Reviews: The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage

The Mindbogglingly Complete and Distractingly Long Series of Footnotes with a Comic Attached

I first stumbled across The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage in its free online webcomic form. This is a review of the first anthology, now released in a polished up hardback edition.

The most arresting thing about the works of Sidney Padua is the art style. In Lovelace & Babbage, historic figures are transformed into charming, instantly recognisable caricatures of themselves. I haven't seen such gloriously animated looking images in a long time, and I find myself enjoying these polymath cameos even more so than the two leads.

In the past, I have been critical of comics like XKCD for often using obscure references in place of humour. Lovelace & Babbage manages to narrowly avoid the same trap by treating esoteric references as easter eggs or as footnotes, rather than vital parts of the jokes themselves. Thus the humour is still fairly accessible, despite being on the subject of computer coding and Victorian mathematics.

Speaking of footnotes, my one main criticism of the comic the sheer scale of the bloody things. Sidney Padua crams this book with so many footnotes, they tend to take up the bulk of each page. I initially tried going through the comic, referring to each note as I went along, but it quickly became really tiring to have to arrive at an asterix, follow it to 2000 words of explanatory notes, and then try to remember what was going on once you return to the pictures again. The footnotes are interesting and funny in and of themselves, but I don't recommend trying to read them all on a first sitting. Instead, read the comic itself completely, and simply go through the footnote marathon on a second reading.

I recommend this to everyone and anyone, and can't wait for the next anthology to be released.