The twenty-third issue of the comic book series, also known as The Preacher Chronicles, sees the return of character Khalid. Throughout the series, Khalid is an arrogant but ultimately decent man. The decision to bring him back came from writer Garth Ennis, who said, “I think that the people who are not familiar with the characters and the universe I create, will enjoy the book a lot more. I’m looking forward to building some new friendships as well as learning how to hold my liquor.”
That was enough to drive the gay male stereotypes of the author into a rage, especially when reading that line aloud. All writers would prefer not to be accused of perpetuating these stereotypes, especially when they have done their best to avoid them. The one thing to remember is that, unlike in most countries, comics do not forbid gay or lesbian content. This actually makes it easier for many comic creators to adapt, tweak and alter a character’s sexuality without having to worry about reprisals or condemnation from their publishers.
As for Khalid, he was originally introduced as the father of Eddie Griffith, the son of character Jesse, played by Garth Ennis. But while most of the comics fans were happy to see him come back, there were some who were not. This was mainly because of his growing infatuation with a man. Ennis addressed this issue head on in a letter to fans, explaining that the character does not necessarily want to become a father himself.
“The reason the love story between Eddie and Khalid is described as being the love story of the century is because this is only a part of the whole. You can’t just describe Khalid falling in love with a stripper and not going through a process of maturing. To me it’s like an outgrowth of his love for her and the rest of the relationship. It’s not like they’re having sex, it’s more of a connection, if you will.”
For some readers, this only confirmed the feelings that they had against the gay community, especially with those who belonged to The Church of Satan, who would associate anything that supported gay rights with Satanism. After this issue came out, Garth Ennis sent out a tweet expressing his deep regrets for any offense caused.
“I wanted to say that I am sorry for offending anyone with my last tweet. I sincerely apologize to anyone who felt I was supporting any religion or hate groups.”
Of course, some fans did not find this apology enough, especially since it was the same as those that the author of The Sandman comics had to do when homosexuality was brought up in The Sandman. He claimed that he had never intended to offend anyone, just used the language of religion to explain how Khalid saw his sexuality. So, it’s a difficult line to draw when trying to write a love story, and something that Garth Ennis is not especially concerned with right now.