Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lackadaisy Volume 1 Review

Now I'm not exactly much of a critic, and the only reviews I've ever written were to get my brains organized enough to pass a school exam. But ignorance never stopped me before, so why start worrying now?
Besides, a book this exceptional is a rare thing to come across. Its unparalleled execution quietly but unavoidably demands notice:

Lackadaisy Volume 1, by Tracy Butler.

The premise seems simple enough at first glance; a prohibition-era gangster story, with a cast comprised of cartoon cats. For the uninitiated, this may not be enough to draw them in for a closer look... But passing this story by would be a regrettable mistake.

A quick flip through it's pages, and anyone with an iota of appreciation for animation will be hooked by the art alone. The stylization is a work of beauty: simplified, dynamic shapes are imbued with magnificent dimensionality and detail, bringing the characters to life with magnetic appeal. We get the best of both worlds: the vibrant expressive attitude of well done cartooning, combined with the weight and tangibility of naturalistic art. The result of this potent brew gifts us with alluring, marvelously emotive characters who interface seamlessly with the detailed settings gilding the pages. The carefully drafted props (Including the featured arsenal items) are convincing enough to inspire concern for the safety of the cast as they gallivant through the story.

And what a cast! Every character is powerfully individual, resulting in a well - balanced mix of disparate three dimensional personalities. No two are alike, from the slick-talking mischief factory Rocky, to the shy-yet-explosively-psychotic Freckle, the brooding brutish Viktor, the coldly calculating Mordecai, the perky Ivy Pepper - the list goes on. When an author takes the time to breathe life into their characters, to fully and truly understand who they are and what drives their actions, it shows. And it makes for one hell of a good read.
In addition to a brightly balanced character ensemble, the dialogue itself sparkles. There's enough wit on display to fill any ten normal books, with memorably distinctive lines popping up non-stop throughout the story. Not only are the lines well - crafted and impactful, but they possess the enviable trait of perfectly suiting the personality of the speaker, every time. Not a single syllable feels contrived or artificial. It almost seems as though there isn’t an author working here at all - everything is coming straight from the characters hearts, every step of the way.
Despite the fact that the characters are clearly in the driver’s seat, the plot moves forward at a good clip, developing into a captivating account of a struggling speakeasy marked for death by it’s competitors. As if all of this weren’t enough, the book is imbued with assiduous attention to historic accuracy and detail, in everything from the costuming to the culture to the props and architecture. One could arguably market this book to schools on the pretense of exposing students to American history. Whether or not it would be a valid replacement for a textbook is debatable, but one thing is certain; The kids would read it.

Not just kids, either - in fact, any particularly finicky parents out there may want to consider reviewing this book themselves before allowing it into the bubble, as it has a ‘teen & up’ rating. Although this book would appeal to a younger audience, it presents a gratifying read for anyone, from teen to adult, providing they’re not too self conscious to be seen reading a graphic novel.

If I’ve managed to spark an interest in Lackadaisy, you can read the pages for free on the website -

But I’d strongly advise ordering a copy to own - aside from being beautifully manufactured, the volume is loaded with extras - illustrations, concept work, bonus comics, even art tutorials.

In closing, and considering its subject matter, I’d have to compare Lackadaisy to a shot of high grade liquor... You’ll want to take your time and really enjoy yourself, because you’ve just found one of the finer things in life. Its carefully crafted art style has been brewed to a fine maturity, and culminates in a beautiful amber richness. The reading experience is something to savor - distinguished, yet filled to the brim with scintillating pizzazz and punch. The aftertaste lingers satisfactorily, leaving a patina of nostalgia, and the sense of having visited a time long past, and of having been welcome there. So the next time you need a good yarn, crack open the covers of Lackadaisy - and enjoy the mayhem.


Renz said...

well written, and it's my fave webcomic out there EVAH.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave it's Kat! I was checking out the Lackadaisy updates and saw that a link to your review of the first volume was up! Such a great comic, I've been following it for a while now. And it's cool to be able to follow your stuff now too^^

Damaris Alfonso said...

I absolutely agree with everything you've written. Miss Butler is the author of the best webcomic I've had the luck to run into on the internet. I've recommended it to so many friends... even the ones who don't read webcomics!

And I fully intend on buying volume one at some point. :)

Thank you for writing such a thorough, and truthful review of her work.

Anonymous said...

I 've never heard of Lackdaisy but i will definatly look at it!

Anonymous said...

Just got my copy of Vol. 1 and it is great! I agree with you, the art, the characters are all fantastic. Can't wait to see where things go from here!