While the comics industry has hit some rough patches of late, one aspect is going arguably better than ever: crowdfunding, and the current Lackadaisy campaign is Exhibit A. 

There are currently TWO comics campaigns that have raised more than $1.5 million. The campaign for a Good Omens graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Coleen Doran is over $2 million at present, and given the beloved status of that book, that’s no surprise.  

But even more impressive, Iron Circus Animation’s campaign for Lackadaisy books, plush toys and future animation is up to $1.5 million with a few days to go. 

Lackadaisy is a webcomic by Tracy Butler featuring a cast of anthropomorphic cats in a Prohibition Era setting. If that sounds niche…it is! But it’s also incredibly well made, with a memorable cast of characters, irresistible character designs (Freckle!), and a story line full of twists and turns. 12,000 backers already agree. 

While the web version and previous Iron Circus print editions were successful, Lackadaisy really got rocketed to the next level when an animated pilot was crowdfunded. The YouTube video currently has over9.7 million views and more than half a million new subscribers have joined the Lackadaisy YouTube channel. You can watch that pilot right here:

The current campaign has several goals: among them more Lackadaisy books, a ton of adorable plush toys and pins….and the SECOND episode of the animated Lackadaisy. And what comes next? We were able to ask Iron Circus Animation founders Tracy Butler, Fable Siegel, and  C. Spike Trotman a few questions about that and they generously answered!
THE BEAT: Why do you think Lackadaisy connected so strongly to the community for crowdfunding?

TRACY BUTLER: A lot of the success of the prior crowdfund we ran to make Lackadaisy’s pilot possible rode on the back of the comic and its very generous and stalwart readership. The seven figures attached to the BackerKit crowdfund we’re now running for a full Lackadaisy series, though, is very much a product of the pilot’s broad reach. When that premiered, we were struck with a torrent of new interest, new viewers, and new comic readers the likes of which Lackadaisy had never seen in its long history on the internet. We knew we wanted to keep making animated episodes, but the enormity of the response practically mandated that we do it.

FABLE SIEGEL: Lackadaisy has always been a “crowdfunded” project to some extent. Its audience has been supporting Tracy Butler’s project via patreon for years. So that same audience that’s stuck with her all this time was game to help again for the pilot’s 2020 fundraiser. Delivering the pilot and the associated merchandise engendered good faith in our production, so between an expanding audience and a positive demonstration of our capacity to run a studio, people were willing to support us directly once again. The surprise was in how many people, and how much support!
C. SPIKE TROTMAN: Iron Circus is just doing what it’s always done; serving underserved audiences. There’s a craving for high-quality, adult cartoons out there, and if you’re into suburban family sitcom models, or wacky humor? You’re well-served. But animated action-dramas are fewer in number, particularly ones with polished visuals.
THE BEAT: Did you ever think you’d get to this level of success? How did being on Backerkit help with that?
FABLE: To be honest I had to put on blinders during production to keep myself from getting too psyched out by an uncertain future. My definition of “success” was reigned in to only what I could control or influence directly. Could we get a cartoon finished? Could I put something out there that fans would enjoy? Could our crew at least get paid and fill their portfolios and reels with quality material? Would I walk away with experience that would further my career in animation? Anything outside of that narrow view induced way too much anxiety and I was too exhausted by production to lend mental energy to any other thoughts. But gotta be honest, watching that number go up has been satisfying. A validation of all that effort returned by a dedicated audience.
TRACY: Of course, Spike Trotman’s experience with constructing crowdfunds and managing an entire publishing house has been invaluable to our ability to pull this off. And it has helped that so many of our talented cast – including Michael Kovach, SungWon Cho, Ashe Wagner, Belsheber Rusape, and Jason Marnocha – have not only lent their voices to the characters, but to championing the project openly. Our tech lead, Zachary Nall, probably saved us a year or more of headaches and extra work with his 3D prowess in the layout and props departments. I’m forever grateful for Mookie Tamara’s formidable animation and leadership skills, and Ashley Nichols’ clean-up and compositing ingenuity too. Whatever doubts I had about the project always stemmed from my own creative decisions. The crew was as solid as they come.
SPIKE: NEVER IN A HUNDRED YEARS. Never, never, NEVER. I thought we might hit one million dollars even on our final day, but that was the highest my dreams flew! And Backerkit was definitely a huge help. The team there was very hands-on, suggesting changes and strategies, and their marketing branch knew just where to put our ads. It was absolutely NUTS to turn on a YouTube video and suddenly see a promo for Lackadaisy in the pre-roll, I can tell ya that much.
THE BEAT: What’s NEXT for Lackadaisy? This seems to be a story (and characters) that have incredible appeal to a wide audience, as shown by its wonderful translation to animation. What are the ultimate goals?
FABLE: To maximize anarchy (and the spread of toxoplasmosis).

TRACY: At the core of that has been Fable’s considerable animation know-how and absolute dedication to getting this cartoon made. They not only directed the pilot, but they built a studio, then rallied and guided a team of artists with the same sense of purpose across the finish line. I was there for every step of it, and I’m still in awe.

SPIKE: We just… wanna make more cartoons. More comics, and more cartoons, as closely in line with Tracy’s vision for the characters as possible. And we want to do it without compromising that. We’re open to all kidns of possibilities, but at the end of the day, we have a LOT of security knowing, for fact, we can go it alone if that’s how things wind up being.