Hello reader(s). Forgive me if my updates have been a bit… sporadic. I came down sick last week and it’s going to take a while (and some strong medication) to recover. However, I wanted to leave you guys with a comic that I absolutely love and wish to share with you all.
Therefore, to wrap up Furbruary (YES, I know it’s March), let me proudly recommend…
Set in mid-Prohibition St. Louis, Lackadaisy Cats follows a boisterous band of bootleggers as they battle to bolster their bleeding business, the eponymous speakeasy Lackadaisy. In this regiment of rogues runs Rocky Rickaby, a frenetic fiddle player with a Cheshire grin and machete eyebrows, his upright yet volatile cousin Freckle, and Mitzi May, the current owner of the Lackadaisy, who became a widow under mysterious circumstances. Internally, the Lackadaisy is threatened by wavering allegiances, while outward pressure from rival gin joint Marigold, owned by the oily Asa Sweet, who has no qualms about employing less than legal means to get what he wants, rises. In a time when blood and alcohol flow in the back-alleys of the city, the staff of the Lackadaisy find themselves required to commit similarly unsavory acts just to stay afloat.
The art for Lackadaisy is gorgeous, with clean lines, soft edges, and breath-taking detail. The comic’s coloring is limited to sepia tones, but the art is so incredible and it matches so well, that it detracts nothing from the enjoyment. Even with the monochromatic palette, there are occasional splashes of color that help add vibrancy and import to scenes. The shading is masterful, the character designs are memorable, and I even hazard to say that the characters are never off model. Be it soulful, tragic eyes, manic grins, or razor eyebrows, every character has some feature or other that etches them into the reader’s memory. The fact that the characters are drawn as cats, however, does not affect the story; here the characters are people that are simply portrayed as cats. Tracy J. Butler, the mind and pen behind the comic, has gone on record to say that she draws her characters as felines simply because of the ease of expression they have and the fun she herself has in drawing them. There are indeed several bonus pieces in the comic’s gallery that prove she can draw people as well as cats. Here’s the kicker, though… Miss Butler is self-taught. While a part of me muses that her art is too good to be self-taught, the other 98% says “Who cares!? It’s beautiful!”. And that’s all I can say about the comic’s art; it’s beautiful.
The characters themselves may look good, but are they good characters? In a word, yes. In two words, hell yes. Every character is unique, flavorful and as easily memorable as their appearance. While the comic has a diverse cast and every character gets a spot in the limelight, the bulk of the comic, at least so far, revolves around Rocky, Freckle and Mitzi.
Rocky is just as likely to break into verse as he is insane laughter. Despite his happy-go-lucky attitude and propensity for trouble-making, there are hints that perhaps Rocky’s endearing madness belies a frightened soul on the run from some hidden tragedy. Whatever his inner demons may be, Rocky loves his younger cousin Freckle, who he often leads into trouble, as well as his dowdy, pugilistic aunt. Despite the perilous nature of his employment, Rocky is hopelessly enamored of his employer Mitzi and willingly endangers himself for her sake. In such cases, he often relies on his gift of gab to see him safely through one situation and into the next.
Calvin, or “Freckle” as his cousin calls him, is a young, quiet fellow who had aspirations of joining the police force and being a respectable member of society. However, his volcanic glee at using firearms led to his dismissal. He’s in the middle of unemployed sulking when his cousin Rocky comes storming in one day with a rather shady job offer. Desperately in need of employment, but outwardly averse to violence and the criminal lifestyle, Freckle now finds his life charging in a direction that he never expected.
Mitzi May is the current owner of the Lackadaisy, which she inherited from her recently deceased husband Atlas. There are rumors, however, that Atlas’ death was more than just a simple hit from his competitors and that perhaps Mitzi may have been involved. Whatever the truth, Mitzi struggles with a secret, all the while fighting to keep her husband’s empire from crumbling. As the comic progresses, she comes head to head with Asa, who wishes to see his competition drown. Due to her seductive sultriness, Mitzi finds herself surrounded by numerous suitors, including Zib, current employee and former band-mate, and Wick, old friend and local mining magnate.
The rest of the cast is just as enjoyable and varied as a good deck of cards. There’s the surly slav Viktor, the murderously meticulous Mordekai, Atlas’ goddaughter and trendy flapper Ivy, and so many more. There is a gorgeous Characters page which seems to grow as more characters are introduced. Even one time characters get quick blurbs, which further goes to show just how much love and attention is put into designing every one of them. That’s what the comic boils down to, I think; the characters. There is a plot here, but the story is more character-driven than plot-driven. It’s a character drama/comedy series, where every scene features the cast playing off of each other and with such brilliant characters, how could it be anything but brilliant? The setting is just as detailed as the characters. Miss Butler strives to make the comic as historically accurate as she can (talking cats not withstanding), and, for the most part, she succeeds. The dialogue is excellent and is just replete with a vocabulary as colorful as the individuals speaking it. Speaking of vocabulary, my god is this comic a treat in the word department. For my inner lexivore, this comic is a veritable feast, a whirlwind of wonderful words and idioms. Just look at the page titles and the glossary page. This is the comic that brought the word “Ishkabibble”, among many others, to my attention and, for that, I must thank Miss Butler.
With spectacular art, fantastic characters, and perhaps the greatest vocabulary list you’ll never find in school, Lackadaisy Cats is by far one of the best webcomics across which I have ever had the pleasure to stumble. I cannot recommend this comic enough. There’s a love present here, an attention to detail and characterization, hand in hand with a sense of mad glee. The Twenties aren’t just roaring, they’re laughing maniacally.
Lackadaisy Cats is written and drawn by Tracy J. Butler. This comic, including all images used here, belongs to her. Despite the cute and cuddly appearance of the cast, the comic does feature scenes of gore and violence and is thus inappropriate for young children. The comic updates… sporadically, but it does so with a number of pages at a time and oftentimes has special bonus art between comic pages. These bonus pages can be found in the comic’s Gallery page. The first arc of the comic is for sale from both Amazon and 4th Dimensions Entertainment (who also feature The Phoenix Requiem), but numbers are limited so don’t quote me on that.