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Tracy Butler Breaks Down the Inspiration Behind the Prohibition-Era Sensation LACKADAISY

Tracy Butler Breaks Down the Inspiration Behind the Prohibition-Era Sensation LACKADAISY

Iron Circus Animation, the new division of Iron Circus Comics, has embarked on a crowdfunding campaign on BackerKit for the popular webcomic Lackadaisy by Tracy Butler. The campaign aimed to fund new editions of Lackadaisy graphic novels, create the first-ever Lackadaisy plushes, and produce an all-new 10-minute Lackadaisy animated short, directed by Fable Siegel.

This animated short will further the story from the previously released 27-minute pilot, which has gained immense popularity with nearly 10 million views on YouTube since its debut in March.

Lackadaisy takes place in Prohibition-era St. Louis, Missouri, centering around a speakeasy hidden in a cave beneath the Little Daisy Cafe. By flaunting a secret club symbol from a deck of cards, patrons gain access to endless moonshine and live jazz music. The story is filled with thrilling action, comedic moments, and a vibrant cast of characters, including the recently widowed proprietor Mitzi May, jazz fiddler and rumrunner Rocky Rickaby, bespectacled hatchetman Mordecai Heller, and the spirited flapper Ivy Pepper.

Butler, a former game artist, began conceptualizing Lackadaisy in 2006 as a webcomic. Inspired by her love for jazz music and the aesthetics of the 1920s, Butler immersed herself in researching the history of St. Louis, which ultimately influenced the setting of the comic. Working closely with director Siegel, Butler co-wrote the script for the animated pilot and played a pivotal role in its creative direction.


The new Season 1 teaser has already garnered 1.3 million views. Additionally, the screenings of the pilot in Los Angeles organized by the Secret Movie Club were completely sold out. For those who missed out, a commemorative poster can be purchased online. Iron Circus also achieved remarkable success with their BackerKit campaign, surpassing 1 million in funding for the season in just one week.


We had the opportunity to talk about Lackadaisy with Tracy Butler. Check it out below and be sure to check out the Lackadaisy YouTube channel and grab your Lackadaisy merch exclusively on BackerKit!

What was it that got you interested in creating your own comics?

Well, in short, I wanted to tell stories. As an artist, I wanted those stories to be heavily visual. Comics just so happen to be an eminently accessible way to tackle longform, visual storytelling as a solo artist and writer. (That’s not to say it’s just a means to an end. I have a deep appreciation for it as an artform, and that grew into an abiding love as I began making my own comics.)  

How did you come up with the idea for Lackadaisy?  

Shortly before I started work on the comic, I moved into a historic home in the St. Louis area and promptly became enraptured with the local history – the city’s legacy from a century past, the mythos of the Mississippi river, the limestone caves below the ground here. I was listening to a lot of old jazz and hot-jazz revival music at the time too. All of it was sort of just beckoning me to tell a story about it.  

Did you always have the idea of using cats for the characters?  Was there a different animal that you almost went with instead?  

I very briefly considered introducing a mix of different anthropomorphic animal characters, but I pretty quickly decided on cats all the way down. I think a lot of readers are primed to look for a specific allegory when a multitude of different species populate the scene – “what cultural group does this animal represent?”, and so forth.

I didn’t want that sort of misleading distraction there, because that wasn’t the point. I also didn’t want it to come across like a sort of bio-fantasy where the fact of their animal forms would be read as literal. It’s really all just visual abstraction. It’s there for the levity, the slight bit of detachment from reality, and the extra emotive tools – lashing tails, pinned ears, big eyes, animalistic snarls – in a story that is otherwise fundamentally human.  

Were the names of the characters or the characters themselves inspired by any real-life people?  

It might not come as much of a surprise that they were inspired by cats. Felines I grew up with, or that family members owned when I was a child formed the basis – at least initially – for a number of the cast, including Rocky, Mitzi, Ivy and Freckle. There are a lot of bits and pieces of historical figures from the Jazz Age snowballed into the mix as well, from gangsters to musicians to lawmen and silent film celebrities.  

What was the driving force behind adapting the comic into an animated feature? How did you decide on traditional animation as opposed to computer-generated 3D animation?  

I was completely in love with animation growing up, and films from Don Bluth and the Disney “Xerox era” had subsequently informed a lot of my sensibilities about art and character design. Right from the start, as I began developing the characters and story for Lackadaisy, everything was playing out in my mind’s eye like one of those traditionally animated films.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t have the animation software at hand, nor the crew of artists, nor the funding resources it would have taken to tell a story of some length with animation. That’s why I approached it as a comic. I always knew, somewhere in the back of my mind, though, that if I had the chance to animate it, I’d take it.  

Do you have any ideas or future plans for adaptations outside of the comic and the cartoon?  Maybe a video or board game? 

There is actually a card game that saw a brief introduction around 2017. Circumstances at the time made it impossible to continue producing on a long-term basis, but I’m pretty excited to say we’re re-introducing it as part of the BackerKit crowdfund for Lackadaisy Season 1.

That aside, I’m pretty focused on pre-production and planning for the animated series. It’s sort of all-consuming at the moment. I’ll definitely keep the door open for adaptations to other media in the future, though, if something feels like the right fit. I worked as an artist in video game development for a number of years, so that at least wouldn’t be unfamiliar territory.  

How long do you see the Lackadaisy comic going for?  Do you have an ending to the story figured out, or is the ending still a way out? 

There is an ending. I knew I was crafting a finite story from the outset. It is still a ways off, though. It’ll take me at least another 2.5 volumes to get there!

Chris Dailey
Chris Dailey

A jack of many trades, but a master of none, Chris dabbles in many nerdy hobbies including toy collecting, reading comics, writing fiction, reading novels, and playing video games.  He’s also a huge wrestling fan, and knows more about it than most normal people should.  

When he’s not writing or hosting podcasts for Geek Network, he can be found listening to podcasts and hanging out with his wife, his two daughters, and his little dog Gertie.

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