Comics artist Steve Dillon has enjoyed a long and storied career, stretching back to his much-beloved work on U.K. sci-fi title, 2000AD. But the Brit is best known for creating, with writer Garth Ennis, the mindbending, hyper-violent, and quite amazing DC/Vertigo series Preacher, about a small town Texas man-of-the-cloth named Jesse Custer who discovers he make people do whatever he commands. (Well, that’s one of the 17,053 things it’s about, anyway.)
Preacher has now been adapted into a TV show, which premieres on AMC May 22, and stars Dominic Cooper as Custer, Ruth Negga as his criminally-minded ex-girlfriend Tulip O’Hare, Joseph Gilgun as the alcoholic Irish vampire Cassidy, and Ian Colletti as a horribly disfigured young man known in the comic as “Arseface.” The show is being overseen by Breaking Bad writer-producer Sam Catlin and longtime Preacher nuts Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the duo responsible for both This Is the End and The Interview. From Wednesday, AMC and DC are giving away 100,000 copies of Preacher #1 with a new cover from Dillon, which you can see above. The issue is also available to read for free via DC’s digital channels.
Below, Dillon talks about creating Preacher — and his return to the scene of so many fictional crimes.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like revisiting — and reinterpreting — the Preacher characters for the new cover?
STEVE DILLON: It was interesting… but a bit strange. I’d drawn those characters for six years and now they had different faces. It wasn’t a problem as I’d seen a few episodes of the show by then, and had a feel of the new interpretations, and it turned out to be a fun job.
What did you think when Garth first spoke with you about Preacher, back in the day?
As we talked it over, I thought it was a great idea for a story. I was very conscious that nothing like it had been done by a big, mainstream comic publisher before and I wondered if we’d get away with the stuff we wanted to do. As it turned out, DC, and Vertigo’s Karen Berger in particular, were great. There were a few battles but, for the most part, we managed to get it done the way we wanted it.
Preacher is such a strange, unique comic. What kind of reactions did you get from readers?
I remember drawing the first issue thinking, “This is either going to bomb completely or enough people will get it to make it a cult success.” Luckily, enough readers did get it and realized where we were coming from with it. We had a strange mix of letters coming in. Everything from “Wow! This is crazy stuff, man!” to long, well-thought-out analysis of each issue. We also had a fair number of letters from guys locked up in jail. That was interesting.
What do you recall about designing — if that is the right term — the look of Arseface?
I remember thinking that I couldn’t make him totally gross. There had to be something a bit “cuddly” about him or it wouldn’t work. Maybe I have a strange idea about what’s “cuddly” though.
How do you feel about Preacher now being turned into a TV show after so many previous attempts to get it to the screen did not work out?
Myself and Garth have always thought that Preacher would work best as a TV show. The book ran for nearly six years so there was always going to be too much to try to cram into a two hour movie. Seth and Evan are self-confessed fans of the book so they have a true feel for the story and characters. That said, they are not being overly reverential about the material and they know that what works in a comic book does’t necessarily work in a TV series. It’s great that this is finally happening and I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far. I hope fans of the book will like it too.
Preacher premieres on AMC on May 22 at 10 p.m. ET. You can see a trailer for the show below and more of EW’s Preacher coverage here.