Tracy Butler’s webcomic Lackadaisy follows the exploits of anthropomorphic cats running a Jazz Age speakeasy, and has endeared itself to a dedicated online following since it debuted in 2007. Comics publisher Iron Circus crowdfunded $2 million for the animated series and the new Lackadaisy collected edition, publishing in February 2024. The fan-favorite “screwball adventure” offers “a rollicking mix of gunplay, quips, and romance,” per PW’s review.
How did Lackadaisy begin?
In 2006, I moved into a historic home in the Saint Louis area. I got wrapped up in researching the house and neighborhood and fell down a rabbit hole of 1920s Prohibition history. I thought Lackadaisy would be a side project I’d do in the late hours of the night and the wee hours of the morning, but it quickly took over my life.
What made you decide to publish it as a webcomic to start?
There was no gatekeeper. You could just make your thing and publish it. Visual storytelling seemed like the way to handle this story that was brewing in my head. I didn’t have any connections to the comics print industry at the time, I didn’t have any chops, so why not a website? I think one of the beautiful things about comics is you can just start making them. All you need is a pencil and paper, and maybe a camera or scanner if you want to share it online.
How has the webcomics world changed since?
Dramatically. When I started, it was seen as the illegitimate arm of comics. And it was hard to make money. I was working in the game industry by day, and Lackadaisy was my passion I did at night. Tapas and Webtoon have changed the landscape. The business people and the Hollywood people have started taking notice, which has bounced webcomics into a new level of regard as fertile ground for up-and-coming creators. It’s cool that webcomics have become such a big deal, but I have mixed feelings. There’s a lot of exploitation right now, where people are jumping in and not being paid as well as they should.
Has the animated series introduced more readers to the comic?
I’d been doing Lackadaisy for more than 10 years by the time the pilot came out, and I think it had more views in 48 hours than I’d ever had on the comic. It was jarring, in a good way. It changed the nature of the audience, the size of the audience, and the type of relationship I could have with them. I’d always had a small, intimate crowd of people I could talk to online. Now there’s this sudden influx of thousands of new people. We’re doing livestreams to show people what it’s like making comics and animation. It’s something I would have loved to have as a kid. If we can share what we do, maybe that’ll be helpful to young artists.