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.


  1. Alice on January 6, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Okay, I can’t resist. Ahem.

    I received, for my birthday, The Bible Steampunk,
    Found you, found your website, and quickly was sunk.
    For how could I possibly fail to be smitten
    With someone who’d actually read Bulwer-Lytton?
    Not to mention the Brontes, and also the Snark,
    And threw in some opera stars, just for a lark;
    Also Byron, Victoria, Col-er-idge too,
    Every time I looked round, I would fast spy a new
    Wonderful thing about this site. And now,
    You’re doing a gothic! Oh huzzah! Oh wow!
    The poet up there, in the shirt of pale silk–
    Could he be Lord Byron? Or one of his ilk?
    Like maybe Lord Ruthven, or someone like him?
    Will there be more charts and more skies that look grim?
    Will Lovelace and Babbage give all that they can?
    Will there be an appearance by Miss Radcliffe (Ann)?
    (Ok, yes, I know that she’s from the wrong time,
    But she’s very gothic, and could help fight crime
    Or at least, faint away and provide a distraction.)
    Anyway, I am so excitED for more action!
    AnYthing that you do is okay by me….
    Three cheers for Lovelace and Babbage! Yippee!

    (Right. My apologies. Done now. Sorry about all the syllAble emphAses that are messed up.)

  2. d on January 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Ha ha! I so love your drawing and your writing. A new L&B strip! Yay.

  3. Mick on November 28, 2011 at 10:07 am

    A belated, Hooray! Hooray! More!

    Page 2 is so arresting. I may even end up on the side of the poets.

  4. the doodler on November 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    I LOVE the last two panels. :D

  5. Matthew Morse on November 17, 2011 at 1:31 am

    So I just got a piece of spam from the iTunes store promoting “Education Apps”. I was a bit surprised to see Lovelace & Babbage on the list. I tend to think of Lovelace & Babbage as a hilarious comic. But part of the hilarity does come from the extensively documented historical references, so I guess it’s also educational. Perhaps it’s edutainment? I don’t know.

    Regardless, it was exciting to see the iTunes store promoting your work.

  6. Henry Buchanan on November 15, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    I have to say, I love the extraordinary work that it is you do! That being said, I must say that there is a distinct possibility that I enjoy your footnotes just as much as the comic itself. I just finished reading “The Power of the Coming Race (Vril)” yesterday and am afraid I have not the words to express my sincere joy every time I discover something new through your website or twitter account.
    I suppose what I’m trying to say is keep up the excellent work!

  7. Marion Delgado on November 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    By the way are you aware that this year and next there’s some sort of big project to once and for all build the perfect Babbage engines?

  8. Alexandra on November 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Somewhere around “host of daffodils” I was laughing so hard I had great difficulties continuing.

    You know, if I wasn’t me , I’d like to be you. Or maybe Iain M. Banks.

  9. Pete Arundel on November 11, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Since Brunel hasn’t made an appearance in this story (yet?) those of you who are suffering withdrawal can watch a bit o’ Brunel here;

    See the actual slipways used to launch the ship that killed him!
    Marvel at just how difficult she was to steer!
    Thrill as pieces of her are pulled from the mud of the mersey!
    Get annoyed as Time Team resort to the Discovery channel practice of re-capping after every commercial break . . .

  10. Marco Cutrone on November 8, 2011 at 2:09 am

    Sydney, I don’t know if you are already aware of the news, but I am very excited to discover that “on 26 October 2011 The Royal Society has announced that its world-famous historical journal archive – which includes the first ever peer-reviewed scientific journal – has been made permanently free to access online”!!! (With a LOT of interesting references to our heroes…)
    ( )

    btw, you are always doing an astonishing work!!! Yay!

  11. Kristin Norwood on November 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I listened to all of the poetry links, and then had to wash my brian out by watching Taylor Mali slam poetry videos on youTube.

  12. Bella Green on November 3, 2011 at 1:55 am

    Yay! Yay! Yay! Go Sydney!

    My husband was disturbed by the sudden burst of gleeful mad laughter echoing up the staircase, until I shouted, “Lovelace! Lovelace has returned!”

    “Oh, good,” he replied. “I thought you were shopping for shoes again.”

  13. David Oakes on November 2, 2011 at 5:59 am

    A straightedge and a compass? Lady Loveless, no! To defeat a Vampire Poet, you must first trisect the heart. We are doomed, DOOMED!

  14. Mary Ellen on November 2, 2011 at 1:03 am

    This is just wonderful, Sydney. That first panel – – ooo, my backbone shivered! Just in time for the Day of the Dead, too (All Hallows to us English-speakers).

    I followed the link to the Ode to Ada. What a waste of someone’s brain cells *that* was!

  15. Pete Arundel on November 1, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Compass? D**n! I thought they were dividers . . .

  16. Vaja on November 1, 2011 at 9:50 am

    “are a straightedge and a compass”
    I feel the engineer in me taking over;
    A compass is a device that shows directions in a frame of reference.
    A pair of compasses is perhaps what you mean?

    Ahh, that’s better, back to normal-ish human again. Bravo for a wonderful creation.

  17. George W Harris on November 1, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Bravo! Although I’m sure you know that another interpretation of Blake has ‘dark satanic mills’ referring the the CoE, especially its role in education…

  18. fvngvs on November 1, 2011 at 2:15 am

    …a staightedge and compass. The geometers first tools!
    Lady Lovelace will need to keep these handy, knowing her secret tendency toward poetry herself.

  19. Anon, a Mouse on November 1, 2011 at 2:11 am


    May the shades of the prison house close not upon anyone who doesn’t deserve to be hunted down with a straight edge, compass and… vampire-viewer thingy?

    • Valerie Aurora on November 1, 2011 at 6:02 am

      I believe Babbage is measuring the thickness of a tome of pure concentrated evil – er, poetry – with a set of calipers. Although perhaps it can double as a vampire-viewer, who knows!

      (In actuality, I love poetry, and specifically Keats, the author of the aforesaid volume of evil, so I’m pretty excited!)

      • Anon, a Mouse on November 2, 2011 at 1:59 am

        AHA! You’re right. I originally viewed this page on a fairly small laptop and didn’t register the word as the spine of a book. I thought it was a product name on a telescope of some sort and the calipers were the viewing lens or possibly a gimballed mount.

        After ten hours behind one, everything looks like a camera…

  20. sam on November 1, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Fabulous! so very worth waiting for. Thank you!

  21. Sarah Bynum on November 1, 2011 at 12:39 am


  22. Tealin on October 31, 2011 at 11:32 pm


  23. John on October 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Dark and stormy saves the day!

    “This incoherent, fragmentary manuscript, plainly the work of a diseased mind, was discovered in a crypt, clutched in one skeletal hand of a corpse.”

    Are there other manuscripts worth reading? There simply isn’t enough poetry about actuarial tables or comic techniques.

  24. Bruce Byfield on October 31, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Do I detect Lord Byron himself in the general outline of the mysterious figure and the internal references?

    Maybe not, but I’m glad to see another story begun regardless. Thanks, Sydney

    • Thaddeus on February 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      It’s not just you who detects that.

  25. Ceridwen on October 31, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    An oracle, you say? or, bard?~
    ~surmounts the stile into the yard
    And creeps across the darkling verge
    In cadence with an unsung dirge
    The pall of night, the shroud of rain
    Advance upon the window-pane
    A limb doeth scrape that glaz-ed eye
    As Zeph’rus passes with a sigh

    ~gan Ceridwen.

  26. Brian on October 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    For indeed it is London where our story takes place!

  27. Kaazz on October 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    Oh, I swoon, I swoon
    To read this macabre cartoon.
    What villainy lurks awating?
    That our heroes will be abating?
    My heart beats hope within my breast
    That soon we shall be giv’n the rest!
    Nay, tarry not, Oh brave Ms. Padua –
    To read the rest will make me glad-ua.

    (Umm, sorry about that, but you inspired me to this realm of madness!! It’s all I can do to write the rest of this in prose – my mind is still working in rhyming mode. I can see why Ada’s mother pushed her toward the calming and sane world of numbers!)

    Seriously, though, I’m swooning. :-)

  28. Kay on October 31, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    *cheers BRAVO! BRAVO! hysterically*
    This was way more awesome than I could have possibly imagined. Can’t wait for Lovelace’s reactions!

  29. Barnesm on October 31, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Outstanding, author, author

  30. the doodler on October 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    *applauds madly*