Fairytales are one of the oldest forms of storytelling being passed down from generation to generation. This ties into folklore and how it can influence entire communities. It’s why I’m always interested in reading stories that are inspired by fairytales and Eric Powell’s Hillbilly series is a great example. Hillbilly: Volume 2 continues the exploits of supernatural wanderer, Rondel, who battles against witches and monsters in the Appalachian wilderness. Powell combines fairytales with southern folklore to create a series that’s worth reading.
The second volume is similar to the first in that it reads like a collection of short stories, with each tale being different. Armed with the Devil’s Clever, Rondel fights against various creatures. The first story features him encountering a beast from Appalachian folklore called the Tailypo. A farmer accidentally trapped the creature, severing its tail. The Tailypo reacted by tormenting the farmer in an effort to get its tail back.
Rondel makes a deal with Tailypo to get its tail back if it leaves the farmer alone. After getting the creature to swear an unbreakable vow, Rondel reveals the farmer ate the tail. Swearing vengeance against Rondel for being tricked, Tailypo visits a witch, suggesting the creature will play a role in future stories.
Another tale depicts the first meeting of Rondel and his closest friend, Lucille The Bear. When hunting a serpent, Rondel encountered Lucille in a cave and helped her escape. Rondel helped Lucille again by capturing the hunter who killed her mother. This story provides an interesting commentary on the nature of man vs beast. In some instances, animals can be nobler than humans. It also reveals Rondel’s complexity in that he chose to commit a selfless act for an animal, knowing that it would make him even more hated among the local population.
In a different story, Rondel agrees to help three wealthy farmers take supplies to an old man at the top of a hill. Knowing the farmers are messing with him, Rondel chooses to do it anyway. He meets the ghost of a miner who is searching for cursed gold. Rondel deals with the ghost and uses the gold to teach the farmers a lesson in how to use their wealth properly. This tale has a poignant, funny ending that I won’t spoil because it will have more resonance if you read it.
I found this volume as good as the first, but I was glad to see more of an overall narrative forming. Powell is setting up a bigger plot for his characters while also shedding more light on Rondel’s past. Rondel is an intriguing character with many layers. Beneath the gruff exterior is a good man who believes in defending the innocent.
Several artists are included in the graphic novel, including Steve Mannion, Simone Di Meo and Warren Montgomery. Each artist has their own distinct style that melds well together to create a bleak wilderness for Rondel to inhabit. I’d say my favourite art is by Mannion because there’s a freshness that makes it stand out.
Hillbilly: Volume 2 expands Rondel’s world and sets up plenty of intrigue for future stories. Powell has created something magical and I’m really looking forward to the next volume. You can buy it now on Amazon.