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Putting Preacher to Rest

Putting Preacher to Rest

By Amy Ratcliffe Friday, July 1st, 2016

Whether it's on the page or screen, Preacher is an experience unlike any other. In a new series of posts, writer Amy Ratcliffe wades into the comic series which inspired AMC's new show, hitting the road with Custer, Tulip and Cassidy, and taking us all along for the ride.

Seven weeks ago I stepped onto a new path, and that path was called PREACHER by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. With the AMC television adaptation kicking off, I was curious about the similarities and differences in comparison to the comic, and honestly, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Anytime PREACHER came up among friends, nearly everyone commented enthusiastically about how much they enjoyed the series when it came out and how I should brace myself because, "Man, it gets weird."

They were right. I found PREACHER to be enjoyable, and I also found it to be weird. But aren't many of the best parts about life a little outside the lines?

PREACHER went far outside the lines again and again. In fact, it's the sort of story that goes off the page and leaves marks you can never quite remove on your coffee table. It's memorable—that's what I'm trying to get across. Jesse's mission to confront God about his missteps was unique on its own. Most stories featuring a search for God are about seeking redemption or asking for a desperate prayer to be answered—not about punishment. Once you pile on the dysfunctional relationships and truly horrific villains and the mythology of it all, you have a tale that doesn't easily leave your mind.

I was especially struck by book five of the PREACHER collected trades. The last pages of the fourth book saw Jesse literally knocked flat on his back by seeing Cassidy and Tulip together. Of course, he didn't go talk to them to figure out what the hell was happening because confronting them would make too much sense. Distraught and confused, Jesse ran away. He wound up in Salvation, Texas, and immediately countered one of my insta-favorite characters of the series, Jodie. How could you not adore a lady who makes comments like this:

But in a wild twist, she turned out to be Jesse's mother. What? In most other stories, I would roll my eyes and call shenanigans, but not in PREACHER. We're not in the usual realm of normal. Watching Jesse become reacquainted with his mother and form a bond with her—while, incidentally, he became the sheriff in what was perhaps the worst hiring/screening process ever—was rewarding. My takeaway from the fifth book should perhaps have been the terror and strangeness of Odin Quincannon, but the relationship between Christina, formerly known as Jodie, and Jesse took center stage.

Ultimately, relationships won the day. The finding God arc sort of became a subplot while Jesse repaired broken, more personal bridges. And God was ultimately handled by the Saint of Killers in a satisfying fashion. I was happy to see Jesse's mission was fulfilled, so to speak, but by the time we got to the downhill slide, I was more concerned with the people I'd come to call friends: Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy.

I appreciate how this meandering, epic, often grotesque story really boiled down to love. I shouldn't have been surprised. It's a Western, and films in that genre often wrap with the hero getting the girl. Jesse and Tulip had a way more nuanced and troubled relationship than any I saw depicted in John Wayne films (thank goodness), but they did literally ride off into the sunset. No matter which lines you thought it crossed or which body parts it laid at your feet, PREACHER was a human story—so much so it was simple to insert yourself in the place of any of the main characters and imagine.

Being immersed is what I want from a story. I want to leave my world of deadlines and mundane never-ending tasks like washing dishes and escape; I want to completely forget myself. The captivating story Ennis and Dillon crafted allowed me to do that. I lost track of time whenever I sat down to hang out with Jesse and his pals, and I could see myself taking the ride again.

While I may be done with my read-through of the comics, season one of the AMC series is still going strong. In fact, it's just been renewed for a second season. Perhaps some of the scenes in the comics we've discussed will find their way onto the small screen in the future, perhaps not. Either way, I'm looking forward to continuing to spend time each week with Jesse Custer.

Have you read all of PREACHER? Tell me what you thought of it in the comments below. Thanks for joining me. I’ll see you around, pardners!

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