NOTE: Updated to include statements from Joel Stillerman, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin
AMC, the network that brought us such acclaimed TV shows as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, have given a series order to Preacher, a Sony Pictures Television-produced pilot based on the Vertigo Comics series of the same name. Produced by actor Seth Rogen (Neighbors, Pineapple Express) and his frequent writer/director collaborator Evan Goldberg (This Is the End, The Interview), the series will air it’s first season in mid 2016 with ten hour long episodes.
The original comic, which ran from 1995 until 2000, was created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, and followed the exploits of Jesse Custer, the eponymous preacher who accidentally becomes possessed by a supernatural being named Genesis. Genesis is a creature composed of both good and evil, the offspring of a coupling between an angel and a demon, and it’s power rivals even that of God. With Genesis along for the ride Custer journeys to find God, accompanied by several companions and learns that his possession has imbued him with unnatural powers.
The show, which has been in development since late 2013, features Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger, Mamma Mia!) as Custer, Ruth Negga (Misfits, World War Z) as Custer’s ex-girlfriend, Joe Gilgun (Misfits, Emmerdale) as Custer’s best friend who also happens to be a vampire, W. Earl Brown (Deadwood, American Crime) as an adverserial sheriff and Tom Brooke (Sherlock, Game of Thrones) as an angel sent to observe Genesis.
Rogen and Goldberg spoke of the comics importance to them. “We started reading the comic when it first came out in the ’90s … In many ways Garth’s sense of drama and comedy and Steve Dillon’s visual aesthetic helped form our style, and the idea that we are actually bringing Preacher to life is a dream come true. This is the craziest thing ever and we can’t wait to move forward and work our asses off to make it the best it can be.” Joel Stillerman, AMC’s president of original programming and development, was similarly enthusiastic: “Garth Ennis’ Preacher is, above all, about great characters — something we look for in all of our series. The fact that it is also darkly funny, has some great supernatural elements, and takes us on an incredible adventure is just the icing on the cake. The incredible creative team behind this show — led by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Sam Catlin and Neal Moritz — made a pilot that completely blew us away, and we know the series will satisfy and surprise fans of the comics, and captivate fans of great TV everywhere.” Sam Catlin, a veteran writer of AMC’s critically acclaimed Breaking Bad, will serve as the programme’s showrunner and had this to say: “Couldn’t be more happy with Sony/AMC’s decision to bring Garth’s amazing Preacher to television. Can’t wait to spend some quality time with vampires, psychopaths, rednecks and God.”
This marks the latest in a long line of television comic book adaptations in recent years. While shows like Smallville and The Adventures of Lois and Clark achieved success in the past, the last few years have seen an influx of comic book adaptations grace the small screen with shows like The Walking Dead, Arrow, The Flash, Daredevil, Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gotham, Powers and iZombie earning both ratings success and critical praise. The trend shows no sign of stopping either. In the upcoming American television season alone we’re set receive Supergirl on CBS, Legends of Tomorrow (an Arrow/The Flash spinoff) on The CW, and Lucifer on the Fox Network while Marvel still has four more programmes yet to premiere on Netflix as part of initiative started by Daredevil: Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders. Some may argue that we are reaching critical mass with superhero stories but with the continued successes of comic related television programing and the ongoing box office domination of the Marvel movies it’s difficult to predict when, if ever, the bubble will burst.