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Hillbilly #1

Writing and art by Eric Powell
Published by Albatross Funnybooks
“There is but two facts of which I am sure. Today is Tuesday, and a witch is gonna die.”

Eric Powell is famous for long-running horror series The Goon, but this week, he’s expanding his publishing line with the dark Appalachian fairy tale, Hillbilly.

In this story, a blind mountain man named Rondel rescues a village boy from the local witch, and the guys swap stories on the way back to town. Young James has a pointedly generic story about a blessed child leading an army, but Rondel has a darker, more personal piece.

Powell’s story is a simple one, a young blind man wronged by witches and vowing revenge. The strength of this comic is in his mastery of the setting and tone. Each character in his book has a distinct voice, but almost all of them use the mountain cadence and word choice that lock this into place. “As sweet as those strawberries you done eat.” “Rondel freed the animal, but turned out, it were no animal. It were Mamie the witch who took the form of a crow.” It’s thoughtful and poetic rather than poking fun at the Hillbillies. It’s a celebration of an old American culture. But this realism is spun just a bit out of the borders as monsters and magic sneak into the panels. A wild hog is absurdly large, a bear can speak, and the townsfolk casually mention flying serpents as garden pests. Powell’s unmistakable art is amazing at normalizing the weird, and that pays off here.

Come over to Ultimate Comics in Chapel Hill and Raleigh, pick this up, and if you’ve enjoyed the style, check out the selection of The Goon comics, too. Let Eric Powell weird your normal day up a little bit.
-Matt Conner for Ultimate Comics