Hollywood has long been trying to find a way to adapt writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon's seminal comic book Preacher - pretty much ever since it was first released in the mid-nineties. Of course the issue was (and still is) the fact that the comic series deals with some pretty out there material, even for the genre.
The story deals with a preacher named Jesse Custer, who is possessed by an entity born of an angel and demon's coupling. With more power than even God himself, a disillusioned Jesse begins an odyssey across America to find and kill God, who has abandoned heaven. Joining Jesse are an alcoholic Irish Vampire named Cassidy and Jesse's hit-woman girlfriend, Tulip O'Hare. Like we said: pretty out there.
The TV adaptation is being handled by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg - the guys behind films like Superbad and The Interview - along with Breaking Bad writer Sam Catlin. The trio must have done something right preparing the script for the TV series pilot, because AMC has committed to starting production on the pilot. Preacher should shoot in 2015, with a presumed premiere date in 2016.
Rogen and Goldberg have openly stated that the TV series won't be exactly like the comics, but so far, it seems like the major elements are still in play. We still expect to see a possessed preacher, boozy vampire and wild gun-toting girl - but like The Walking Dead, the general tone of the comic will probably be scaled back for the purposes of television. Then again, with Rogen and Goldberg behind it, there's no telling what "scaled back" may mean, relatively speaking.
Rogen and Goldberg had this to say about the pilot order:
“’Preacher’ has been our favorite comic since it first came out. Garth Ennis is one of our idols and it’s an incredible honor to be working on this. We promise we won’t make too many dick jokes and ruin it.”
For fans of the comic, Garth Ennis had this to say about the TV adaptation:
“Steve Dillon and I are extremely pleased to know AMC has taken ‘Preacher’ to pilot. We have had an ongoing voice in the efforts of the writers whom Sony TV and Original Film entrusted with this project, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Sam Catlin, and have been most gratified that they continue to include us, and that they have tackled the project with the type of unwavering commitment and courage needed to present the material as Steve and I intended. This has been a long time coming, but that it continues apace, and with the chance to be delivered episodically, gives ‘Preacher’ an opportunity to be seen in its best possible medium, not previously possible."
As always with adaptations, there is the inherit obligation to widen the tent, so to speak. Preacher the comic has gained a description of being "seminal" because its characters, stories and themes have stuck with people for nearly two decades. It could have the same effect on millions of new people (and hopefully even on those who read the comics), but it will have to be done in a different way for the medium of TV.
Debate still rages on into season 5 about whether or not The Walking Dead has done things right in its jump from comic book page to TV, and it will likely continue as Preacher heads to the screen as well (on the same network, no less). This early on it's hard to get overwhelmingly happy or sad about all this: most of the show is still formless (no cast, characters, or directors announced), but each step of production will certainly have fans' attention.
Preacher will start production in 2015 - with a presumed premiere date in 2016.