Wednesday, 27 July 2011

What I've been reading: Preacher: Gone to Texas - Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Dragon Rating: Couple of houses alight, over here...

 Yes, okay. Watch me sacrifice the last of my tenuous geek credentials as I admit that, no, I've not read any Preacher before. And, I know I've said in the past that I'm a stories girl, but what first struck me about this was - wow. This artwork is beautiful.

Not beautiful in the "ooh, pretty," kind of way - although with their subject matter it would have been easy to slip into eye-candy mode (brooding, almost anti-hero, trigger happy ex-girlfriend, angels...) but no. Even in the gross bits, this is beautiful; truly, fascinatingly, horribly beautiful. So it was the art kept me fixed, at least for the first arc of the story.

But still, over and above it all, I'm a stories girl. And, apologies to any rabid fans, but the earlier sections just didn't do it for me, first time round. A slow burner, it took a while for it... not to get going, but for it to capture my interest.

Actually, if you're curious, I can tell you the exact moment that I got hooked. It's just into the second story arc: Jesse and Cassidy are standing at the top of the Empire State Building, talking about responsibility. The artwork, again, is lovely - aesthetically pleasing as well as brilliant - and Jesse is being every inch the brooding anti-hero. This is the most high-blown and preachy we've seen him in the whole course of the book as he talks about absolute power, absolute corruption, sin and hellfire. This is a momentous moment, for the reader, as well as the characters when we find out, proud little redneck that he is, our MC is a pretty decent bloke and his sleazy vampire sidekick is really alright, too.

And, because he's a blood good writer, Ennis is not afraid to puncture the mood with a bathetic comment about penises. And, because he's a bloody good artist, Dillon let's us know it's okay to find it funny.

After that, I wasn't just reading for a vague sense of interest as to what happened next, after that, I gave a damn. Because suddenly, I knew I wasn't dealing with a bunch of straw men with superpowers who just happened to be drawn by an excellent artist. No, after that, I was dealing with real people  who - however much they screw up or act like arseholes - have got me on their side.

I admit, there is probably some kind of formula for winning readers like me. It goes along the lines of  'tough guy bullshit, followed by displayed decency, followed by humour.' I might go so far as to say that this kind of formula is being exploited here. But without skill a formula like that is stale and transparent and this... No. I only notice this while writing about it.

Good show, gentlemen, and an excellent beginning. Can't wait to see what happens next....

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