Ink & Paint XI: Lackadaisy

In 1920’s St. Louis, life is rough, everybody’s got an angle, and you better watch your back.

Oh…and everybody is a cat.

This is the world of  Tracy J. Butler’s Lackadaisy, a webcomic that initially caught my eye because it was different. From the subject matter, to the artistic style, to the sepia-toned panels that provided the feel of an old photo album or silent movie, it looked like nothing else out there, and it looked great. It didn’t surprise me to discover it’s a nominee for this year’s Eisner Award in the digital comics category.

As I continued to read, I found the same unique vision encompassed the plot, character development, and dialogue. Lackadaisy wasn’t just pretty. It had a story to tell–a story that was fun, fresh, and surprisingly complex. The cat’s pajamas, indeed.

So, what’s with the cats? I don’t know, but they work. Something about the whole Roaring 20’s, living on the wrong side of the law, wheeling-dealing, back-alley noir vibe of this comic demands cats. Screams cats. Cats have to be light on their feet. Cats always land on their feet. Cats can see in the dark. Cats have nine lives. Cats are sneaky and evil and devious and arrogant and clever and cute and cuddly and vulnerable, all at the same time. They fit comfortably and oh-so-stylishly in a world of rum-runners, con artists, jazz bums, flapper girls, and mob kingpins.

This level of quality takes time. Ms. Butler updates her comic on an irregular schedule, but each new installment is well worth waiting for. The first print volume of Lackadaisy premiered recently from ReNoir Comics (its catalogue page features a very cool flash animation that’s worth a visit all by itself). The Lackadaisy website is a treasure trove of concept art and background information, including profiles of the main characters. You can learn even more about the artist, the comic, and her other works in progress at her blog, http://lackadaisycats.tumblr.com/ .

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