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When AMC announced that they ordered a live-action adaptation of the Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s graphic novel Preacher to series, fans of the books and comic connoisseurs across the board rejoiced. The DC/Vertigo property had languished in development purgatory for years: Sam Mendes was initially tapped to direct a feature-length film for Columbia Pictures to no avail, and then HBO tried its hand at an episodic approach but couldn’t get past the larval stages of pre-production.
And with a story and characters so twisted, so violent, so blasphemous, so complexly structured, that should come as no surprise. Preacher weaves the tale of a small-town Texas preacher named Jesse Custer who, after being possessed by a supernatural entity that is equal parts divine and demonic, departs on a righteous road trip to track down God, who has abandoned heaven and humankind to hide out on Earth. With jumps in time, shifts in setting anywhere from Texas to Heaven, and encounters with tertiary characters ranging from the immortal to the incestuous, Preacher would require storytelling experts—prophets—with a vision so dark and comedic to finally bring the project to the screen.
Enter Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Longtime fans of the Preacher comics, the comedy gods hopped on board as executive producers to develop Preacher for AMC and inject the perfect dosage of fun and ferociousness into the series. And who better? The duo seem to be working out their personal beef with faith, god and the eternal afterlife in their movies in hilarious, crass, but always enlightened fashion. Their atheistic doubt is clear, but it never feels mean-spirited towards believers. Maybe Preacher is their final theology thesis in an unintended trilogy (This Is the End, Sausage Party, now this); their own version of Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto series, perhaps. Rogen and Goldberg also benefit from having writer/producer Sam Catlin in their corner, whose legacy at AMC includes elevating Breaking Bad to the pinnacle of prestige television. A perfect marriage in gallows’ humor, gory violence and great storytelling.
Now the stage is set for one devilish ride. But before Preacher airs this Sunday, May 22, let’s meet the principles involved. This is intended to be a spoiler-free guide for people coming into the show with no knowledge of the comics, and a heads up to what has changed from book to series for the avid Preacher reader.