Hillbilly #1

by Aaron Reese on July 06, 2016

Hillbilly #1

Story and Art by: Eric Powell

Hillbilly #1 is bloody gorgeous. If there’s only one thing you can be sure of when you pick up an Eric Powell comic book, it’s that it will be easy on the eyes. Powell can be a precise artist when he wants to, but also has a deft hand at leaving things sketchy when they need to be. Here, he uses energetic cross-hatching filled with a sepia ink wash to give the background forest just enough texture and depth.


The setting has recognizable elements found in the Ozarks or Appalachia--hills, streams, dense brush, ramshackle huts--but everything feels like it’s filtered through the eyes of a child who has never left his homestead. He can only imagine what it’s like in the deep dark woods. Even though the comic book is almost entirely monochromatic, Powell adds in hints of greens, blues and reds during storytelling sequences that change the tone.


The story begins with a young child wandering alone in the woods when he is attacked by a witch. In this world, witches are just another part of the fantastical backwoods backdrop, along with giant boars and talking crows. He is rescued by a large and hairy man who wields an enormous meat cleaver. This guy has clearly killed witches before and, equally clearly, is the protagonist. The rest of the comic consists of the boy and man exchanging tall tales as they walk back to the boy’s parents. But, in a world with magical beings and talking animals, are these tales really that tall? I’m just going to answer. No. They may have even downplayed the more exotic elements.

Hillbilly has a simple charm that’s reminiscent of Jeff Smith’s Bone. While Bone has a deceptively heavy undercurrent, Hillbilly’s dark surface masks a surprising innocence. The dialogue and humor have the authentic ring of folk tale yarns told to children around bonfires. It’s a little bit funny. It’s a little bit creepy. It’s completely entertaining.

Our Score:


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