AMC’s ‘Preacher’ is an example of how you adapt a comic book well. Fundamentally similar to the comic, the show stands out on its own as something unique, in some regard better. ‘Preacher’ tells the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher who mysteriously gains the power to make others obey his will, his criminal ex-girlfriend Tulip, and Cassidy, an alcoholic Irish vampire, as they embark on a cross-country journey to find God, who has gone missing. The comics were a huge ‘90s phenomenon, and the show takes their comedic, action-heavy feel and transplants it to the twenty-first century, touching on a variety of modern themes, ranging from topics such as humanism to the rise of the alt-right.
The show’s casting is a perfect example of how it adapts to the time period effectively. Actors are excellent for their roles, embodying multifaceted characters, rather than one-dimensional ones like certain characters in the comic. For example, in the comics, Eugene is a Nirvana fan who unsuccessfully attempts to mimic Cobain and is used as a persistent punchline. In the show, he becomes a well-rounded character whose suicide attempt left him scarred, yet with a desire to live. Similarly, the show is less controversial; the comic was heavily criticised for gory and blasphemous sequences, which the show significantly toned down and improved upon for contemporary viewership. The show also taps into our modern zeitgeist; in that the backdrop is a subtle emphasis on the political deterioration characterising the 2010s, with the characters squaring off against neo-nazis, psychopathic rednecks and apocalyptic Christian organisations.
Overall, ‘Preacher’ is an effective adaptation – adapting the soul of the work while modernising it. Steering the plot in a similar yet different direction, ‘Preacher’ feels like something wholly new for modern times, which is exactly what a good adaptation should be.