It’s was with some trepidation that I sidled up to the new TV series, Preacher. I’ve been waiting years for the story, inspired by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s iconic graphic novels, to make it to the screen. In fact, I wrote in praise of the comics as Small Object of Desire #4 on this very blog five years ago. From the moment I discovered the books in about 2004, I was hooked. It was funny, profane, violent, twisted, epic, supernatural, poignant, capable of deep insights into faith, the human condition and social issues and was utterly compelling. So any depiction on screen was going to be a big deal for me.
Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher in the small Texas town of Annville. He becomes possessed by Genesis, the progeny of the unholy coupling of an angel and a demon, making him potentially the most powerful creature in the world. God abandoned Heaven the moment Genesis was born so Jesse sets off across the USA, accompanied by his badass, gun-toting ex-girlfriend, Tulip and hard-drinking Irish vampire Cassidy, to literally find God.
First, there was talk of Sam Mendes helming a film version of it. Sam Mendes? That didn’t seem like a good fit to me. Then there were rumours that Darren Aronofsky was on board. The guy who directed the phantasmagoric Black Swan? I could live with that. All this was in a time before people had really wised up to how suitable a medium TV is for long form storytelling. Yes, the series Lost and Heroes led the avant grade in this respect but this was a time well before Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones or Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones. These days, movies don’t stack up against the kind of storytelling that TV can harness and to do Preacher, the graphic novels justice, it had to be a series. In short, I’m glad that the makers didn’t try and compress this rangy story into a paltry two hours.
It’s reassuring to discover that the showrunner is Sam Caitlin, writer on Breaking Bad. Top notch pedigree. And on the evidence of the pilot episode which is ballsy, confident and on the right side of the absurdity that drenches the comics, it seems we are in safe hands here. Some of plotting and exposition from the comics has been shifted around to suit this new medium but it remains faithful to the characters and the tonal spirit of the source material. Not a bad job. Not a bad job at all.
Now, I can’t wait for the Saint of Killers to make an appearance. The character in the comics used to scare the bejesus out of me!