Though the idea of bringing beloved comic book heroes, villains and anti-heroes to life via TV or cinema is a pretty familiar one, not every character or storyline is quick to get off the ground. The adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novel series for example, has spent more than 25 years in development hell and is still not guaranteed to make it to the big screen in the near future.
Similarly, another title on DC’s Vertigo imprint – Preacher – has had its own lengthy share of ups and downs in finding an adapted home. Ever since Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Western/horror graphic novel culminated its print run in 2000, numerous attempts to adapt it have been made to no avail. Even the cable network of all cable networks, HBO, couldn’t find the right recipe to get things going.
With such a fraught and daunting history behind it, fans of Preacher were understandably delaying their excitement when it was announced some time ago that raunch comedy veterans Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg would be developing a Preacher TV series. Fans have gotten little tastes here and there of what that series might be like (including a trailer), but now AMC has announced (in conjunction with the Preacher pilot being screened at SXSW 2016 today, at the time of writing this) that the series premiere will arrive May 22, following the midseason finale of Fear the Walking Dead season 2.
Although the images and footage we’ve seen thus far are impressive, the story of Texas preacher Reverend Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) - and his journey to kill God after being possessed by a half angel, half devil entity called Genesis - isn’t going to be an exact adaptation of the comic. Many of the story’s original colourful cast of characters are all still in place such as Custer’s ex-girlfriend Tulip (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ruth Negga), boozy Irish vampire Cassidy (The Last Witchhunter’s Joseph Gilgun), KKK clansmen Odin Quincannon (Watchmen’s Jackie Earle Haley) and of course, Arseface (Ian Colletti), but Rogen has previously stated that some characters simply won’t work on television.
In addition to executive producing the Preacher series, Rogen and Goldberg have also directed the pilot episode. So far everything seems to be going in a positive direction with this comic book TV adaptation, though it could run into trouble if die-hard fans don’t feel it lives up to everything Preacher should be. Rogen and Goldberg have been fans of the comic book since its inception and have intentionally ensured that the adaptation’s stories differentiate from the source material in order to keep long time fans (as well as newcomers) guessing.
Some might argue that Rogen and Goldberg shouldn’t be messing with the narrative of the source material. However, Preacher creator Garth Ennis has previously gone on record as being both “delighted” and “pleasantly surprised” with what he’s seen of the series thus far. As for the rest of us, time will answer all burning questions, but given that AMC is no stranger to playing host to a hit series or two, Preacher could very well end up finding itself right at home.
As for what the Preacher premiere episode will entail, well, we know one thing - and it's a SPOILER-y detail concerning a certain A-list Hollywood star, so click on this link with caution!
Preacher premieres Sunday, May 22, 2016 on AMC.