One of the most anticipated new series for the summer season, AMC’s Preacher promises to be one helluva ride. A drinkin’, smokin’, bar-brawlin’ preacher with a past, an Irish vampire with a drug habit, a woman who can kick any ass she chooses, and a small Texas town where they all come together. That alone would make for an incredible show, but Preacher doesn’t stop there. Supernatural elements, powers, mysteries and uber-violence – it’s all a powerful (and entirely novel) mix. With a great cast on top of it all, Preacher appears to be a sure-fire hit, as it’s already garnering rave reviews.
Whether you still aren’t quite convinced that it’s worth watching, or if you’re so excited that you just can’t wait for tomorrow night’s premiere, it’s time for some Preacher fun. From the basics to trivia, we’ve got everything you need to know about the upcoming series right here.
13. It’s Based On A Comic
Let’s get the obvious out of the way here. Comic book adaptations are still hot property for TV and film, and Preacher is no exception. However, this is absolutely not a superhero show. The original Preacher comics debuted in 1995, and the series enjoyed a nice 5 year run before wrapping up in the fall of 2000. In addition to the monthly issues that told the central story, Vertigo comics (an imprint of DC) also released five one-shot specials and a four-part miniseries titled “Preacher: Saint of Killers.”
The series is written by famed comic writer Garth Ennis and inked by Steve Dillon, with cover art by Glenn Fabry. Although series like this are a little more common these days, twenty years ago, long-form (yet finite) series written by a single person were incredibly rare – and Preacher showed us how it was done. The series became a cult classic with a devoted fanbase who loved seeing a series that didn’t tone itself down for anyone.
12. It’s Inspired By Hellblazer
Preacher writer Garth Ennis has also worked on several other well-known comic series, including nine years on Punisher and several years on Hellblazer (from 1991 to 1994). The basic premise of Preacher, including the concept of an absentee God and a demon and an angel mating, was inspired by his work with John Constantine.
Many of the elements are clearly similar – the supernatural concepts, the ideas around religion, even (to an extent) Cassidy’s appearance. Despite this, the comic is not a direct spin-off, and is not connected to the universe of Hellblazer in any way; it is simply an idea that started from the better-known DC title. Hopefully, the show will also be a lot more successful than NBC’s ill-fated Constantine, which was cancelled after only thirteen episodes.
11. It’s Heavily Influenced By Westerns
As well as the aforementioned Hellblazer, Preacher draws inspiration from two main sources: westerns and the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. The Western influence is evident in the locations and the visual style, but also in the idea of a loner searching for God. Screen legend John Wayne also appears in the books, although there is no word yet on if he (or an actor playing him, for obvious reasons) will be popping up in the show. Another character, the Saint of Killers, is also clearly drawn from old Western inspiration, from his physical appearance to his backstory and personality.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a book published in 1982, which hypothesizes that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were not only real people, but that they married and had children. According to the book, their descendants are still alive today, involved in conspiracies of power at the highest levels. The book influenced the more religious side of the Preacher comics, and it even inspired Dan Brown to write his bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code in 2003.
10. The Main Cast Are All From The UK
Preacher is set in Texas, in a fictional town named Annville. The titular preacher, Jesse Custer, and his ex-girlfriend Tulip are both from the southern US, and the accents are spot-on from everything we’ve seen so far. However, the actors themselves are not actually American.
Dominic Cooper, who plays Jesse Custer, is English, and Ruth Negga (Tulip) is Irish. The one character who isn’t American, Cassidy, is Irish – and he’s being played by Joe Gilgun, whose natural accent is from Northern England. All of which means that the three main characters spend the entire series speaking in an accent that isn’t their own – and doing it well. Negga is undoubtedly helping to ensure that Gilgun’s Irish lilt is spot on, but all three are so talented that most viewers would never know they were putting it on anyway.
Casting UK-born actors to star in their series has worked out before for AMC, so let’s hope history can repeat itself.
9. Seth Rogen Is Involved (But It’s Not A Comedy)
One of the biggest surprises for fans of the comics was the announcement that Seth Rogen would be heading up the project and co-directing the pilot episode. Rogen and his partner-in-crime Evan Goldberg have been heavily involved from the start, writing and developing the show for AMC alongside Sam Catlin (known for Breaking Bad).
Although Rogen is famous for his particular brand of low-brow comedy, that does not mean that Preacher is a comedy series. It’s got a lot of black humor to it, but anyone expecting Superbad in a dog collar will be disappointed. Rogen’s involvement actually comes from his passion for the series – he and Goldberg have been fans of the books since the ‘90s, and the showrunners are adamant about keeping the heart and soul of Preacher alive.
8. The Comic Creators Are Also Involved
If Rogen and Goldberg’s superfan status isn’t enough to convince comic fans that the best parts of Preacher won’t be lost in translation, the other writing credits will do it. Both Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, the original creators of the comics, are involved in the writing as well. The two have been busy promoting the show as well, attending SXSW for a pilot screening, doing Q&A sessions with the cast and other writers, and generally giving their stamp of approval to the new adaptation.
This isn’t just a matter of crediting the two for creating the comics that inspired the series. Ennis and Dillon are truly involved in bringing the comics to life, which is always an encouraging sign.
7. The Main Trio Have All Appeared In Superhero/Comic Book Shows Before
Preacher won’t be the first time most of the cast have appeared in comic book universes. In fact, two of the three have been in the Marvel Cinematic Universe together. Dominic Cooper plays the young Howard Stark in both the MCU films and in Marvel’s Agent Carter, while Ruth Negga played Raina in Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Joe Gilgun, meanwhile, has actually played a superpowered being before — in the British series Misfits. Although Misfits is not based on a comic book series, it’s a show about a group of probation workers who get superpowers after a storm. Negga also appeared on the show, although in a much smaller role than Gilgun.
6. Religion Plays A Big Part
Unsurprisingly, given the title, there are a lot of religious elements in the comics and the show. What new fans might not know, however, is that these are not subtle references or underlying themes. God, Heaven, Hell, Christ, angels, saints and more are not abstract concepts, but literal characters and places.
Preacher is probably closer to the recent seasons of Supernatural than it is to a realistic drama about a man of the cloth. These religious elements are also not dealt with with great sensitivity – in fact, most of them are very negative portrayals. From angels who do cocaine to violent, power-mad religious fanatics, Preacher doesn’t tiptoe around this sensitive subject, and is sure to cause controversy because of it. The books are some of the most controversial in comic book history, after all.
5. This Isn’t The First Attempt At An Adaptation
Due to its popularity, several people have attempted to make an adaptation of Preacher over the years. The rights were first sold for film in the ‘90s, with Garth Ennis writing the script. At one point, Kevin Smith was attached to produce the movie, with Rachel Talalay directing and James Marsden starring. However, the biggest issue with the project was funding – the controversial nature of the comics (along with the expense of gory special effects) made it difficult to find investors, and the project was abandoned.
After that, HBO picked it up for a possible television series, with Mark Steven Johnson writing the script. However, even HBO, the home of one of the most brutal and shocking shows on TV turned it down for being too dark and violent. A final attempt at a film was made, this time with Sam Mendes reportedly at the helm and Ennis’s scripts being used, but once again, the project was deemed too controversial to move forward.
4. There Are Vampires (But It’s Not A Vampire Show)
In addition to the various religious elements of the series, Preacher includes several other supernatural elements, including vampires. One of the main three characters, Cassidy, is actually a vampire himself – which we see from the first episode (and the fact that he bursts into flame in the sun in the teasers!).
And he’s also not the only one. Several other vamps appear at various points in the comics, usually as part of Cassidy’s backstory. We’re sure to see some of these pop up in the series, but Preacher is definitely not another typical vampire show. Cassidy’s “condition” is, by and large, simply accepted in the comics. It’s just another layer to the fantasy, and he and his kind aren’t the focus of the story in any way, shape or form. It’s just part of who Cassidy is, like his drinking or his accent.
3. There Is A LOT Of Swearing
On top of the constant violence (and a fair bit of sex, of course), the books are some of the most foul-mouthed comics you can find. Almost every page has at least one example of “bad language” on it, whether it is the relatively mild (such as the character named Arseface), the more intense (lots of f-bombs to look forward to), or the highly inventive, the characters always seem to be swearing.
Part of this makes sense – our main trio, while somewhat sympathetic, are not the clean-living, shiny happy people that would never curse. Hearing them swear, especially in some of the violent situations, just fits the tone of the comic. Of course, there won’t be quite as much swearing on-screen (the censors would never allow it to happen), but we have seen that there will still be some blue language. In the sneak peek, for example, some prankster has changed the church sign to a very inappropriate (and hilarious) suggestion.
2. It’s Incredibly Violent
Many casual viewers still hear the words “comic book” and think “kid stuff”, but Preacher (much like that other popular-yet-bloody comic book adaptation, The Walking Dead) is adult-oriented and does not stint on the gore. The first four minutes of the series showed us a priest exploding in a shower of blood and guts, and that’s actually fairly restrained compared to the comics.
The series has an incredibly high body count, with plenty of intensely violent kills throughout. Just a few of the scenes from the comic include a man having sex with a giant lump of bloody meat shaped like a woman, a serial killer who pulls off a man’s face and shows it to him, and a trio of psychotic hillbillies keep a man prisoner while cutting off his body parts to eat them one by one. Judging from the pilot, it seems like the show isn’t going to tone it down, either. Buckle up for a lot of blood!
1. It’s Not An Exact Adaptation
Although the original creators are involved, the show is not going to be a direct page-to-screen adaptation of the comics. The basic premise, the characters, and the tone of the show will remain the same, but the journey is going to feel very different for comic book fans.
For one thing, the show will spend the entire first season (at least) in Annville where Jesse Custer is a preacher. In the comics, his time in Annville ends within the first few pages. Tulip is also looking a little different – physically, she’s no longer white and blonde (diversity is admittedly somewhat lacking in the original books), but she’s also a lot stronger (physically and emotionally) from the start.
Another major change is in Odin Quincannon’s appearance – in the books, he doesn’t show up for quite some time, eventually appearing in a different small town. For the show, he has been cast in season one, and his evil doings will be affecting Annville. Still, despite these changes, the heart and soul of the series remains intact.
Will you be adding Preacher to your weekly roster of television watching? Let us know in the comments!