AMC’s Preacher is very different from the comics

AMC’s Preacher pilot is an ultra violent, shockingly witty, heightened reality tale of supernatural mayhem in a West Texas town — and it’s very different from the infamous gleefully blasphemous trope-busting comic that it’s based on.

“I don’t know that you could translate it directly [from the comic],” said executive producer Seth Rogen (yup, that Seth Rogen). “Everybody involved felt we should not — including [comic creator Garth Ennis].”

The show’s producers and cast were at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena, California, on Friday after reporters were given a preview screening of the roughly 60-minute pilot the night prior. The first episode introduces Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a weary faithless small-town preacher with a shady past, his badass ex-girlfriend Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga) and a deadbeat Irish vampire Cassidy (Joe Gilgun).

“We’re fans of the comic,” Rogen continued. “We love the comic. We’re going to make a show we like, so we hope that that translates to people that love the comic as well.  But our first and foremost goal is to make a great, entertaining, fun television show that if you never heard of the comic book, you love. We want the show to be fun for regular people without sick sensibilities.”

Critics were particularly impressed by Negga’s scene-stealing sequence soliciting two young kids to help her fight some (presumed) bad guys. While Cassidy should continue to The Strain’s trend of subverting vampire clichés. “What’s wonderful about Cassidy is he’s been around for so long yet he’s accomplished nothing,” Gilgun said. “He consistently makes terrible decisions … He puts an end to all this sexy vampire business.”

Preacher has had a long and rocky history to the screen, with a feature film effort in 1990s with director Kevin Smith attached that morphed into an HBO drama development with James Marsden attached to star that eventually collapsed in 2008.

Nailing the comics’ tone was a particularly tricky part of the adaptation. “There’s lots of violence and drama, but there’s always comedy throughout,” Rogen says. “That’s the real challenge and opportunity [Garth has] given us that there’s violence, almost melodrama, but then also we’re trying to make people laugh. We have characters who do really horrific things in one episode and then come back and do really silly things.”

Added Gilgun: “Everybody says they want too see something different,” Gilgun says. “If this isn’t that thing, I don’t know what is.”