John Tucker has been making a fantastic name for himself on the small press circuit over the past couple of years thanks to excellent books like Adrift and Bald, but also his unique convention appearances where he will draw pictures of you getting killed in surreal situations and also fake IDs. His new book The King looks set to continue that fine tradition with a story about a woman and a mysterious giant egg.
Publisher: John Tucker
Writer: John Tucker
Artist: John Tucker
Price: £3 from johntucker.bigcartel.com
With books like Adrift, Bald and last year’s innovative two-shot Plan A/Plan B, we’ve begun to get an idea of what makes John Tucker tick as a comic creator. His books all have this delightfully surreal sense of humour which are contrasted with some gorgeous cartoon visuals. His stories have a glorious stream of consciousness feel to them and aren’t afraid to go off in strange and unique directions and his visuals have the quality to follow these flights of fancies to their ludicrous but still logical conclusion. But he’s also prepared to bush the boundaries of what makes a comic, and try new and original ways of telling stories and this makes his comics really interesting as well as frequently hilarious.
Which brings us to The King, his new full length comic that is debuting at True Believers 2020. When Lisa finds out her sister Gwen has passed away she discover that she has been left a giant egg as part of her will. Lisa and Gwen were estranged as Gwen had left home young and travelled the world working with bands, leading the rock n roll life, but little does Lisa know what she is in store for with this legacy.
And that’s all we can tell you as John has asked us not to reveal what is in the egg. But suffice to say, you’ll never figure it out! (Although the book’s title might give you a bit of a clue!) The contents of the egg take Lisa and her husband on a strange and unique journey which is as bonkers as it is brilliant.
The unique concept allows Tucker to create a delightfully strange world which mixes strange ideas and wonderful visuals. But what makes it really work is that it is packed with a wonderfully charming and endearing heart which this is much more than just a surreal and over the top story. Even though it is very strange it has this grounded core, that just happens to be taking place in a very strange scenario.
John tells the whole story like a children’s picture book, using single images per page and beautifully type set pages. The whole thing has a sepia hued feel, and the artwork is coloured with watercolour washes and orange duotone colour scheme which feels like a vintage Ladybird or Look and See book. All of which perfectly compliments this nostalgic and reflective story, but also allows John to be more experimental with the content as it has this feeling of being set in a very childlike world, where grown up restrictions no longer apply.
It’s difficult to talk about The King without giving too much away, but it is a wonderful read. It is packed full of invention and originality and the direction the story heads is truly one of a kind. It’s funny, poignant and utterly brilliant, all of which makes it our first must-read book of 2020.