With Preacher set to debut on AMC this coming Sunday, May 22nd, I thought it’s about time you knew a little bit about the man behind what I consider the greatest comic series ever made and somebody that I believe to not only be the best comic book writer of our time, but one of the greatest writers of fiction – period: Garth Ennis.
I missed the initial comic run of Preacher. I had gotten out of comic books as it was tearing up DC’s Vertigo line in the late 90’s. However, once I started to revert into my “man-child” phase, which is of course when all men in their late 20’s and early 30’s begin to re-pursue their childhood addictions, I stumbled upon the graphic novel collection of Preacher. This is the series that re-ignited my love of the genre. I grew up with Spider-Man, X-Men and Spawn but Preacher made me fall in love with comics all over again and with a new appreciation for creator-owned titles. The second series being Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, which I will proclaim to be my second all-time favorite series, since it was the second run of comics I got into as I entered my precious man-child state of collecting geeky shit that I used to love as a kid.
The second volume in particular of Preacher, titled ‘Until The End of The World’ is hands down my favorite graphic novel of all time and easily the most intense and brilliant story arc in all of comics – ever. This section of Preacher explores our lead character – Jessie’s past, dealing with his extremely messed up family and the horrors he escaped from growing up in the South. I know that Ennis himself has said he can’t wait for the TV series to explore this aspect of Preacher and I’ll be shocked if they can pull it off – this is some seriously gritty, heart-breaking stuff… I grew up reading my father’s Stephen King novels, but Garth Ennis…. He is my Stephen King – he is the Stephen King of comic books, his work pushes the envelope, it doesn’t shy away from the monstrosities of human nature in it’s most evil state and above all else – it’s gripping. You can’t put down his work – it must be finished from start to end because the way he writes his characters is to perfection.
I was lucky enough to meet and interview Ennis a couple years ago at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo to chat about Preacher, The Boys, Crossed and other things and it was the most nervous I have ever been speaking to an individual for journalistic purposes. He’s my hero, he’s still creating some of the best work of his career and if you had any doubts, look no further than Avatar Publishing where Ennis’ creations are more unrestrained and glorious than ever before. Whether it’s the traumatic world of Crossed or the heart-warming animals in an apocalypse tale of Rover Red Charlie, Garth Ennis is still at the top of his game.
With Preacher being Ennis’ first film or in this case TV adaptation – ever, let’s see what else we can get adapted now that it’s all but inevitable once Preacher becomes the glorified hit that it’s destined to be. Here are the next five adaptations we should be tackling in the long and wonderful Ennis catalogue:
This is already greenlit from what we know and it’s coming to Cinemax from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Yes, the same two dudes who finally breathed life into Preacher for AMC. The series follows a CIA-like team of individuals known as ‘The Boys’, who police superheroes after they start to indulge and abuse their powers. This comic series is easily Ennis’ second-greatest work (Preacher will always be number one) and it features some of the most insane, hilarious and crazy anti-superhero themes of any comic book ever made. People will be shocked if Goldberg and Rogen are able to faithfully adapt a minor percentage of the shocking source material… The Boys is a rollercoaster of death and mayhem, one that turns the boring and played out world of superheroes right on top of it’s fucking head.
The Punisher Max
Garth Ennis’ longstanding Punisher run on Marvel’s imprint ‘Max’ is easily the strongest take that anyone has ever had with the character. I will say that I loved Jason Aaron’s PunisherMax mini-series however, that followed Ennis later on – maybe even a little more. This is the ONLY time anyone has ever managed to follow up an Ennis storyline and not only do it justice, but actually take it in an exciting and energizing direction. When Ennis ran with the Punisher, he embraced the grit of this seedy underworld, loaded with scumbags and truly did justice to Frank Castle like noone had before him. If you want a taste of that – watch the second season of Daredevil, because Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle is the closest we’ve come to seeing Ennis’ Punisher adapted for live-action. Hell there are scenes taken RIGHT OUT of Ennis’ Punisher comics. And as it turns out – it’s also the best version of that character to date. Crazy how that works right?
When Garth Ennis set out to make his apocalypse epic, I don’t think even he knew it would take off and spawn several other brutal and horrifying chapters/spin-offs featuring other writers at Avatar Publishing. After a disease begins to spread, humans become infected with a feral rage that causes them to lash out violently in any way imaginable against all other living things – including rape, torture, murder, cannibalism – and with no boundaries. Noone and I mean noone is off limits in the world of Crossed. Imagine The Walking Dead, but imagine all of the walkers being able to think and use weapons. Ennis unleashed a world of atrocities when he spawned Crossed with artist Jacen Burrows and there have been attempts to adapt the property into film, but now it looks like Ennis himself is going to direct a web-series if all goes according to plan. I can’t even imagine… because there are moments in Crossed that are too much for me to handle….
Rover Red Charlie
Homeward Bound meets the end of humanity. Crossed – with pets, from the point of view of the pets…. That is Rover Red Charlie in a nutshell. We see this mini-series from a group of dogs’ perspective as their masters, owners – all of mankind one day snaps and begins to murder one another. It’s a brilliant premise seeing the decay of civilization from the most innocent eyes imaginable – the pets. It’s sad, funny, frightening – Rover Red Charlie would be damn near impossible to adapt as live-action considering the edgy material and the fact that people sometimes have a harder time watching animals get hurt or killed in their shows than actual human on human violence. I used to have issues seeing dogs/animals getting murdered but after I had children of my own – I kinda stopped giving as much of a shit. I would love to see Rover Red Charlie get adapted but as crazy as Ennis’ stories can get, I feel this one might actually be the most difficult to pull off.
Mr. Ennis is fascinated with war. It always makes it’s way into his work, from the Vietnam backstory in Preacher, 303, to The Punisher’s origins and more, war always tends to pop up in an Ennis book. Garth is very passionate about the history of war in this world and he’s explored it to great lengths in his ‘War Stories’ mini-series. With the success of shows like Strikeback on Cinemax, wouldn’t it be amazing if they did an anthology type series with one stand-alone story every year under the ‘War Stories’ banner where they adapt an Ennis comic every season? Hell yeah it would be. I think it would be amazing actually – if the American Horror Story guys can turn out a brand new storyline every year, why not a military inspired tale on a network that is allowed to get edgier? War Stories – do it up. I would also like to take credit for that idea – since it’s gold thank you.