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


  1. Sara on February 11, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    I for one, am always willing to wait for Lovelace and Babbage to sweep in. The anticipation is worth it, and I always enjoy your interim excuses…ahem…explanations…ahem…discussions of process.

    Mr. Dickens, although I am willing to accredit him with genius, is not my favorite author. I’m sure he can blame my mother, who handed me Great Expectations in the summer before fifth grade. I was scarred. Bad things. Weird people. I was unprepared. And never quite forgave him. Even when I laughed at Pickwick Papers, I couldn’t forgive him.

    I’m petty like that.

  2. Stephan Brun on February 10, 2012 at 12:42 am

    Project Gutenberg actually has the letters of Dickens available in html form here. Copyright expired, natch. So there is no reason to go for Google’s bait, at least this time.

  3. Anon, a Mouse on February 8, 2012 at 3:18 am

    Happy birthday, Mr. Dickens, happy birthday toooo yooooooou!

    Smithsonian magazine has a nice overview of Dickens this month, plus reviews of biographies, tours, theme parks, museums… yes, theme parks. I am afraid of the impending phone call from my mother, a former literature teacher. Did you know there was a theme park?

    No worries on revamping this episode! Ooo, terrible pun. You need to have some You Time… Thanks also for the map!

  4. =Tamar on February 7, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Just remember that Charlie C. deliberately wore a coat that was too small and trousers that were too big, as visual comedy. Charlie D. did not deliberately dress for comic effect, as far as I know.

  5. Phillippa on February 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm


    I love Chuck way, way too much and am thus overjoyed at this entry.