I discovered Preacher in the summer of 1997. My girlfriend at the time and I had taken a trip together to Vancouver, British Columbia to see the sights. It seemed though that the sites I most enjoyed were the variety of comic shops and book stores that I continued to come across during our journey. On that trip, i bought a beautiful hard cover version of Kingdom Come. I found a used trade paperback edition of Frank Miller’s Ronin. I bought the screenplay to David Lynch’s Lost Highway.
And I discovered Preacher.
I liked the cover to the first trade paperback, Gone To Texas, as illustrated by Glenn Fabry. I asked about it at whichever comic shop I wound up picking it up from (that memory is murky at best). They must have said good things because I wound up buying it. And falling in love.
Between Garth Ennis’ words and Steve Dillon’s glorious illustrations, the duo had created in my mind something near perfect. Gorgeous dialogue. Gorgeous violence. I was hooked, and I bought the trade paperbacks every time they came out.
I’m far from an art critic, but I believe what I loved most about Dillon’s work was how he made the violence both gory and unbelievable. But he also managed to convey raw emotion with his facial expressions. Just think about the panel when Jesse Custer order Cassidy to stop feeding after it’s discovered that the latter is a vampire. Amazing.
Ennis and Dillon also did outstanding work together on The Punisher, taking the same aesthetic and abilities they’d honed on Preacher to the Marvel Universe. While not necessarily as groundbreaking as their DC/Vertigo work, their Punisher run is nearly as entertaining.
This morning word came out that Steve Dillon has passed away. I found it to be very sad news. Just a few weeks ago I had purchased all the Preacher compilations digitally from Comixology and had begun rereading yet again my favourite series log all time. It will now be that much more bittersweet knowing the man who illustrated these incredible characters to four-color life is no longer with us.
Rest in peace, Steve Dillon.