This is the story about how you can't please everybody (or in some cases,
The last time I said something nice about PREACHER, the good folks who compile the trade paperbacks at DC pulled a quote from my gushing praise of the parties involved in bringing this fierce new book to life, and they printed it on the cover - along the top and above the title.
That really put a smile on my face. Not only was my name finally on a comic book (sort of) - but it was on a compilation of a fantastic comic book that I wish anybody (or in some cases, everybody) would give a try. I was honored that any sort of connection would forever be made between this brave, original entry into the art form called comics, and myself.
For the record, the pull quote was "More fun than going to the movies!," complete with my name and then-filmography printed underneath.
The it dawned on me: I was suddenly a very easy target.
And - as with all easy targets - some zero took perhaps the easiest shot in the world at me.
Hiding within a then-current issue of The Comics Journal, at the bottom of the 'Viva la Comics!' section, was my quote and credits - over which was the oh-so-damn-witty headline "Well, maybe one of yours..."
Everyone's a comedian.
It was my fault, however - if you hang your balls out like that, there's always at least one person who wants to introduce them to a swift kick (a routine occurence in my line of work actually).
So you can imagine my trepidation when Garth asked me to write an intro for this collection...
...Actually you can't.
Because there was none.
See, I'd risk getting kicked in the balls again to gush over PREACHER. And why? Because Garth hangs a great deal more than just his balls out with every issue, and risks far more than just a swift kick by fashioning an ongoing tale that's packed wall-to-wall with thought-provoking commentary on religion and spirituality (fave-rave topics of mine).
We're instructed from an early age that discussion of religion is a social faux pas - that to talk about God is to possibly offend someone. Garth must have been absent when they taught that lesson, or perhaps chose to ignore it. And thank God he did - because in the pages of PREACHER, Mister Ennis talks about faith, spirituality, religion, and hypocrisy in a fashion that any publisher responsible for putting out the monthly antics of flying, invulnerable, magic-ring-bearing men would have to be near crazy (or perhaps just plain smart) to mass-market. Usually such work is cited as "too-controversial."
"Controversial," as we all know, is often a euphemism for "interesting and intelligent." Although the pages of PREACHER are filled with avant garde takes on the nature of God and the questionable manner in which religion is followed by the masses without thought (not to mention renderings of brutal bloodletting and graphic, often disturbingly funny violence), this is not a book full of sensationalistic crap writing or drawing. To me, sensationalistic crap writing is lopping off the hand of a time-honored character to give him a "new direction," and sensationalistic crap drawing is page after page of uber-nimrods penned with little regard for proper proportions, set against background deficient splash pages.
Garth and Steve fall prey to none of that - they tell straightforward stories with the enviable skill often found only possessed by those who've spent years honing their craft. And while both have achieved respectability and kudos prior to their current endeavor (see Garth and Steve's run on HELLBLAZER, not to mention Garth's Fleetway published True Faith), it is on PREACHER that both have hit their to-date creative zenith - a synergism that has produced the most scintillating and - I'll say it - brilliant piece of comics literature to come down the pike since DC landed Moore, Gaiman, and Morrison (why are non-Americans so much better at this than most?).
In the Angelville saga, Garth has basically told us something that we've known all along - family can be a scary thing. Whether it's the gotta-have-a-member-of-the-cloth-in-the-family-demanding Gran'ma, the chicken-fucking T.C., or the ready-to-make-a-man-out-of-ya Jody, the reader has to see some uncomfortable similarities (albeit distant ones, I'd hope) to his or her own dysfunctional family tree.
Not that it's all evil in this tale of woe. Garth gives us two powerful tastes of star cros't love in the poignant flashbacks to both the gob-in-the-face introduction of Jesse's parents, and the knew-it-when-I-laid-eyes-on-him/her romance of Jesse and Tulip. And from the more orally amorous interpretation of "star-gazing," to Jesse's declaration of "Until the end of the world," Garth and Steve flesh out a relationship both credible and familiar.
But at the same time, if one looks closely, the true malevolent fuck of the story isn't Jody - although his cold proclamation of "You come with us quiet and make no fuss, or I'll shoot her through the fuckin' head," would certainly make him a candidate for the title. No - the real black soul is the Ennis/Dillon team who actually make good one Jody's threat - albeit temporarily - with the last panel of "How I Learned to Love the Lord" (I can't remember another piece of graphic art leaving me as speechless or as manically anxious to get my hands on the next installment).
The "Hunters" storyline introduces yet another wicked pair of Ennis and Dillon creations. In The Grail, we find a bunch who know something about Christ himself that would send Christians the world over first to the nearest bar, and subsequently to collect every donated cent back from Holy Mother Church. And in Jesus de Sade, we meet the ultimate in debauchery, whose casual aside of "Ah, Demi - I do hope I'll have the pleasure of urinating into your cleavage later?" and fistful of chocolate (...or is it?) make for the most delightfully decadent and evil arsehole this side of the Moore-scripted Anton Arcane.
Throw in an Irish vampire, a couple of titty-shots, some marathon, catch-up in-and-out sessions, and the best dialogue being written in comics today, and you've got some damned exquisite and thought-provoking entertainment. And for those who missed it the first time, I'll say it again - this book IS more fun than going to the movies...
Garth and Steve have accomplished nothing short of a miracle in PREACHER - producing a hot new title that actually surpasses its hype. They are to be congratulated, envied, marveled at, and well paid.
And if this book offends the delicate sensibilities of some people due to their religious convictions - well that saddens me. Because as a man who has an unflappable, fervent, and devout faith in God, let me assure those who find this book spiritually questionable that I know - in my heart and soul - the Lord be mighty, just, loving, and righteous...
...and a huge fan of PREACHER.