My Comic Book History, Part 5

In 1995, I stumbled on to the first issue of this comic Preacher. I was intrigued, a comic with a Preacher for the protagonist? That just was not common. But that first issue was…unexpected. You had Jesse Custer, the titular Preacher, who was depressed, in a job he really wanted no part of with a congregation of losers. That all changes one day when he is hit by Genesis. Genesis is the offspring of an angel and a demon, and it merges with Custer. In the process his church and it’s congregation are wiped out.

Custer soon discovers he has the power of the Word. Basically, whatever he tells you to do? You follow his orders. He gets hooked with his ex-girlfriend Tulip (now turned hit woman) and a selfish, hard drinking vampire named Cassidy. Jesse discovers that God decided to go on a sabbatical. This does not sit well, and Jess takes it on himself to track down God to hold Him accountable for the mess His creation was in.

For the next five years they were chased by angels, the Saint of Killers, Herr Starr and the Grail, Custer’s messed up family and God. It was irreverent, offensive and honestly? Absurdly entertaining. The characters were compelling, the stories engrossing and it felt like a roller coaster ride. But it was not just the writing by Garth Ennis. Steve Dillon became one of my favorite pencillers based on that book. Dillon drew people, not page after page of pin-ups. His people came in various shapes, sizes, heights, etc. And then there were the covers. Sandman’s Dave McKeon had set a high standard for comic book covers. Now they had to be art. Glenn Fabry did not let us down. His covers hinted at the story within, but were lush and beautiful paintings, full of life and vibrant covers.

It was after Preacher that I started checking out more and more Vertigo. When I discovered that Ennis had written some Hellblazer issues, I bought the trades right up.

I also discovered Terry Moore’s Strangers In Paradise, which started with a somwhat quirky take on friendship and Romance. Francine and Katchoo are friends, though Katchoo likes Francine a bit differently. David walks into the picture pursuing Katchoo. And the little triangle is set. I liked Moore’s art, his slightly cartoonish style complimented the story. It was all quite charming, though I got a bit disappointed when the mob subplot took over. I confess, I was in the minority rooting for Katchoo and David over Katchoo and Francine. I liked the Katchoo and Francine stories well enough, but I was never overly charmed by it.

In the late 90’s, probably around 1996 or so when he took the book to Image, I also started to read Jeff Smith’s Bone.  This charming little book had nice line work, and was in black and white.  It was a funny book, full of adventure that was fun whether you were eight or twenty eight.  As his recent Shazam! (Captain Marvel) outing proved, Jeff creates some of the finest all ages material out there, that is for sure.

Pn the Superhero front, I was into the Stormwatch books when Warren Ellis took over.  He took a dying title and suddenly managed to make all the characters interesting and startedd to take the book into it’s own direction, diverting it from the other Wildstorm books coming out at the time.  Sure, it still had ties books like Gen 13, Wild C.A.T.s and others, but it really took on a life of it’s own.  It became a book of over the top comedy and violence.  I followed the transition into the Authority and followed the Authority quite a bit, even after Ellis left and Mark Millar took over.  Millar was the one to really take thing established by Ellis a bit farther (such as the gay superhero couple Apollo and Midnighter).

Posted in: Comic Books

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