Passion and personality is how you describe the execution and historic figures of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage* The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer by Sydney Padua. Intrigued and then inspired by the awesome and dynamic Ada Lovelace, Padua created a new form of the illustrated and annotated novel. You can approach the book as the illustrated and annotated correspondence between Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, however, it is so much more. Padua elaborates on the formidable friendship and what could have been partnership.
Based on a friendship born of mutual intelligence and interests, the comic takes a second look at the collaboration of Lovelace and Babbage from primary sources such as letters, diaries, notes, and personal admissions, but with a twist. You get the inspired life events creating a foundation for a fantastical storyline. Separating fact from fiction, Lovelace and Babbage did not have the opportunity to accomplish what they had the potential to in real life. And in the true fashion of contemporary storytelling, Padua establishes the ultimate alternate universe as she embodies their personas and fabricates the perfect world. The environment she creates allows these characters to exist where their all consuming passion and tinkering is no longer theory or another government financed project (Babbage was somewhat notorious for having a fickle relationship with project grants and coinciding with the government’s end game), but with actual capabilities and real world application.
Our Lovelace and Babbage have The Difference Engine, coding, royal visits (to their chagrin), crime fighting, pocket dimensions, time travel and above all an interaction that defines the story. The pair’s morph as the kindred spirits display an adorable range of personalities. The partners showcase an enthusiasm for their work and process. Their collaboration is built from each other’s influence and encouragement, as they are avid advocates of one another. Lovelace is driven. Absorbed and hands on in her work, she is bold and holds nothing back even in her back and forth with Babbage.
If there is a time when you find yourself teaching history, teach through the anecdotes. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage* The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer is a hybrid comic book novel that does just that through footnotes. I love a good footnote in fictional literature. When done right it further develops a strong story by giving you insight into the character you would not normally get or have depending on the goal of the book. Padua takes her historical reference and research and builds a world and characters through her knowledge. She creates great adventure from historic events and real people but makes it her own as her passion seeps through the character portrayals. It is inspired by Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who happened to be the only legitimate child of wicked Lord Byron. Although they never met, his very being dictated her life as she was deterred from anything that might have been reflective of Byron and his idiosyncrasies. So her ridgid education and tailored curriculum seemed to hone her into a human calculator (She is often referred to as the precursor to computer programmers). Lovelace’s first meeting with Babbage reinforces an alliance of science and math. Padua took the uncompromising and dedicated Lovelace and Babbage and successfully placed them in awesome escapades.
Embrace the mastery of footnotes and line illustration as the medium furthers establishes the inner thoughts and perspective of our inventors through wonderfully timed humor and the cracking wit of artist Sydney Padua. It is clear Padua is an animator as her drawings demonstrate full forms and expressions. The illustration’s movements are fluid and high energy. She also demonstrates her ability to construct a stellar and stimulating story that is just fun. The take away from The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage* The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer is the notable miraculous partnership. The characters of Lovelace and Babbage are an endeared pair and Padua made them her own.