My rule of thumb with graphic novels is that damn near everyone short of my mother has to recommend a specific title before I start buying up back issues. This way, I get to experience grand stuff like Sandman and Hellboy while avoiding a heap of crap I would absolutely waste my time reading if it were piled up around the house. I have no quality filter once comics cross the threshold; if only I had the same compulsion to tear through novels and screenplays.
Garth Ennis’s Preacher was special enough to hook me for a while in the late 90s, and it was cinematic enough in the telling to make me wonder if it might work as a film or mini-series in the hands of a talented, resourceful director. Unfortunately, the filmmakers who’ve been attached to the property over the years (e.g. Rachel Talalay and Howard Deutch) have been some of the very worst in the history of medium.
Deutch was the first director of choice for HBO and Mark Steven Johnson, who will executive produce the entire series and write the pilot. That’s bad news until you consider that the Daredevil and Ghost Rider auteur has stated over and over that he will strive for a Zack Snyder-ian faithfulness with his adaptation. This means the success of the series will most likely be contingent on casting and directing. Though there’s been no movement on the former, the search for the latter has heated up over the last week: first, we heard about Robert Rodriguez being courted. Some expressed doubt over this, but a friend of mine who’s in position to know these things confirmed the story. What’s more, he dropped this tidbit: they’re looking for a big name director to make a splash with the pilot, after which they’ll rotate other talented directors into the mix. And wait ’til you get a load of some of the names they’re chasing.
When I heard Brian De Palma was in the running, I quit worrying about Mark Steven Johnson altogether. When I heard David Cronenberg was also in the running, I wondered if I was being jerked around. But it makes sense: Benderspink, which is producing Preacher, just worked with Cronenberg a few years ago on A History of Violence. That film was a critical and commercial success for both parties. Other directors being circled include Danny Boyle, Alex Proyas, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and, as previously mentioned, Rodriguez.
It’s important to note that, while HBO is very serious about Preacher all of a sudden, the project is still in the discussion stage. That said, I can tell you for a fact that if there is a groundswell of interest online, the long shot odds of a De Palma or a Cronenberg directing the pilot of Preacher will improve dramatically. If you want a quality Preacher, now’s the time to speak up. HBO is paying attention.