I can’t help but think of The Pogues’ fantastic ballad “Fairytale of New York” when I think of Jesse Custer and Tulip O’Hare, two of the heroes from Garth Ennis’s and Steve Dillon’s masterful and landmark series, Preacher. I also think it’s apt that one of the major issues surrounding their relationship and love for one another is titled “Build My Dreams Around You.”
Preacher covers a number of themes, ranging from racism, faith, camaraderie, addiction, betrayal, and family, but one of the strongest elements in this epic series is straight-out love. Jesse and Tulip’s relationship is crucial to the entire run and informs almost everything that happens between these two characters.
They love each other deeply, and while both are fraught with imperfections and mistakes, their love is one of the few things that continues to find itself coming back full circle. I’ve never actually felt a love story to tug on my heartstrings as it does in Preacher (Hellblazer is a close second, but it’s hard to be sympathetic to John Constantine). Readers care for Tulip and Jesse. They want them to be happy.
Every time something bad happens to either of them (and for those of you in that tiny minority who have not read this amazing series, we’re talking about a lot of horrible things), we hope beyond hope that they’re going to survive the pitfalls thrown at them.
They’re typical of Garth Ennis’s characters: a strong, no-nonsense woman with a penchant for violence and a brutally honest man with a unflappable sense of honour. Their merits prompt faults (more often through Jesse, who’s heart is very much in the right place, but does he ever make mistakes…), but these complexities to their relationship and their stories add even more depth to the plot.
I can’t say enough good things about these two; they are my favourite comic-book couple of all time. Every time I read Preacher, they make me smile. Oh, and for those of you who haven’t read the series, I promise you your heart will jump into your throat at the end of one of the issues in the second storyline, Until the End of the World. It seems that nothing can stop these two. Not god, bullets, angels, ghosts, nuclear explosions, pious lunatics, vampires, inbred yokels, serial killers, or mutilation. What scares and drives them the most crazy is each other.
Writing this, I now want to start Preacher again. I won’t lie, I’m a Jesse/Tulip-shiper. We all have our fan-boy moments.