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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 207: Preacher #2

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Preacher #2, which was published by DC/Vertigo and is cover dated May 1995. Enjoy!

I miss Sheriff Root

Garth Ennis employs another common trick to recap previous events – instead of the news broadcast, he gives us the person who was there and witnessed it narrating to people interviewing him. That’s always handy, and although Ennis doesn’t give us too much information about Jesse and Cassidy and Tulip, we do get a nice introduction to the Saint of Killers, the man Sheriff Root is describing. We also find out that the “first suspect” – that would be Jesse – told the police officers to lay down their weapons and they couldn’t help themselves. Ennis gives us some nice descriptive dialogue on this page – it flows pretty naturally even though it’s informative, and the way Root describes how the Saint of Killers started shooting is very well done – “Ain’t what I said. A blur an’ then shootin’. I didn’t see no draw.” That’s good stuff. So moving onto the second page, we already know there’s a man who is able to compel police officers to put down their weapons and another man who is so fast that no one saw him pull his weapons. The fact that the page ends with Root telling the interviewers (and the reader) about the Saint primes us for the following pages – it would be very disappointing if, on the next page, we didn’t see the Saint blasting away, and that’s what we get!

Steve Dillon’s pencils here are, I think, much better than when he’s colored digitally, which I think was the case with the last time I featured him in this here column. Matt Hollingsworth colors this, and I’m not sure if it’s digital or not (this is probably too early for that, although I’m not sure), but it looks more “grounded” than the colors in Nighthawk. There’s no slick sheen, and the shadows look more natural than when the coloring is done digitally. Hollingsworth can add nuances that I don’t think you get with digital stuff – the interviewer in Panel 2 looks positively disfigured on the right side of his face, and I don’t know if digital coloring could make that shade twist his face so much. The browns are more drab than with digital coloring, too, and it helps create a feeling of bureaucracy, which is completely at odds with the chaos that Root has experienced.

Dillon lays out the page fairly well, but that’s never really been an issue with him. We get the establishing shot, and then, in case we missed him, the dude in the back gets Panel 2 all to himself. We slowly close in on Root from Panel 1 to Panel 6, so that in the final panel, we see only part of his face and can read the impotence and rage on it, because he doesn’t understand what happened to him and his men. The flashback panel is nicely done – it’s colored slightly differently, it’s larger than the row of panels it’s in, and the border is a bit thicker and jagged than the others. Kenny’s face is marvelous – he knows they’re fucked, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Root doesn’t show Kenny’s level of concern in the final panel, but it’s enough, especially given what we already know about Root. You’ll notice the man in the second panel looks almost contemptuous of Root, but Root doesn’t care. Why should he, given what he’s seen? Ennis does a nice job with the dialogue, but Dillon’s pacing also makes the page more tense, as we’re waiting for the appearance of the Saint of Killers and the slaughter that follows.

Re-reading Preacher recently, it didn’t quite impress me as much as it did 15 years ago, but it’s still impressive to see how Ennis and Dillon put together a comic book. They were really working well together on this series, and this first page is a good example of that.

Next: Everyone’s favorite current horror series! You know what it is! But which issue is it? It certainly hasn’t shown up yet in the archives!

12 Comments

That’s pretty good Dillon. I feel like his figures sometime look like action figures (the toys, not Tom Cruise) that are posed on the page. Just too stiff. I didn’t remember the Saint of Killers showing up so early in the series.

I really enjoyed this series. I think some of the in between arcs worked better than the overall epic Ennis was going for. I think it was pretty ambitious, so saying it fell short in any regard isn’t exactly a put down.

Favorite current horror series? Something Vertigo, I’m guessing, since I don’t see you collecting Crossed. There are probably some interesting first pages, though. I guess I’ll have to tune in tomorrow!

joshschr: Yeah, I agree that saying it fell a bit short isn’t an insult, because of its ambition. It’s strange that when I first read it, I had some issues that I really liked, and when I re-read it, I liked others a lot more. I don’t mind a series changing as you get older – that’s pretty neat.

Re: tomorrow: It’s not a Vertigo book, and it’s definitely not Crossed. Let the guesses continue!

Favorite current horror series?

Probably Walking Dead, I’d imagine.

Travis Pelkie

July 25, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Favorite current horror series…Red Hood and the Outlaws? Hawk and Dove? Savage Hawkman? Some other shitty new DC book?

HAHA! I made a funny!

I like the spitting in panel 3- it instantly gives us an impression of the kind of person Sheriff Root is.

I’d say this is definitely digital coloring. Although the sheen you’re talking about might be in part due to the glossy paper a lot of comics print on. Dillon is best when his linework speaks for itself, especially on newsprint or non-glossy paper.

RE: digital coloring — I think you might be surprised as to what was “too early” for digital coloring — I’ve flipped through some of the older DC’s from about ’89, ’90, and those chatty little columns that Giordano (and others) did, talking about people in the office, what they do, etc, mentions that someone at DC, I think it was Daniel Vozzo, had gotten a computer to use in coloring back then. I’d guess Vertigo was at the cutting edge with using computers, and Matt Hollingsworth would probably be one of the early adopters.

Perhaps, since it would be fairly early for digital coloring, Hollingsworth didn’t play with the “bells and whistles” too much, and used it more just to replicate what could already be done with non-digital means.

Also, as to early digital stuff, don’t forget the first all digital comic Shatter, done on a Mac, iirc, in the mid-’80s.

Because everyone remembers Shatter.

Right?

Animal Man? I’m guessing Animal Man!

Pete Woodhouse

July 26, 2012 at 3:28 am

My gut feeling is Travis is right on digi coloring, I remember the likes of Vozzo phasing it in on series such as Morrison’s Doom Patrol, etc. New Format & Vertigo stuff was ‘awash’ with it in the early 90s.

David: I could have sworn I mentioned the paper stock. But yeah, you’re probably right that the kind of paper has a lot to do with it.

Travis: That’s probably true, too – on a big-time book like this, maybe there wasn’t room for experimentation. I think it’s time you got to work on that book chronicling the history of digital coloring, sir!

Not only do I remember Shatter, I reviewed right here on this blog!!!!!

Okay, maybe it’s not everyone’s favorite horror book. No one has guessed it yet!!! :(

My guess is Fatale. Let’s throw a random issue number too – mhmm #4!

Ah, disregard the above post, I didn’t see that the next post is already up :]

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