Even though I am a fan of the original Walking Dead comic book series, I was still surprised by the scale of the success of the TV adaptation on AMC. I mean, the Walking Dead is huge! And it was pretty much from the beginning! I gravitate toward a lot of genre fiction - like scifi, fantasy, zombies, etc. - and I have friends who gravitate toward horror movies and shows. But these shows historically have appealed to a fervent but limited audience - that's why they are called 'cult' hits. The Walking Dead is both a genre show and a horror show. It was shocking to me that it was such a widespread hit across demographics and that it has brought out such watching loyalty from audience that were never into zombies or horror. Thank the amazing story created by Robert Kirkman and the great writing, acting and show development, I guess! I have other theories as well on why it got so popular - but I'll save those for another time.
Today I saw on Entertainment Weekly that AMC has given the pilot order for an adaptation of another genre/horror comic, Preacher. This comic from the 90s, written by Garth Ennis with art by Steve Dillon, is basically a twisted tale about a preacher in a small Texas town who becomes bonded with a supernatural being, wreaks havoc, then goes on a journey to find God. There are elements of horror, the supernatural, the Western and the surreal.
Preacher has had a rough road to this AMC pilot. Previously movie attempts fell through, as well as a possible series on HBO. Finally the story is getting a shot on cable. For this AMC series, Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad) will serve as executive producer and showrunner. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg will executive produce and direct the pilot, which is written by Catlin.
Here are my two main concerns:
1) I think AMC hit the jackpot with The Walking Dead, in a surprising way (see above). I'm not sure it is a formula that can be easily replicated. In fact, doing another horror-related comic series might oversaturate the audience. This is partly a concern about timing, since The Walking Dead is still on the air.
2) I think a huge part of the reason The Walking Dead is successful on television is because Robert Kirkman, the author of the comic, is directly involved in producing and writing the show. I'm curious to know what if any involvement Ennis has in the project.
I'm not feeling super confident about this line from Rogen and Goldberg: “Garth Ennis is one of our idols and it’s an incredible honor to be working on this. We promise we won’t make too many dick jokes and ruin it.”
What do you think? Is cable TV ready for another horror comic adaptation?