“There had been something online of some test someone had done that looked exactly like it looked in the comic. As soon as I saw that I knew we should not make it look exactly like it looked in the comic and make it a little more palatable. We wanted the character to be sympathetic. There’s a threshold where that becomes difficult in short bursts.” Seth Rogen on adapting Arseface via SlashFilm.com
I underline palatable in the above quote for a reason, but more on that later.
Last night, I found myself, yet again, browsing through Twitter for both Preacher related content and users interested in the show. It’s something I’ve been doing quite a bit of lately, trying to reach out to my fellow comic fans prior to May 22nd. Among us there is another type of fan that is no less important: AMC fans. Those who love Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, those who aren’t familiar with the source material. This group will discover Preacher’s greatness over the course of the season. They are also an exponentially larger community than us Preacher comic fans. I have had the pleasure of discussing and interacting with both sides since our site went live.
When the recent trailer dropped on The Walking Dead season finale, the vast majority of AMC fans caught their first glimpse of Preacher. We posted an article on fan reactions to the trailer and I myself began wondering about what it might be like if Preacher became a cultural phenom like The Walking Dead.
This lead me to comparing the two series. What if AMC Preacher’s Arseface became as popular as Daryl Dixon? We see pictures of Norman Reedus everywhere these days. What if we saw Arseface everywhere we went? How would the public react? I mocked up the most amateur Photoshop job you’ve ever seen in your life, and in the midst of my tweets on the subject last night, I posted it to Twitter. That’s it there just to your right.
We are in the early days of the site, so I know exactly how many Twitter followers we have. Within seconds of posting this pic of beauty and the beast (yes, Beth is the beauty, don’t be a smart-ass), I was down two followers.
Now all of this is no big deal of course, but the point I am trying to make is that the reaction from members of the biggest piece of the viewership pie took action immediately upon viewing our “comic” Arseface. I removed the photo, understanding that the soon-to-be newest members of our Preacher community, the massive horde of unsuspecting AMC subscribers, don’t really know what Preacher is all about yet. They don’t know what is coming, what they are about to be hit with. For them, seeing this pic might have been the sports equivalent of taking a guy who’s never seen a baseball game in his entire life and making him pinch hit in the World Series. There’s simply no understanding. I have no doubt whatsoever a couple of these viewers saw that pic there, were grossed the hell out not knowing what they were looking at, and unfollowed us accordingly
Back to Seth Rogen’s quote up top stating that they want to make Arseface palatable. The Walking Dead is massive, one of the biggest shows ever. AMC has reaped the benefits of an insanely well-adapted comic series, and there can be no doubt they want to do the same with Preacher. While we want the show to be as close to the source material as possible, would AMC really risk grossing a good chunk of their viewers week after week by going all out comic Arseface? I believe this is exactly what Rogen is referring to in that quote above, and if so, the answer is a resounding no. This is no doubt why Ian Colletti’s version of the character is toned down as much as it is, much to many die hard fans’ chagrin. There is, as they say, too much money involved.
So what about the Arseface they went with? He is still disgusting as hell, there’s no denying that. There’s also no doubt that he will be tough for some viewers to swallow. In the comics, Arseface becomes a cult hero. Can he become exactly that to the greater AMC viewership? Or will he turn off viewers who simply don’t want to tune in to look at him.
Is the world ready for Arseface?