With “The Walking Dead” being the massive success that it is, is it any wonder that AMC is looking to expand their lineup of comic book-based TV shows? AMC’s next major adaptation, “Preacher,” is based on another hugely popular indie comic full of death and violence, but that’s about where the similarities end.
If you’re not sure what “Preacher” is, or whether it’s worth adding to your DVR lineup, fear not. Here are five things you need to know before watching the saga of Jesse Custer.
“Preacher” is based on a long-running comic book series from writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon. There have been rumblings of a “Preacher” adaptation since the late ‘90s, long before the comic itself even wrapped up.
Directors like Kevin Smith and Sam Mendes have been attached to the project at different points. But for various reasons (the series’ complexity and adult themes being among them), it took the better part of two decades for “Preacher” to finally come to life on the small screen, thanks in part to executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
Dominic Cooper stars as small-town Texan preacher named Jesse Custer, with Ruth Negga (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) as his gun-toting ex-girlfriend, Tulip, and Joe Gilguin (“Emmerdale”) as Jesse’s best friend/freewheeling vampire Cassidy.
At its heart, “Preacher” is the story of a man trying to get in touch with God in a very literal way. As the series opens, Jesse is possessed by Genesis, an angel/demon hybrid that allows him to control anyone with the power of his voice. Basically, picture the Purple Man from Netflix’s “Jessica Jones” series.
But rather than using this power to terrorize others, Jesse uses it (and his newfound knowledge of the afterlife) to track down the absentee God and find answers about why humanity has been allowed to fall apart. Tulip and Cassidy are his faithful companions in this long and arduous (and bloody) task.
If the premise behind “Preacher” sounds offensive to you, we’d probably suggest skipping the show altogether. The comic always made the most of its "mature readers only" label and was never afraid to provoke or offend, and we doubt the TV adaptation will be any different.
“Preacher” has a very black sense of humor. It’s steeped in all manner of colorful violence and bizarre sexual situations. It even has a recurring character called Arseface (pictured), so named because his face looks like a… well, you get the idea.
However, there’s also a real heart -- and even a strong moral center -- to “Preacher.” This is ultimately a story of a kind, loyal man running from a troubled past who wants to use his new gift to do right by the world. Even seemingly goofy characters like Arseface have their own motivations and tragic backstories.
Some comic book adaptations try to stick as close to the source material as humanly possible. “Preacher” isn’t one of those. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Rogen and Goldberg revealed that they initially took a page from "Sin City" and originally planned to do an almost "frame-by-frame" adaptation of the comic. But the producers decided to shake up the formula and start with a less frantic pace.
The show will spend more time exploring Jesse’s preaching career before his real mission begins. And the fact that villain Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley) is a recurring character in Season 1 -- despite not appearing until the final two years of the comic -- suggests that the show will be shaking up the conflict in very significant ways.