The cast of Preacher. Cover to Preacher #56. Art by Glenn Fabry.
|Publisher||Vertigo imprint of DC Comics|
|Genre||Satire, Low Fantasy, Action|
|Number of issues||66 (plus 5 specials and a 4-issue miniseries)|
|Main character(s)||Jesse Custer
Saint of Killers
Preacher is a comic book series created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, published by the American comic book label Vertigo (an imprint of DC Comics), with painted covers by Glenn Fabry.
The series consists of 75 issues in total—66 regular, monthly issues, five one-shot specials and a four-issue Preacher: Saint of Killers limited series. The entire run has been collected in nine trade paperback editions. The final monthly issue, number 66, was published in July 2000.
Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher in the small Texas town of Annville. Custer was accidentally possessed by the supernatural creature named Genesis in an incident which killed his entire congregation and flattened his church.
Genesis, the product of the unauthorized, unnatural coupling of an angel and a demon, is an infant with no sense of individual will. However, as it is composed of both pure goodness and pure evil, it might have enough power to rival that of God Himself. In other words, Jesse Custer, bonded to Genesis, may have become the most powerful being in the whole of living existence.
Custer, driven by a strong sense of right and wrong, goes on a journey across the United States attempting to (literally) find God, who abandoned Heaven the moment Genesis was born. He also begins to discover the truth about his new powers. They allow him, when he wills it, to command the obedience of those who hear and comprehend his words. He is joined by his old girlfriend Tulip O'Hare, as well as a hard-drinking Irish vampire named Cassidy.
During the course of their journeys, the three encounter enemies and obstacles both sacred and profane, including: the Saint of Killers, an invincible, quick-drawing, perfect-aiming, come-lately Angel of Death answering only to "He who sits on the throne"; a disfigured suicide attempt survivor turned rock-star named Arseface; a serial-killer called the 'Reaver-Cleaver'; The Grail, a secret organization controlling the governments of the world and protecting the bloodline of Jesus; Herr Starr, ostensible Allfather of the Grail, a megalomaniac with a penchant for prostitutes, who wishes to use Custer for his own ends; several fallen angels; and Jesse's own redneck 'family' — particularly his nasty Cajun grandmother, her mighty bodyguard Jody, and the 'animal-loving' T.C.
Themes and influences
Preacher draws on movies, particularly Westerns, for many of its stylistic elements. For example: an apparition of John Wayne is a recurring character and serves as a sort of spiritual guide or conscience for Custer; Monument Valley and The Alamo serve as backdrops to various legs of the journey; for a time, Jesse acts as the sheriff of a small town in Texas, and must protect the inhabitants from harm; the image of the Saint of Killers, a reformed bounty hunter-turned-killer-once-more in the tradition of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven character, William Munny, is a nod to the classic Western notion of nemesis, straight and true and terrible.
The series also invokes ideas popularized by such books as Holy Blood, Holy Grail. As Massimo Introvigne of the Center for Studies on New Religion explains, Preacher was "among the popular comic book series which...focused interest on the subject." Within Preacher the claims that there is a still-viable bloodline descending from Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene similar to those in Holy Blood, Holy Grail are taken as true. Herr Starr reveals to Cassidy that Jesus had children, and did not die on the cross, but instead lived to middle-age, and was killed by a runaway offal cart. After his death the Grail guardians took away his offspring, who were forced to intermarry with one another in order to keep Jesus' divine power within the bloodline. For over 2000 years this intermarrying perpetuated an incestuous family tree culminating the last of the Jesus line, a mentally handicapped child, in whom the Grail guardians place their hopes.
The original plot and premise of Preacher was spun out of Ennis' run on Hellblazer, which postulated what would happen if an angel and a demon mated, and the spirit of their offspring ended up in a mortal man. Like many comics spun out of DC's 90's work, it incorporates the idea of the Christian God (Jahve) as the main antagonist of the series, serving as the creator who has left his creation. Other related comics include Swamp Thing and Sandman (and its spinoffs, like Lucifer).
|#||Title||ISBN||Release date||Collected material|
|1||Preacher: Gone to Texas||ISBN 978-1-56389-261-5||March 1, 1996||Preacher #1–7|
|2||Preacher: Until the End of the World||ISBN 978-1-56389-312-4||January 1, 1997||Preacher #8–17|
|3||Preacher: Proud Americans||ISBN 978-1-56389-327-8||October 1, 1997||Preacher #18-26|
|4||Preacher: Ancient History||ISBN 978-1-56389-405-3||March 1, 1998||Preacher Special: Saint of Killers #1-4, Preacher Special: The Story of You-Know-Who, and Preacher Special: The Good Old Boys|
|5||Preacher: Dixie Fried||ISBN 978-1-56389-428-2||September 1, 1998||Preacher #27-33 and Preacher Special: Cassidy - Blood and Whiskey|
|6||Preacher: War in the Sun||ISBN 978-1-56389-490-9||March 1, 1999||Preacher #34-40 and Preacher Special: One Man's War|
|7||Preacher: Salvation||ISBN 978-1-56389-519-7||September 1, 1999||Preacher #41-50|
|8||Preacher: All Hell's A-Coming||ISBN 978-1-56389-617-0||June 1, 2000||Preacher #51-58 and Preacher Special: Tall in the Saddle|
|9||Preacher: Alamo||ISBN 978-1-56389-715-3||May 1, 2001||Preacher #59-66|
|#||Title||ISBN||Release date||Collected material|
|1||Preacher: Book One||ISBN 978-1-4012-2279-6||July 21, 2009||Preacher #1–12|
|2||Preacher: Book Two||ISBN 978-1-4012-2579-7||February 16, 2010||Preacher #13–26|
|3||Preacher: Book Three||ISBN 978-1-4012-3016-6||December 21, 2010||Preacher #27–33, Preacher Special: Saint of Killers #1–4, and Preacher Special: Cassidy – Blood and Whiskey|
|4||Preacher: Book Four||ISBN 978-1-4012-3093-7||June 14, 2011||Preacher Special: The Story of You-Know-Who, Preacher Special: The Good Old Boys, Preacher Special: One Man's War, and Preacher #34–40|
|5||Preacher: Book Five||ISBN 978-1-4012-3250-4||November 29, 2011||Preacher #41–54|
|6||Preacher: Book Six||ISBN 978-1-4012-3415-7||January 17, 2012||Preacher #55–66 and Preacher Special: Tall in the Saddle|
Garth Ennis, feeling Preacher would translate perfectly as a film, sold the film rights to Electric Entertainment. Rachel Talalay was hired to direct, with Ennis writing the script. Rupert Harvey and Tom Astor were set as producers. By May 1998, Ennis completed three drafts of the script, based largely on the Gone to Texas story arc. The filmmakers found it difficult financing Preacher because investors found the idea religiously controversial. Ennis approached Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier to help finance the film under their View Askew Productions banner. Ennis, Smith and Mosier pitched Preacher to Bob Weinstein at Miramax Films.
Weinstein was confused by the characterization of Jesse Custer. Miramax also did not want to share the box office gross with Electric Entertainment, ultimately dropping the pitch. By May 2000, Smith and Mosier were still attached to produce with Talalay directing, but Smith did not know the status of Preacher, feeling it would languish in development hell. By then, Storm Entertainment, a UK-based production company known for their work on independent films, joined the production with Electric Entertainment. In September 2001, the two companies announced Preacher had been greenlighted to commence pre-production, with filming to begin in November and Talaly still directing Ennis' script. The production and start dates were pushed back because of financial issues of the $25 million projected budget.
James Marsden was cast in the lead role as Jesse Custer sometime in 2002. He explained, "It was something I never knew anything about, but once I got my hands on the comic books, I was blown away by it." In a March 2004 interview, Marsden said the filmmakers were hoping for filming to start the following August. With the full-length film adaptation eventually abandoned with budgetary concerns, HBO announced in November 2006 that they commissioned Mark Steven Johnson and Howard Deutch to produce a television pilot. Johnson was to write with Deutch directing. Impressed with Johnson's pilot script, HBO had him write the series bible for the first season. Johnson originally planned "to turn each comic book issue into a single episode" on a shot-for-shot basis. "I gave [HBO] the comics, and I said, 'Every issue is an hour'. Garth Ennis said 'You don't have to be so beholden to the comic'. And I'm like, 'No, no, no. It's got to be like the comic'."
Johnson also wanted to make sure that one-shots were included as well. Johnson changed his position, citing new storylines conceived by Ennis. "Well, there would be nothing new to add if we did that, so Garth [Ennis] and I have been creating new stories for the series," he said. "I love the book so much and I was telling Garth that he has to make the stories we are coming up with as comics because I want to see them." By August 2008, new studio executives at HBO decided to abandon the idea, finding it too stylistically dark and religiously controversial. Columbia Pictures then purchased the film rights in October 2008 with Sam Mendes directing. Neal H. Moritz and Jason Netter are producing the film. The previous scripts written by Ennis will not be used.
On November 16, 2013, it was announced that AMC will be shooting a pilot for Preacher. On November 18, 2013, BleedingCool confirmed that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg developed the series pilot, and that it will be distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
The character Yorick from Y: The Last Man, has a Zippo lighter with the words "Fuck Communism" engraved, identical to the one owned by Jesse Custer in Preacher. When asked about it he says it's "from this book I read once...a graphic novel. You know, like a comic book." This lighter appears later in the series when Yorick and Agent 355 are being held by Russian agents at gunpoint, who find the lighter and take offense to it. Also, in volume 4 "Safeword", Yorick says "pardners", which is used several times in "Preacher", in lieu of "partners".
- Introvigne, Massimo. "Beyond 'The Da Vinci Code': What is the Priory of Sion?". Center for Studies on New Religion. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
- Stax (2000-02-10). "The Stax report: Script Review of Preacher". IGN. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Elston Gunn (2000-05-14). "Elston Gunn interviews Kevin Smith". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Drew McWeeny (2001-09-06). "Preacher Has Got A Greenlight!! Hell Freezes Over!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Ethan Aames (2005-06-20). "Interview: James Marsden on Heights". Cinema Confidential. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Borys Kit; Leslie Simmons (2008-10-29). "Columbia signs on for 'Preacher' feature". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-10-29.[dead link]
- Stax (2004-03-22). "Marsden on Preacher". IGN. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Eric Goldman (2006-11-29). "HBO Prays for Preacher". IGN. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Peter Brown (2007-06-10). "Exclusive Interview: Mark Steven Johnson Finds Religion With Preach - Part 1". IF Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-29.[dead link]
- Cindy White (2006-12-01). "Johnson Talks HBO's Preacher". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved 2008-10-29.[dead link]
- Daniel Robert Epstein (2006-12-05). "Johnson Talks HBO's Preacher". Newsarama. Retrieved 2008-10-29.[dead link]
- Rob Allstetter (2008-08-25). "Mark Steven Johnson: No Preacher On HBO". Comics Continuum. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Devin Faraci (2013-11-16). "AMC Is Taking PREACHER To Pilot". Bad Ass Digest. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
- Rich Johnston (2013-11-18). "SCOOP: Sony Pictures Television Gives TV Pilot Development Commitment To Preacher". BleedingCool.com. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
- King's afterword to The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born
- Y: The Last Man, #55, May 2007
- Hilary Goldstein. "The 25 Best Vertigo Books". IGN.
- Jesse Custer, "The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters", Empire, accessed April 26, 2011.
- The Saint of Killers, "The 50 Greatest Comic Book Characters", Empire, accessed April 26, 2011.