This explains why a series so far outside the main stream is making such a rapid journey to television.
Preacher is finally getting adapted, but apparently it’s no thanks to the publisher that first brought it to us as a comic.
Even before the iconic comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon had finished its run, the property was already making the rounds in Hollywood. First, it was going to be a movie, then it was going to be a TV series, then it was going to be a movie again, and now, after roughly 16 years of development hell, the story of a supernaturally empowered preacher and his search for a renegade God has settled in at AMC under the guidance of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who’ve been trying for years to tie the project down.
So why did this finally happen? It seems that it has to do, at least in part, with a lack of involvement from DC and Vertigo Comics.
For years, the film rights to Preacher rested with the comic’s publisher, DC/Vertigo, and you would be forgiven for assuming that they’re still there. That’s what Eisner-winning comics journalist Tom Spurgeon did, until he got a quick note from a DC Entertainment representative:
“Preacher is a creator-owned project, DC Entertainment is not involved in the show.”
So the films rights to Preacher are back in the hands of its creators. That’s interesting news, but what exactly does that have to do with the show’s new development deal? According to a trusted source of Spurgeon’s, it has everything to do with it.
“DC’s media rights to Preacher expired, after more than a decade of trying to get this show going and failing miserably,” Spurgeon’s source said. “They refused to re-assign media rights to Garth [Ennis], which he tried to get back when Paul [Levitz] cancelled The Boys over its content, despite it being WildStorm’s only hit at the time. Within weeks — no kidding — of getting his rights back, Garth got Preacher to Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] and AMC. It’s an interesting story, and it might generate interest in other creator-owned DC titles, but it’s actually a deterrent for them in retaining talent, since most of the folks Vertigo would publish all know one another and [are] aware of the happenings with Preacher.”
So, not only did the series make it to TV without DC’s help, but its success might also serve to divert writers away from DC and on to other creator-owned venues like, say, Image Comics. Sure, lots of people in comics media right now would tell you that there are plenty of other reasons for creators to head to Image anyway, but this is nevertheless an interesting development in a long-gestating project. How big of a blow something like this could be to DC’s future development prospects is unclear, but in the meantime they’ve got plenty of TV development action going on with things like The Flash, Constantine and Gotham, not to mention what looks like an ever-growing superhero movie slate at Warner Bros. Pictures. Still, it will be interesting to see if this, coupled with the eventual outcome of the Preacher TV series, creates big waves.
While I was never a fan of Preacher myself, it is nice to see an comic make the jump to film or TV as long as the material is treated respectfully. After the fiasco of the Green Hornet film, I am trepidatious to see Seth Rogen near any comics property, but time will tell.