Eric Powell’s Appalachian fantasy epic that tells the story of Rondel. A lonely figure who wanders the wooded hills among witches and magical creatures as a folktale hero to those who dwell in this gritty dream world.
The graphic novel has the feeling of a short story collection. Every story is separate, with Rondel being at the center of them. In one tale, Rondel takes it upon himself to lift a curse from a young woman. He tracks down the route of an ancient tree and frees the spirit trapped inside it. It turned out the curse was the cause of a witch’s disciple who wanted to take the young woman’s dowry for herself.
Another yarn involves Rondel resting in a town and having to fight the spirit of a cursed fiddle. Rondel destroys the spirit with the Devil’s Cleaver, but he becomes more determined to stay away from civilization because he feels he only brings trouble.
Rondel is a strong, sympathetic protagonist, and there’s also a great supporting cast in Lucille, a talking grizzly bear and Rondel’s childhood friend, Esther. All of them are misfits who’ve formed a surrogate family together.
The world of Hillbilly is very detailed and shows the darker side of human nature. Some monsters are shown as sympathetic, whereas some humans demonstrate monstrous qualities. Powell’s dialogue is appropriate for the time period and never sounds corny.
The art has a minimalistic quality, with many panels colored grey. This adds to the old-timey vibe of the graphic novel and makes it stand out even more.