A member of our very own HOT PICKS team was stunned today when the head of AMC came into his shop, Escape Pod Comics, to buy a ‘Preacher’ collection — and effectively confirmed reports from Badass Digest that the net that brings you “The Walking Dead” is putting a show together. Bleeding Cool first noted the transaction but here’s Menachem Luchins’ EXCLUSIVE blow-by-blow:
(Note from Menachem: The conversations and sequence of events related here may not be 100% what was said or the order they were said in. I had no idea I was taking part in a conversation that would be worth recording and was distracted by the many things I need to do in one-man comic shop both during the events that took place and directly afterward. I strove to keep Ed’s half of the dialogue as exact as I could remember, though.)
So it’s a normal Sunday for Escape Pod Comics. A 4-year-old girl had come in because she thinks The Stalk in our window looks cool and is now paying for the copy of Powerpuff Girls she got when I informed her and her mom that Saga, from Image, was a bit of a “grown up” book. In walks a man and what appears to be his teenage son. Distracted with the paying customer I don’t get to ask them, as I usually do, if they are looking for anything in particular.
Once the little girl pays, I do ask and get an interesting response: “Preacher.” Not to say that Vertigo’s Preacher isn’t a decent seller in my shop, but the teen looks a bit young for it and the gentleman says it almost as if it’s a foreign word. Maybe he’s flipping through it to see if he’ll let his son get it? That seems possible…
I show him the book and start talking about it, telling him the book is sort of intense. “In what way?” he asks.
“Well, pretty much EVERY way.” It’s very violent, sexual, blasphemous, I go on and on. I’m not really sure what to say, the guy picked up Volume 6 at random and he doesn’t even really seem interested in my answers. I pick up Vol. 1 and sort of lay out the plot for him.
After taking Vol. 1 and putting back Vol. 6 he says, “So how does it compare to The Walking Dead?”
Ah. Lightbulb. Clearly, this guy has seen the rumor about AMC picking up Preacher that was making the rounds yesterday and thought, “Oh, I like Walking Dead, the show and the comic, maybe I’ll get a head start on this one.”
“Well, they’re not really comparable, Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic sort of Man Against The Odds epic but Preacher is more a very raw discussion of man’s relationship to God and how that relationship can affect people…”
He cuts me off, “Yeah, well, Walking Dead is really about Man vs. Man, though, y’know … like most of these stories are.”
I accede that he’s correct and decide to just go for it, “So I guess you heard the rumors about AMC buying Preacher, huh?”
“Yeah, he says… I work there.”
So I get a bit flustered, especially after some more talk makes it clear that AMC has indeed purchased the rights, and start babbling about what a great book Preacher is, the sort of challenges they’re going to have, just geeking out basically.
“If you do it right, though, it could be VERY successful.”
“I hope so, we paid enough for it,” he deadpans.
He wants to know more about it, what I think the issues are, etc., etc. I explain that Preacher is more akin to “Game of Thrones” than Walking Dead and will need to be dealt with that way.
As we talk I realize I’m not dealing with some low-level flunky, as not only his attitude but his responses to what I’m saying all scream “decision maker.” Taking a risk, I sidetrack for a minute and say, “If you were interested in making a show, this is where I would go,” and point to IDW’s Locke & Key. “Fox already had a pilot made, but passed on it. It gets standing ovations, though, everywhere it’s been showed.”
“Pilot already made, huh?” he asked.
“Yup. I mean, it’s only six books, but Joe Hill said that the show would have had to go in a slightly different direction from the books.”
“You have to, like with Walking Dead. If not, people already know what happened,” he said.
“Well, just don’t do that with Preacher. People will NOT want that.” (Hey, I tried folks!)
Eventually he hands me off to his son, who is looking for some Deadpool books. Before we get to the register, I point out both Image’s East of West and Saga, pointing out spiritual offshoots of Preacher and the ’90s Vertigo boom.
I show him the books and tell him what they’re about. His only response, besides the polite interest on his face, is “Yeah, but the rights to all this stuff are already bought up.”
I point out that Saga might not be, but that’s probably because I doubt they’re for sale.
He buys Preacher Vol. 1 and Saga Vol. 1 and is a bit surprised that I don’t print receipts, only email or text them. Seeing the large crowd of people in the shop and a few waiting in line, he hands me his card and tells me to email it to him. After he hands me the card, he shakes my hand and says, with a twinkle in his eye, “I’ll try to bring you some fun stuff from the network next time I’m here.”
I turn the AMC Network card over to see that the name on it is:
Chief Operating Officer