By Darryl Ayo
Page one of PREACHER #8, or page one of the collection UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD.
The first thing we see is the date: the year is 1974. No matter what happens in this scene, it is immutable fact. It is long in the past. The very fact that we are beginning this story at a point in the past indicates that it is THE dramatic turning point in the story of the protagonist’s life. I’m talking about story structure here; the content of the scene makes it pretty obvious that it’s a defining moment: a young child forced to witness his father’s execution. That’s kind of a no-brainer (pause…)
What I’m trying to get at is that the placement of the scene reinforces what the content of the scene is telling us: this is the most important moment. This is the defining trauma, the origin story, the beginning of a life turned very far away from normalcy, the reason why the protagonist (who is now an adult) will behave the way he does throughout the story.
It is also important to distinguish this scene from the flashback sequences from later in the story arc. What you’re seeing above is not a recounting of past events to enlighten another character. This is memory. The out-of-context placement of this scene, with no build-up cements its outcome’s immutability. Before we, the readers, can full absorb the gravity of what takes place here, the event takes place.
And there is nothing that you, I or Jesse Custer can do to change it.
The story begins.
PREACHER (c) Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.