Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lackadaisy Cats

As anybody who has ever claimed to read or care about webcomics and they will all tell you that LackadaisyCats is among the very best- a must read. Eisner Award nominated, Lackadaisy is created by Tracy Butler.

Lackadaisy is the story of cats. And not just any cats, but the fabulous cats of St. Louis during the early 20th century.

I'm usually not one for anthropomorphic comics or art, but Lackadaisy simply blows me away. It is the story of the Lackadaisy, a speakeasy in St. Louis, Missouri that fell on hard times when its original proprietor dies. Now the people that are left behind must keep the place running even as another speakeasy overtakes the Lackadaisy as the hot spot in the St. Louis underground during the tough no-alcohol years of the Prohibition. But not everything is so very dark and gloomy. This is a tale with a lot of humor.

The art of Lackadaisy is spectacular. The sepia tones suit the period of the comic's story perfectly. Also of great interest is the painstaking attention to historical detail. Tracy Butler's love of history is clear in the research that she does for the comic, from the environments and various story elements, to the research notes she provides with some of her comic pages. The infamous character page has also now been updated, and it only took a couple of years! Each piece of art for every character is inspired by various illustration and commercial art styles of the early 20th century.

Another wonderful thing of note are the expressions. The artist's mastery of various expressions is stunning, bringing humor and melancholy and every other emotion under the sun with perfect clarity. Her skills in this area (others too, but this one especially) are greatly admirable. Her tutorial on expressions can be found here.

It is always a wonderful thing when great art comes together with great writing. A dark comedy with a touch of melancholy, Lackadaisy is as much a joy to read, as it is to look at the art. The level of historical accuracy in the story (which is not perfect, as admitted by Butler, due to some artistic license and such), other than the cats bit, definitely adds to my personal enjoyment of the story. It's quite heartwarming when a comics creator cares so much about the little details.

 Tracy Butler explains that this radio is a bit of an anachronism.

Between the updates of the main story there are also the Q&A updates, which often come in comedic comic form. Also of note are Tracy Butler's illustrations of the characters, both in their comic form and the occasional illustrations of the characters as they would appear if they were human.

The gang in its entirety.
  I think Mordecai is my favorite.

The various characters are charming and funny and their various adventures are a pleasure to follow. What craziness will they get into? The fate of the Lackadaisy rests on their shoulders.

Lackadaisy updates on a somewhat sporadic schedule, which is at the mercy of the creator's work schedule, but each update is more than worth the wait.

All images copyright of Tracy J. Butler.

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