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I have recently taken on the idea to submit ten essays, one per week, taking an in depth look at what I think are some of the finest examples and collections of comic book stories around. By no means have I read everything ever printed and don’t claim to know it all. I have read and own everything on this list as well as a large amount more. This is an eclectic collection that I, personally, think would please not just hardcore collectors, but casual fans as well. And that’s the most important criteria in forming this list; I looked at complete stories, easily accessible, without too much history to learn. Something that a casual fan, or even non comic fan can pick up and possibly enjoy. Last week featured Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Number six: Preacher, 66 issues, five one shot issues and a four issue mini-series collected into nine trade paperbacks or six hard covers. There was also one hardcover collection of Glenn Fabry’s cover paintings with original concept sketches and notes. This is the story of one man’s search for God, as written by Garth Ennis and drawn by Steve Dillon, with painted covers supplied by Fabry, and there’s much more involved in this than that, but that’s what it boils down to.
Preacher for me is the most personal on this list. It’s probably the most personal story I’ve ever gotten involved in, not in any direct way, just even as a fan/reader. Jesse Custer is a washed out, not so inspiring character trying to find redemption in being a preacher for a small Texas town. It’s there that he’s inhabited by the result of a love tryst between an angel and a demon. Jesse’s newfound abilities start him on a path that leads to his reconnecting with the lost love-of-his-life, Tulip, meeting his new best friend, Cassidy, a hard drinking Irish vampire, and searching for God. The art is stunningly simple and elegant. The painted covers are breathtaking and a joy to behold. Characterization is so strong in this series, in the main characters as well as unforgettable minor characters, that several have made it onto 'all time' lists, such as IGN’s Top 100 characters list. Jesse Custer appeared on the Heroes list at number #34 and Herr Starr and Saint of Killers were on the Villains list at #66 and #74, respectively. Stephen King has also publicly stated that his Dark Tower series was influenced by Preacher.
This is not for the faint of heart. It’s crude and offensive and there’s some stuff down this road that a lot of people I’m sure never realized comics can contain. Look past the shock moments and there are some real gems in this story. More than once have I thought ‘If genies were real, I would want the voice of God as possessed by Jesse Custer’.
A Preacher feature film may be tied up in “Development hell” as Kevin Smith has stated, but that doesn't detract in the least from the wondrous adventure that these characters embark on. I'm very happy I was able to join them as I did. I also thought it would be perfect for HBO. It’s really too bad that didn’t work out.
Michael R. Murray read his first comic and has been buying and collecting for over 35 years. At one point his collection included two copies of Amazing Spider-man #1, and one copy each of Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #2, Avengers #4, Showcase #22, and dozens more high grade and key issues. The collection has grown to include original art pages, as well as statues and busts, with the current emphasis on collecting original drawings from appropriate artists on the inside of his hard covers. His personal collection of graphic novels consists of over 2,000 hardcovers and trade paperbacks. He has attended all of the Boston and New York Comic Cons and experienced Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Diego. He has championed comic books in the local schools and was very proud that both of his children read at least three years above their grade levels, due nearly exclusively to comics. He’s quick to point out that none of this makes him an expert, but that his love of comics is most enjoyable when he can share it. Follow on Twitter at mycomicstore001 or like his Facebook page.