Posts by sydney

Ada Lovelace Day! With Special Guest Star Mary Somerville

Happy Ada Lovelace Day everyone! This is by way of being a national holiday here on 2dgoggles, as it roughly marks our inauguration– this quasi-comic was born three or so years ago (Ada Lovelace Day being a moveable feast) in celebration of and remembrance of Women in Technology.

Before I get to our guest star, some housekeep announcements..

— the image above is now a tshirt by popular (well, by one comment!) demand! Let me know how it goes, if you order this one, as being an impromptu effort I haven’t had a chance to test the tshirtness of this one.

— I get a fair few newcomers to the site for some reason today, so I’ll plug the handy-dandy all portable! all-navigable! Lovelace and Babbage iPad app, featuring Lovelace The Origin FREE! complete with my very best primary docs. A pretty good all-round introduction to Lovelace and Babbage and the engine, if I do say so myself, and so many footnotes it has reportedly taken some conscientious readers four hours to read an eight-page comic.

And without further ado.. our special guest star! Introduced by an ALL-NEW SNEAK PREVIEW from the Lovelace and Babbage book..

Mary Somerville, Lovelace’s mentor, and namesake of the first Oxford women’s college, is someone I’ve been wanting to work into the comic for ages, and the expanded Origin story in the book is an excellent place for her. She was the zen-calm Obi Wan to Lovelace’s impatient Luke, as it were.

*EDITED TO ADD: Lovelace’s dialogue above is excerpted from her actual letters, by the way, I can’t write stuff that comic-booky. Except for the last panel, which is Luke Skywalker. Except he wanted to learn the ways of the Force, not mathematics. Carry on.

Her books are then as now excellent thorough introductions to Victorian science, and her autobiography is full of interest. She’s particularly interesting on her clear-eyed recounting of what obstacles she faces in studying mathematics as a woman, which she only became liberated to do when she became widowed– the only common state in which a Victorian woman could control her own time and money, and buy her own books for instance.. her first husband, we learn, did not like her studying:

I was thirty-three years of age when I bought this excellent little library. I could hardly believe that I possessed such a treasure when I looked back on the day that I first saw the mysterious word “Algebra,” and the long course of years in which I had persevered almost without hope. It taught me never to despair. I had now the means, and pursued my studies with increased assiduity; concealment was no longer possible, nor was it attempted. I was considered eccentric and foolish, and my conduct was highly disapproved of by many, especially by some members of my own family, as will be seen hereafter. They expected me to entertain and keep a gay house for them, and in that they were disappointed. As I was quite independent, I did not care for their criticism.

She is of particular inspiration to those coming back to math, as a lot of women I’m talking to are, after a long absence. Prevented from her father and husband from studying as a girl, she took it up in her thirties, self-teaching herself entirely from books and almost entirely alone. Then she married a great guy and moved to Italy! Now there’s a role model.

And because it’s nice to make chains of these things, the cites some of her own inspirational women, including this geologist:

I also took lessons in mineralogy from Mrs. Lowry, a Jewess, the wife of an eminent line engraver, who had a large collection of minerals, and in the evening Somerville and I amused ourselves with our own, which were not numerous.

Some books to peruse on an idle hour:

Mechanism of the Heavens (1831)
The Connection of the Physical Sciences (1835)
Physical Geography (1850)
On Molecular and Microscopic Science (1869– when she was almost 90!)

Ada Lovelace Day 2012 Coming Soon!

Howdy folks! Just returned from a sojurn in the woods of the Great White North, where I laboured like the noble Canadian beaver on The Book. You’re doubtless sick of my hinting that there will be comics soon, so, I will remain as silent as the tundra under a blanket of fresh snow on a windless February… oh, patient ones! Believe how keenly I feel the lack of posts! Like an elk unsuccessful at the autumn rut without a single cow! Up where I was staying we have a truly horrendous collection of early-to-mid 20th century Canadian adventure stories for young people, can you tell?

I do have a couple of announcements however!

Ada Lovelace Day 2012, the institution to which we owe our genesis, falls upon OCTOBER 16 this year (it is a moveable feast)! I’ll be giving a little talk at the star-studded Ada Lovelace Day Live! where I’ll be sharing some of my favorite primary docs; it’ll be live-streamed and I’ll give a link closer to the day. So sharpen your keyboards and blog or tweet or merely reflect fondly on your favorite women in tech and sci! I’m also working up a poster of the above image for the Ada Lovelace Day fundraiser.

Speaking of, uh, speaking, I’ll be dropping into the Thinking Comics evening at Gosh on November 14th, where they’ll be discussing Lovelace and Babbage and Logicomix. Should be fun and I see they repair afterwards on occasion to the very appropriate John Snow pub.

That’s about it for the moment.. keep the RSS feed and go about your lives, citizens! One bright day a low rumble and the dam will burst! Or, um, be constructed. Mixed dam-building metaphors. Anyways! And don’t forget, when in Canada, keep your bear-spray inside your coat lest it freeze and be rendered useless against the wolves! Not making that up!

Interlude: Queen Victoria’s VERY SECRET DIARY!

Just a quick squib of a comic in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diaries, online!

ALL TRUE! There could not possibly be a more typical Victorian document search result, I am in a position to tell you, than a Lovelace-shaped blank, and a nugget of Babbage comedy gold.

On the User Experience comic front, we are advancing slowly forward under heavy fire and strained coffee supply lines. Hang in there!

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage- BOOK!

This week (well, last week) marks the three-year anniversary of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.

I hardly know whether it feels as though I’ve been drawing these forever, or if it’s impossible that I’ve been drawing them so long. What started as a punchline to a one-shot comic– hey, wouldn’t it be hilarious if there was a comic about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage fighting crime? –has evolved into… well, a really really long punchline. With footnotes!

Now it my great pleasure to announce that this humble comic has been elevated to the PANTHEON one might say, actually, one would definitely say, because Pantheon Books has heard your pleas (a lot more effectively than I have it seems) and we are going to do Lovelace and Babbage: The Papery Thing with Ink On!

Pantheon is the legendary publisher of Very Important Graphic Novels Maus, Persepolis, and Habibi, so, you know, NO PRESSURE. As you may imagine I’ve spent the last couple of months alternating between lurking in Gosh Comics muttering, “Do you have any idea who I am?” and hiding under the bed. Not to mention, quivering with the need to tell someone!

Fair warning: if you start queuing now outside your local bookstore bring a lot of jerky and evaporated soup as it’s going to take me a year of hard drawing to get this thing done! Now I know what you’re asking yourself: ‘What does this mean for ME, the long-suffering 2dgoggles Comics Consumer, the very incarnation of Patience on a Monument? Have I not gone without Lovelace and Babbage LONG ENOUGH??”

FEAR NOT Citizens! Mine has not been the blank, barren silence of the indolent layabout, but rather the expectant, the pregnant silence of Feverish Labour behind the scenes!

USER EXPERIENCE, my bells-and-whistles experimental extravaganza has endured some delay, as I was in the throes of negotiating with Pantheon. As it turns out they are awesome and totally cool with me putting it up here for your enjoyment. As a great deal of it is drawn already expect a sudden sharp shocking increase in the usual pace of things around here. So stand by for that!

Poor Vampire Poets, of which I am so very very fond, continues to be under a Mysterious Curse and will have to endure another several months in the coffin, I’m afraid.


I would like to thank all you wonderful readers for being so supportive of this odd comic-shaped pocket universe. I was not setting out to do a graphic novel; as far as I can recall, I don’t think I was setting out to do anything but enjoy myself, advance my craft, and avoid working on the stuff I was supposed to be working on. It has cost me much labour and not a little stress but your kind comments, enthusiasm, and patience have kept me doodling away. Lovelace and Babbage have not only been excellent company themselves, they have been my means of introduction to so many wonderful, fascinating people. So thank you all! and many many more comics soon!

Spinny Beachball, Turny Hourglass, Immobile Progress Bar, Whatever

Folks, folks. I know. I’m really really sorry. There is stuff going on, and things, whereof which presently I can’t speak, therefore I must remain silent. We here at 2dgoggles Emalgamated Comics Industries are in what you might term a state of flux.

Hoping to have more comics happening soon! In the meantime, being a woman-type thing I’m evidently meant to be on Pinterest, where I have put pictures of 2d-gogglish clothes and engines.

Also, in some Lovelace news:

– not sure how she’d feel about having a Giant Boring Machine named after her..
– if you live anywhere near Cambridge Massachusets, you can go to a musical where Ada Lovelace meets a world-weary Civil War veteran, in something that sounds like a dream I might have had after too many late nights on John Carter and User Exprience

Many Happy Returns of the Day, Mr. Dickens!

Many happy returns of the day, Mr. Dickens! I am sure we are all spending this bicentenary eating gruel, fitfully walking the streets at midnight, drinking punch, speaking in thousand-word paragraphs interrupted by semi-colons; constructing elaborate book-length metaphors winding like dark trash-strewn rivers through a metropolis of words; enduring unspeakable losses and delighting in the simple pleasures of life, encountering more silly pretty females than one quite likes, and generally marvelling that one pen could produce such a torrent of ink.

Mr Dickens has a small part in User Experience so I have some doodles for him– he’s good fun, I’ll have to bring him back!

I’m basing his body attitude on another Charlie, with whom he had so much in common–

One hardly knows where to start with Dickens primary docs, so I will give you his very own birthday reflections.

As a celebrated genius and man-about-town Dickens knew both our protagonists very well. I’ll start with Lovelace though I warn you it’s depressing as hell:

On a cheerier note, Babbage turns up with some frequency in Household Words; but though these two egomaniacs were good friends I’m short of anything really juicy. Google Books will dangle this in front of me for the sole purpose of making me imagine it full of golden nuggets of character and historical revelation, whereas lets face it it’s almost certainly all two-line dinner invitations.

I went to see the Dickens show at the Museum of London a few weeks ago, where they were showing a film that had readings of his “Night Walks” over scenes of modern London.  At one point the reader intoned:

This is a reference to the Bridgewater Treatise, and I refrained from screaming “BABBAGE” aloud, merely squealing it under my breath.


My own pen as possibly you may have noticed has not been notably prolific, at least on this website. User Experience, which you are no doubt sick of hearing about, is taking up most of my time, along with cleaning up Economic Model, a few commissions, worrying and dithering, building my virtual difference engine, and a couple of projects I can’t talk about. More than anything I’m discovering that it is one thing to animate all day and then draw comics all night; and quite another to draw comics all day and then draw MORE comics at night. The end result was that poor Vampire Poets, which I’d intended as my Relaxing Fun Outlet project, was starting to feel a lot like Work. Not that I’m not a great believer in Work! but I think this peculiar deadness was starting to sneak into the comic… I don’t worry about stuff being too weird or rough for the website but I had drawn almost all of the next episode and then realised that it was, in fact, dead, where it ought obviously to be UNdead. So I’ve torn it all up and I’m re-attacking it.. the only thing I can promise is to stop making promises! Fear not Citizens, even if it HAS seemed quiet around here it is only the prelude to a veritable torrent of stuff in a little while!

I’ll leave you with Dickens’ London Locations Map, by the matchless Victorian London

A Little More User Experience..

Aiming for Thursday for the next Vampire Poets but some more User Experience stuff just so you guys know I’m working like a fiend on this comic, a FIEND!

George costuming:

I had this crisis where I suddenly thought the Special Guest Star in User Experience ought to be Dickens, in honour of his birthday and also because obviously he was so much more marketable. Then I realised I was trying to decide which Victorian-novelist-lost-in-a-mechanical-computer scenario would make my MILLIONS and that’s when I gave myself a sharp smack. I’m much too fond of George now to replace her, and anyways Dickens will have a fine walk-on part.  Much more on User Experience in the coming weeks!

For the UX notes and also for more accurate gags and also because I don’t have enough projects in my life, I’ve started to put together an animating model of the Difference Engine-  right now it looks like this:

Ooooh Babbage you are so clever!

It’s not so mysterious when you actually move it around, but it’s a bit tricky to explain clearly so I’ll put together an explanatory vid when I have a sec!  If you need an explanation RIGHT NOW and are good at visualising, these invaluable and beautiful clear diagrams were my source, millions of thanks both to Mr Satyam and Dan in the comments who led me to them.

Stay tuned, loyal and kindly audience! I hope it’s a comfort that slow as the comics are coming at least you may rest assured that I am SUFFERING mightly:


A Little Background

Next Vampire Poets is coming up soonish, in the meantime I thought I might as well put up some of what I’m working on with User Experience, my other giant project (well, one of my other giant projects!).

I sketched up a quick little size compare of George and Ada and then I couldn’t stop.. click for bigger!

User Experience takes place almost entirely inside the Difference Engine, which is full of spiral staircases and gears with tons of teeth and complicated machinery all of which add up to that uninspiring word.. PERSPECTIVE.  I’d really like to bring up the standard of background drawing on the comic though and really didn’t want to do my usual squiggle-and-black shortcut. I’m pretty lazy when it comes down to it but also I just happen to work all day long on a thing created expressly for the purpose of producing three-dimensional simulacra of rigid complex objects.

So I fired up my very rusty modelling skills and started manufacturing.

At first I assumed I’d just arrange a set, print it out, and then trace it out in Painter, but that’s a heck of a lot of detail so I wondered if I could get away with what’s called a toon render- the upper cog is a toon render and the lower one is traced– click for bigger if you’re interested.

More as they’d be used in the comic:

At first glance the trace looks better– but a lot of that is because the models are cookie-cutters and simple shapes now. They would need to be wonkified and cartooned up. Also rusty as I am at modelling what I know about rendering and lighting can be summed up as, “send it down the pipeline to the rendering department, where I guess they push buttons and stuff”. If the models were done nicer and lit and rendered right, I think it could look pretty awesome, and I could get a lot more atmosphere and detail in. So at the moment I’m thinking of sticking with the renders and see if I can rope someone in to help me with the shaders.. I’ll keep you posted!

Of course the very extremely dangerous thought that snuck into my brain while building these bits is how actually not THAT hard it would be to model and sim a Difference Engine for reals…