adventure*

    • stray on May 1, 2011 at 2:51 am


  26. Sara J Davis on April 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I love hearing from you and see the illustrated version of your trials and tribulations.

    Side Note: Its becoming increasingly hard to describe this site to people. I wore my Brunel T out and 2 people asked what it meant, which threw me off, since I thought it was self explanatory and so I stumbled about trying to explain and finally said…Oh just go there.

  27. Poz on April 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    I agree that it was Sparkly and Sunny and potentially Pimmsy today. But a bit too breezy to be fun – thus, I agree with the other comments, that this was a marvellous recursive introspection!

    Huzzah for Tigers, Free Beer and Suddenly Variable Gravitational Gradients!

    “Author, Author!” indeed… ;)

  28. Mary Ellen on April 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Okay, I’ll bite. Fer shur not Jane Austen, wrong period clothes and too homely (meaning that in the nice way). Not a Bronte, either, I think. A fictional character? Jane Eyre? That’d be a departure! You’ve not yet introduced other people’s fictional creations.

    She does seem sensible. And she likes beer. Did you get the Free Beer from “One Froggy Evening”, courtesy Warner Bros.? Is Walt Kelly’s Mr. Tammany the predecessor of your GREAT tiger – oh, how I love the next to last panel!! Oh, what a fab surreal t-shirt it would make! A metaphor for – well, anything you wanta name!

    I bow before you, Author! Now must go draw frogs.

  29. Cyndi B on April 30, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    More John Tenniel jokes! :D I’m really pathetically easy for John Tenniel jokes.

    • Yael on May 1, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      …Now I feel a bit ignorant. I _was_ going to suggest that the image of Guest Star being picked up by the Author’s Hand looks a lot like Tenniel’s Alice (the picture, at least, had something immediately familiar about it, although for the life of me I can’t seem to find the original now), but I don’t think I got the joke(s) at all. What were they?

  30. Diana on April 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    You think uncooperative characters are bad, there’s this literarily interesting friend of mine I tried to put into my stories, but every time I do he looks around and says “Nice work of fiction you got here, but it could be better. Mind a few suggestions?” Before you know it he’s taken over my quaint little tale of a pet shop employee and turned it into a global powerhouse of intrigue, action, sex, and primal metaphors taking the mortal form of kittens and puppies in order to use their powers of cuteness to force mankind to create new similes for them to use in their never-ending war against the forces of mundanity. Or something even stranger and more exciting.

    This has happened with five stories so far. Wouldn’t be so bad except they become much better stories that I just _have_ to finish if only to see how they turn out. Now I try not to include my friend in my stories, but lately he’s been attempting to sneak in. I swear this just popped up in my latest work with no thought beforehand. I was just typing a scene of introspection when:

    There was a knock at the door, interrupting this uncalled-for contemplation.

    “Who is it?” I asked, returning my bearings to the here and now.

    “Paul.” was the answer.

    “Paul who?”

    “Now promise me you won’t get upset, but I’ve got a few suggestions for this story you’re writing.”


    On the one hand I want to delete that tiny little segment and get back to the outline. But then again, I am curious as to what wild manifestation of creativity he wants to introduce to my story of a minor civil servant working under a newly-elected official who despises her very existence.

    So take heart, you’re not the only creator with autonomous character difficulties.

    • Laura J on May 1, 2011 at 1:56 pm

      I want to read your stories. I can feel the Interwebs sucking me in, to be digested in mild discomfort (I want more tea) over a period of several thousand years.

  31. Sam Atkins on April 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    I love how you’ve now taken a break from the comic which was meant to be a break from another comic, by doing a third mini-comic. If you’d gone much further, I worry you might have collapsed into yourself!

  32. Paul on April 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Might I be correct in thinking that this was at least partially inspired by Daniel Greaves excellent “Manipulation”?

  33. John on April 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    I would have thought that, surely (or Shirley, if she reads here), the Economic Model would have come with an Invisible Hand, more amenable to removing via Photoshop. Though I’ve found tigers and beer (not necessarily in that order in all cases) to be excellent motivators for most people, too, so that might even be less drudgery for you.

  34. Brian on April 30, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    An inspired little morsel, Ms. Padua. Thanks for sharing. And the “White King” illustration was SPOT ON. So perfect!

  35. Redshift on April 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Hee hee! Amazing illustration of the process of character-wrangling. Positively Shakespearean! (“Exit, pursued by a bear”)

    You know, while the three-body problem cannot be solved in closed form, with a Difference Engine an iterative solution ought to be possible.

    And I think it is wise to be a little afraid of Lovelace.

  36. ShinyHappyGoth on April 30, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    Gloomy hand. Inspired hand!