Book Club / Tragic Power Macho Fantasies

Preacher Book OnePreacher: Book One
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon

 

 

 

 

Where we take a trip to Texas and get into the very 90s Preacher and all sorts of issues of masculinity – man. Pondering such ideas as: What kind of things do you want from a bar fight? Does the religious stuff make any sense? And how many faces can Steve Dillon draw exactly?

 

 

Preacher preacher, fifth grade teacher. 
You can’t reach me, my mom can’t neither.

That’s the first thing I think of (or the first thing I hear) when I hear the word “Preacher.”

Second thing I guess is episode 2 of Nathan Barley (“PREACHER MAN!”).

Third thing is the comic.

But – hey – let’s talk about the comic.

Although I should say right from the start that it’s gonna be difficult for me to get any objective distance from Preacher seeing how it I was basically at the perfect point when I first started reading it – yeah (that’s right)… confession time… tales of horror and disgust….

I WAS A TEENAGE BOY

(*SHUDDER*).

And yeah man: back in the time we called the 1990s – there was a whole host of things expertly designed to rock my world of terrible skin and broken voices: The Matrix, Eminem (the author of the song quoted right at the start) and yeah – the closest thing comics has ever got to rock and roll.

And um I’m not quite sure I mean that in a good way.

Because oh hell yeah: Preacher is a gross out comic par excellence. I mean – connoisseurs of crudity take note! There’s dick jokes. Poop jokes. Tit jokes. Piss jokes. Hell – they’ve even got a fella whose face looks like an arse.

And that’s not all: there’s also a vampire, this kick-ass woman with a gun, this old kinda Clint Eastwood guy who’s really really good at killing people, tanks, atomics bombs, voodoo, secret conspiracies and there’s this great bit where you get to see an angel and a demon doing it. Basically – it’s like someone tipped a teenage boy’s brain into a comic and then sold it to the world.

I kinda get that this making me sound like I hate it maybe. And yeah – there is a part of me that I guess kinda squirms when I think of it. Kinda like seeing pictures of yourself back when you had a stupid haircut and a really ugly T-shirt: because yeah – it’s just to underline it for the final time: it’s a teenage book for teenagers (which is the same thing we said about Sandman isn’t it? Like: I’m almost tempted to go make some wider point about how maybe comics are an adolescent medium (which hey – you know: need not be a bad thing) – only well if that’s true – then judging from what’s on at the cinema and the types of titles people tend to rate (The Dark Knight, The Shawshank Redemption etc) – you could say film is an adolescent medium too…. ha!).

But also – damn it. I mean – once you get past all of the dick jokes and fucking swearing: I’ve gotta admit Preacher has – well – I want to say a heart – but maybe it would be more accurate to name another beating organ (LOL).

Word to the wise – Preacher: Book One is issues #1–12 or – in terms that I can understand: all of Gone to Texas and the first half of Until the End of the World which basically means “All in the Family” which I think is my favourite story arc (or whatever you call it) of any comic ever. And fuck it yeah – I’d even go as far: in that little speech that Jesse’s Dad makes – to say it’s basically one of the cornerstones of my whole moral philosophy (say it with me): “Don’t take no shit off fools. An’ you judge a person by what’s in ’em, not how they look. An’ you do the right thing. You gotta be one of the good guys, son: ’cause there’s way too many of the bad.”

“An’ they caight us before we got two miles, an’ they shot my Daddy in the head.”

Oh shit. Now I’m welling up.

Which yeah I guess is the point isn’t it? I mean – it goofs around and stands on it’s head a lot. But also – at lots of points: it does a lot of really really potent stuff. Altho – like so much of everything in our culture – it’s really fucking MALE.

And oh yeah – they also made a TV show of it or something?

 

 

Preacher is male as fuck, but ~as a woman~ I appreciate Ennis and Dillon’s interrogation of that maleness/masculinity – once you start to critically examine something it becomes less of a default, and one of the themes of Preacher seems to be that manliness shouldn’t always be the default. Cassidy is bro-y as hell, and he destroys basically everything he touches as a result.

And I’ll never forget Tulip’s dad telling her that men are supposed to be nice to women because “it might make up for ladies generally havin’ less fun”; in short, chivalry is reparations, bitches. It’s a preemptive remonstrance with Internet shitlords who claim that men opening doors for women is proof that sexism doesn’t exist.

However, the weird sexual politics can’t really be ignored and in large part can’t really be excused, either. Everyone who isn’t 100% into penetrative heterosexual sex is a deviant and probably evil, and the bit about Herr Starr getting into pegging after he gets raped by the Sex Detectives is ridiculously homophobic and generally paranoid. At least readers don’t have to deal with Ennis’ trans panic.

The deliberately immature sex stuff did give me an excellent footnote for my thesis, though. You know the part where Jesse picks up the hitchhiking porn actor Tom Cooze, who talks about meeting “the director of Hershey Highways One, Two and Four” (and then says “God bless America!” while he wipes away a tear)? I got to write this actual academic footnote: “Whether Tom Cooze has met the director of Hershey Highway Three is never revealed in the text.”

Preacher is also, unfairly, I think, slated for being super into how great America is. It’s true that we get a whole bunch of speeches about that, but look at who some of them come from: Cassidy and Gunther Hahn the escaped Nazi. These people love the shit out of old-fashioned America (1910s New York, “Mom and apple pie”) – which a) doesn’t exist anymore, except conceptually and b) was covering up a lot of problems that they aren’t talking about.

There’s a lot, a LOT, I could say about Preacher, but I’ll start there.

 

 

I quite like Preacher but it read like Garth Ennis was trying to wing the overarching plotting a bit, hoping the bits would fall into place as it went along and I’m not sure they quite did so the journey was more satisfying for me than the destination. There were lots of things I liked along the way though. The man with a lot of counting to do, the dog, (Garth Ennis puts a lot of dogs in his stories, something I thoroughly approve of). the story of Tulip’s daddy and Cassidy’s characterisation, (I do seem to remember Cassidy’s darker side not having much foreshadowing though?), Ennis writing his first few war stories along the way, appearances by Michael Collins, Bill Hicks and Laurel and Hardy, Dillon’s clear storytelling and of course Glenn Fabry’s fantastic, evocative covers.

Stuff I didn’t like…. Most importantly, the fact that I heard Glenn Fabry mention in an interview that he didn’t get any royalties for the reprints. The huge success of the trade paperbacks must have been due in a large part to his mesmerising images drawing readers in, so although Ennis and Dillon have clearly been treated a lot better by DC than previous creators, creators’ rights clearly still have some way to go and I hope he’s getting something from the tv show. I also found some of the puerile humour a bit laboured although it did have it’s moments and I liked the looney tunes levels of damage inflicted on Cassidy at various points.

It’s worth noting Ennis was writing the ‘all ages’ title ‘Hitman’ for DC at the same time which has a fair bit of overlap with Preacher in its themes but is, I think a much better comic; this is because he can’t get away with relying on shocking material to get away with lazy writing so he puts more effort into the writing. If you haven’t discovered it before, it’s well worth investigating, especially the later volumes

 

 

My quick capsule review = meh.

Slightly more elongated: like – just going from the first episode: it didn’t really make me feel like there was any real reason for the show to exist apart from the whole: well – hey – the Walking Dead sure is popular isn’t it? Are there any other big comic book properties out there? Like apart from Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen really loving the comic back when they were teenagers and the whole thing that we have as a culture that a book or a comic or a thing has never really “made it” until it gets it’s own TV show or film – like: what new perspective or story is it giving us?

Of course maybe that’s not the point: and the thing that really stuck in my head was the bar-room fight scene. Which yeah – even if you haven’t seen it – don’t worry: you’ve already seen it before. Howard Stark is sitting around minding his own business – when this no-good redneck lowlife starts making trouble with him. Calling him names. Giving him shit. Howard Stark is all “I don’t want no trouble.” Then POW! POW! POW! redneck lowlife starts raining punches on Howard Stark. Howard Stark falls to the floor. But hey – don’t worry about him – he can take it. Redneck lowlife starts to walk away and the fight seems over but then – uh oh – redneck lowlife makes a threat about hitting a kid (his kid: but that’s by the by). Howard Stark is all: you’d better not threaten the kid. Redneck lowlife: (laughs) why? what are you going to do about it? and then (oh HELL YES) – Howard Stark unleashes a whole can of whoop-ass all over redneck lowlife and all his lowlife friends: POW! POW! POW! OH MY GOD QUARTERBACK IS TOAST etc

I mean – at the risk of further cementing my rep as a no fun killjoy can I just say – Really?

It’s 2016 and we’re still doing the whole – violence solves everything thing? Like: I mean – I have a distant hope that maybe hopefully they’re gonna subvert things somewhere further down the line (I mean – the episode does start with Howard Stark talking to the kid in question and saying something like “violence only breeds more violence” (and hell maybe the second episode makes everything I’m saying here redundant and wrong?)): but it wasn’t the feeling I got from it. Instead it’s more yay! Punching is cool. And wouldn’t it awesome if you were so good at it – that you could take someone beating you up safe in the knowledge that – if you really wanted – you could wipe the floor with them (and all their friends! Hell yeah).

At the risk of re-opening old wounds: it really reminds me of something that I wanted to say back when we were talking about The Authority and Kaizen Gamorra (uh oh): like the problem with trying to point to specific instances of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia etc in books an films and stuff is that mostly if you pull up a specific instance just taken by itself it’s never as overt or as heinous as you’d want to be able to convince people who aren’t already onside. Because the kicker is that we don’t live in a world where everything is cool and that there are some bad apples ruining it for the rest of us – it’s that discrimination is baked into everything all around us and the background radiation of racism (and other stuff) permeates through everything: but that means that it’s really really tough to get a hold of. Because even through it’s slowly killing us all – you can’t just pick up one thing and go: oh yeah – well: it’s just this. And if you just change this one bit – then we’re cool. Because really – we have to change everything. Burn it all and start again.

and the lessons begun

And yeah – Preacher is kinda a good example of this in terms of going the other way. Because yeah – it’s white men doing stuff and making all the important decision and saving the world (like: The Filth, like: Judge Dredd, like: Batman, like: Scott Pilgrim, like: The Authority, like: The Incal, like: The Ultimates, like: Superman etc) and even tho I’m only really bringing it up now – I could have brought it up in pretty much any of the other books we’ve talked about on the LGNN so far because – yeah: it’s all pervasive and it gets everywhere: men doing important man stuff. Only well – with what Kelly said: I guess it just kinda pushes it to the front of my mind.

And yeah well – to disagree just slightly if I can ~as a man~ I think “it might make up for ladies generally havin’ less fun” is a really good line: but come on! is nowhere near enough. I mean – come on: why don’t we all get together and demand that they gender swap the whole thing? Jesse can be Jessie, Cassidy can be Cassandra and Tulip can be (um)… Turnip?

(One question I do have is: will Seth “Knocked Up” Rogan keep that line in? Seeing how his whole career is pretty much based on: guys having fun! Ladies having less so!)

Or – hey – am I falling into the trap of “man trying to be all feminist on the internet” and just sounding like a douche?

I dunno.

Because then yeah – I say that – but I do still enjoy it. Like even tho – in the same way that Nirvana used to be my favourite band ever ever ever and now I barely even think of them: Preacher was (at a point) the best goddamn comic I’ve ever read and now well yeah – it’s not. (and to be honest if I was going to recommend any Garth Ennis book it would be Punisher MAX: which I’m currently re-reading and loving as much as I love A Moon Shaped Pool).

Also yeah – what Tam said about how Preacher is just Garth Ennis winging it. I mean – it sure doesn’t seem like that for Book One: but towards the end it does kinda trail off a bit (and there’s definitely a point where it looks like Steve Dillon stops caring: somewhere in during War in the Sun – altho maybe that’s up for debate?).

 

 

Disclaimer : I haven’t read the book or seen the TV Preacher, so background levels of ignorance are at the usual level 🙂

I agree with you completely about the background radiation level of macho crap running through otherwise good stuff. The variant of the trope you’re describing – tough fighter who can kick shit out of the one-dimensional redneck, but will only do it defence of women, children and small dogs – kind of tries to have it both ways, doesn’t it? He’s a kick-ass tough guy who can out-fight the baddies when he wants to. The fact that he’s riled up to fight by the prospect of a child being harmed is a fairly lazy “fridge” trope. What sounds more unusual here is that he lets the bad guy beat him up until he’s given the motivation. Why’s that? Because he has nothing to prove? He’s washed-out/full of self-loathing? Just some unexamined “deepness” or what? (OTOH the start of the second standalone Wolverine film does this too, substituting child for bear – probably plenty other examples if I stopped to think about it.)

These are small steps in a more progressive direction for a stock character type. And this gradual change in the make-up of the tough guy’s nothing new – Homer’s Odysseus marked a similar shift by getting by on his guile and ability to deceive as much as his raw strength, although to keep the old school happy, he had the raw strength too.

It is also trying quite transparently to cater to multiple audiences, I think. The part of the audience looking for traditional tough-guy thrills can ignore the soul-searching and just enjoy the bit where he beats up the baddies, and those who like to think there’s something deeper in their entertainment get to dwell on the other bits. That always gets my goat when I notice it, I guess it feels like the storyteller’s being disingenuous in their wooing of my tastes/interests.

Anyway, more importantly, I love your suggestion of gender-swapping the whole show, and also your Howard Stark-ing of Dominic Cooper’s character throughout the writeup. Given that he also played the bridegroom/boyfriend character (Sky, was it?) in the film version of “Mamma Mia”, I want to pose a bigger, deeper question. Which Abba songs would make the best soundtrack to the OTT action sequences in Preacher. Couple of suggestions:

Treat Him Well, He Is Your Brother – for the afore-mentioned fight scene
Eagle – for the bit where Cassidy arrives by falling out of the airplane

and, somewhere, given the often puerile level of humour in this series, there’s got to be a good fit for “Bang-a-Boomerang”, surely?

 

 

 

Oh why are we talking about ‘Preacher’ and not ‘Hitman’? Because ‘Hitman’ is so much better both at playing to Ennis’s strengths as a writer at this time in his life and at addressing the issues. I generally recommend to people that if they want to read Preacher they should probably limit themselves to the first twenty-five or so issues because each issue quite successfully amps up on the gross scatological humour and adolescent power fantasy but after that has nowhere else to go. This is probably why I’m not going to bother with the TV show. I got increasingly annoyed with how, after the first few years Jesse got increasingly involved in fighting people that he didn’t need to use The Voice on because he was just so damn manly, y’know? Back when Vertigo still had letters pages there was a letter somewhere in the first few years where someone wrote that Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy weren’t heroes and Ennis agreed with the letter, unfortunately things get more problematic when he seems to forget this in the writing.

The first year hints that critiques of masculinity and America are coming, by the end of the series we have stories where Tulip is getting sidelined *again* for her protection and so her nasty girl germs can’t infect the manly Jesse/Cassidy/Starr tussle and Jesse deciding that his calling in life is a profession which *never really existed*. Now ‘Hitman’ also has gross-out humour and a higher mafia goon bodycount than Hand Ninjas in a fight with Elektra, Wolverine and the Punisher, but it also has ‘Who Dares Wins’, Tommy telling Superman why he matters, ‘For Tomorrow’ Part Two, the epilogue to ‘The Old Dog’, hell, the last year or so of that title, “Drinks onna house, fellas. There ain’t no closin’ time. But you gotta leave your guns at the door.” Gets me every time.

And then Steve Dillon’s artwork.

<sigh>

I mean, Dillon is a competent draftsman and knows his way around a page but, the fact that he has only three or four faces, three or four bodies and all his pages look like he’s just reached into a draw and slapped down a template of body A, head D, truck 3, streetlight 7… his artwork is always there but never sings, you know?

Hmmm, looking at my shelves in order to back up my crazy ideas… turns out that at some point I have got rid of my complete run of the comics. Got rid of them and don’t even remember when or how I did it. Says it all really.

 

I read Gone to Texas over the weekend. And well yeah – ok: in spite of all the kinda negative stuff I said before I’ve gotta admit: Preacher is just really really good comics. Like: just in terms of how it’s constructed – check it out: pretty much every single page ends on a cliffhanger of somesort. Jesse bangs his head on the cabinet above the sink – what does he see? Saint of Killers tells the cop unless he keeps the pistol in his holder there’s going to be a massacre – what’s he going to do? Cassidy talking to Doctor Cassidy – will he make it in time? Like every page is built and designed in such a way as to press you along and get you itching and begging to read the next damn page. Like I was almost saying out loud to myself “ho boy! what’s going to happen? How’s it going to end?”

And shit man – don’t even get me started on just how many great one-liners there are “I didn’t see no draw.” “Good start” “This is like a night out with OJ Simpson!” “Shampoo and condition? Fuck no. Cops blood.” etc etc etc

I mean yes it’s so 90s it hurts (there’s the OJ reference. Someone mentions the X-Files. there’s even the twin towers at one point): but that’s a big part of the fun of it. I think.

The only hmmmmm bits is basically the whole stuff with God – which kinda reminds me of when we were talking about how Morpheus’ powers / responsibilities work back when we were doing The Sandman… Like: don’t get me wrong. A pissed off Preacher roaming the world looking for God to make him answer for what he’s done is a great movie pitch: but erm – what does it actually mean? Like: what does it mean to say God quit exactly? How does God quit? Like: was there a point when he was sitting in a chair full of levers and buttons controlling everything and then one day he left and so now there’s no one in the chair? Erm is that how we got free will and stuff? Or is that something else? And erm – if Jesse ever did “catch” God – then how is he going to make him “answer for what he’s done”? And how? Will he go on TV or whatever? And – what effect would it even have? Like: imagine a Preacher saying that he had God and then God apologised for quitting – like: what would that even look like? And would it even be a good thing? Maybe the world would plunge into chaos?

I totally realise that I might sound like I’m nitpicking and being a dick – but erm yeah: like it just kinda sounds like something that sounds cool (and again – not to beat the theme to death or anything: but it sure does sound like something a teenager made up): but then just makes no real sense at all.

But then maybe it’s because I’m not a Christian or whatever?

You tell me: is there anyone out there that feels like it does make sense? Or is making sense not really the point?

And oh – just to pick at the “bar fight” itch just a little more: I think it is super telling (and an example of why Preacher the comic is better than that one episode of Preacher the TV show I watched) that comic book Preacher in the same pre-Genesis situation as TV Howard Stark Preacher gets smacked out with a pool cue (or was it a chair?) when he starts causing trouble in his local. Like: better to start with your hero being beaten around a little – no?

And then it’s not until a bit later when he’s with his squad that he gets into a second fight: and there it’s not anything as nobel as protecting the innocent of a child or whatever: it’s more because – well – because he’s kinda an ass and fighting is what men do etc.

drink some other place

Which yeah – I dunno – just sits a lot better with me. If you’re gonna do violence: then embrace the violence and the man locker room stink and the sweat of it. Don’t try and make it that it’s being done for some kinda higher cause or noblity you know? That just makes it worse.

(And yeah – hey – don’t pretend that you can look at the panels above and not have an urge to see what happens next…)

 

The religion shown in Preacher doesn’t make a lick of sense, and I think that it is highly problematic because it is such an integral part of the world that Ennis builds for his narrative. His conceptualization of angels, demons, Heaven, and the Christian God in Preacher just don’t work for me on any level. And it has nothing to do with having been raised Catholic when I was young. I has to do with subpar writing. When forced to work within the confines of an already fully-fleshed-out sci-fi version of Christianity, Ennis fares much better. Read Hellblazer and Hitman if you’d like to experience Ennis playing in a less convoluted fictional Heaven and Hell sandbox.

Speaking of Hellblazer and Hitman. Now those are solidly awesome Ennis books. Everyone has already said it, but it bears repeating. Preacher doesn’t hold up well, especially compared to Ennis’ other works. I like his Judge DreddPunisher,Chronicles of Wormwood, and even Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight much better. Yes, Preacher has undeniably good cliffhangers and kickass one-liners (so does the average Brian K Vaughan ongoing story), but all of that is mired in bad sex politics and mega-dated lameness. Not to mention, for a page-turner, I sure felt every single one of the 350 pages. This is a book for dudes, in-and-out. It was a book for teenage bros in the 90s and it’s sadly a book for adult bros today. Seth Rogen might be the ultimate Hollywood bro. I can get down with a good dumb blood-and-guts action vehicle, but another thing that tremendously bogs down Preacher is Ennis trying to get us on board with the trio of protagonists. The story never makes me care and I’m never charmed. Tickle me a little, please? Preacher feels like Ennis rejoicing in the fact that he has an outlet (Vertigo) through which he can say and do literally anything. Unfortunately, he seems so preoccupied with f-bombs, n-words, homophobic digs, extreme gore, ultra-violence, and arses, that he phoned in the narrative as an afterthought. I’ve not read beyond this first trade, but I hear it gets better. Gone to Texas does so little for me, however, that I can’t imagine reading any further.

Good things: Steve Dillon’s art and Glenn Fabry’s covers. Unfortunately, the latter is linked to what someone mentioned above: a lack of royalties given to him. Matt Hollingsworth’s subdued color palette shouldn’t be overlooked either. The subtle coloring and “magic hour” hues and shadows are a sight to behold. Half of Preacher feels like its coming in-and-out of sepia tone—and it totally works.

I hate to yuck anyone’s yum. Sorry if you love Preacher Gone to Texas. It’s totes cool. It was designed to be cool. A lot of people do love this book and I can see why. But, at this point, I truly think it’s nothing more than nostalgia. I hadn’t readPreacher in a verrrry long time and wasn’t quite sure how I’d react. No matter the case, I’d be weary of any adult reading this in 2016 and thinking it was a work of sophistication or genius. Seth Rogen, I’m looking at you and shaking my damn head.

 

Preacher, or as I call it “SHUT UP AND LET ME LOVE YOU”.

Yeah. I can’t get into it. I like it. It’s all good. And I fucking LOVE The Boys (Loz, you’re wrong. This is a “The Boys” discussion now. It’s happening, it’s okay, this is the better call). But I can’t get into this, well I can, kinda, but it’s a bit of a chore. I’ve read the 1st volume about 5 bloody times and each time it’s a case of “wow this is really well done, I can see why people love it, this is…oh..look, dust”. 

…Actually…that bit was written a good couple of weeks ago and I forgot…

I clicked through a few more issues this weekend, the Naked City arc and Jesse’s family reunion and some of Hunters. Shit, yeah I’m getting why people like this. It’s Deep South US bad ass and heartfelt and full of mad ideas executed with really consistent emotional logic. Like that bit where Cassidy is talking about his ex passing or Jesse’s childhood flashbacks? Holy fuck that’s good. Yeah it’s a macho book and yeah that’s basically the entire bloody marketplace, but I’m down with it because I’m massively childish.  So yes, competent first volume builds to some phenomenal writing beginning with Naked City. Basically – it’s a really well done stew that Ennis and Dillon realised needs fireworks, Jack Daniels and a Guatemalan Insanity Pepper.

Again; it is very macho, but I found it pretty self aware of that, enough to explore it, to some extent. I mean they have fucking John Wayne’s spectre or whatever wandering around going “hello pilgrim”. And alot of that whole fight masculinity is wonderfully characterized when you get to see Jesse’s family reunion, “Prouda you boy”. But based on some of the stuff Kelly said happens later on, yeah, very dated in those regards – progressive for 90s comics, sure, but that’s not a particularly laudable achievement.

Ennis, it should be noted, is all about the tragic power macho fantasies, the guys second career is writing WW2 fetish adventures, the other career is the best Punisher or Nick Fury stories ever. And the whole Hughie “blowjob video reaction” arc in The Boys was never something that sat right with me. Ennis is systemically about big tragic bad asses that lumber around through outrageous circumstances with insanely good monologues. It’s interesting too in that, he’s never really touched the classic self pity heroes like Daredevil or Batman, though there is that famous bit with Punisher and DD. (Okay apparently he has done some Batman according to Collin? That sounds…weird).

My name is Nick Fury

As to the art?

I was initially in the Dillon boat with you Loz, but I think once Naked City kicks in, Dillon really starts bringing it.

It goes from competent drafting to an immensely satisfying set of images, much the way the less hectic Kirby stuff is or a much closer relation, Brian Bolland.

Dillons art is soothing – it’s just a series of somewhat mutated, curved squares and rectangles. Big square that ooze into curves and points to look like faces or buildings or cars. Though the colouring was always quite flat (the covers are magnificently not), which probably made it quite a chore to spend a long time with the Preacher. There’s alot of facial similarity, but Dillon does bring it back through some really well thought out costumery, which comics as a medium, are often all too good at ignoring (Paul Pope has some excellent rants on this as he discusses how to draw clothing materials). There’s a sense of detail there, that lends itself to characterization and our memory. I mean, if I just showed you the “primary costume” of the main characters, without anything else, you’d know exactly who they belong to. Which is a sizeable achievement when we aren’t dealing with onesies and massive 42 inch chest trademarks.

But Dillon is really picking up heat issue 5 on, start of Naked City, he’s comfortable with the characters and they both have a sense of the lettering and speech bubble spacing and it creates some really stark images and just really cool page compositions. Compositions that aren’t about showing off and saying “but dude…what happens betweeeen the panels”, but just twisting standard layouts enough to give text and image the right kind of emphasis wherever needed. Maybe it’s because I really started liking the damned thing at the time and started paying more attention, maybe not, but yeah, it gets really good (though the colouring is still pretty flat, a big dampener.)

Also Joel, that “fat boys ass” line is awesome. I’m okay with all that stuff, especially since Jesse seems to be played up as some fucked up, Jack Daniels stinking post millenial Jesus-Neo plot figure. It’s fun to watch him act like a violent child and jump into mad fights with pricks. It’s …satisfying. That may not say good things about me, but it’s satisfying and Preacher feels like a book that is happy to jump in with Cassidy and say “Yeah this is amoral, offensive and insane, but I like it so fuck you and the god you came from, have some dirt dressed filth”. And I really want to steal that line next time I’m hammered and the fools come at me:

“Sir? Sir, I believe we’ve swapped jackets, here let me help you sort this ou—“
 
“NO IM SAYING YOU’D CRAWL THROUGH A FAT BOYS ASS… TO… WHOREHOUSE A… SHUT UP I’M GARTH ENNIS” 
 
*chunders vociferously while successfully hitting himself*
 

(Fuck. I’ve used the word “fuck” alot….I’d blame the book but it’d be surprising if anyone believed that. …Meh, it’s a satisfying word. And now to paraphrase Spider Jerusalem…)

Yeah, it’s pretty adolescent but it does what it sets out to do really well, the whole cooties-macho bad assery that you’d cut to Linkin Park (I’m not wiki-ing the proper name) and it gets really fun, you give a shit about the characters and it has a lot of fun.

Basically, assume this book was dictated by Cassidy looking back nostalgically and the tone and childish dick-fart humour makes sense. But yeah Volume 1, not so grand. Overall though? Yeah it’s picking up.

 

Holy Jebus guys. I reread All in the Family and I kinda feel like it’s the best thing ever. And I’m not sure that I even have the words but what the hey I’m gonna try.

I totally totally realise that when people start glorifying the stuff they’ve read or watched they tend to give away loads of stuff about their psychology or whatever and so yeah I apologise if I give you too much of an insight into my mind: but man All in the Family (for what it is) is kinda basically the perfect comic (sorry Scott Pilgrim). So much so that my whole higher critical ideology blah blah part of my brain just kinda switched off when I was reading it (apart from that bit where John Wayne calls Jesse a “faggot” – but then also I kinda feel like that’s exactly the sort of thing that John Wayne would say).

I mean for whatever reasons (and like I said – I first read Preacher back when I was a kid so yeah – I guess it’s formative part of who I am / the foundation of the building of my brain): the genre of “hero gets repeatedly smacked down by life / agents of evil but then finds somekind of inner strength or whatever and overcomes” (altho when I do a search for that on Netflix it doesn’t come up). And I think All in the Family might be the single best example of that – it’s better than Daredevil: Born Again, it’s better than Django Unchained, it’s better than Give Me Liberty: because yeah – it just pushes things further than anything that’s even been pushed. Like – a lot of it is in the way it’s told (and the time-line skipping is particulary good right at the start (with the first few pages going from “1974.” to “Now.” and then back to “This Morning”)) but just in terms of what the bad guys do to him: I mean – they kill his dad. Then they kill his dog. Then they kill his best friend. Then they kill his mum. Then they stick him in the coffin (several times). And then they kill his girlfriend. I mean yeah – Batman got both his parent’s dead but that was just one night and before and after that he got to live in a mansion and have billions of dollars and basically do whatever he liked. Preacherman’s origin story is like if Batman had to live in a house with a whole family of Jokers who killed everyone he loved over the course of his entire life. And yeah man – that stuff just speaks to me because hell – it’s just so super-super-powerful.

Plus: you know – the fact that God is there (and on the bad guy’s side! My god! Zizek would have a field day!) makes it all feel like everything is going to end even before it starts. (and the whole thing with Jesse’s power not working on Jody: (my god! Freud would have a field day!)

goddamn you jody you drop that fuckin gun

I know that maybe I have a tendency to talk about “stories” a lot and gabbing about how “it’s all about the story man” etc and blah – but man: this comic is kinda exactly the thing I mean. Because – my god – the tidal-wave of catharsis that hit me at the end when everyone’s dead and grandma explodes: well yeah – it’s a form of drug right? I mean: my brain chemistry was altered: it was making me feel feelings and stuff. Which I guess is why I get pissy when I read something that I don’t consider to be “good” because well – it doesn’t give me that hit that I want does it?

And yeah yeah yeah: violence begets violence and it would probably be better for us all if we lived in a world where Jesse could have just sat down in a room with Grandma and T.C. and Jody and they had discussed their conflicts in a calm safe space (“Tell us T.C. – why do you think you want to stick your pecker in everything you see?”) and then settled things in a peaceful way. But also: damn it – sometimes you just want to punch things and make them blow up – right?

In fact – the only small tiny niggle I have with it all is that the pivot on which the whole thing turns is when Jesse decides to bite a chunk out of Jody’s arm (because hey – if he hadn’t he would have lost right?). But then that’s always the toughest bit right? To give the hero a way to win that the audience doesn’t see coming a mile off. If it had been up to me – then I would have had Tulip (or Cassidy!) come and smack Jody around the head: but I think that’s mostly because I’m a totally sucker for things where the hero stands alone but is then saved by their friends (I watched a TV show last night that was kinda the best example of this that I’ve seen in a very long time: where there great shot of a hero standing alone in the face of incoming certain death – dude is all like: ok then cool – come and get it and then at the very last second BAM! he’s saved by his comrades and I was all like: YAY! and pumping my fists and stuff so yeah).

So in conclusion: I liked it. I thought it was good.

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