WHY I WISH I WAS:
27 May 2019
#1 - JOHN TUCKER
At first glance you might take the laconically funny John Tucker to be a purveyor of off-kilter humour books that sit squarely within a very British tradition of absurdist comedy.
His comics are full of weird and whimsical meditations on the human condition that I always read with a bit of a Rob Bryden lilt. Quietly surrealist moments intrude on the otherwise humdrum lives of his characters or imagined fake histories ramp up the absurdity of real life in ways that recall The League of Gentlemen or a Chris Morris satire . Then there are the hilariously grotesque Death Roulette sketches he draws which feature portraits of convention goers suffering ridiculous demises that have the knockabout charm of a Reeves & Mortimer game show round. And of course there's that spoof convention banner in which John does his best Matt Berry impression skewering the pretensions of some within the small press scene.
John Tucker's work is in equal parts, hilarious and unsettling, somehow beautiful to look at even when his characters antics appear grotesque or just plain creepy, and he combines moments of surrealistic slapstic with a real eye for capturing the absurdity of the everyday. My two favourite small press comics of last year were in fact both by John. Bald is a beautifully drawn two-colour comic in which a preternaturally bald baby slides hairless head-first from his mother's womb onto the supermarket floor as she's out one day doing a big shop and Gang Culture in 1950s Swansea a mock folk history of youth delinquency that like Richard Littler's Scarfolk, exposes the dark underbelly of provincial British culture taken to absurdist extremes.
Beyond their being fauxstalgic reveries with gorgeously rendered Risograph aesthetics what both these surreal chapbooks share is a quiet concern with the question of community and it's loss. Tucker's comics express a wistful yearning for moments of shared connectedness, whether it's the Saturday morning men's club of Bald's Moon Brains or the bad boy antics of The Bare-Arse Boys. There is real affection in John's comics for these small half-lost spaces of male bonding, which is unsurprising when you consider that the cartoonist and his father are the three-time winners of their annual village scarecrow building competition!
The boy John is a talent, so go get hold of everything he's put out over at www.johntucker.co.uk