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Rondel, the protagonist, and The Devil's Cleavernote 

"Well m'am, the story of the Iron Child is always changing. He lived long ago, or is yet to be born. Depends on who's doing the telling. But what everyone knows is that the Iron Child bears a mighty ax with the names of the wicked writ upon it."
James Stoneturner
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Hillbilly is a fantasy adventure series by Eric Powell (creator of The Goon), set in a fantasy realm drawing less from Tolkien and more from the myths and folklore of rural Appalachia. Unlike The Goon, it's more-or-less kid-friendly, if still reasonably dark.

Rondel is a wanderer, travelling from place to place. However, he is armed with Lucifer's own Meat Cleaver, and unnatural sight bestowed upon him by a witch. Wherever he goes, trouble follows.


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There are many tropes about Rondel the wandering hillbilly. This is but one index:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Esther. See below under Childhood Friend Romance.
  • Ancient Africa: The grassland across the ocean (where James Stoneturner's family are from) is an egalitarian High Fantasy paradise based more on African legends than on 19th Century colonial tropes.
  • And the Adventure Continues: After leading an army of men against the army of witches, Rondel decides to continue his life of wandering, with the narration reminding us once again that "There are many stories about Rondel the wandering hillbilly, this is but one of them".
  • Baleful Polymorph: The only good witch in the series, Alma Rose, is stuck in the form of a giant mountain lion.
  • Barbarian Hero / Kid Hero: The in-universe folk tales of the Iron Child are presented as this.
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  • Beary Friendly: Lucille is a giant grizzly, who happens to be one of Rondel's only friends. Issue #6 details how their friendship began. Overlaps with Bears Are Bad News, though, since - while loyal and good-hearted - she's also a dangerous wild animal, and the rest of her kind are shown as too distrustful of humans to get involved.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Rondel is not evil, but his pitch-black eyes are a symptom of his contact with evil
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The term "serpent" is pretty broadly applied to some only vaguely-reptilian monsters.
  • Came from the Sky: The "Red-Eyed Witchery from Beyond" arc starts with a mysterious object falling out of the night sky.
  • The Cameo: The Buzzard from The Goon shows up in one issue as a Psychopomp.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Lucille's debate with a fish over whether or she should eat it. It ultimately accepts her arguments as "valid". See Face Death with Dignity below.
  • Cassandra Truth: Esther's attempts to rally the villagers are met with disbelief and ridicule, particularly by one willfully-ignorant bully (who seems to be drawn to look a bit like Donald Trump) and his sycophantic hangers-on.
    Fake! Fake!
  • Childhood Friend Romance: A one-sided example; Rondel is in love with his childhood friend and frequent adventuring partner Esther, who does not have an "inclination" towards mennote .
  • The Chosen One: Rondel is the Iron Child mentioned in local folklore, a barbarian warlord destined to lead humanity.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Often used to humourously undercut a particularly pompous villain.
  • Cyclops: One of them fights for the witches in the battle at the end. His name is Vernon and he's the Last of His Kind. He is defeated easily by a sort of golem that James creates.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Rondel accepts that Esther can't love him the way he loves her, and is happy being her friend.
  • The Drifter: Rondel spends most of the series wandering from place to place, dealing with whatever supernatural nasties plague the area. The narration overtly refers to him as "Rondel the Wandering Hillbilly" on many occasions.
  • Eyeless Face: Rondel was born without eyes and lived his childhood blind until he saved a witch, who proceeded to cut eye holes into his face, hence his Black Eyes of Evil.
  • Face Death with Dignity / Get It Over With: Lucille catches a fish, which begs for mercy so that it can live out the rest of its days on the river floor. She counters that such a death would be undignified for so noble a fish.
    "Your points are valid. Finish me quick, bear."
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The entire setting is a fantasy version of the Appalachian region of the United States. Fantasy Gun Control is in full effect. This latter point was something Powell debated over quite a lot, apparently, since ramshackle muskets and the like are a key part of that old-timey Appalachian aesthetic, but he decided guns didn't fit the tone he was going for
    • James Stoneturner's family come from a place resembling a High Fantasy version of Africa.
  • Fearsome Critters of American Folklore: The Taily-Po appears as a recurring villain, with a personal grudge against Rondel
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Darleen the Dreaded. Subverted when Lucille refuses to be intimidated.
    Ain't no bear afraid of nothin', serpent or troll, named Darleen.
    • Lucille herself qualifies, as well, given that she's a truly gigantic sabre-tooth bear. Most other monsters will have pretty ordinary names, too - see Vernon the cyclops, above.
  • Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: Alma Rose is the only non-evil witch yet to appear. Also see Magic Is Evil
  • Grimmification: Hansel and Grendel, as their names imply, have an origin story resembling a very dark take on the Hansel and Gretel story.
  • Heroic Bastard: Though the circumstances of how he was conceived were unknown, Rondel was born to an unmarried mother.
  • Heroic Fantasy: Made more explicit in the Conan the Barbarian-esque Iron Child segments, but low key present throughout the entire series.
  • Hillbilly Horrors: The semi-Appalachian world of the comic is haunted by curses, ghosts, witches, trolls, and all sorts of horrors. Most of the people are okay, though.
  • Magic Is Evil: Zigzagged. Witches are considered Villain by Default (with the exception of good witch Alma Rose), but the magic of The Stone Turner and her descendant, James, is a force for good. The difference between these styles of magic is never really explained
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The first symptom of the alien curse in "Red-Eyed Witchery From Beyond". It's ultimately unable to override Rondel's Black Eyes of Evil though.
  • Talking Animal: Almost every animal has the ability to talk. This makes it difficult to tell if an animal is actually a witch in disguise.
  • Wicked Witch: Witches are (with the exception of Alma Rose) all twisted crones who serve as the central antagonists of the series.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: The Devil's Cleaver is lethal to witches and dark spirits since it was touched by the Devil himself.
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