(King Bone Press, 2014)
Created by Bryan Boles and Jon Westhoff
Art, Cover, and Logos by Bryan Boles
Script and Letters by Jon Westoff
Interior Colors by Sean Fagan
A manticore stalks the swampland posing intricate riddles and waiting for those poor souls who dare to answer. A reporter leads the way, playing a hunch and finding that there is more super than natural in the marshy environs than she would like. At the center of it all sit the Hellbillies.
Hellbillies #0, released earlier this year, is the creation of King Bone Press editor Jon Westoff, and Bryan Boles. This is the Discovery channel molded into one creation, the merging of reality-based television into an autonomous blob of cool.
Mary Whitfield comes to the woods looking for an oxycontin ring headed by a family in a deeply hidden cabin, and instead finds Eustace, one of three family members who have dedicated their lives to the finding and destruction of the monsters that walk among us. I’m not talking corporate bankers or oil firm lawyers here, I’m talking mer-people, vampires, Basilisks, and of course, a manticore. (For those not up on their mythical beasties, a manticore is a lion with a human face, disconcerting to say the least, who likes to tell riddles and look at it’s reflection.) Herein also appears a group of sheeted figures with fairly prominent swastikas on their persons. Mary is the unwilling participant in as much as she was there when some stuff went down, but the taste of adventure is more than she can withstand. Along with Eustace is his Pa, and Mary Ann, a hulking, bearded hillbilly. You can imagine the comic avenues.
Westhoff (Bulletproof Chicken, Low Concept) has good comic timing and plots the script out well, dropping just enough information at the right times to keep the story moving and engaging. Eustace and his family choose to live apart from a society they don’t approve of while at the same time choosing a life of service to the same society provides an interesting dichotomy. They abhor strangers and at the same time welcome (relatively) a reporter into their home, perhaps the one person who could do the most damage to their current way of life. Westhoff is building some tension here that may result in limbs hewn and hearts broken. Perhaps the other way around, sometimes you can’t tell this early in a book.
Bryan Boles’ style leans more towards Adventure Time and Nickelodeon than it does Marvel or DC, but I think it works for this story, which has a humorous bent amidst the chewing of body parts and swigging of moonshine.
Hellbillies #0 is another example of the fine work that is being put into the stream by small publishers. It’s a double-barreled blast of Moonshiners meets The Hunt for Sasquatch, and you won’t want to be in the crosshairs when Eustace is gunnin’ fer ya. Westhoff and Boles have delivered a mix of supernatural and uber-natural that will make you want to go back for another pull on the jug.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.