Okay. I’m not the type of person that easily gets “Nerd Rage”. I usually get more of a “Nerd Concerned” feeling. Also, I always wait til I see something, whether it be movie, TV show or game, before I pass judgement on it. So, when I heard that my favorite comic book series of all time was finally getting adapted for television I had extremely mixed emotions. The series that I am so attached to is called Preacher. It was written by Garth Ennis and beautifully illustrated by Steve Dillon. While I love this series, I have some major concerns over how it will be treated in a different medium.
The comic book industry wasn’t exactly thriving in the 1990’s. In fact the industry almost disappeared in the late 90’s. The market was over-saturated with poorly executed concepts, uninspired storylines, lame sales gimmicks and Rob Liefeld. (Seriously, how did he get so much work?) However, there was one company especially that managed to do things correctly in that era, and that company was Vertigo. Being an imprint of DC, Vertigo was free to publish stories that normally wouldn’t get past the Comics Code Authority. And the Vertigo series that stuck out to me, was Preacher.
*Possible Spoilers Ahead*
Even though the series debuted 19 years ago, I’ll be courteous and warn all of you that I may mention something from the series that could be considered a spoiler. You’ve been warned.
The premise of Preacher caught my attention immediately. This series opened me up to the idea that comics could be about more than just men and women in tights fighting super villains. It expanded my horizons and has been a gateway comic to so many other great stories.
In the world of Preacher, God has run away from his post in Heaven, and the protagonist, a preacher named Jesse Custer, is on a mission to hunt him down and find out what’s going on. If that doesn’t sound crazy enough, there’s more. Custer is also possessed by a supernatural creature called Genesis, which gives him a power called “The Word of God”. This ability causes those who listen to “The Word” to obediently follow Jesse’s commands, as long as they understand said commands. Along the way, Jesse confronts demons and angels, befriends an Irish vampire, and even crosses paths with the last descendant of Jesus Christ (You folks will love that storyline). This all sounds great, right? Preacher has a unique premise with tons of controversial content. So when I heard that this extremely controversial comic was going to be adapted into a TV series for basic cable on AMC, my nerd concern kicked in.
Listen, I understand why AMC is doing this and, to be honest, it’s not a terrible idea. AMC has had huge success with the adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, originally a comic book from Image. A lot of people believed that The Walking Dead couldn’t be adapted for television due to the violence and events of the storylines. Today, the adaptation of is one of the most successful shows on television. There is even a TV show dedicated to talking about just The Walking Dead. I’m sure the executives at AMC saw all of this and immediately started looking for another comic book series full of controversy. Preacher seems to be a perfect fit for what they’re looking for.
With everything that I’ve said so far, I should be 100% behind the Preacher TV show. However, Preacher’s stories are far more controversial than what The Walking Dead deals with. Anytime any show deals with any religion, it’s going to come under extreme scrutiny. Although it’s just a fictional story, it does take liberties with certain religious ideas that are sure to offend Christians. (Again, the last living descendant of Christ is a character in this series). The violence might also be an issue. Sure, The Walking Dead has plenty of violence, but it’s normally against a zombie. In Preacher, plenty of people get killed all sorts of gruesome ways (A character named Odin Quincannon comes to mind, you’ll love that story too). And let’s not forget the amount of sex that’s in the comic book. Preacher has quite a few scenes that would make Game of Thrones look tame. If you decide to read the comic, let me know what you think of the Gomorrah People. Also, news of how the writing team has to deviate from the source material to create the adaptation for TV has me concerned.
Preacher was insane most of the time, but that was part of the beauty of it. That series did not hold back on anything. Every time I thought the series couldn’t go further with an idea, it topped itself. I am just concerned that the series won’t be able to achieve that on any level. The comic book was able to weave together American westerns, religious humor, deviant sexual acts, graphic violence, and surprisingly believable characters into an amazing story that pushes every boundary that you can think of. I’m hoping that at least some of this makes it into the TV adaptation. Deviating too far from the established material would be detrimental to the feel of the show.
To be fair, AMC is doing some things right and they have produced quality shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Both Ennis and Dillon are being brought in with the show’s production, much like Kirkman was brought in to oversee The Walking Dead. Ennis even approves of the TV show’s writers, Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen (Yeah, that Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen). Ennis’ approval of the new writing team’s ideas does give me a glimmer of hope and exposing the story to the masses will probably get people to pick up the original comics.
This is the first time in a while where I have had to suppress some nerd rage. I will admit, that if done right, the show could be a massive hit. It’s just hard to believe in this project considering all the roadblocks that the show has to get around. It will be no easy task to work around the censorship, the changing of the medium, and the guys who wrote the Green Hornet feature film. I will try to remain positive because I genuinely want the adaptation to succeed. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Here’s hoping for the best.