Get ready, there is a brand new Kickstarter project that fans of both comics and animation are sure to be excited for. The popular webcomic Lackadaisy is being adapted into an animated short film! From Tracy Butler, Fable Siegel, Iron Circus Comics and a whole crew of talent, this project is set to be a 10-minute fun-and-action-filled adventure you won’t want to miss out on!
We were lucky enough to get a chance to catch up with series creator Tracy Butler to talk about the history of Lackadaisy and some of the highlights and challenges of adapting a webcomic into animation. See our full interview below and catch up on Lackadaisy HERE!
Comic Watch: To start, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us at Comic Watch about this exciting project. Can you give our readers a brief history on the Lackadaisy webcomic and how the new animation adaption Kickstarter came to be?
Tracy Butler: My pleasure!
Lackadaisy began in 2006 while I was working as an artist in the game industry. I was looking for a more personal creative outlet to indulge in by moonlight. The idea for Lackadaisy sort of sprang on me from the local history I was absorbed in reading, and from the jazz music I was listening to at the time. Many years of comic-making and audience-building later, I was finally in a position to make Lackadaisy my full time focus.
In the more recent past, I approached artist and animator Fable Siegel about the possibility of putting together a pitch for Lackadaisy. More than once, we were met with insider advice to produce our own animation as a proof of concept to risk-averse studios. We both agreed that making our own short film would be a creatively fulfilling and overall beneficial thing to pursue, even if it didn’t succeed as a pitch. It seemed very much within reach too, once Spike Trotman of Iron Circus Comics expressed interest in the project and in taking it to Kickstarter for funding. We felt we were really onto something solid at that point.
CW: One of the most visually striking aspects of Lackadaisy is the use of anthropomorphic cats set in such a grounded Prohibition era world, so what made you utilize this type of character and has it allowed you to explore themes you might not have if it were centered purely around humans?
TB: In our everyday mythos, cats effortlessly walk a narrow line between villainy and charm – a talent you might find in the flashy gangsters of yore and, likewise, the types of characters who inhabit the underworld of Lackadaisy. As such, felines seemed a natural fit. As a playful visual abstraction, I think it also lends the story some levity. It lets the comedy and absurdity intrinsic to the frenzied 1920s coexist with the grimmer, more violent aspects of the subject matter without feeling tonally dissonant. That being said, they’re also just a lot of fun to draw.
CW: The prominence of 1920’s jazz music is felt heavily in the webcomic and obviously, animation provides for a unique opportunity to really explore that influence more openly. So, what are some of the musical elements of this story you are most excited to bring to the forefront?
Although the period jazz and the modern electro-swing music I habitually listen to while I work has done much to shape and define the setting, the mood and the characters, it was not really something I could transpose or depict effectively in comic form. In this new medium, though, music is not only present, it adds a whole new dimension to the story. Rocky’s improvisational folk-fiddling, the diegetic sounds of the speakeasy house syncopators, and the soundtrack to a frenetic getaway from a barrage of bullets are some of the things we’re presently weaving in, with the talents of our sound designer, a trained violinist and the band Sepiatonic. To put it mildly, I’m excited.
CW: What would you want to say to newcomers looking to jump into the story who are just being introduced to Lackadaisy in the Kickstarter project?
TB: First, welcome! Why not sidle up to the bar and order a Tom Collins? The band is hot tonight and the alcohol is formaldehyde-free (mostly)! Lackadaisy is the story of a 1920s St. Louis speakeasy and the gang of jazz musicians-turned-bootleggers trying their damndest to keep it in operation. It’s part drama, part farce, and incorporates a sizable dose of history as well.
The short film will not require any prior familiarity with the comic. It works as a standalone story within the context of the Lackadaisy world, introducing the premise, the characters, the conflicts and tone thereof. It’s something I hope longtime readers of the comic and newcomers alike will enjoy. If you would like to dive into the comic, though, you can read it online for free at Lackadaisy.com!
CW: And speaking of Kickstarter, it’s quite a remarkable jump everyone in this team is making to bring the series to life in animation. What are some of the main challenges and rewards of this approach?
TB: The logistics of organizing a team of artists, effectively communicating your creative vision, juggling a budget and putting all of the pieces together is an enormous and labor-intensive undertaking. That, I think, is the enduring difficulty of a project of this scope. At the same time, though, the opportunity to work in cooperation with so many talented people and to watch the film come together, bit by bit, is incredibly rewarding even at these early stages.
The optimal outcome is that the project gleans some studio attention and is ultimately picked up for further development. However, whether that happens or not, bringing a finished and polished animated short film to completion, being able to share it with Lackadaisy readers and the internet at large, and knowing we’ve maybe provided a stepping stone for contributing artists to bounce off of in the progression of their careers are, to me, extremely valuable ends unto themselves.
CW: You’ve mentioned that Lackadaisy has always played out in your head as an animated film, so to end, what’s it like to finally see an adaption coming together with such a strong team including director Fable Siegel and Iron Circus Comics publisher Spike Trotman?
TB: It’s a bit surreal, honestly. I’ve dreamed of working on a traditionally animated film since I was a wee artling of maybe 10 or 11 years old. Now, I not only get to do that, but I’m animating my own long-time labor of love, Lackadaisy. I’ve definitely wandered into dream-come-true territory here.
Still, a project like this is fraught with risk and poses a multitude of formidable challenges. For that reason, I feel profoundly privileged and reassured to be embarking on this journey into film in the company of an experienced, polyglot of an art talent like Fable, and a self-made powerhouse like Spike.
And there you have it! What an exciting time for both comics and animation. Take a trip back to Saint Louis, Missouri in the 1920’s Prohibition era and follow the struggles of a charming little speakeasy named Lackadaisy. Be sure to go support the Kickstarter campaign now HERE!
The Lackadaisy Speakeasy: An Interview with Tracy Butler
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