Garth Ennis's PREACHER: how worth reading is it?

I’m a huge fan of some graphic novels (SANDMAN, Age of Bronze, etc.). I’m not a major fan of comics in general, and I find Alan Moore (seen as a god in graphic circles) to be extremely hit and miss for my tastes.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of Preacher, some saying it’s better than Sandman and others that it’s weird and gory for the sake of being weird and gory (an “Emperor is butt nekkid” type thing). It’s hard to get graphic novels through libraries and I don’t want to pay for the first two or three of the series only to find out that it’s overrated. For other Sandman and non die-hard graphic novel fans, how did you like it or not like it?

I’m in the minority in that I thought it was utter crap. I bought the whole series because of good reviews and only got about halfway through it before selling it.

Seemed to me to just be ultra violence pretending to have a message you understood very early on (god is old and feeble and is a bad caretaker). However everyone who likes it says it turns out to be a serious story about love, life and friendship that I just needed to read the last few. So take that as you will.

Well I guess I shouldn’t have said ‘utter crap’ I didn’t hate it that much. Just didn’t think it was worth reading.

Count me in the ‘over-rated’ camp. I really got the feeling sometimes when I was reading it (I got through the first…dozen or so issues) that Ennis was just trying to see how far he could push things just because he could. Forget weird and gory…I like weird and gory. But the inbred brothers talking about how to fuck a fish (seriously…real conversation from the last issue I read)…well, that just did me in.

Pretty much both. The comics attempt to work on two levels: pure splatterpunk, and genuinely insightful character study. The core of the story is the relationship between Jesse and Cassidy: the violence and theological posturing are really just background. How well the series works for you is going to depend on how involved you can get in that relationship. It absolutely worked for me: Preacher is one of the best comic series I’ve ever read. I do think you have to have a little of the gorehound in you to really dig it, though. If you can’t appreciate the slasherflick aethetic on its own merits, you might not be able to get past all the graphic gun shot wounds to the face, assorted dismemberments, and the occasional fishfucking.

What Miller said, basically: I loved it, but recognize that it’s not for everyone. (My only point of disagreement is that I’d say the relationship between Jesse and Tulip is at least as important as the relationship between Jesse and Cassidy). If obtaining free copies via friends or the library to read is going to be difficult, I suggest purchasing only the second TPB Until the End of the World. I found the first TPB to be rather weak, and know of several people who didn’t care for the series at that point, but loved it from the second TPB onward. If you don’t enjoy that volume, the rest of the series probably isn’t going to appeal either. If you do love it, you’ve got a lot of good reading ahead of you.

Sampiro, you’re a good guy. If I mailed you the first two or three TPBs, would you promise to read them, let us know what you thought, and return them when you are done?

I’d recommend finding a nice comfy chair in a Borders or Barnes & Noble and read the first trade. I thought Preacher was okay, but nothing to rave about.

I don’t understand the raves about Y: The Last Man either, just so you know where I’m coming from.

Thumbs down. Picked up the first TPB because of a discussion here - it struck me as really juvenile in the way it revels in the scatological.

I loved the first 90% of the series.

The end, however, left me dissappointed. Various plot threads became seriously unravelled, and in the end made no sense. In my opinion, that is. I won’t spoiler the story by listing why I didn’t like it.

I WORSHIP Preacher. I’m on a personal crusade to convert all my friends into Preacher fans. The thing is, comparing Sandman to Preacher is like comparing apples with nads. Preacher isn’t thoughtful and literary like Sandman, but then Sandman doesn’t have any of the rollicking fun of Preacher (complete with bar fights, frequent and sordid sex, exploding grannies, gigantic spiked dildos, and Nazi lawyer ladies). Contrary to some folks, however, I don’t think Preacher succeeds on gore factor alone; if it was nothing but a shoot-'em-up grossfest, I wouldn’t touch it, much less recommend it to all my friends.

The relationship between the three main characters – Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy – is the heart of the series, albeit sometimes a lovin’, cheatin’, betrayin’ heart, but a heart nonetheless. Jesse is a cocksure sumbitch, fer sure, but he loves his girl even if he worries about her too much, and is willing to give his bastard best friend a second chance even after Cassidy messes up big time. Tulip is smart, capable, and faster on the draw than most any man, and she has a powerful sense of self. Cassidy is, well, Cassidy, and to give away what happens between him and Jesse and Tulip would be a crime. Preacher takes place in a universe where most everyone has some perverted trick up their sleeve, but a man can, with some straight-talking, brawling, and a little help from friends and a celestial being, take on the forces of evil and, if not defeat them, can still blow up their shit pretty damn good.

People are really split on Preacher. As an example, the only warning I’ve ever gotten on the SDMB was in a Preacher thread; that’s how passionate people either love or hate this book. You can spend the next year reading everything anyone has ever written about it still have a completely unpredictable reaction when you read the book itself.

Go to a bookstore and read the first trade paperback. If you like it, buy the rest of the series one at a time. If you don’t like it, walk out and pretend you never heard of it.

Here’s the lowdown on Preacher: It’s an engaging story with fun characters, but also one that goes above and beyond, usually in a sexual sense, but also often in violence, for the sake of shock. It’s almost as if Ennis read Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol and said, “I can think of things weirder than that!”

I like it, but by the time you get to the giant meat-woman (if you don’t want to know, don’t even start reading this series, if you do want to know, it’ll be in book 7), you’re screaming, “Enough already, just tell the damn story!”

In addition to the main storyline, which (obviously) ran though the actual Preacher series, there were some off-shoot specials and miniseries. Most are pretty good, but two are meritless and should be skipped: “Good Ol’ Boys” and “All the Pretty Horses.”

All The Pretty Horses? I remember Tall In The Saddle, but not that. I disagree on Good Ol’ Boys. IMo A wonderful parody of action movies. “You don’t wanna mess with me! I’m an ex-cop on the edge!” “Oh yeah? You don’t wanna mess with me! I’m a model turned reporter with a dangerous secret!”

I liked Preacher quite a bit. Mississippiene said it wonderfully. The world can be a cruel place and most of the folks in charge are bastards. So you gotta stand tall and have your six guns ready. Are there moments of excessive violence, bizarre sex, and scatological humor? Absolutely. Is there a theme, a real story, well-developed characters you can actually care about? Absolutely.

Thumbs up! (the chocky starfish)


Maybe I got the title wrong. I’m talking about the story where Jesse and Tulip were (along with some others) hired to steal some horses, they mess up the job because they can’t keep their pants zipped, and Jesse gets all upset because the guy who hired them, a Fenchman, wanted to eat the horses rather than ride them. Is that “Tall in the Saddle”?

I understood that, and I can appreciate what Ennis was going for. My problem with it was that it was so by-the-numbers predictable, nothing but an excuse for Ennis to put the square hero-type through multiple humiliations, while the two “Good Ol’ Boys” are the most un-sympathetic protagonists ever written into a comic book story. Unlike the main series, where there were surprises (albeit shocking, disgusting ones) around every turn, this was really just a Wile E. Coyote vs Roadrunner cartoon with Preacher characters as the actors.

I read the entire series (I think Lou mailed most of it to me!) and I must say it was not very good.

I expected to have religious problems with it, but that didn’t bother me. I took it in stride.

My problem with it was that it was low brow without the Mark Millar-esque lowbrow entertainment factor.

Oddly, I enjoyed the first volume or two. After that it was awful. I didn’t like the plotting. I didn’t like the characters (I didn’t even like them in the “you’re not supposed to like them” sort of way.) And then when it got to the meat packing arc, I was floored at how incredibly bad the series had gotten.

I’ve read tens of thousands of comics. Some really weak crap. That was the worst arc I have ever seen.

About that time I realized that Ennis was having a multi-volume JACK OFF at my expense.

Well…at Lou’s expense really, but since he liked it, I can’t reall complain.

But I will say it is nothing like Sandman. It is more in tone and content to Transmet (which I find a little more tolerable.)

The Story Of You-Know-Who was also pretty dispensible, IMHO.

Lots of interesting reviews here. I remember when this first came out. It was one of those the-end-of-civilization-is-near things.

I didn’t get into it until issue #27. I bought the trades to catch up and was told by the “comic book guy” that anyone who read this title would go to hell (he was only slightly kidding).

Peter Morris:

Remind me, was that the Arseface one or the Herr Starr one (I’ve got a bad memory for titles, can you tell)? The Arseface story I didn’t find very engaging, but at least it’s a decently-presented portrait of one of the most sympathetic characters in the whole series. It was certainly not necessary to advance any of the storylines, but I didn’t think it was terrible. The Herr Starr special I thought was an excellent and revealing look into the series’ main villain’s (unless you wish to call God the series’ main villain) mind.

Of course, as always. YMMV.

It was the Arseface one.

They weren’t allowed to put “The Story of Arseface” on the front cover, where children might see it, allegedly.