In the spring of 2016, AMC’s Preacher TV series debuted, after a nearly 20-year process of bringing Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Vertigo lauded comic book series to live-action, with multiple failed TV and film adaptation attempts along the way.
Both Ennis and Dillon were involved in the show’s development on AMC as co-executive producers, and the show was quickly renewed for a second season — yet Dillon tragically passed away last October and won’t get to see the directions the show takes when new episodes begin this week, as the show starts to move closer to its source material.
As the artist of Preacher, Dillon was responsible for illustrating all of the comics’ emotional, funny and shockingly violent moments — a tricky tone which has been reflected in the TV show. Tonight’s second season premiere will include a dedication to Dillon, which Preacher executive producer Seth Rogen called the show’s “responsibility.” Talking to reporters including CBR last week, Rogen and fellow executive producer Evan Goldberg described Dillon’s influence on the series.
“He was privy to all of the opening conversations, and Garth kept him in the loop about what we were thinking,” Goldberg told the gathered press. “We met with him a bunch. He came to the set once with Garth.”
“He came to Comic-Con last year,” Rogen added. “That was the first time we spent a couple days with him. It was great. He really seemed to like the show, and I think was, as Garth was, in shock that it was happening, and seemed very happy it was happening. It’s very sad. But I feel lucky that we got to spend a little bit of time with him.”
Dillon even drew a cover for a reissued Preacher #1 released last year, depicting the show’s versions of the characters — Dominic Cooper’s Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga’s Tulip O’Hare and Joseph Gilgun’s Cassidy. Rogen and Goldberg shared that Dillon gave them his original drawing of that image as a gift.
Preacher showrunner Sam Catlin talked to CBR about Dillon’s influence on the show’s visuals, and how much of the comic’s images already seemed primed for live-action.
“One of my first impressions on reading the comic was just how cinematic it was, and how bold it was with the palette, and his use of wide shots and super-close shots,” Catlin told CBR. “It’s been a big influence, I know, on [veteran cinematographer and Preacher executive producer] Michael Slovis and our cinematographers; it’s influenced our costumes. It’s just been invaluable.”
“He was such a big influence on the show before I even met him,” Catlin continued. “He’s sorely missed. Obviously Garth was very close to him, and they both really fed off of each other, and never would have had Preacher, one without the other. I’m glad he got to see season one, and I just wish he would have been able to see more of it.”
Ennis and Dillon collaborated for all 66 issues of Preacher‘s 1995-2000 run at DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, where it stands as one of the most acclaimed and influential comics of its era. Prior to Preacher, they worked together on Vertigo’s Hellblazer, and subsequently teamed for a number of well-received Punisher stories at Marvel.
Dillon’s death, due to a ruptured appendix, was a shock to the comic book industry. The artist was still active in the field, illustrating Marvel’s ongoing Punisher series, written by Becky Cloonan. In recent years, his imaginative and highly distinctive work was seen on multiple Marvel series including Punisher MAX, written by Jason Aaron, Ultimate Avengers and Thunderbolts.
Preacher season two will debut with a two-night premiere, starting at 10 tonight on AMC, before moving to its new slot — 9 p.m. on Mondays — tomorrow.
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