Writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon were smart to make Preacher, their sprawling '90s comic book masterpiece, hilarious. Without their equally caustic and big-hearted humor, I might still be under my covers, too scarred by the things I'd seen to face the world, even years after reading.
But now it's on TV. Preacher, which was published in 75 issues from 1995 to 2000 and lives on in paperback and hardcover, finally threaded the development-hell needle with Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Breaking Bad's Sam Catlin in the cockpit. Its network, AMC, is the home of The Walking Dead, one of television's most successful series, also one of its goriest. But a zombie apocalypse inherently, well, dehumanizes all the head-splattering and -stomping and -slicing. Preacher is a modern tale, and the victims of its atrocities are human (or, in a few particularly nightmarish cases, animal).
Until the first season begins unfolding on Sunday (May 22), we won't know how far Preacher will go. But we'll fall out of our seats and blast feverishly emoji'd tweets if any of the following manages to make it to the screen.
One note before we start this sordid journey: We're still in a world where the "god" in "goddamn" gets bleeped a lot of the time, so we can't play guessing games about how much of the go-for-broke blasphemy baked into Preacher's concept and storylines makes it to TV. The show's either going there or it's going somewhere much tamer. I might get into the religion-oriented WTFs in the show and comic another time. Violence and depravity, though, are always rising quickly and dipping slightly on the television landscape thermometer. So, now, 21 of the nastiest, most inappropriate, traumatizing, effed-way-up moments from the Preacher comic—essentially spoiler-free, in terms of who's involved and when the events occur.
1. A bucking horse bringing its giant hoof down onto a man's 10-gallon-hatted head. Splat. No more hat/upper half of head.
2. A guy jamming a broken baseball bat into a gorilla's mouth, then bludgeoning it to death with a different bat.
3. A fight ending with a man hooking his fingers into his foe's nostrils and ripping the nose off/out of his face.
4. A postcoital shot of a man and his humongous homemade sex toy, a 10ish-foot humanoid figure made of sausages and gory cow and chicken parts—with a blond wig on top. I can imagine the show recreating the image's quick-glance delivery from the book, but the entire idea of it seems...just...no.
5. A serial killer skinning his victim's face and nailing it back on, only upside down. The victim is alive the whole time.
6. A guy wielding an outboard motor to the splattery detriment of several enemies' heads/chests/necks.
7. A cute little dog named Duke getting nailed to a post by his head.
8. A guy getting cowboy-booted underneath the chin so hard his eyeball pops out (but remains attached via the eyeball-wire tendon stuff). Not sure how that one works, but it's gross.
9. A heavenly being biting a human's eye out of his face. Lot of eyeball situations.
10. A musclebound murderer hung by an icicle stabbed through his hands (just go with it), then having his back whipped till there's nothing left but gory ribs and a spine.
11. Beautiful horses getting cattle-bolted through the head.
12. Beautiful horses subsequently going through the entire cattle butchery process, in all its gruesome hacking-chainsawing-cleaving-hanging detail.
13. A small-elephant-sized man of great political stature who uses a customized wooden instrument—shaped like human fingers—to help him nonchalantly vomit mounds of food all over himself so he can keep eating.
14. A close-up of a guy falling directly onto his neck on concrete. No sound effect bubble. None needed. (Barely any in the entire book, in fact.)
15. Multiple instances of an infamous gunslinger piling up dumpster-sized heaps of victims in a single go.
16. A gun-blasted grade school girl with only half a face left :(
17. A close-up of a shovel getting stomped into a man's chest. He dies.
18. A direct look at an exploded obese man who fell a serious distance onto some concrete, also splattering the two people standing below.
19. A scalped man with his hands cut off, bumbling around, his floppy, still-attached head-skin hanging in his eyes.
20. A guy pulling another guy's fucking head off. They're laying on the ground, the head-puller gets his feet on top of the head-pullee's shoulders, grabs on, and...pop goes the weasel.
21. And the line "Bollicks! All you have to do to be eclectic in this country is own a Chili Peppers album." That's not being said on TV in 2016.