To open this new season of Red Furros we are going to open with a great interview with Tempo, the lead designer of the Lackadaisy Card Game, based on the Web comic and now animated series! Also, we have a BIG surprise after our interview with Tempo, an exclusive interview with Tracy Butler! the creator of Lackadaisy!,
You may know Tempo from many other furry books like the Sixes Wild and Windfall, the YouTube channel Culturally F’d, and of course famous furry games like Nordguard: The Card Game, among others works.
It’s been a while since we last interviewed you Tempo! And we are thrilled to have you back for another interview for our page!.
║ I’m happy to be back on Red Furros. : )
We’ve heard you’ve been working lately with the Lackadaisy production team on a brand new game with the same name, what can you tell us about this new project?
║ Lackadaisy The Card Game is a cooperative tabletop game, with art by Tracy Butler, the comic’s creator. It is about anthro cats in the Prohibition Era of the US, when alcohol was illegal. Players shuffle a deck of location cards to create the “board” they navigate. As in the comic, the goal of the game is to get enough alcohol to the speakeasy to keep it in business. You play as the characters from the comic, each of with unique abilities. Event cards are drawn each turn to add complications and items can be gained, used, and lost as the game progresses. It uses the same game system as Nordguard, so the players use dice to complete some challenges.
You are no stranger to these kinds of projects, however, the furry fandom, and ourselves, tend to change as the years go by. How much do you think your game-designing process has changed since your first one?
║ The main lesson I have learned is to have other people start playing the game as soon as possible. Major changes to a game are easier (both logistically and emotionally) early in the game design process. I talk to furries I know who are playing the game and, once they play it, I have them write down their thoughts. I have also learned not to try to incorporate every suggestion. About 25% of the feedback would make it better, 25% would make it worse, and 50% would make it different but not better or worse. An example of the last type: “This Lackadaisy game would be much better if all the cats were foxes because my fursona is a fox!”
We are seeing a boom in the board game industry in the past few years, and this generation seems to be way more interested in board games than in the past decade even when there is a big offering for digital entertainment, why do you think this is?
║ I can only speak for myself, but I find that when I use a computer and phone for most of my work and play, I want breaks where I can disconnect from electronics. This is why I like table-top games so much. They give you a very different experience from computer games—one that can be a lot more abstract, analog, and social.
On the topic of board games themselves, what tips would you give someone who would like to get started on board game design?
║ I like to look at all the parts of my favorite board games and consider how they work together to make me enjoy that game. My best work comes from making a game as simple as I can, even though my instinct is to put every cool idea I am currently excited about into one game. One or two fun game mechanics can make a game much more playable than dozens of them. I think about game design like a musical instrument: too many parts make it too complex to play and mute the fun. Therefore, I suggest playing many different games (so you can see how others make them) and make many different games (so you have space to experiment with those ideas). I make many more games than I ever publish and that is okay. Learning and exploration are part of the process.
Now, getting into the Lackadaisy project itself, how was the process from you meeting Tracy and saying “hey, let’s make a board game”?
║ I was at Midwest Fur Fest 2016. I was selling copies of Nordguard The Card Game and it’s expansion pack in the dealer den. I was taking a break and called my partner to chat. I mentioned to her that I thought the game system could be used in another setting. My dear otter then told me she would like to play a card game based on her favorite comic: Lackadaisy. Tracy Butler was the guest of honor at that convention, so she was signing books directly in front of me at that moment. I had read the comic online and met Tracy a few times due to us both attending conventions as dealers, so I waited until the line to talk to her was gone, walked over, and said almost exactly “hey, let’s make a board game.” In spite of being asked strange questions by a dog during a busy day, she was kind enough to say we should talk about it after the convention. We did and then we printed a prototype version called the “Bootleg Edition” to see if furries would like it. They did! We sold out almost immediately. And now we are updating the game and printing it in a much larger quantity to promote and fund the Lackadaisy cartoon. I am still amazed by the project. It seems very obvious in retrospect, but I needed a smart otter to suggest it to me. The furry fandom is a great community for those kinds of connections. We are all a part of the creativity, whether we draw comics, write books, design games, or just enjoy and talk about those things.
A webcomic can have complicated structures and character development, how do you translate that storytelling into a board game?
║I focused on making the tone of the game match the comics. Lackadaisy is funny, energetic, expressive, and somewhat violent. (It is about cats, after all.) Thus, I wanted to carry over those themes into the game, both in the layout and in the game mechanics.
And it seems the public loved it! we are glad to see you back on the board game design!.
Now, as a surprise for our readers to begin this new season in Red furros, Tracy Butler, creator of the Lackadaisy Web comic and now animated series on the way! Thank you so much Tracy for agreeing to this interview.
We want to begin by saying: Lackadaisy is amazing, and it’s not only us saying it, we’ve seen coverage from many sites about it, and we are thrilled that you agreed to have this interview.
We’ve come a long way since artist depended on big publishers to be able to get their productions to consumers, and we know it is not an easy task, what has been the biggest challenges do you think you were able to overcome to be able to make Lackadaisy the huge hit it has become?
║ Thanks for having me!
║About the challenges, well, audience reach has often proven to be the big one. It is a lovely and privileged thing to have a modestly sized but dedicated viewership who you, as a creator, can engage with on a personable level. It’s enriching in every way except the material one. It’s difficult to keep a project going consistently at that scale unless you’re perpetually scrambling with side gigs or working full-time on something else to make ends meet. To do any growing, you also have to do a lot of adapting or trend chasing to make sure your work is accessible on new devices and new social platforms. You have to pursue your audience, wherever they’re migrating. Lackadaisy existed in that realm as a web and print comic for many years. As it turns out, though, if you release an animated pilot episode on YouTube, you might suddenly find yourself with an exponentially larger audience than you’re accustomed to. And if you don’t give them more, they’ll become the pursuers. This is a whole other sort of challenge. The rules of engagement change and get a lot more complicated. On the bonus side, with so many new eyes on the project, it becomes a lot more feasible to source funds for its furtherance.
Now, this question is going to be a cliché interview question but we just have to ask it about Lackadaisy: What was your inspiration when you brought the webcomic to life?
║ Around the time I moved into an old house in a historic neighborhood in the St. Louis area I was also bumped from a hands-on artist position to a more managerial role at my job. I was left feeling sorely in need of a fulfilling creative outlet as a result. I began fixating on local history because of the house, and slippery-sloped my way down a deep rabbit hole about the subjects of limestone caves, moonshine, gangster warfare, and jazz. Eventually I emerged back into the sunlight with an idea for a story. Starring cats. (I won’t pretend I have a logical justification for that last part.)
Your followers probably already know this, but for those who are reading about Lackadaisy for the first time, the webcomic started with an analog palette that fit very well with the theme of the comic, and at some point you decided to go full color, that of course marked a change in direction from the artistic standpoint, why did you decide to do this change (which by the way, looks amazing).
║ Well, thanks. My rationale early on was that I wanted the whole thing to look like a faded memory. It’s a story about a time in the past, but it’s also very much about characters dwelling too much in their own pasts. So, a wistful sepia tinge seemed fitting. I gradually grew a bit frustrated with the stricture, though. A lot of the story takes place under the cover of night, and night in sepia looks like mud. So, I decided to experiment with adding hints of blue to offset the mud. Then green showed up. And red. Then teal, and gold as well. At some point, it was out of my control. Readers sometimes comment that it appears I must have meticulously crafted a gradual reveal of the full spectrum, as if the story were slowly coming to life. Well, uh, sure. Sure. Let’s go with that explanation.
When you started the webcomic, did you ever think you’d be making an animated series?
║ Yes and no. I wanted to animate it from the outset, but the software and resources to undertake animated longform storytelling were just not available to me at the time. As a solo artist who’d be working late at night and in the wee hours of the morning on the project, comics presented the fewest barriers for entry while still being a highly visual way of approaching it. So, that’s the direction I took. The idea of making some kind of animated adaptation remained in a back closet in my mind – more of a pipe dream than a plan – for many years. Then the terrain started changing. Crowdfunding like Kickstarter and Patreon came along. Software like Blender and Toon Boom were eminently available. So, I started reconsidering.
Creating an animated series sounds like something more complicated when you need to involve voice acting, animation, and much more. Can you tell us a bit about how your team came together and what challenges or adventures did you go through when producing your first episode?
║It’d be difficult to really capture the 3 year booze-cat odyssey we all travailed – against the backdrop of a pandemic, no less – without writing a book about it. To that end, we are writing a book about it. We promised that in the pilot crowdfund.
║The short version of events, though, is that I reached out to Fable Siegel, an incredible artist, fellow comic creator, and veteran animator, about the possibility of adapting Lackadaisy. That inquiry, as it turned out, was tantamount to tossing a match into a room full of powder kegs. My vague notion that I might someday, possibly, maybe, consider approaching an animation project blossomed violently into an assertion that animation will be made as soon as Fable was on board. We then had the serendipity to cross paths with Spike Trotman of Iron Circus Comics, who was equally eager to get some animating done, and who’s superhero origin story happened to involve running successful Kickstarter campaigns for unusual indie projects. So, we set out to make the pilot, and when we finished that, we decided there was yet more to be done.
║Of course, the skills, dedication, and gumption of an incredible crew of animators, actors, musicians, and artists of other stripes factor into this just as profoundly, but I’ll spare the details for that making-of book.
We understand that you have a Crowdfunding project going on to fund the animated series, and it’s been so great you had to add more goals! Congratulations!. Is there any message you would like to share to those who helped fund the Lackadaisy’s Kickstarter?
║It was a BackerKit campaign this time around, but it’s the same model of crowdfund that Kickstarter is. And it funded to the tune of…well, far more numbers than I ever thought I’d see next to the title of my little comic.
I don’t know what else to say but thank you! Whether you’ve been patiently following Lackadaisy along for years or whether you came around because of the recent animated pilot episode, the crew and I are deeply grateful, and we’ll be doing everything in our power to deliver back a cartoon series worthy of your support.
Tracy, Tempo, thank you so much for your time for this interview, we are very excited to see the episodes and of course, waiting to see what is next from you. Do you have any final words you would like to say to our readers?
Tempo: Thank you for inviting us!
Tracy: Thank you, Tempo, for looping me in! Thank you, Redfurros, for having me
And for our readers, you can watch the Pilot on Youtube!