We Interrupt This Comic Because I’m Really Distractable

This entry is part 9 of 12 in the series Meanwhile..

Here at 2dGoggles we are always On The Alert for the very latest Babbage facts, especially facts as awesomely cool as these.. via Bruce Sterling at Beyond the Beyond: Charles Babbage, the Secret Police Reports!!

“The known Fortunato Prandi of Camerana, arrived here from Lyon during the 10th day of the present month in the company of a certain Mr. Babbage, an English mechanician, and he lodged in the Penzione Svizzera.

The following day, he rented two furnished rooms in the Arcade of the River Po, on the second floor of No. 22, a house of the Hospital for the Poor, and he moved in with the above-mentioned Englishman, to whom he is the interpreter. The Englishman has the intention of presenting shortly to the Scientific Congress an engine of his invention, which facilitates mathematical calculations.”

This would be Babbage’s lecture trip to Italy, from which Frederico Menabrea wrote his Sketch of the Analytical Engine, which Lovelace was to translate the next year.

So I know what we’re all thinking…


Title: The Vigenere cipher (I drink a lot more wine than I break codes, so my brain insists on pronouncing it, the Vioginer cypher) was the supposedly unbreakable code secretly broken by Babbage in the late 1840s by means of, as Simon Singh puts it in his great The Code Book, ‘sheer cunning’.

Materials:  The Experimental Carriage (aka the Mystery Mobile, to be equipped with oil-slick and missile launchers etc), spy-vs-spy, James Bond, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Charade, codes and cyphers, my vast knowledge of 19th century Italian secret police drawn from ‘Tosca’. Poss. Menabrea could appear.. was he Entertaining? Might make plausible Tintin-esque military Dictator type?

Method: haphazard

Hypothesis: (this is my husband’s theory, which is is very keen on Sharing for the World’s Edification) That the 17,000 pounds the British government put towards the Difference Engine, was ACTUALLY for the Black Ops project of Babbage’s code breaking.  I counter that Babbage’s open, dare I say, transparent personality was not exactly suited for espionage.  Why, he’d be giving away his secrets in his widely-read autobiography, where he enthuses about his deciphering project that involved the copying out of 26 separate dictionaries broken up by letter count and frequency! Babbage had that most enviable of gifts, viz. huge piles of personal cash, but would he be spending his own money on stuff like this?  Hmmmmmmm…..

Anyways.. what was I supposed to be doing? Oh yeah, The Organist! Next episode.. uh.. soonish. Really!

We Interrupt This Comic for Important Announcements

Howdy kids!

Next episode should be up in a couple of days; in the meantime, some bits of news. This just in: my fanart has higher production values than my actual art:

I don’t know about you but I think it’s AWESOME. Babbage looks way hotter than he has any right to do, but you’ll never find me objecting to that.

In other Epic Feature Film news, why no, I hadn’t heard they were making an Ada Lovelace biopic, Enchantress of Numbers. Someone should send me an email or a twitter or something about that! Almost certainly it will not contain Salamander People I’m sorry to say. I’m feeling strangely proprietary about those crazy kids now so they better get them right! Title by the way from a letter from Babbage to Lovelace, that he intends to visit her and- “forget this world and all its troubles and if possible its multitudinous Charlatans– everything in short but the Enchantress of Numbers.” Babbage! If he’d been blind, he could have been a poet you know!

Having fended off the Giant Monsters (my shots are some of the ones where the thing is attacking the guy, and some of the ones where it’s smashing things!), I now find myself with a mouse infestation. Building better mousetraps will keep comics production at its usual blistering pace, but hey if you read this comic you already know enough not to be holding your breath between episodes, or you’d be an alarming shade of blue by now.

Ada Lovelace Day!

So, you know that thing where the Large Hadron Collider keeps breaking down in improbable ways, almost undoubtedly caused by time-travelling bad-luck particles out to prevent the destruction of our universe?

Well, a similar phenomenon seems to have been out to get me last week. As we all know last year’s Ada Lovelace Day post triggered a near-catastrophic disturbance in the space-time continuum resulting in the creation of a pocket universe.  To prevent a similar breach this year, bad-luck particles caused me to trip over a cricket bat, and collide into the already precariously overburdened  bookshelves, resulting in loud crashing sounds and a finger mysteriously sprained in such a way that I could hold a mouse to well enough to do my day job, but not a pencil in order to draw the comic.  Very funny, particles.  VERY FUNNY.

Well, I’ll fix their wagon because I was halfway through a bunch of indecisive doodles before their interference and I’ll just put them up instead shall I?

We’re all about the documents here at 2dgoggles so I turned to them for inspiration.  Here’s a corker:

When the Meteorological Society was formed it was decided to admit women, and four ladies were elected on the original foundation; among them the Countess of Lovelace– Byron’s daugher ‘Ada’.  In a little while one of these ladies, the wife of an eminent meteorologist, wrote to say that she had been told it would be injurious to the Society to have women as memebers; she, therefore, thought it her duty to resign, and she hoped the other ladies would follow her example.  One of them did so; but another, who could not be made to comprehend the necessity for mainting the scientific disabilites of women, refused to withdraw, and no one even suggested the propriety of resignation to Lady Lovelace.  But the two ladies who remained members are since dead, and no others have been elected..

I will just bet they didn’t suggest it.  I’ll bet they didn’t have the guts.  Say what you like about Ada Lovelace, she was brave as they come and didn’t mind telling people where to go, I’m fairly sure it went down like this:

Man, sexual shaming and patronizing ridicule of women trying to pursue science was such an awful thing back in Victorian times.  It’s a good thing those days are over!

(I feel incumbent on me to mention that my husband strongly objects to the word ‘rectum’ here.  He thinks ‘ass’ is less vulgar.  I think Lovelace would use the proper scientific terminology.  Discuss in the comments! ) That creeping sensation that you’re Ruining Everything by your very existence is one I’ve felt a time or three and it’s pretty horrible.  So here’s to you, nameless meteorologist, on Ada Lovelace Day!  I couldn’t hunt down who the lady who stayed actually was, so that drawing is based on Sarah Frances Whiting.

Sometimes I felt that comic was just liiittle bit bitter so as an alternate post I had this whole elaborate set up planned of which only one panel made it in postable form.. naturally it’s a pun:

Good old Babbage! Man reading all this Victorian stuff can get you down, but he always cheers me back up again. In my book he’s the reigning champion of women in science for his age– he gives a shoutout to Maria Agnesi in his autobiography; Mary Somerville was a close friend of his whom he often asked if she could give a ‘a day to the engine’ when he wanted to talk it over. And you can bet he’d be all over Ada Lovelace Day! I feel I just have to link to my two favorite Babbage/Lovelace primary docs online here–

Ada Lovelace is an Enchanted Math Fairy! and:

Anyways, the above setup was to lead into the introduction of this year’s Ada Lovelace Day lady, Eleanor Cressy (yes they were actually called Extreme Clippers). Roughs:

She’s pretty damn cool and could be a fun character so I shall definitely bring her back if transport is required for Babbage and Lovelace.. except in the pocket universe it’s airships. Definitely airships.

So that is my somewhat crippled Ada Lovelace Day post! Be sure to have a browse around all the fantastic women in tech in the slowly growing list of posts!

Ada Lovelace Day- Are you READY??

As I’m sure all of you know, Ada Lovelace Day is an INTERNATIONAL DAY OF BLOGGING, to celebrate women in science, technology, and engineering.  It’s only a week away now, on the 24th of March, and it needs your participation!  Go on over to the pledge site, hit the button, and you pledge to put up a blog post,  or some other public-onliney hip-hoorah, all about a XX-chromosoned-person that you think deserves a little heroine-worship.  It could be a person from history, or someone you worked with, or someone who’s just plain cool. Whatever!  The point is to have a day where no one is going “Where are all the women in tech?”  Right here, baby!

This is obviously going to be a pretty important day around 2dgoggles.  This whole site, after all, owes its entire existence to Ada Lovelace Day, so I’m feeling just a little bit of, you know, pressure to produce an interesting  post.  Look for stuff both here and on my personal site!

For starters though, with the help of Ace Graphic Designer Lorin O’Brien I’ve drawn up a tshirt:

Available at the Ada Lovelace Day shop at!  Proceeds go to hosting costs etc. for Ada Lovelace Day.

In other news, you can hear my endless ramblings on the subject of comics and Ada Lovelace miraculously condensed into a not entirely incoherent 1/2 hour at, the groovy tech podcast for the MIND.  I don’t know if I did justice to my Very Important Opinions on Ada Lovelace there but it’s a start!  Trailer with ME in Glorious Technicolour and tragically no flattering gauze over the lense.

So think about cool techie chicks  to post about and go and pledge! Who knows what might happen… your life might be taken over by an imaginary comic I dunno… this project has some pretty heavy good karma around it is all I’m sayin’.

The Story

This entry is part 8 of 12 in the series Meanwhile..

So although I finished up on the virtual Giant Monsters a couple of weeks ago, I still had to face ACTUAL Giant Monsters in the form of a live audience at The Story last Friday. A great time was had by all, including even me when I emerged from my haze of terror!

I’ve assembled a slideshow of my talk– with the warning that THIS POWERPOINT CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ORGANSIT! It’s about 15 minutes long; that incoherent high-pitched squeaking you hear is me erming and ahing and forgetting all my brilliant punchlines.

I believe you can see it a bit bigger onsite at myplick.

I also did a little comic for their handout newspaper thingie (click for larger):

Footnotes to the comic!

–“Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry, make ’em wait” was the motto of Wilkie Collins; he was pretty good at it, as anyone kept up until 3 in the morning by the last chapters of “No Name” can attest. Personally I’ve nailed the ‘Make ‘Em Wait’ part.

–Charles Babbage did indeed propose writing a three-volume novel, as he describes in his autobiography: “solely for the purpose of making money to assist me in completing the Analytical Engine.” On consulting with a poet friend, he received the dispiriting news that it was likely to cost him more to publish a novel than he would ever earn back from it.

–The Classics gag (Latin and Greek) is shamelessly robbed from Alice in Wonderland; Laughing and Grief are amongst the subjects (along with Drawling, Stretching, and Fainting in Coils) included in the excellent education of the Mock Turtle.

–In her Notes on the Analytical Engine, Ada Lovelace speculates that the Engine could potentially “compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.”– that is, ” supposing that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations”. Computer-composed music has been achieved; the world still awaits scientific storytelling.

AND, if that’s not enough crazy overexposure, I’m going to be on the ShiftRunStop podcast this week, where they have inexplicably asked me to appear despite having heard my Smooth Dulcet Tones at The Story.

This entry has been heroically posted inbetween hockey periods.

Goodies! Giant Monsters!

I know, I KNOW! This site is like half excuses, half actual content. If anyone is wondering what my lazy ass is doing instead of drawing comics.. I’m wrestling Giant Monsters all the live-long day– teaser trailer is out!

In grovelling recompense, I give you: Wallpapers!




Click on any of those to pick them up in 3 sizes over at 2dgoggles spot. Babbage is in colour because I lurves him best.

Also, you wore me down… new Brunel tshirt! Click on the pic to go to the zazzle store (aside: preparing my report to Babbage as to whether he could have funded the Analytical Engine via tshirt sales. Short answer: no.)


News, news… if you’re in London on February 19th you can come watch me flail helplessly effortlessly spellbind a fascinated audience with a presentation on graphic storytelling; or better still, go catch one of the actually cool people at The Story, a one-day conference about stories and story-telling!

As you can see from the following chart, the organizers may have the FULLEST CONFIDENCE in my masterful, nay, guru-esque command of the story process:

But a little thing like not having a plot will not stand in the way of progress here at 2dgoggles! Part 1 teaser:


And, because it’s been AGES without a Primary Document of Interest.. just to whet your appetite, spot Babbage in this Shocking Scene of Musical Violence! Note the check trousers why babbage why??! You think you know all about Babbage and street music? Oh, my friends, you have no idea…

The Style Edition

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series Meanwhile..

Man, you know everyone on earth gets their fifteen minutes of fame when even lowly cartoonists get interviews.  My Deep Thoughts on steampunk and the universe, over at!

I make one extremely contraversial statement in that interview that is bound to set off a firestorm.  That is:  the fashion of the 1830s is hideous. Here at 2dgoggles we pride ourselves on our strict historical accuracy on all points save one.  And on that one point, I feel myself entirely justified.  There is just no way I’m going to draw clothes like these:


As you can see from the following chart, the comic unfortunately coincides with the absolute nadir of western fashion in the last 500 years.. what are the odds!  Babbage, seriously, you’re a statistician– what are the odds??!  Ghastly proportions, nasty pointless detail, huge lapels.. I swear to god, it wants only polyester.


Further proof:  spot the point at which fashion FALLS OFF A CLIFF (Alfred Roller drawings courtesy of Wikimedia):


I’m doing what I can to keep the clothes bearable.  This means going for a generic-olde-fashioned-dress for lovelace, with a vague nod to the bizarre lozenge-shape bodices.  No power on earth can save the men’s jackets of this period but anyone can look good in a poofy shirt and a waistcoat (can we bring those back?  because they’re stylin’).


Mind you, much of the time I’m just going to have to throw everything out the window and put Lovelace in trousers, not only because she would totally have worn them if given half a chance, but as Marian Halcombe puts it in “The Woman in White”- “In my ordinary evening costume I took up the room of three men at least.”

Yeah, no kidding, Wilkie Collins.   You try composing a comic panel with three women having a conversation in skirts five feet in diameter.  By the way– it seems like everybody knew everybody else in Victorian England, but sadly there is only the slimmest of connections between Wilkie Collins and Ada Lovelace– his father met her once and described her as delightful and simple-minded.  It’s a shame they never met as I have a feeling they would have gotten on like a HOUSE ON FIRE.

We do have some info on both Babbage and Lovelace’s dress sense: in true geek fashion, it seems to have been terrible.  Sources:

Babbage: the waistcoast story. I darkly suspect Babbage would have been a Hawaiian-shirt-wearer.. not to throw a cloud over his memory or anything.

Ada Lovelace: awkward, badly dressed geek.  -this is a recollection of Lovelace’s visit to her father’s old estate the year before she died;   it is typical of her in this anectode that she goes through two entirely different personalities in the course of three days (speaking of clouds over memory, I should say that the actual extent of Ada’s racing losses were around 3000 pounds, as far as scholarship can determine.).  There are surprisingly few contemporary descriptions of her; see seems to have been rather reclusive.  You can see everything I’ve found regarding her from the period online here (the entire list of my primary sources is here).  From “bouyant and hearty” to “melancholic” to “haughty and arrogant” or was she “without an atom of pride”?   “She had, indeed, a most variable personality”, wrote her first biographer Doris Langley Moore.. indeed!

Anyways, doodling away on “The Organist” but won’t make any promises as to time.. Giant Monsters being what they are and all.  In the meantime, any nagging questions re the comic, I’ll make this an ‘any questions’ post.

Ada Film Needs Your Support!

Here’s something I’m sure we’d all like to see– an Ada Lovelace documentary! In order to afford the visual effects necessary for the action-packed Salamander People sequence (addendum: JOKE), the filmmakers are undertaking a spot of the old fund-raising, for which your help is needed– no, they don’t need you to throw cash at them, they need you to get large foundations to throw cash at them!

Rosemarie needs letters of support from people who have been influenced in some way by Ada and who are willing to help publicise the film, be a part of the interactive website, perhaps show the film, or contribute in any other way.

Rosemarie says, “I need letters from people stating how important a film like Ada is and how they through their networks can help to publicize the film. It would be great if the women have organizations they work or belong to. If they are software developers or computer experts, this would be great. It would be best if they were Americans, as the NSF (National Science Foundation) is American.”

I’m informed that the National Science Foundation also likes letterhead, so if you have letterhead, even better.  Personally the last time I put a letter on actual paper might have been around 5 years ago.. I have designed special 2dgoggles letterhead for this purpose, and possibly will find some sealing wax while I’m at it.

Due to my appalling negligence, you have one week to get this in the mail.. they need the letters for the end of October. Get the details here! Get crackin’!

There’s a lot of great reasons to get this film made; I of course am in it for the VFX action sequences.  Someday when I’m feeling more angst-ridden I’ll share the Tragic Tale of why I didn’t pursue math and science, and thus wound up as a vile cartoonist useless to Society;  a lack of what is termed ‘role models’ was a big part of it.  I think if I’d known there was a such a thing as a mathematician who galloped around on her own freakin’ stallion I may have weathered my difficulties more gracefully.  Anyways, another  reason I’m jonesing for this film is because one of their consultants is Joan Baum, who wrote easily my favorite of all the Lovelace biographies, The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron –sadly out of print, I suppose because there’s less scandal, more math; to it I owe the ENCHANTING information that one of Ada’s tutors, William Frend, once wrote a play ridiculing the concept of imaginary numbers, starring his future son-in-law and also tutor to Ada, Augustus de Morgan.  This little book gets fifty million additional points for having as one of its consultants Martin Gardner, who turns 95 today, WHOO!!!  I’ve suddenly realized that my own literary style of footnoting was probably born from dozens of readings of The Annotated Alice… I’ll prevent myself with difficulty from turning this already lengthy post into an Ode To Martin Gardener..

Speaking of angst… have decided the comic needs more of that, because Lovelace did not have superpowers; rather, she was driven by inner demons, LIKE BATMAN.  So, starting in on doodles from the upcoming “The Organist”:


Steampunk in Oxford!

This entry is part 6 of 12 in the series Meanwhile..

Whooo! The Amaaaaazing Steampunk Exhibit at the Museum of the History of Science is now open! Behold (good thing I went for the 600dpi..):

There’s 3, count ’em, 3! ways to see the comic.

1.The best way to see the comic online is at, the Sci Fi Supersite!  which has kindly up it up in a way that you can, like, actually see it clearly.


2. Also, until Saturday, you can download the print resolution here (it’s 600dpi, so seriously, they’re big files).  Get it while it’s hot!  I was going to keep it up there, but that turns out to be expensive..

3. Last but not least!  you can download the PDF of the Broadsheet from the Museum (link at the bottom), which includes the comic in the context for which it was drawn and also comes with beautiful photographs of the exhibits.

With all these viewing options, surely we need a gadget to go with this.  Here at 2D Goggles we like to keep up with the very latest technology, and we hear there is a great deal of excitement over the ‘3D experience’. I fail to see the thrill of this, as our mundane existence is already carried out in 3 dimensions. If you really want a Journey Into the Unknown-

KIDS! INSTANT 2D VISION with our exclusive 2D cut-out-and-keep FLATTENING GOGGLES!!* Enter a world you have NEVER SEEN! Requires no steam power!  Click to download the PDF! (hirez tiff available at until Saturday)


Merely fold down the Dimensional Occluder for INCREDIBLE 2D EFFECT! You won’t believe your eye!


Cheers to old war-buddy Duncan, who suggested, “how about a pair of cut-out-and-keep 2d goggles?”

A few footnotes on the comic..

— In her early teens Ada had an obsession with flying machines, her ambition at 13 being to produce a ‘book of Flyology, illustrated with Plates’. She always loved machines– the first thing she did when she saw the Difference Engine when she was 17, was ask Babbage if she could borrow the diagrams to study!

– My bouncing-off point for the comic (other than just basically cramming as many steampunk tropes into two pages as I could), was Babbage’s reaction the the not-very-prominent placing of the Difference Engine prototype in the Exhibition of 1862:

This is UNCANNILY similar to the way the same fragments of the Engine are normally displayed in the MHS, and I would like to take this opportunity to suggest how much the Old Ashmolean would be Ennobled by the building of a separate wing for their proper display, along with the 800 square feet of diagrams.

By the way, my exhaustive searches of Punch have failed turn up an undisputed Babbage caricature, but this just might possibly be him! Babbage was pretty mad that the Difference Engine wasn’t displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and it does bear some resemblance to this portrait.

Brunel’s sextant and bits of Babbage’s engine can indeed be seen in MHS’s Steampunk Exhibit, or any old time you happen to be in Oxford.

Anyways, thanks so much to the AWESOME curators at the Museum of the History of Science, hope to meet again soon!

After all this visual, if you’d like a little audio:  BBC coverage of the Exhibit! And, my Better Half interviews super-cool Museum Director Jim Bennett! With cute accents!

*’2D effect’ is illusory; ink and paper contain some microns of depth.E