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!

Plans, Schemes, Vague Ideations

I have several (too many!!) things in train, and in the spirit of full transparency, A Little List:

1. Print

For my own satisfaction I need to get the existing comics cleaned up and on paper in some way. Question: Should I do these in instalments, or do the whole opus at once? Bearing in mind that The Organist isn’t cleaned up and is 120 pages without notes

I quite like the idea of doing an Annual, a very Victorian concept.  I’d have to scramble like the very dickens to get even The Client out for the traditional Christmas Annual release, given that I’ve just today opened up my 30-day trial of In Design and I’m still trying to figure out how to get the pictures in. Would there be interest in something like that? with Fancy Typography? Or would you rather wait however long and get The Complete Lovelace and Babbage?

2. User Experience!

A few months ago, there was a Wild And Crazy Hack Day Weekend up at Agant iPad Wizard Labs, wherin I drawed and Dave Addey coded and other folks did other things… The Lovelace and Babbage App is the firstborn, but User Experience is the adorable mutant embryo product of that weekend. It’s a slooooooow gestation on that one but it IS pretty darn cool, so in spite of all reason I’m going to keep plugging away.

3. Lovelace and Babbage The Opera! The Breakfast Cereal! The Bafflingly Complex Mortgage Product!

Sundry and assorted Things, ranging in breadth of ambition from another tshirt, to the enchanting vision of a radio play, which I’m madly in love with. Should these notions become other than chimerical at any point I will keep you posted.

4. Freakin’ Comics Already!

Speaking of mediums, I read with great interest this piece by Warren Ellis, which pinged with some stuff that’s being on my mind what with the iPad app coming out and all. This in particular:

Also, it’s a hell of a lot easier to take your time telling a story when you’re not charging people.

…this is harder to make sense of, perhaps?  It may just be a weird personal tic masquerading as a concern, that is meaningless to everyone else?  But I always saw webcomics as the place where people could do huge, sprawling picaresques..

It may be a personal tic, but it’s one I share in my own small way. The real gift of this comic to me has been the way I can be an amateur – one who does out of love. It’s a very playful space here. I draw entirely to please myself, make jokes entirely to please myself.  So over and above all the Very Serious Plans outlined above, I think I need to go back to roots and just draw a freakin’ comic here.

2dgoggles began as a list of joke comics I still have on a piece of paper from March 2008, which is the comics that must naturally follow from the idea of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage fighting crime. The joke comics were:

– the Orgainst! (DONE!!)

– Sir Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Hat (does this count as done? I have drawn his hat!)

Cyborg Napoleon! (I have a few sketches for this, it’s a lot of giant war machines which are very hard to draw)

Vampire Poets

So, ladies and gentlemens, IN TWO WEEKS..

Lovelace and Babbage: The App!

Heigh ho, Loyal Readership!  As I drag my exhausted form over the desert wastes of the last three weeks of film production, a glimmer on the horizon.  Is it… a mirage?  Or could it be…

Lovelace and Babbage: The App!

You may recall my mentioning some time ago that these lovely mad folks were making an iPad app of the comic– well, we’ve been working like dogs, dogs I tell you and it’s nearly ready for release!

The first release is free, it’s ‘Lovelace The Origin’ that we all know and love and it looks awfully snazzy if I do say so myself! Screencap:

As well as The Origin (freeeee!!) we’ve included The Client (not free! we’re charging, I dunno, a pound or something, haven’t decided), which I’ve gone over and done a bunch of cleanup on, because man some of those drawings were gnarly. Why the Client? The Organist was too long and The Economy too hideous for the time I had available to clean up the drawing (i.e., none), so the Client it is!  The others will follow along presently.

It wouldn’t be 2dgoggles without the footnotes of course!!  Plenty of footnote action in there, revealed through the magic of iPad Rotate-O-Vision!!

The footnotes are way whizzy, they’ll have zoomable images and snazzy primary document embeds and the whole of Babbage’s autobiography is in there and they’ve worked super-hard on them over at Agant.  I think it looks fantastic.

All this magic will be up on the iTunes app store on October 7th for Ada Lovelace Day, so I hope at least a couple of you have iPads otherwise that’s a lot of weekends I could have slept in.  Alternately there may be people out there with iPads who haven’t read the comic, if such a thing is conceivable, so if you know such a person you might want to say, “I say!  You should download the Lovelace and Babbage app!”

For the Loom-Smashers

If you don’t have an iPad, fear not, Citizens!! Because now that I’ve spent all this time cleaning up The Client I’ve got all this nice cleanish artwork on my hands and at such times a young comic artist’s fancy lightly turns to thought of PRINT.  PRINT I TELL YOU!  I’ll tell you something about print thought:  it is a hella work.  They take whole forests and chop them down and mash them up and flatten them out and then your lousy comic is sprayed onto it with LASER BEAMS!  So it’s kind of an operation.  Will keep you posted on the whole print thing.

And if that’s not enough to worry about there’s also…

User Experience

Ripped from the headlines!  The latest dispatches from the WAR on ERROR!  When it’s not falling off my wall it looks like this:

And Finally…Rare Public Appearance By Recluse Author!

What with all this work and excitement I could sure use a dry martini, hence my appearance this coming Tuesday the Hendrick’s Lectures, where there will be Monster Hunters!  and Beautiful Clothes! and the fine fine Steampunk Bible! And if anyone wants me to deface their copy  I will be on hand.  It’s on Tuesday the 6th of September  at 11 Mare Street, E8 4RP in Fashionable Hoxton, doors open at 6 pm, show begins at 7pm.

Anyways a million apologies all for the long long wait between comics this time around.  I am well aware the The Mysterious Forces of the Universe have given me a great responsibility in this here comic; a responsibility my craven addiction to making a living has caused me to let down lately.  But much is happening below the surface and soon my mole army will burst out of the earth.  As it were. In the meantime hold tight.  Listen to the Goon Show or something.  Yehti!!!

A Short Ramble

In Times Such As These, sometimes there’s not much you can do but sit and draw comics.

I’m sorry for the recent radio silence– I’ve been pressed under the weight of Giant Monsters and every spare minute in the evenings I’ve been cleaning up some older stuff. Going over the early comics has had me thinking Deep Thoughts about character design and the shape of the comic and stuff, and for lack of actual comics here are some sketches and scattered thoughts– very disconnected I’m afraid I’m a bit short on sleep..

I’ve been trying to develop a visual language for this comic here and for stuff of this nature I confess I’m embarassingly fond of woo for someone about to make my debut in the Geek Calendar as Ms August! Brace yourselves for some woo-y talk about shapes.

The drawing above is a stab at getting a proper model of Babbage, however he always seems to be a little off-model every time I draw him and that is no exception. I think I haven’t quite nailed him in detail but I do have a very clear feel of his energy now I think (and by ‘he’ I mean the character in the comic!) Babbage is a very earth-and-fire sort of an element, stable, stubborn and explosive at the same time, which is pleasing on account of his fascination with volcanoes. It is VERY obliging of him to have in at least one photograph styled his hair in a shape so very suggestive of a cartoon flame, and even more obliging of the painfully pompous Lawrence portrait to inform me that he had reddish hair (‘he’ now being the actual person, this does get confusing..) When I pose him out I tend to draw a big block with some shapes either flickering or bursting out– very simple, straight, square and active.

Lovelace is also quite linear and active, but she has more complicated, twisted, unstable stuff roiling under the surface– I’m starting to look for more sinuous lines on her, diagonals and spirals; I’m experimenting with putting her in costumes that have more of that messiness, layers, and eccentricity to them, and I’m lucky that she had those big coils of black hair to play with. The real-life Lovelace loved flying machines and swimming and was nicknamed ‘The Bird’ in her family circle, which gives a great airy/watery contrast to Babbage’s earth and fire.

This works nicely with the hardware/software thing with the Engine, programming is a very ‘air’ skill to my mind and there is much to be made of the visual of the long tapes of punchcard winding and flowing through the rigid engine (much to be made, by someone with more time on their hands than myself at the moment!). The sketch above came out of some myth-y stuff I’ve been doing for User Experience. I talk a bit about how I use Orpheus to build The Organist here, User Experience I’m back to the useful Greeks and the obvious one for something set inside the Engine, which is Deadalus and his Labyrinth. With Labyrinths you get Ariadne and her thread winding through of course, but Lovelace also makes me think of Icarus, anyways that’s where that came from.

Something I found in a pile of doodles– I can’t clearly remember drawing this but you can see I’m looking at bringing the contrast in shapes into the hands here–

While I’m on the subject of woo, might as well put this Fact in here- Lovelace and Babbage were both born in December of Pig Year (the Year of the Pig is the very BEST year by the way), 24 years apart; Lovelace a Saggitarius and Babbage a Capricorn. I’m enchanted to see the Capricorn-Pig described as “The Merry Megalomaniac” while the Saggitarius-Pig is a wallower in shenanigans on the sly.  I’ll leave the compatibility/chart/influences of Saturn to the floor.

Well that’s possibly the most disconnected post I’ve put up here.. please bear with me only a couple of months of crunch to go and the I shall Devote Myself To My Art!

Talk To The Hand

So here’s what’s going on behind the scenes over here folks:

May not be a strictly literal interpretation of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Yes, folks, we have BIG PLANS here at 2dgoggles Comics Industries Inc., crazy, CRAZY, BIG PLANS, that I will tell you all about very soon!

Anyways I drew this because a)I was kind of missing Brunel, and he’s hardly in User Experience (he didn’t used to be in it AT ALL, now he makes a modest Guest Appearance), and b)for some reason Brunel drawings keep appearing on my scratchpad at work by the dozens so I had these around, and also c) I wanted an excuse to plug this book again, because I’m sleeping with it under my pillow:

Quotage: from Brunel’s journals, age 21:

“As to my character. My self conceit and love of glory vie with each other which shall govern me. The latter is so strong that, even of a dark night, riding home, when I pass some unknown person I catch myself trying to look big on my little pony. I do the most silly, useless things to attract the attention of those I shall never see again. My self-conceit renders me domineering, intolerant, even quarrelsome with those who do not flatter. My ambition– it is more than the mere wish to be rich – is rather extensive — but still – I shall not be unhappy if I do not reach the rank of Hero and Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in the Steam of Gaz Boat Division Make the Gaz engine work, fit out some vessels, of course a war is required, get employed by government contract– command a fine fleet and fight– take some fortified town — Algiers or something of that style. Be at last rich. Be the first Engineer and example to all others.”

I should say Brunel shows more self-awareness here than you’ll find in the entirety of Babbage or Lovelace’s correspondence.. Seriously this is the BEST BOOK EVER and I feel comfortable making these extensive quotes because I’m sure you will all go out and buy your own copies at once.

Here’s another that will light a fire under you, or (as was the reaction of many of his unfortunate contractors), make you run far far away screaming.. I should add, [sic] as I have not excluded a single comma or other helpful punctuation mark:

“Dear Sir,
It was with great astonishment and regret that I observed when last at the Acorn Bridge that nothing was being done towards the long-delayed erection of the steam engine. I cannot for one moment suppose that anybody would pretend to get the excavation for this bridge without some means of pumping and I see no preparations for any other means than that of an engine and there appears as regards this some cause of delay which is not communicated to me and unless I have immediately a clear and satisfactory explanation of all the present circumstances of your future plans and unless I can be satisfied that these plans are not only efficient but will immediately be carried into execution I shall wait no longer but without delay take all those steps which I consider necessary to regain a portion of the time which has been negligently wasted and proceed with the work in such a manner as I may find necessary. I regret being driven to this decision but the monumental dilatoriness of your proceedings and lately by the apparent abandonment of all attempts to proceed leaves me no alternative. I shall feel obliged by your immediate reply.

I am, Dear Sir
Yours very truly,
I.K. Brunel

The I Can’t Think of a Title for this Post Post

Reposting this on account of technical problems with the first time around…

One of these days I’m going to do a Lovelace and Babbage book. It will consist entirely of the posts where I apologize for not posting a comic, and it will be 300 pages long.

I’m actually far enough ahead on User Experience that I could post the first part, but then I’d have to post the second part in like MONTHS from now, as the churning waters of crunch-time close over my struggling form. So I’ll keep putting up the occassional silly post like Author, Author if you guys don’t mind, until the film is done! But here’s the teaser poster for UX I did for the app (have I mentioned the app? It’s looking pretty amazing, I’ll do a big post about it soon!):

In other news, I got this shiny shiny thing in the mail the other day– The Steampunk Bible!

You guys know that I don’t really do any shilling for stuff around these parts, but this is pretty sweet and if you’re into steampunk you should probably place a rolled-up order for this in your nearest pneumatic tube, or failing that, Amazon..

I got it for FREE on account of I’m in it! I have a whole page!  Dang I really have to raise my costume game in the comic, Babbage and Lovelace look like a couple of slobs in such distinguished company.

Addendum: to satisfy your mechanical calculating needs in the meantime, check out this beautifully shot piece.. maybe that’s a kind of music Babbage could have stood!

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!

Monsters, Monsters, You Know the Drill

So this is what the scenario is, folks:

To everyone I owe an email to– man, I’m SO sorry. Not that I’m the world’s swiftest correspondents at the best of times. Especially to those folks so generous as to make a donation, I owe each and every one of you an apology for not writing you something straight away. I WILL get to you!!

HOWEVER rest assured that when I’m not being ground into the Martian desert by the all-too-multiple limbs of the Barsoomians, I am using every available instant to move forward on “User Experience”. I’m more excited about this story than any I’ve done, especially as I’m using a rare and mysterious technique known as ‘planning’. To this end I am deploying the power of post-it notes-

Highly recommended system!

Especially fun about User Experience is that I’m teaming up with some very clever folks at Agant to do a special edition iPad version, where we’ll be playing with some narrative-bending cutting edge super post-modern storytelling techniques. Also, shiny gizmos! Don’t worry, it’ll appear as always here at 2dgoggles as well– an experiment, this is! A pretty darn nifty experiment though if you ask me..

Speaking of Technology–would there be any interest in a kindle-ized version of the Story So Far? Still the First Draft version I’m afraid, but it might make it easier to read.

What else.. if you guys are craving some more Brunel, Babbage, and Lovelace, and I KNOW you are (at least Brunel!) some book recommendations:

First up, James Gleick’s The Information, available as an excellent audiobook which is a huge boon to the hard-working monster-toe animator. It’s got a whole giant chapter on Babbage and Lovelace, which I confess I listened to with a bit of trepidation.. it’s hard not to start feeling just a little proprietary about those two crazy kids! Happily not only did I not need to start yelling, “No it wasn’t like that at all!!”, but I even got a new Fact. Ready? Here it is: Babbage’s allowance from his hated father, during the period of his dependence, was £300 per annum. By an odd coincidence, this is exactly the sum of Lovelace’s allowance from her resented husband; with the added sting that it was her own dowry that was being dripped out to her.

Okay possibly I’m a little bit running out of really great Facts…

Anyways it’s a fantastic book, recommended to anybody especially if you’re kind of interested in the history of this stuff but aren’t sure where to start.

The other book you should all run out and buy immediately is The Intemperate Engineer, the journals and letters of that other Giant Ball of Awesome, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Crammed with personality and engineering, with terrific opinionated commentary by the author Adrian Vaughan, if you read one book about any of the 2dgoggles characters it should be this one. Contains every possible way of IKB being surprised by the incompetence of everyone around him (“…I do not believe a workman would have thought of using it in the most contemptible worst managed shop in England..” “…I am compelled to believe that the delay arises from the greatest apathy and negligence and a total disregard for my orders..” — I found these by opening to a random page). Also, absolutely fascinating stuff about early railways, etc etc. — and, words to the wise, to a friend considering giving up his day job to be an Artist:

If you give up the school let me entreat of you to slave. To compel yourself to complete certain things by certain times– and let me entreat of you also to produce somehow or other more in quantity each year whether for commission or not — what I dread is the effect of your being left without any irksome compulsory duty– nothing induces more time spending (I must not call it idle) habit than the absence of compulsion…

Brunel demands MORE COMICSl!!! Now back to my irksome compulsory duty..