Continuing my feature on comic book properties deserving to be made into big budget films or TV shows we come to Preacher, an amazing series created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Last time I covered why Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen and The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch would make great comic films.
Preacher is the story of Jesse Custer, a small town Texas reverend who’s become disillusioned with the gospel. Don’t be fooled, though, this isn’t one of your timid, Sunday school reverend types. Jesse is a tough guy with all the swagger and bravado of a western cowboy. He’s of late also become a cynic who’s prone to heavy drinking, smoking and swearing.
One day an ancient spirit known as Genesis comes crashing down from the Heavens, possessing Jesse. Using Genesis he is able to speak with “The Word”, a voice that sounds like God’s own, meaning that anyone who hears it is forced to do whatever he tells them to. His girlfriend, Tulip is a hitman and his best friend, Cassidy is a hard-drinking Irish vampire. Through a series of odd events these three characters are brought together and embark upon a mission to “find God”.
Originally Preacher was published as part of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, a line of comics meant for mature audiences. As such, the comic definitely isn’t for children and includes a healthy amount of sex, drugs, swear words and violence. Throughout their story they encounter demons, madmen, deviants, crooked cops, weirdos and everything in between.
A secret religious sect known as the Holy Grail learns of Jesse and his new power and they seek to exploit it towards their own ends. Herr Starr leads the grail. He is obsessed with harnessing the power within Jesse Custer for himself and using it to usher in a new era of Grail domination over the entire world.
Other colorful characters populating Jesse’s world are Arseface, a young kid who disfigured himself with a shotgun trying to imitate his hero, the late, great Kurt Cobain. Then there’s the “Saint of Killers”, the Angel of Death taken form as a dead-eyed cowboy with a heart cold enough to literally freeze Hell itself and a pair of six shooters capable of taking down tanks. Lifelong Jesse nemesis Jody is the self-professed “Biggest bastard on the planet”. Jody’s right-hand man is T.C., a backwoods psychopath who never met a creature he wouldn’t “do”. (Yes, this means exactly what you think it does.) Not to mention Jesse’s controlling, psychotic, “sweet ol’ granny” back in Louisiana.
Preacher has gone through varying levels of development hell for over a decade now. Just to show you how far along the project was, here’s a look at some mold work done on a possible Arseface mask. At one point HBO was in talks to develop a TV series based on the book. The plan was to treat every issue of the series as a full episode, meaning that most or all of the original series would be retained in the show. However, a subsequent change in management saw the new heads feeling that the series was too dark and it’s religious themes would be too controversial and so they deaded it. I can’t say how huge a loss this is, for both the network and fans. (Imagine someone turning down ‘The Sopranos’ or ‘Oz’ for being too violent.)
AMC scored big by being bold enough to translate Robert Kirkman’s ‘The Walking Dead’ comic to film, which proves that audiences are hungry for unique, new material like this. HBO would’ve been the perfect place for Preacher’s dark, slightly twisted sense of humor and gritty, unflinching violence.
According to the Hollywood Reporter Preacher was optioned by Columbia Pictures for a film to be directed by Sam Mendes but this deal appears to have fallen through as well. The latest director attached to the project is DJ Caruso, whose most recent film was ‘I Am Number Four’. Of course some doubt has arisen online as to whether a director most known for movies such as Disturbia and the Salton Sea can handle a project like Preacher. I’ll personally withhold judgment until I see the final product.
I’m confident that eventually Preacher will be adapted in one medium or another. Put simply it is too good of a series to be ignored by Hollywood for too long. The only lingering question is whether Hollywood will have enough respect for the source material to adapt it properly. If you’ve never heard of ‘Preacher’ go to your local bookstore and give the first graphic novel collection, “Gone to Texas” a read. It’s a great series that’s very deserving of being adapted into an awesome film or show.
Monroe readers can find Preacher graphic novels at Books-A-Million at 1201 Lamy Lane or they can inquire about them at Clint’s Comics, located at 101 Darbonne, across the street from the University of La. at Monroe.