Talk To The Hand

So here’s what’s going on behind the scenes over here folks:

May not be a strictly literal interpretation of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Yes, folks, we have BIG PLANS here at 2dgoggles Comics Industries Inc., crazy, CRAZY, BIG PLANS, that I will tell you all about very soon!

Anyways I drew this because a)I was kind of missing Brunel, and he’s hardly in User Experience (he didn’t used to be in it AT ALL, now he makes a modest Guest Appearance), and b)for some reason Brunel drawings keep appearing on my scratchpad at work by the dozens so I had these around, and also c) I wanted an excuse to plug this book again, because I’m sleeping with it under my pillow:

Quotage: from Brunel’s journals, age 21:

“As to my character. My self conceit and love of glory vie with each other which shall govern me. The latter is so strong that, even of a dark night, riding home, when I pass some unknown person I catch myself trying to look big on my little pony. I do the most silly, useless things to attract the attention of those I shall never see again. My self-conceit renders me domineering, intolerant, even quarrelsome with those who do not flatter. My ambition– it is more than the mere wish to be rich – is rather extensive — but still – I shall not be unhappy if I do not reach the rank of Hero and Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in the Steam of Gaz Boat Division Make the Gaz engine work, fit out some vessels, of course a war is required, get employed by government contract– command a fine fleet and fight– take some fortified town — Algiers or something of that style. Be at last rich. Be the first Engineer and example to all others.”

I should say Brunel shows more self-awareness here than you’ll find in the entirety of Babbage or Lovelace’s correspondence.. Seriously this is the BEST BOOK EVER and I feel comfortable making these extensive quotes because I’m sure you will all go out and buy your own copies at once.

Here’s another that will light a fire under you, or (as was the reaction of many of his unfortunate contractors), make you run far far away screaming.. I should add, [sic] as I have not excluded a single comma or other helpful punctuation mark:

“Dear Sir,
It was with great astonishment and regret that I observed when last at the Acorn Bridge that nothing was being done towards the long-delayed erection of the steam engine. I cannot for one moment suppose that anybody would pretend to get the excavation for this bridge without some means of pumping and I see no preparations for any other means than that of an engine and there appears as regards this some cause of delay which is not communicated to me and unless I have immediately a clear and satisfactory explanation of all the present circumstances of your future plans and unless I can be satisfied that these plans are not only efficient but will immediately be carried into execution I shall wait no longer but without delay take all those steps which I consider necessary to regain a portion of the time which has been negligently wasted and proceed with the work in such a manner as I may find necessary. I regret being driven to this decision but the monumental dilatoriness of your proceedings and lately by the apparent abandonment of all attempts to proceed leaves me no alternative. I shall feel obliged by your immediate reply.

I am, Dear Sir
Yours very truly,
I.K. Brunel


  1. Marion on July 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Ah, Victorian men! So brave of heart, so ambitious of nature… I’m reminded of Kate Beaton’s take on John Franklin:

    Ice of glory, indeed. *lol*

  2. Christopher L. Bennett on July 14, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Fascinating… that first quotation seems to be evidence that Isambard Kingdom Brunel invented MY LITTLE PONY!

  3. Magdalena Hai on July 4, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Ih-hi-hi-hi-hiii! Brunel <3 … Oh, pardon me. What I meant to say, I actually had a boss like that once. She used to come to the work site and destroy, with a wave of her hand, everything I'd done so far. Then she made me reach for the stars. Wonderful woman. Need more of those. :)

  4. rinipanini on July 2, 2011 at 8:11 am

    HEE Brunel! you’re very fortunate to have a character this enthusiastic!

  5. Nicole on July 1, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    Wow, holy run-on sentence, Batman…

    ….I think I’m going to be ordering that book…

    (as the girl with the IKB coffee mug, I can safely say that more Brunel is always appreciated. *ahem*)

  6. Douglas on June 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Wonderful! This reminds me of the old story about Wolfgang Pauli who, upon his arrival in Heaven, has a bit of a disagreement with God about His formulation of the fine-structure constant ( “Das ist FALSCH!” ). Do you suppose that, even at this moment, Brunel is having words with this Universe’s Creator concerning it’s overall design and implementation?

    Anyway, if it will at all help in securing your future crazy, CRAZY, BIG PLANS… please, you folks have a pizza on me ( …is it still possible to buy a pizza in London for a reasonable amount? )!

  7. Kay B. on June 29, 2011 at 5:49 am

    I’ve been lurking here for quite some time reading everything on your blog (goodness that sounded stalkerish), and have and have come out of seclusion to say I HEART BRUNEL.

  8. Anon, a Mouse on June 29, 2011 at 3:41 am

    W0Ot!!1! BRUNEL! You are brilliant!

    And I’m off to buy the book about the man, the myth, the legend by the man, the myth, the legend.

    PS. Madrat– that was a great reply post.

  9. Pete on June 29, 2011 at 12:22 am

    I.K. Brunel advocated by Jeremy Clarkson. Some may find this conflicting.

    • skauthen on June 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      Oh god, thank you for this — nothing makes my morning like watching Jeremy Clarkson jump onto some train tracks!

    • fvngvs on July 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

      What we need now is “Clarkson on Babbage”

      • Pete on July 2, 2011 at 3:25 pm

        I’m not so sure. It sounds too much like slash . . .

  10. the doodler on June 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Ah, the Giant Hand returns!

  11. Redshift on June 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    “I really don’t think Brunel could have survived on Twitter. He does seem to love a superfluity of words.”

    Oh, I don’t know. I think he could have managed with: “Engineering: UR DOING IT WRONG!” and a link to a detailed blog entry. :-)

  12. skauthen on June 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    You’ve been lying in wait for years, looking for a good excuse to draw Brunel holding your hand. THIS COMIC HAS JUMPED THE SHARK, SYDNEY! But now I -really am seriously- going straight out to buy the biography. I need a new spirit animal.

    • Thriceraven on June 29, 2011 at 12:47 am

      I notice as well she felt the need to include Brunel’s backside in the first panel. Not that it wasn’t appreciated ;).

      First time commenting here but I have been an avid follower since a friend turned me on to your work here about a year ago. Thanks for your humour, artistic skill and dedication!

      • skauthen on June 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm

        Thanks for pointing that out – I can use it, and some creative cropping, to complete my “Babbage & Lovelace: T&A Edition” ipod app :)

  13. Tealin on June 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I am amused.

  14. fvngvs on June 28, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Going to have to get that book. If I can’t steal style from one of the greats, I’ll never get any of my contractors working.

    (@John: Finally, *finally* I’ve seen some one spell ‘bated breath correctly!)

  15. schnitzelbank. on June 28, 2011 at 5:42 am

    “Quotage: from Brunel’s journals, age 21: “As to my character. My self conce…”…

    Quotage: from Brunel’s journals, age 21: “As to my character. My self conceit and love of glory vie with each other which shall govern me. The latter is so strong that, even of a dark night, riding home, when I pass some unknown person I catch myself t…

  16. MadRat on June 28, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Your first mistake was asking Brunel. I’d expect him to say something like:
    “Let’s see, off the top of my head I’d say you need 167 story arcs and 1500 unique character designs with biographies and back-stories. Now we can put that into 70 volumes at 250 pages each but we’ll need 100 acres of trees, three pulp and paper mills, 5 soy bean plantations, two ink processing plants… Online only? In that case you’ll need 256 server racks with 32 servers each, we’ll need to talk Level3, SBC and Verizon out of their bandwidth. I’ll get to work with the communication satellite designs and launches. We’ll also need a team of software engineers to get IP v7 ready so you’ll be able to handle the bandwidth. Oh and before I forget I’ll also need three shipping containers of good cigars.”

  17. Teenygozer on June 28, 2011 at 3:55 am

    And verily, Isambard Kingdom Brunel shall be played by Hugh Jackman in the soon-to-be-filmed bio-pic of his life!!!!

    What? Wolverine’s only supposed to be, like, 5’4″, and Jackman played him in a film. It’s a bio-pic, you’re supposed to exaggerate things like height and relative gorgeousness!

  18. E-wit on June 28, 2011 at 1:16 am

    You’re back! You adore Brunel, you know you do. I think he is a model for all of us who have to Get Something Done Now. More, more! And soon!

  19. Mary Ellen on June 28, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Or reticence, as the case may be.

  20. Mary Ellen on June 28, 2011 at 12:48 am

    I also meant to say – this is delicious! I’m getting quite fond of Giant Hand. Last appearance, GH was all DoWotII’mTellinYa, but now another side of her/its character is revealed. Modesty, Openness to Constructive Criticism, even a Becoming Reticense…

  21. John on June 28, 2011 at 12:25 am

    If you don’t have a pop-up business card identifying yourself as The First Cartoonist at 2dgoggles Comics Industries Inc., I’ll be very disappointed.

    Waiting for the news with bated breath! And baited breath, too, but nobody wants to know about that, I guess.

  22. Ceridwen on June 28, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Brunel! *happy Snoopy dance!*

  23. Mary Ellen on June 28, 2011 at 12:22 am

    These quotes reminded me right away of a couple of things – first, some passages from Da Vinci’s journals where he scathingly comments on the intelligence of various contemporaries’ attempts (mostly of a biblical nature, IIRC) to account for seashells being found embedded in mountaintop rocks. And second, my late stepdad. He was nowhere near as prolix as Brunel, but he was a gifted engineer, and that surrounded-by-idiots attitude was often in evidence.

  24. Sara on June 27, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    I really don’t think Brunel could have survived on Twitter. He does seem to love a superfluity of words.

    • David Payne on March 1, 2016 at 1:50 am

      I think Hubzilla or Xanadu is more akin to what Wolver, er, er, IKB would do on the World Wide Web. Only Brunel would do it BIGGER! which would be difficult to capture in it’s name!

  25. Joe R on June 27, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Oh dear. He’s got trouble with the builders eh?