Meanwhile..

Another Miscellany

I’m pretty swamped at work and drawing the new comic (I swear!!), so I’m kicking back and letting other people do the hard labour this post. Fortunately I have some terrific stuff from the awesome readers around here!

–Firstly! I ought to have put this up ages ago– Epithumia who made the spectacular Albion: 1849 Babbage and Lovelace extravanganza sent me following: One Man Band! Click the image for the big version!

One Man Band

Once again this comic’s fanart has higher production values than its actual art…

— Whilst you read that, you put on some cracking tunes– John Hekert of the nefarious musical collective Not A Teepee have produced a whole album of Ada Lovelace-inspired songs, you can listen to them here, they are pretty awesome!

This reminds me of an odd fact: although several people have written me nice notes to share with me that they named their daughters ‘Ada’ after Ada Lovelace, I have never once had anyone communicate to me that they’ve named their son ‘Isambard Kingdom’ after Brunel. Odd!

— I hear your concerns that many weeks have passed without a footnote. Such a starved existence cannot be long endured! I have no comics this week to provide footnotes to, so in consideration for your plight I provide a retroactive one. Remember when Lovelace had a go at Babbage for getting dates mixed up in The Client? Well I was perusing Lovelace’s collected letters the other day and with a thrill of eldritch forces at work discovered further PROOF that this comic is psychic:

Dear Babbage.
I have not yet succeeded in getting you to comprehend that you were asked for the 18th, Ryan for the 25th.– Why you have confounded the two together I cannot imagine!– We hold you to the 18th. But if you like to come the on the 25th also, do.– What a puzzle-pated phil. you are!– I explained it clearly in my first note.– Why did you jumble it?
Lovelace to Babbage, 1848

The book indicates a double underscore under ‘do’ but it’s to much of a pain to reproduce that in html. Note to self: put more underscores in Lovelace’s dialogue.

Speaking of Lady Lovelace’s eccentricities, I’ve been messing around with some new costumes for her and somehow this came out.. hard luck with the ponies again, Ada?

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Why haven’t I put her in those celebrity-child dark glasses before??
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There was some skepticism on twitter when I put these sketches up as to these being an anachronism, which of course are NEVER SEEN here at the meticulously accurate 2dgoggles. Answer: awww yeah, 1855 baby:

And FINALLY, in the theme of people inspired to do MARVELLOUS things– remember the ASCII kitten at the end of Economic Model? I figured it was theoretically possible for the Analytical Engine to produce such a thing, but GENIUS commenter Tez (this was ages ago, sorry Tez!!!) brings the Pocket Universe one tantalising step closer! Making stellar use of Fourmilab’s Analytical Engine Emulator.. BEHOLD THE AWESOME MIGHT OF THE ANALYTICAL ENGINE:

Click ‘continue reading’ for the punchcards, and you can try it yourself on the emulator Java applet!
Read More

The Wider World

Welcome to new Curious Onlookers sent hither by the divine Kate Beaton, cheers Kate!

I hope no one’s put off by what will be a fairly long string of random meandering sorts of work-in-progress posts; User Experience will take me a while to put together and it’s sort of one big blob that’s hard to serialise.. you’ll see what I mean, eventually.

An unexpected tax refund and the film industry’s continued interest in Giant-Monster-strewn spectaculars resulted my profligate purchase of a 21″ Cintiq, which I got mainly for the large box it comes in in case I decide to do that book and have to move into it. The comic up until now has been drawn on a perfectly capable little 12″ model– if you’re not into these sorts of gadgets, a Cintiq is a computer screen you can drawn on, like an ipad I suppose but you use a stylus and it’s super-pressure-sensitive, so that it’s very much like drawing on paper, except with ‘Undo’. The drawing surface of the old one when you factor in the menus etc is about the size of a paperback book; the new one on the other hand is quite shockingly massive, as big as the big kind of animation paper and it dwarfs my laptop with isn’t small:

Aside from *yawn* actual work reasons, the main thing I had in mind for the bigger screen was backgrounds for the comic. Now I don’t know if you’ve looked closely at the comic at all (I advise against it) but behind those sloppy awkward characters gurning in the foreground are a few straggly lines that are meant to represent The Wider World they inhabit. Not that I’m much of a hand at landscapes anyways but for sure the small drawing area is more hampering there than it is for the characters. First experiments on the new screen:

Room for improvement to be sure, but it would have been much harder to put that kind of detail on the little screen! Reference photos of London of this era I got from the gorgeous book Lost London, and this astounding post from Spitalfields Life (a great source of London lore in general).

This is the 1840-50s London of Lovelace and Babbage, demolished with gleeful abandon by the modernising Victorians and their railways and thoroughfares! Oooh I need to have somewhere Brunel smashing through these lovely old piles with a wrecking ball.. progress, people! While rickety and drafty and infested with mice, these buildings have one great advantage, viz, that there isn’t a straight line in them so it makes them much easier to draw.

The great problem now that the Wide World of Backgrounds is opening up to me, is that it’s tempting me sorely to abandon my commitment to black-and-white. Here at 2dGoggles we live in a binary world of pure good in the form of Science, pure evil in the form of the Humanities, and two states, black and white, which admit of no messy ambiguities. In some ways life is smoother lived this way, except when it comes to drawing backgrounds where it is a bit of a pain in the ass to be absolutely honest. If you look at the first drawing up there even if my perspective WAS correct, which it isn’t, it could never convey the same same sense of depth that two lazy minutes of throwing some grey washes on does:

I could appeal to the Deity for guidance, by whom I mean Will Eisner..

.. but even he used grey washes SOMETIMES! I shall experiment. Most of User Experience is set inside the Engine, which presents a host of difficulties, but maybe not ones of atmospheric perspective. We shall see.

Oh by the way the Difference Engine building is based on two structures at the south side of Tower Bridge stacked on top of each other; in the geography of the comic it’s located in roughly the same place, without Tower Bridge of course which is too late period-wise, maybe a little further east down the river on the swampy, warehousey bit of Rotherhithe… Brunel’s tunnel isn’t far from there.

Each of these buildings is completely nutty in its own way, which is what makes them so very perfect for Babbage and Lovelace to inhabit.

Merry Christmas!

This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series Meanwhile..

Happy whatever-seasonal-celebrations you celebrate from 2dgoggles Amalgamated Comics Industries! I drew up this gag and then went looking for a nice Primary Document to wrap up as a present for the readers, when what should I find but this about Scottish Yuletide traditions:

Is there not one of my gags those danged Victorians won’t steal! Good lord. That’s the best Babbage/Christmas thing I could find, unless you count that time Babbage got naked on Christmas but that’s not quite the tone I’m looking to set (a ‘screw loose’ you say Babbage..).

So I’ll leave you with a a festive Difference Engine reference from 1867:

Happy holidays all and hope to have the next episode up soonish!

A Matter of Proportion

Someone was asking me the other day for the official proportions of Lovelace, for the purposes of building a model as an excercise, which is forcing me to face the fact that are in fact no official model sheets of Lovelace at all.  A shocking business!

This whole comic thing is as you may have noticed a leeetle haphazard, and I don’t in fact have proper model sheets for anybody, as I’m sure is pretty evident from the drawing!  I’m kind of enjoying drawing by the seat-of-the-pants, I have to say.  Maybe because I’m still thinking of Babbage and Lovelace as a learning excercise first and foremost– there are advantages to having gone so far without a model sheet from that aspect.  By letting the panel-to-panel needs of the comic dictate the drawing rather than the other way around I think I’ve found some stuff out about how I work.

High on the ‘stuff I’ve found out’ list is that I really enjoy being able to let the characters glide between levels of ‘cartooniness’ depending on what’s going on in the story and if they’re being all cool and heroic or getting up to hijinks. So there’s in fact a sliding scale of proportions, so far between around 5 and 6 heads high:

5 heads high seems to be about the size of Tintin– I’ve been looking at a lot of the beautiful old Fournier Spirou comics lately and I think I could probably push the proportion a bit more.  For academic interest, some comic proportions:

The big head obviously gives the comical, baby-like appeal, but it also makes it much easier to stage panels so you can read the body and the face at the same time.  Terry and the Pirates on the right there is my favorite ‘straight’ comic and Milt Caniff keeps to a very consistent real-life adult proportion; Bruce Timm’s Batman on the left towers at a majestic 8 heads!  I doubt Babbage or Lovelace will ever attain these Olympian heights.  On the other I haven’t gone so far as needing a Chibi Lovelace and Babbage but this was fun to draw:

Oh, what the heck, Chibi Brunel:

In Important Fashion News, I was visiting Bruges a little while ago and saw these boots in a little folk museum, which were so bad-ass and perfect (from the 1830s!!) that I’ve been basing Lovelace’s whole costume around them since the moment I saw them:

The flared breeches I’ve been putting her in these days are totally the wrong period for both Lovelace and her awesome boots but I like to draw them so that’s just too bad.

Organist 10 (of 8) is going along but wow it’s getting awfully huge so we’ll see how it goes..

Mindless Consumerism!

Greetings, Gentle Readers! Next episode is coming along but I felt for a little change of pace to try my hand at a couple of new tshirts. BEHOLD!

We Need Coffee shirt
We Need Coffee by sydney_padua

Lots of requests for this as a shirt, for some reason.. As always with zazzle you can fiddle around with the shirt styles and colours, male, female, or for the drunken infant in your life. I’d avoid straight black or straight white shirts– it seems to look best on mid-range tones, I did the sample girl one on darkish blue. Zazzle tip- if you don’t live in the us, substitute your national dots in the url in lieu of the .com in your nav bar — zazzle.co.uk, for instantance– and you get the same page essentially but in your national currency.

And.. Enchanted Math fairy! In two styles, the Tasteful:

Enchanted Math Fairy Simple shirt
Enchanted Math Fairy Simple by sydney_padua

and, UBER-GIRLY:

< Enchanted Math Fairy shirt
Enchanted Math Fairy by sydney_padua

Also availabe in men’s extra-large, of course.

Next episode is rolling along, — sample:

So you see it will be VERY EXCITING! Also, there are more charts, and an epic ton of Notes. Going back to drawing now.. is it too early to break out the holiday Cognac? I think not.

Beam Us Up!

I’m nearly done the next episode, so hang in there — in the meantime something else I’ve been working on is a wallpaper for Tor.com– it’s called “Beam Us Up”, and you can pick it up now at their Steampunk Fortnight celebration! Teaser:

That’s Darwin with the jar (I like his dorky looks of youth, without the beard), and you can’t see it properly but Wheatstone (reformed) is wearing a miniskirt. I’ve promoted Eleanor Cressy (born on-board ship, rumour had it) from navigator to Captain, and OF COURSE there’s only one possible Chief Engineer!

This was inspired by an amazing thing I saw a while back on the BBC– Airship Around The Globe!!!

It made me think of an adventure-and-intrigue packed voyage of a crew of cool geeks boldly going forth to seek out new colonies and subsume old civilizations in that Victorian way, on a giant airship kitted out with cutting edge technology… wouldn’t that be fun?

NEWS, Thrills, etc!

Plague! Houseguests! Nice weather!  Bottomless todo lists!  Stupid ‘life’ and ‘work’ etc!  All of these, my friends, have stood between you and new comics. I GROVEL BEFORE YOU.

However, there’s a couple of RED HOT news items that cry out— nay, continually nag— to be brought to the attention of the vast middling-sized and peculiar demographic following this here 2dGoggles.  VIZ:

— FIRSTLY, you may notice the banner has changed, and there’s a dazzling new Episodes Page for easier navigation.  I say ‘easi-ER’ because I doubt getting one’s head around this sprawling mess of a blog will ever be ‘easy’.  I don’t really know what’s around here or what it all means myself!

— TWO- the Geek Calendar is now available for purchase!  I am Miss August. I can’t help but feel I’m mightily outclassed by every other month (Simon Singh!  Aleks Krotoski! Brian Cox! ), but luckily no one does anything in August anyways so no one has to look at their calendars that much that month.   Amazingly they managed to find one picture where I look a little bit like a normal person, because I saw some of the discards and I look like this:

SO many thanks to the lovely folks from Geek Calendar, sorry I flinched away from the camera like a cat from a spray-bottle!  The photos in the Calendar look absolutely stunning and it’s all in a good cause, so pick one up from their website!

THREE AND VERY THRILLING INDEED!

(and also I want everyone to stop emailing me about it because I have just got to the fabled Inbox Zero and want to admire it for a while)

There is a momentous project underway— hang on, let me find a big enough font—

TO BUILD AN ANALYTICAL ENGINE!!-

John Graham-Cumming, of the splendid Turing Apology Campaign, is masterminding this scheme and you can read all about it on the website or on Oreilly.com.

This is plainly in a desperate attempt to save 20 bucks and win the coveted “Build a working Analytical Engine, Win a 2DGoggles TShirt!” prize, but as STEP ONE this project aims to finally digitize Babbage’s papers— something I’m sure we can agree ought to be done without delay.  Who knows what gags might lurk in there!   Actually this just goes to show you the power of Thinking Big because I had on my todo list ‘start campaign to digitize Babbage papers’, and not only did it get buried between ‘sew missing buttons on winter coat’ and ‘make some goals or something’, but also somehow I doubt it would have made the BBC!

I certainly hope the readers of this comic can muster a respectable display of support for this noble proposition, so get on over and pledge! Ten dollars, pounds, or euros is the going rate and I’m sure it’s plenty worth it for the chance of seeing something like this!

And finally— if you’ve recovered from that excitement—  in addition to cramming in some work on Organist Pt 8, I’ve done a new wallpaper for Tor.com’s upcoming steampunk fortnight! You’ll be able to get it from their website and I’ll alert you when it’s up, in the meantime.. Teaser!

Well It’s About Time

So, Giant Monsters, wrestled!  And I don’t mind telling you, I am KNACKERED. This is how it went down:

Your Intrepid Correspondent will need a small period of convalescence to recover her energies.  But fear not!!  There is no greater Balm To the Soul and Restorer of Animal Vigour than the Healing Power of DRAWING COMICS, so I’m aiming for Part 7 of the Organist to appear around the beginning of September.

A few small news items:

-The Amazing and Stupendous GEEK CALENDAR, starring a bunch of really cool people, and, for some reason, ME, is now available for pre-order.  No I’m not naked.  Why does everybody ask that?  It’s to support libel reform in the UK, a subject of anxious interest to cartoonists and to all who value the basic human, and, indeed, simian! Right to Point and Laugh.   Early Birds will be put in the draw for Fabulous Prizes, including this drawing!

-I’m spending today cleaning up the sole page of the Salamander People quasi-episode for Steampunk Reloaded.  I’m disconcerted by the Borgesian metaphysics surrounding the unfinished, and even un-started ‘Salamander People’– suspended somewhere between Being and Non-Being… does an Imaginary Story exist, or not exist?  Anyways this does give me an excuse to look at pictures of Giant Salamanders. Bet you thought I made those up, didn’t you?

– On the Primary Documents front, check out this adorable engraving of Charles Babbage!

That’s him in 1841, around the time he fought the Salamander People, or at least went to Mount Vesuvius.  Found via Google Books, in the Portraits and Biographies of Thirty-Six LIVING SCIENTISTS, if you read Italian there’s a nice, if unsurprising biography following on that. I would like everyone to take careful note of how closely the top part of his hair accords with the comic, though I’m disappointed to see that he combed the sides for the occasion of having his portrait taken (and they’ve given him a regrettable, and inaccurate, Victorian-ized cupid-bow mouth). Don’t you just want to hug him?

The Usual Grovelling; Brunel Beefcake; Musical Tortures; Thaumatrope, and Caption!

This entry is part 10 of 12 in the series Meanwhile..

I know everyone is used to the blistering pace we usually set around here at 2dGoggles Amalgamated Comic Industries, but apologies for the long pause.  Get used to it, loyal fan base, as day job is entering the phase technically known in the VFX business as AAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!

Throwing a chunk of hunky red meat to you baying hounds at my heels, here’s some Brunel beefcake I mysteriously found time to draw:

This was actually very necessary preparatory groundwork, as there’s a lot of Brunel, and coffee, in next episode.  I’ve also devoted some time to an exhaustive search for the all-important Brunel theme song.. SORTED:

I always like to have a soundtrack for every project I work on.. heck, I have individual soundtracks for every character, or sometimes every shot. Funny that way. The nifty 8tracks.com thru the magic of computing and the even more mysterious magic of copyright law naviagation allows me at last to present a Selection of Musical Stylings from my internal 2dgoggles sountrack:

Tracks are:

A Drop Filled With Memories x Susumu Hirasawa
Album: Paprika (Original Soundtrack)

The Calculation x Regina Spektor
Album: Far

Texas Eagle x Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band
Album: The Mountain

Enterprising Young Men x Michel Giacchino
Album: Star Trek

M79 x Vampire Weekend
Album: Vampire Weekend

Humpty Dumpty x Aimee Mann
Album: Lost In Space

Discombobulate x Hans Zimmer
Album: Sherlock Holmes

Extraordinary Machine x Fiona Apple
Album: Extraordinary Machine (John Brion)

Human x The Killers
Album: Day and Age

“Texas Eagle” is the alternative Brunel song because it’s cool and train-y; ‘Enterprising Young Men’ I kept listening to over and over when I drew the Difference Engine interiors that open Economic Model pt 2. “Humpty Dumpty” is a painfully appropriate Ada song for her descent into Poetry addiction.

What else… a few weeks ago I was doing some clearout of the Old Homestead and came across this:

Made at some indeterminate point in my Youth. A most serendipitous find, as not only is it Alice-related, that, my friends, is a Thaumatrope, the invention of which is sometimes credited to none other than Charles Babbage! Of course it’s also sometimes credited to Roget, of Thesaurus fame, and Herschel, of astronomy fame, and a few other random guys in waistcoats. Nobody assigns it to Wheatstone, whose optical toy invention was the stereoscope– I’ve been trying to come up with a cut-out-and-keep stereoscope but it’s not QUITE so simple as I would like. Nothing could be simpler than a Thaumatrope however so here is one for you Kids to Make at Home. Get a responsible adult to help you with the scissors, and if you can find a responsible adult, congratulations! and be sure to file the sighting with the RSPB. Click the image for the PDF.

Instructions here.

In other news, I’ll be making an appearance — my VERY FIRST comic con appearance! of any kind! — at Caption in Oxford on the 31st of July and 1st of August. Not quite sure yet what this will involve, I guess I’ll be on display on some sort of slowly revolving platform, with a small placard describing my History and Features. Please do not climb on the exhibit.

Anyways, that should keep y’all busy, Organist 6 should be up in a couple of days.. coffee! monkeys! Inspiration Speeches! Top hat conundrums!