Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Economy

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Economy

Because I’m putting off working on something else YOU DEMANDED IT! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage continue! (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, start here) Although Vampire Poets and Cyborg Napoleons have their charms, I’m forgoing them in favour of being Educational. So I bring you… RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES OF 1837!!– Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy Two Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy [Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy [Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy Lovelace and Babbage vs The Economy


Historical Notes: True: The Panic of 1837! Ada’s dialogue on the subject is stolen from a 1888 biography of Van Buren, quoted extensively in the Wikipedia entry. The resemblance to the present ructions is uncanny!

True:  That is an actual horse race handicapping algorithm (with some modifications).

Not true: Wellington was only Prime Minister until 1830; it is however true that he is much funnier than Robert Peel, so in this alternate history he gets to stay in office.

Truthy: Lovelace’s gambling addiction gets mentioned occasionally in the slim background I have on her; it’s in dispute but I like it as a trait in a Mathematical Genius. Babbage may or may not have built a drink-serving Mechanical Woman– vague references but nothing solid.EDITED TO ADD:  This was when I was just skimming Babbage’s autobiography, rather than avidly devouring it. She’s in there! Although she doesn’t serve drinks… I intend to Improve that.  Also in that section: one of Babbage’s puns, with helpful chart.

This blog is, as the title says, dangerous experiments in comics.. it’s a learn-as-you-go excercise for me so any feedback on presentation (images– too big? too small? scrolliness good, or would you rather click-thru a series?), drawing (pacing okay? compositions confusing?), or content is appreciated.  Something I learned already:  it should go, character designs, THEN comic, not comic then character designs… Also– this blog is under construction kind of on the fly, so things might move around..


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49 Responses to “Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Economy”

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  1. Sistermagpie says:

    Bwahahaha! God I love these two–in large part because I love your drawing. I love the way you put emotions into the body language, that’s my favorite type of comics drawing.

    Also, that mechanical woman made me laugh out loud. A big, barking laugh that drew stares.

  2. Ceridwen says:

    I like the scrolling rather than click-through. I’m the type who hits “Back” (<–) every time I leave a page and start fresh from my homepage, except when following a link.

    Current size is good for me. I like the incidentals – the mysterious crane behind the building, the footman’s expression when Wellington enters with his horse, Van Buren’s expression (I just got a dollar coin with him on it – surprised me, now this – am I destined to find ol’ Martin everywhere now?) on the newspaper, Babbage leaning on the horse’s flank reading the paper and his remarks about his swamp property (that was a nice character moment for him – swamp property? :D ) and their expressions when future funding was threatened. Wellington was politically goofy – executing bankers? Hee! I also like Wellington’s look with the boyish hair once he doffs the hat. The only problem was the percent sign in Babbage’s swamp spiel. It looked like a mutant zero.

  3. mary says:

    Great! I think my favorite character is the horse, and my favorite panel, “Or parliament shall withdraw your funding”. But isn’t shooting bankers a bit extreme? The poor bankers! They can’t help it if all the rest of the world speculates.

    Speaking of which, did Babbage really have a swamp in Georgia?

    Looking forward to more adventures, including (I hope) struggles with street musicians-

  4. mary says:

    Sorry – I meant Mobile, Alabama, of course.

  5. Terence Eden says:

    I hereby pledge that the next time I am in urgent need of a computer, I shall holler TO THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE!

  6. I like scrolling way more than clicking through. Current size is ok for me, though some panels might be a tad big (the huge ones). Loved shooting the bankers. And Ada’s facial expressions are just wonderful.

    Looking forward to your next comic-fueled procrastination!

  7. Saurooon says:

    Greatings, to GoogleReader!

  8. sydney says:

    >Current size is ok for me, though some panels might be a tad big (the huge ones

    This is the frustration of composing for the screen– I have a really hi-rez screen so big images can look pretty tiny.. it’s really helpful to get feedback on this!

    >my favorite panel, “Or parliament shall withdraw your funding”

    Bizarrely, I almost dropped that one because I felt I couldn’t draw it right!

    >Speaking of which, did Babbage really have a swamp in Georgia?

    >The only problem was the percent sign in Babbage’s swamp spiel. It looked like a mutant zero.

    That is my only issue with Blambot’s webletterer font, which is otherwise beautiful– some of the symbols are very unclear. Not great for a comic about math! I’m thinking of making a handwriting font for myself at some point..

    Heh, I made that up.. probably not!

  9. Suw says:

    Love it!! When can I get a Lovelace & Babbage T-shirt? ;)

  10. Monica says:

    Marvelous! I can’t wait to see more.

  11. Anne Arthur says:

    Scroll-through works for me. I also loved the details – Babbage leaning on the horse, and the US President blaming an unpopular, warmongering predecessor – can’t think who that reminds me of . . .

    Bring on the next instalment!

  12. EFH says:

    Loving it! Art is fabulous, and witty as hell. Keep up the good work!

  13. Matt says:

    Scrolling! Awesome strip. This is SO going in my blog. When I launch it. Finally.

  14. Ashbet says:

    These comics are just delightful — please do keep it up!

    I love your line-strength variation — the scribbliness at the edges in some places, combined with crispness in others. And you really have a gift for expressions.

    Wonderful stuff, thank you for sharing!

  15. Laurenn says:

    This is absolutely delightful – can’t wait for the next one!

  16. sessile29 says:

    God, you HAVE to continue. This stuff is BEYOND awesome! :D

    (OMG!Van Buren is priceless, btw. XD)

  17. Kate knott says:

    Brilliant stuff. The panel with the newspaper is my favourite- especially the bit about the walk at trader jumping from the top floor. Laughed myself silly!

  18. Terran says:

    This is brilliant. I throw my tuppence in that you continue this. Computer scientists everywhere will give you accolades. (And maybe even buy your art. ;-)

  19. Robb says:

    Love that Lovelace is fluent in today’s popular geek internet culture (twitter, emoticons – what about some wikipedia references/jokes?).

  20. richard says:

    “as an initial tactic, I’ve had some bankers shot this morning to keep up confidence”
    Genius. Pour encourager les autres. Please, more.

  21. GB says:

    Since Wellington’s horse — at least his most famous horse — was named Copenhagen, can we look forward to a Copenhagen Interpretation joke? Or would that be too bohring?

  22. Edward Ives says:

    I like this comic, especialy what you did to Mr. Van Buren’s face. I happen to know the great-grandson of Mr. Van Buren and plan on E-mailing him a link to this comic….
    as soon as I get his e-mail address; In any case its a great comic and hope to see many more.

  23. marcio brk says:

    Genius. Complete genius. McLoud should be proud, big scrolling rulez awesome. And, man, you put the nerd morale back way high! I couldn’t praise you enough.

  24. marcio brk says:

    >> That is my only issue with Blambot’s webletterer font, which is otherwise beautiful– some of the symbols are very unclear. Not great for a comic about math! I’m thinking of making a handwriting font for myself at some point..

    So? Just use some other font for this glyph. Don’t believe those self-righteous font designers that think their ouvre can’t be touched.

  25. *weeps* I, too feel that I require mental stimulation. Huzzah that good friends have linked me to this surfeit thereof! Do keep up the good work!

  26. Dave says:

    Bwahahaha! I grew up in Mobile! And learned Ada! Awesome comic dudes! :D

  27. Ian says:

    I just found out about this project and I am absolutely in love with it.


  28. R K Duk says:

    Definitely scrolling rather than clicking. And maybe bring in Grace Hopper — time travel, reincarnation, perhaps?

  29. Perverse Sheaf says:

    I like it all, very good. One thing, I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, is the little things like Babbage leaning against the horse. I thought that was a nice touch. (No pun intended!)

  30. ted says:

    thanks for the history lesson. honestly i would agree with most people here that i love your drawings style. very similar to mine where its effective yet scratchy and obscure yet representational. i love the comic so far and i hope you keep it up. nothing really bothering me yet but ill tell you if there is. thank you.

  31. Jay says:

    This comic has got to be the greatest comic idea I have ever seen. I love your art style and sense of humour.

  32. Therru says:

    Loving this so far!

    Cybernetic Napoleon…

  33. Kenny says:

    ComicPress: (Just a suggestion.)

  34. derek says:

    If Wellington instead of Peel had invented the police, would they be called Noseys instead of Bobbies?

  35. Madam, this is exceptional. Beautiful art style — love the expressiveness and spontaneity of your line work, and, as others have already commented, your ability to pack a huge conceptu7al punch into a single gesture…

    And it’s clever and funny.

    Ada Lovelace (and, to a lesser extent, Babbage), have long been fascinations for me — but I never thought that I’d see them together in one of my favorite artforms. I’ll be forcing all my students to read this.

    Thanks so much — and please keep them coming.

  36. Dan Stanley says:

    I saw the link to your site in a post to Word of the Day and I was pleasantly surprized. I love it! The funniest line was the one about shooting some bankers to keep confidence up. The scrolling rather than clicking is perfect. Thanks. Keep it up. -Dan

  37. John Bound says:

    As a middle-aged economist and businessman, what am I doing writing a comment on this site? Well, my son introduced me to graphic novels and strips ( and also ‘Steampunk’ )and I think Lovelace and Babbage is brilliant – mature, witty and historically literate. Used as a vehicle for modern satire, these characters could be huge – entertaining but also acting as an entry point for all those wonderful larger-than-life personalities that led the industrial revolution. I’m not an artist so can’t comment on the style, but it is simple and easy to follow. However, for me, it is always the writing that is the key, and it is excellent. Create more, lots more.

    • sydney says:

      Thank you very, very much!! I’m always chuffed to get a great comment. Its all for kicks and most uneconomical but I enjoy drawing them as much I hope as people enjoy reading them. More comics are on the way!

  38. Mandy says:

    So… Babbage was the Regency Lars and the Real Girl.

  39. jon singer says:


    This is, indeed, brilliant. Kudos!

    Typo for you: in the panel with Wellington, hat in hand, between the two of them, I see “differene”. [Hope you don’t mind the proofing; I can’t help seeing things like that, and it seems pointless to waste the information.]

    Best —

  40. Gary says:

    So how would a cyborg Napoleon not be educational?

  41. I always suspected there was much work, trial and error behind a comic, successful or not. Your blog dissects and illuminates this wonderfully.

    I consider your current work just a scetch, albeit a very complete scetch, and I wish the completed comic to be in print soon.

    Anders Molander

  42. JonH says:

    Love it. DON’T change font or picture size – the grumblers are reading this on their high power work machine while most of us, I’m sure, wait until we get home and use our old notebook. Also waiting for the T-shirt, and pyjamas?

  43. Ashley says:

    I love that every time Wellington shows up he’s with the horse.


  1. […] are some enjoyable web comics about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace here, here and here – even includes a coupla Gaussian copula gags (and for aficionados of the game of Horse!: […]

  2. […] present the only complete comic is Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Economy. A more representative half-baked episode is Lovelace and Babbage Vs The Salamander […]

  3. […] more in the style of someone like Dylan Meconis more than Beaton; but in any case, who can resist a story that name checks Martin Van Buren, the panic of 1837, and the Duke of Wellington and his hor…? Not I; and neither you. You may want to start with the origin story. […]

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