Iron Circus Comics Publisher Spike Trotman, cartoonist Tracy Butler, and director Fable Siegel are partnering for an ambitious multimedia crowdfunding campaign to adapt Butler’s webcomic phenomenon Lackadaisy into an original animated short, along with a new collection of art and never before published mini-comics, The Lackadaisy Essentials. The 42-day campaign is the first-ever multimedia undertaking for Iron Circus Comics, the trailblazing comics publisher that has funded more than 20 graphic novels and raised close to 1.5 million dollars in funding on Kickstarter.
Set in St. Louis, Missouri during the days of Prohibition, Tracy Butler’s Eisner Award-nominated webcomic Lackadaisy features the Lackadaisy, a speakeasy tucked away in a cave beneath the Little Daisy Cafe, where flashing the club symbol from a deck of cards grants every cat in-the-know access to more moonshine than they could ever drink. The joint’s packed full of tough dames, crooked cops, rum-runners, and wide-eyed ingenues. And they are, literally, all cool cats. The jazzy, sepia-toned crime story features action and adventure, comedy and crime, and a colorful cast of cats, including the Lackadaisy proprietors Atlas and Mitzi May, rumrunner Rocky Rickaby, and the sharp-tongued heiress to the quickly-dwindling Lackadaisy fortune, Ivy Pepper.
“Lackadaisy is the tale of a gang of jazz band stragglers, ruffians, and alley cats struggling to keep a once-popular Prohibition-era speakeasy in operation,” said Tracy Butler. “Amidst their spectacular failures and unlikely victories under the nose of the law and up against their ruthless, outsized competitors, the Lackadaisy crew adapts and survives as a syndicate of St. Louis bootleggers, by relying on the strengths of their tight (if dysfunctional) family dynamic. In a broader sense, the story is an indulgent romanticization of the past, that explores the dangers of exactly that – the destructiveness of lingering on the good old days that were, perhaps, not as good as they appear, through the distortion lenses of grief, nostalgia and lovelorn desperation. The 1920s ambiance of hot jazz, hot bullet casings, and bad hooch isn’t without its heady sense of levity and humor, though.”
A former game developer, illustrator, and graphic designer, Tracy Butler began Lackadaisy in 2006 after researching the history of her century-old St. Louis home, and being inspired by her love of jazz music, and 1920s aesthetics. As the creator of the comic, Tracy will play a role as co-director on the animated short, overseeing art direction.
“I’ve presented Lackadaisy strictly as comic panels and speech bubbles since its inception, but the story has all this time been playing out in my head like an animated film,” said Butler. “It’s a side effect, perhaps, of a childhood nourished on Looney Tunes, Disney, and Don Bluth features, but I’ve been dreaming of sharing that living, breathing, musical version of it with readers and newcomers alike for so long.”
Joining Butler and Trotman for The Lackadaisy Animated Short is director Fable Siegel (Titmouse, Hazbin Hotel). “I got into animation because I wanted to make dramatic, aesthetically intensive stories,” said Siegel. “I wanted to direct the next Lion King, another Batman the Animated Series or a Gargoyles from a very young age. Trouble is, those kinds of animated stories are few and far between in the Western hemisphere, despite the growing popularity of Japanese animation and the likes of Bojack Horseman, Avatar the Last Airbender, and Love, Death and Robots, which demonstrate a huge appetite for nuanced and mature cartoons. And I just love drawing and writing the Lackadaisy characters. There’s a rhythm to their existence that excites me and I can’t wait to start on this self-contained, animated short.”
Pledges for Lackadaisy range from The Lackadaisy Essential eBook to The Complete Lackadaisy Goodie Bag (featuring the Lackadaisy Essentials art book, volumes one and two of the Lackadaisy comic collections in ebook form, a digital wallpaper set, the completed film as an HD digital download, and a download of the soundtrack and storyboards). Lackadaisy even includes a pledge level to receive an Associate Producer credit on the Lackadaisy Animated Short.
To bring the project to Kickstarter, Butler is collaborating with publishing pioneer Spike Trotman. “Iron Circus Comics has been a trailblazer in comics publishing for over a decade,” said Trotman. “We were a Kickstarter early adopter, launching our first project in 2009, the year the platform debuted, and have gone on to launch 23 more projects and clear nearly $1.5 million in funding on the platform. After achieving international distribution through Ingram, and securing a number of #1 New Releases and Amazon bestselling titles, along with Eisner-nominated and Lambda/Harvey Award-winning graphic novels, we’re making our boldest, riskiest move yet, and expanding into animation.”
“As the 20s dawn on us again, it’s the perfect moment to adapt Lackadaisy into another medium,” said Butler. “With the animation tools available, the artists on deck raring to get to work, and the internet eager for more independently created media, the auspiciousness seems writ-large – splashed across an art deco picture palace marquee, if you will. Now’s the time.”
If funded through Kickstarter, pledges will be delivered to backers this fall. Lackadaisy is live as of March 16, 2020, and runs for 42 days.