THE BALLAD OF JESSE CUSTER
A brief history of Preacher
Writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon’s
Preacher made its debut in April 1995. Published by the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics, it followed the tradition set forth by Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Jamie Delano’s
Hellblazer. Ostensibly about a small- town Texas holy man fused to Genesis, the unholy offspring of a demon and an angel, Ennis grew his tale to encompass and satirise all the absurdities of American life as only a British writer can.
In the 65 issues that followed ( in addition to five
Preacher one- shot specials and a four- issue limited series), Jesse found himself partnered with the hard- partying Irish vampire Proinsias Cassidy and his on- again- off- again girlfriend Tulip O’Hare. Together, the three took to the road in search of God, who left his Heavenly flock when Genesis was sired. Along the way, with Jesse’s powers eventually enabling him to force others to do his will, they encountered all manner of metaphysical menace, including the bounty hunter Saint of Killers and the perverted former anti- terror operative Herr Starr.
The most memorable of all Ennis and Dillon’s creations was arguably Arseface. The son of an abusive father, this hapless lad earned his moniker after he tried to kill himself ( inspired by his hero Kurt Cobain) but succeeded only in shooting most of his face off. His speech incomprehensible, he nonetheless became a singing sensation. Proving that in Ennis’s America, anything is possible.