If you're a fan of non-superhero comic books and you're not particularly squeamish, you've probably read and enjoyed writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon's tour de force series, Preacher. Their tale of small-town preacher Jesse Custer, the love of his life Tulip and his vampire best friend Cassidy was less about Custer's super-ability to make anyone do what he says (the byproduct of being possessed by an angel/demon half-breed) and even less about his mission to track down an on-the-run God. It was more about the lengths two friends and two lovers will go to in order to protect each other... as well as about trying to come up with the nastiest visuals comicdom had ever seen, from the man who had sex with meat to the boy who had "a face like an arse." Sounds like it would have made a great HBO series, right? Apparently, wrong.
After working with HBO to develop the 75-issue story into a regular series for a while, director Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Ghost Rider) has revealed to Comics Continuum that the show is dead. "We were budgeting and everything and it was getting really close to going," the director told the Continuum, "but the new head of HBO felt it was just too dark and too violent and too controversial. Which, of course, is kind of the point!" More controversial, dark and violent than The Sopranos? Or Big Love? ...Okay, I can see that. Although only the first couple of books had been adapted, eventually the series would have showed an angel and a demon having sex, a fat cardinal vomiting in a bucket and the inbred product of Jesus' bloodline peeing on people. It's pretty out there.
While part of me is sad that this awesome book won't become an awesome HBO series, another part of me is glad that the man responsible for two medium-sized comic-book movie trainwrecks like DD and GR is no longer involved with the project. (He's now filming When in Rome, a comedy that he says reminds him of his first screenplay, Grumpy Old Men. Yeah, you heard me.) Johnson says in the interview that someone else may be working on a plan to turn Preacher into a movie, so I'll cross my fingers and hope to one day see the Saint of Killers walk out of a mushroom cloud in Monument Valley on the big screen and say, "Not enough gun." Then I can die happy.
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