When it comes to the comics of musician and artist Alexander Tucker we really need to find an entirely new genre classification just for them. Tucker’s haunting, meandering tales don’t really fit into an abstract comics definition given they have a (semi)narrative structure but there are similarities. Perhaps oblique comics would be a better term to encapsulate the almost intangible nature of his stories. There are truths in their pages that feel familiar but remain just tantalisingly out of reach, after all. Invitations to the reader to grasp their own meanings from the peculiar internal logic of the worlds Tucker creates. In those respects oblique comics would seem to encapsulate their enticing unspecificity rather well.
I’ve explored Tucker’s practice before at Broken Frontier in publications like World in the Forcefield (published by Breakdown Press) and the first issue of Entity Reunion (from his own Undimensioned imprint), noting that it’s work that on one level needs to be absorbed rather than dissected. It’s been a couple of years now since that first issue of Entity Reunion was released and it will perhaps be unsurprising to hear that Tucker’s long awaited return to graphic narrative in Entity Reunion 2 came as a result of the early days of the pandemic during a period when his musical muse deserted him.
Entity Reunion 2 has thematic links with its predecessor but works as a standalone story, though with Tucker’s approach that largely seems a rather redundant point to make. A bizarre entity whose body is split into two halves, one recognisably human and one with a skinless flayed appearance, materialises in a suburban environment. As he explores his surroundings he is observed by his own reverse doppelganger. Both, in turn, are being viewed by their all-powerful masters. who include a floating globular creature. As these various players come together, a mindbending union of otherworldly beings hints at a reality behind events that is elusive and yet cosmically captivating.
Tucker says of his comics “As with my music I like to develop material and then take it through a process of layering and building up spaces whilst at the same time deconstructing established ways of structure and storytelling, to then rebuild from that position.” Entity Reunion 2 embraces the sense of experimental non-linear composition that has been a staple of his previous comics. It merges elements that feel sequential and yet also random into a whole that deliberately defies facile coherence and yet, within the framework of its established reality, has its own off-centre authenticity.
Visually what makes this such a compelling comic is the manner in which Tucker draws the reader in from the very beginning, the alien creatures staring almost aggressively out of the page at the reader, defiantly daring them to join them in their journey. Constant changes in page layouts and panel structure speed up and slow down our interactions with the page, to particularly dramatic effect at the issue’s denouement. One central sequence with the globular alien’s perception of events uses a visual language that is markedly distinctive, emphasising its alternative perspective on proceedings.
There’s a sensation with Entity Reunion 2 that both creator and reader are on a journey of discovery together; that there’s there’s an indefinable otherness to Tucker’s creative process on this project that sits outside of creator and audience and, as a result, creates an added layer of intimacy between them. It’s an illusion, of course, but it’s an enticing one. Those who have missed Tucker’s idiosyncratic voice over the last couple of years will be reassured to hear that a second volume of World in the Forcefield will be released in 2021.
Review by Andy Oliver