Just hold on a little longer!

Spinny Beachball, Turny Hourglass, Immobile Progress Bar, Whatever

Folks, folks. I know. I’m really really sorry. There is stuff going on, and things, whereof which presently I can’t speak, therefore I must remain silent. We here at 2dgoggles Emalgamated Comics Industries are in what you might term a state of flux.

Hoping to have more comics happening soon! In the meantime, being a woman-type thing I’m evidently meant to be on Pinterest, where I have put pictures of 2d-gogglish clothes and engines.

Also, in some Lovelace news:

- not sure how she’d feel about having a Giant Boring Machine named after her..
- if you live anywhere near Cambridge Massachusets, you can go to a musical where Ada Lovelace meets a world-weary Civil War veteran, in something that sounds like a dream I might have had after too many late nights on John Carter and User Exprience

Happy Valentines Day from 2dGoggles..

Now I feel bad I didn’t have time to do a Babbage one.. but this was decidedly impromptu! Click for bigger..



As a bonus– adorable Valentines New Yorker cover, 1961– when the stereotypical programmer was a woman.

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

A Little More User Experience..

Aiming for Thursday for the next Vampire Poets but some more User Experience stuff just so you guys know I’m working like a fiend on this comic, a FIEND!

George costuming:

I had this crisis where I suddenly thought the Special Guest Star in User Experience ought to be Dickens, in honour of his birthday and also because obviously he was so much more marketable. Then I realised I was trying to decide which Victorian-novelist-lost-in-a-mechanical-computer scenario would make my MILLIONS and that’s when I gave myself a sharp smack. I’m much too fond of George now to replace her, and anyways Dickens will have a fine walk-on part.  Much more on User Experience in the coming weeks!

For the UX notes and also for more accurate gags and also because I don’t have enough projects in my life, I’ve started to put together an animating model of the Difference Engine-  right now it looks like this:

Ooooh Babbage you are so clever!

It’s not so mysterious when you actually move it around, but it’s a bit tricky to explain clearly so I’ll put together an explanatory vid when I have a sec!  If you need an explanation RIGHT NOW and are good at visualising, these invaluable and beautiful clear diagrams were my source, millions of thanks both to Mr Satyam and Dan in the comments who led me to them.

Stay tuned, loyal and kindly audience! I hope it’s a comfort that slow as the comics are coming at least you may rest assured that I am SUFFERING mightly:


A Little Background

Next Vampire Poets is coming up soonish, in the meantime I thought I might as well put up some of what I’m working on with User Experience, my other giant project (well, one of my other giant projects!).

I sketched up a quick little size compare of George and Ada and then I couldn’t stop.. click for bigger!

User Experience takes place almost entirely inside the Difference Engine, which is full of spiral staircases and gears with tons of teeth and complicated machinery all of which add up to that uninspiring word.. PERSPECTIVE.  I’d really like to bring up the standard of background drawing on the comic though and really didn’t want to do my usual squiggle-and-black shortcut. I’m pretty lazy when it comes down to it but also I just happen to work all day long on a thing created expressly for the purpose of producing three-dimensional simulacra of rigid complex objects.

So I fired up my very rusty modelling skills and started manufacturing.

At first I assumed I’d just arrange a set, print it out, and then trace it out in Painter, but that’s a heck of a lot of detail so I wondered if I could get away with what’s called a toon render- the upper cog is a toon render and the lower one is traced– click for bigger if you’re interested.

More as they’d be used in the comic:

At first glance the trace looks better– but a lot of that is because the models are cookie-cutters and simple shapes now. They would need to be wonkified and cartooned up. Also rusty as I am at modelling what I know about rendering and lighting can be summed up as, “send it down the pipeline to the rendering department, where I guess they push buttons and stuff”. If the models were done nicer and lit and rendered right, I think it could look pretty awesome, and I could get a lot more atmosphere and detail in. So at the moment I’m thinking of sticking with the renders and see if I can rope someone in to help me with the shaders.. I’ll keep you posted!

Of course the very extremely dangerous thought that snuck into my brain while building these bits is how actually not THAT hard it would be to model and sim a Difference Engine for reals…

Vampire Poets Part the Third

Happy 220th Birthday Charles Babbage!  I hope you enjoy your present, another amusing instalment of your Thrilling Adventures in…



Poetic Licences, the official stamp on the first panel, are required for poetry in the Pocket Universe; in our own so much more sensible universe, it is of course comic books.

- William Wordsworth seems the suitable person to be issuing the licences; not only was he Poet Laureate between  1843 and 1850 (during which he wrote no poetry at all), but he is also the traditional example of the post-Romantic authoritarian sell-out.

Babbage declared that he would have been a poet if he had been blind in this charming batch of anecdotes, also featuring Lovelace. The reporter fails to secure the vital information of why exactly Babbage would have had to be blind. I guess there’s some connection with Homer and Milton, blind super-genius poets, but super-genius Babbage’s logic escapes me on completing this syllogism.

The ‘Byron Devil’ is used to describe Lovelace possibly by Babbage in my favorite document that I never tire of linking to. It’s a bit ambiguous who uses the exact words oh please oh please oh please let it be Babbage!!

Indoor target practice was a habit of both Sherlock Holmes and Lord Byron, so it’s only natural to transfer it to Lovelace. Particularly as she possibly did own a pair of duelling pistols-

“Dear Babbage. I unfortunately forgot a very principal thing I had to say to you last eve, & that can be less well explained in writing. It is to ask you if you would be so very kind as to see a gentleman (one of the Leighs) on Tuesday next at 11 o’clock,- who wants to sell me, a Rifle & a pair of Pistols which he declares to have been my father’s.

History does not record whether she bought these! If you want to see them in action, there’s a fellow firing a similar one here; and they don’t go off backwards and blow his nose off even once!

– Did Charlotte Bronte and Ada Lovelace meet?  Can’t find anything definite but they brush past each other in notable celebrities of London here.

–P=NP is the most famous unsolved problem in Computer Science. There is an excellent elucidation of it in Wikipedia and also at MIT, with some amusing comments. 

That Thing Babbage did for the Post Office- Babbage claims for himself the concept of the Penny Post, where the mail is sent for the same price regardless of distance (making up the expense of travel in efficiency in processing), in his autobiography. It was Post-Master General (and at one point school-master to Babbage’s sons) Rowland Hill who actually implemented it, writing a pamphlet advocating for it in 1837.

If you’re keen on the subject, you may view the immediate effects of the penny post recorded by Mr Rowland Hill himself, in the papers of the Statistical Society.

Maybe I should work in more post-office stuff, but I feel I might be re-treading ground so excellently covered in Going Postal.  But I simply must find a place somewhere for the instructive verse at the bottom of this post by the postal museum!

Post-women can’t have been unheard of, as a search for the term turns up a lot of hits; I offer this seasonal treat, For the Post-Woman at Christmas.


Whew! Happy Charles Babbage Birthday everyone, hope you are all enjoying the best of the Season!


Vampire Poets – Part One!

Argh, sorry about the long delay folks, I’ve been out of town for a couple of weeks. But I am back! and so are Babbage and Lovelace! and so is… someone else..

My own poetic licence was revoked under circumstances too embarrassing to recount here, involving unwise use of mixed metaphors and exactly the wrong place to put an anapest.


I had some considerable anxiety over this episode because the Brontes kind of belong to Kate Beaton now, but Vampire Poets has always started for me with Emily Bronte breaking windows for Babbage’s chart, and that’s just how it had to be! Charlotte Bronte provides a description of her sister in the preface to the 1851 edition of Wuthering Heights; Emily did not in actuality accompany the other two sisters on their well-known visit to London, probably because this is just the sort of thing they were afraid would happen. She succumbed to Poetry at the age of 30. Complete poems here.

Babbage’s Report of Windows Crashes

I had some difficulty finding that chart, because it’s attributed in the Mechanics Magazine mysteriously to a ‘distinguished statistician’! I had to track it down in a roundabout way, via the Insurance Cyclopedia, which in itself I could only see the cover in in Google Books. Being published in 1878 it is just outside of Google Books possibly excessively cautious 1870 copyright cutoff in Europe. You see, without delving into the life history of its author Mr. Cornelius Walford, it cannot be 100% guaranteed that this 1878 book falls outside of life+70 years. Cornelius may have been a youthful 20-year-old firebrand, eager to make his name in the field of actuarial history, who pursued his craft until the age of 95! This however would have made him 10 years old on the publication of The Insurance Guide and Handbook on Fire, Life, Marine, Tontine, and Casualty Insurance, an unusually precocious age for an interest in actuarial theory. In the end no less a person than James Gleick was kind enough to send me a PDF of this inestimable volume with its entire chapter on the history of glass breakage insurance, so I’m delighted to have another chance to plug his excellent book with its very substantial section on Babbage and Lovelace.

Where was I? Statistics! Zoo animal food consumption and frequency of surname starting-letters are just some of the subjects on which the tireless Babbage wished to have accurate data. You can read about his project in On the Tables of Constants in Nature and Art.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel kept notebooks in little shelves in his hat; I don’t know if this was a standard thing but I would certainly expect it of Babbage!

Sorry again for the long wait, next one should come much brisker!

Vampire Poets, Prologue

This incoherent, fragmentary manuscript, plainly the work of a diseased mind, was discovered in a crypt, clutched in one skeletal hand of a corpse. We were unable to prise the glass of whiskey out of the other hand.

It’s Gothic! It’s Horrible! It’s a Gothic Horrible! IT’S VAMPIRE POETS!!!


Not a whole lot of notes I can give before fully introducing our Mysterious Stranger, some pertinent ones are appended to the related comic The Person From Porlock.

But I have to have SOME notes to maintain the balance of this Universe so please enjoy some awful Victorian poetry featuring our fearless protagonists (click on the verses for the full versions, if for some crazy reason you want to read them):

Babbage’s elaborate visions of a mechanistic universe sees him turn up here as a spectre of Determinism (not sure if Whewell belongs there though? Don’t know huge amounts about this guy but he doesn’t sound like a Determinist)

And some thoroughly enjoyable doggerel with Babbage in cuddlier calculator mode:

And finally, I can’t tell you how pleased I am to present this Ode To Lady Lovelace, whose agonizing awfulness will quite diminish by contrast the awfulness of my own verses:

For those who were sensibly doodling during their English classes

Dark Satanic Mills

That’s quite enough of THAT debauchery, I suggest we all cleanse ourselves by studying Babbage’s work on comparative methods of compiling actuarial tables.

EDITED TO ADD: Always I forget a note! “It was a dark and stormy night” is of course the immortal opening of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Paul Clifford. Bulwer-Lytton was a friend and neighbour of Lovelace’s, and she had a great admiration of his books, thus establishing the traditional geek love for awful doorstop pulp fiction. Maybe she was just waiting for him to get around to his proto-science fiction, but sadly she died before he wrote it.

Also– in reply to comments from the poster– the instruments Lovelace is using to ward of the Vampyre are a straightedge and a compass, the instruments with which she is accustomed to solving all known problems.

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..

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