Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Shoot seven: Sydney Padua

Sydney's books

An artistic seventh shoot, as our subject was Sydney Padua. We know of Sydney from her webcomic, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. You can follow these on her website, see a BBC's Tech Lab feature on it, there's a slideshow at the Oxford Museum for the History of Science, and/or watch a lovely video of her presentation on graphic storytelling.

This all started when Sydney agreed to do a biographical sketch of Ada Lovelace for a friend who co-ordinates Ada Lovelace Day. The punchline was "Wouldn’t it be hee-larious if there was a comic about Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage fighting crime?". The answer being clearly "yes", she kept going.

If you don't know who Babbage or Lovelace are, Google it. Trust us, the internet loves them. All we'll say here is that they were around largely in the 19th C, hence the hat.

Babbage's hat!

One of the best things about meeting Sydney (and there were lots) was the definition of geek she gave us. We've been asking a few of our geeks this question, part of a small video of the shoots we're making. Sydney's answer was that "geek", to her, means having a passion. Be this for your work, your hobby, or something in between. To spend all day at work, often doing something you love and feel passionate about too, and yet still find the time and energy to, for example, set up a world famous web comic about crime fighting heroes in the history of technology*.

By day, Sydney works in visual effects. You've probably seen some of her animated creations at the cinema. We were especially excited to spot a figure of the Iron Giant on her window sill (and an original sketch from the film). As she explains on website, she does the comic for "no particular reason" other than she likes "history, science, comics, primary documents, and pointless non-remunerative projects". This is something Team GeekCal can identify with.

Ben sets up a shot of Sydney sketching

Our setting was Sydney's studio, and she sketched throughout the first part of the shoot. As she tweeted later, pencil geeks will be interested to know this was a real live blackwing she was working with. Apparently blackwings are a thing (seriously, if you aren't a pencil geek already, google "blackwing". There is a whole world of geekiness out there waiting to be discovered).

A member of Team GeekCal knew a musician who used to import special music pencils to London from LA. Apparently they were somewhere between HB and 2B and had a different shaped/ sized led which was especially good for quickly forming clear musical notation. Sadly, this musician isn't around anymore, so we can't forward him the link to the blog on music and pencils we've just found. Suffice to say, pencil geekery = not just for people who draw (also, that somewhere, there is a blog about anything and everything).

Sydney sketches

A better shot of Sydney's sketch, below. This is still unfinished version though. She polished it off and signed it later, and it's now safely under lock and key at Geek Calendar HQ. We are debating whether to auction it off for libel reform. We're pretty tempted to keep it for ourselves though, it's pretty darn cool, no?

Babbage sues for libel.

* After Sydney's comics, our favourite bit of Babbage-inspired geekery has to be the person who made a Difference Engine out of Lego.


  1. All these shots are amazing. I love every single one of them and I would love to see more. Perhaps more angles could be covered like how all the drawings are being put in storage, the pencils, drawing blocks and others. This is just to give viewers the various perspectives that this art actually provides us with. Overall, a very good coverage of the story.

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