A few years ago my tax attorney / son’s godfather / longtime friend Jonathan Becker advised [tax-advised] me to read a book called The Polysyllabic Spree by celebrated High Fidelity and About a Boy author NIck Hornby. The Polysyllabic Spree is a list of all the books Hornby bought and / or read over the course of a year, and his thoughts around them.
I attempted to do the same [kind of] thing a few years ago on my then-blog http://madmanpoet.livejournal.com but didn’t do a great job. I am actually going to try to make a more “real” attempt at a long reading-and-writing project this year, while using this blog to talk about some pieces of it all (something more than one reader has asked about).
The first thing I am going to talk about is the first thing I completed this year; a re-read of Preacher: Tall in the Saddle.
Tall in the Saddle is a 48-page one-shot by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (the unbent, unbowed, unbroken duo that brought us all sixty-six regular issues of the monthly Preacher comic), but joined by Ennis’s frequent co-collaborator and Hitman artist John McCrea on inks.
Tall in the Saddle is a prequel done-in-one adventure that features Preacher principles Jesse Custer and Tulip O’Hare years before Jesse received powers equal to God’s, when he was just a rebelious twenty-year-old Texas redneck with a good heart, a superb left hook… but a terrible attitude. Jesse and Tulip open up the ep with a James Bond-esque chase scene stealing one million dollars in sports cars, ultimately evading their police persuers by Tulip going all Burbon Street beads-on-Fat Tuesday in their faces.
It is a largely not-serious romp, despite an overload of typically Ennis comic book violence that colors one’s reading of Preacher in the main not at all… But is well worth the time you put into reading it; mostly for the dialogue.
Ennis is absolutely on point on this one, and Tall in the Saddle is chock full of memorable lines and hilarious one-liners. You will discover the separate fates of rich sidekick Amy’s waywardly lesbian mother and dead-Senator father; how she managed to lose eight million dollars by trying to resurrect Betamax [err… probably obvious at this point]; and why a French villain doesn’t speak German. After learning why one shouldn’t hire a bedwetter as his getaway driver, on the last page, Jesse — the sometimes-preacher / sometimes-sheriff / moral straight arrow of the series main — gets a knowing piece of advice on seducing up a threeway… from his rescued horse.
Best line: Zoink! Can’t pick. Too many.
The art: I actually prefer Steve Dillon all by his lonesome on Preacher to the Dillon-plus-McCrea team of Tall in the Saddle, but John’s inks are in no way disruptive. This reads as a pretty straight Preacher flashback story; if you aren’t super aware of artists, you might not even notice the difference in inks.
Amazon only has about four copies of Preacher: Tall in the Saddle left, and they are going for basically pennies* (between five and seven bucks). Put another way, this one-shot is better than any half-movie I have seen in the theater in years.
* If you buy from such an Amazon ad on this site, I may earn something like sixteen such pennies.