Wednesday, March 15, 2017


After I left the comic book industry (as a retailer, as a back-issue dealer, and as a writer), I didn't look at comics for a very long time. But I still had friends in the industry (mainly comic artists) and I would talk to them from time to time. During some of these conversations with several of these folk, a title kept coming up concerning the kinds of books that were appearing on the scene since my absence. That book was PREACHER.

PREACHER was published by DC Comics. Probably their Vertigo line, but I'm not sure and I don't feel like looking it up. At any rate, it was created and written by Garth Ennis, and illustrated by Steve Dillon. It has always been my impression that both of these fellows hailed from Europe, and when I looked into it, sure enough: Ennis from Ireland, and Dillon from UK.

The title was set in the USA, specifically the state of Texas. And it dealt mostly with Americans and USA situations and locale. Despite the fact that these two hailed from outside our nation, they pretty much seemed to have a grip on the seamy underbelly of life in this country. The book was well written with clever dialogue from Ennis, and illustrated cleanly but with a fine, twisted line by Dillon.

But I didn't care for the book.

It should have been at the top of my list of favorite reading material, but I had become so alienated from the comics medium that I just couldn't formulate any enthusiasm for the title. Yes, I picked up a couple of the multi-issue collections to get a feel for the work, but I couldn't stay with it. Part of the problem was that I was getting older and things that had once thrilled me now bored me. Also, I found the nihilism present in almost every page to be bothersome and almost sophomoric in the book's attempt to shock and outrage the reader.

PREACHER was ugly, it was disgusting, it was crude, and it was damned near nauseating. I read about seven issues and grew bored with it.

Then, AMC announced that they were producing it as a television series. My thought was that there was absolutely no freaking way they could do this. How could you show that much violence and that caliber of nihilism in a TV series? It couldn't be done and be allowed on a television show.

I was wrong.

There it was, in all of its horrific glory. Arseface. Jesse Custer. Tulip. Cassidy. And the rest of the whole, sorry, worthless lot. Blood. Broken bones. Murder. Torture. And lots and lots and lots of blasphemy. Tons of blasphemy. Blasphemy in almost every line of dialog and every frame of video.

And I like it. A lot. For some reason, what did not appeal to me in four color comics suddenly made all the sense in the world on my big flat-screen TV.

Why? Fuck if I know! I could not tell you why. The simple fact is that what I found boring and pedestrian in comics format was transformed into humor and attraction on the TV screen. Yeah...I know: it makes zero sense. The lines were similar from the comic to the teleplay. The images were almost spot-on when it came to recreating the characters from two dimensional renderings into human actors. But whatever it was, I found the show to be funny, and sarcastic, and entertaining.

Part of it could very well be the cast and how the writers chose to translate the story. It doesn't hurt that Ruth Negga (as Tulip) is achingly pretty. And both Jesse Custer and Cassidy are portrayed with a clever combination of humor and pathos. Whatever it is...I enjoy watching the show.

It works.

I like it.

PREACHER, the comic book.

PREACHER, the TV series.

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