Hillbilly Comics: America's Zaniest Hillfolk


"Jam-Packed with Mountain Humor!" and "Gumbo Galahad: Screwball o' th' Hills!"

Scans from several pages of this highly offensive 1950s comic book available at Again With the Comics.


  1. We’ve come a long ways as a country since this was published:

    The children of those hillbillies are now at CPAC, plotting the return of movement conservatism.

  2. Wow, if the characters in this comic had black skin it’d be noteworthy for entirely different reasons and almost certainly wouldn’t be posted on boingboing.

  3. Highly offensive? Having lived in both Southern Maryland and Southern Ohio, I can guarantee it’s pretty much highly accurate.

  4. Excepn’ foah t’ ack-sents, seemed pretty tame. But Toolbag has a point. But we done got the saddy-light teevee and we done larned how to inter-grate into this yankee society..

    I know some folks in my hometown that make a living selling banjos to ‘everyone else’ from the depths of the primitive wildlands of East Tennessee…

  5. Since moving to Tennessee I’ve … seen things. Things, that make those comics seem almost documentary. I mean, well… they just passed a law last year making it illegal to have a couch on your porch.
    Ya know, Nashville doesn’t even have SIDEWALKS in many parts of town? People walk on the side of the road carrying lights and reflectors, and same on their pets.
    The most ridiculous was when Halloween fell on a Sunday and the churches all decided that a pagan holiday shouldn’t be celebrated on “the lord’s” day and moved it to Saturday. So we turned off our lights on Saturday and turned on the spooky for Sunday. :) *grumble* stupid anachronisms.

  6. So, the availability of factory jobs during WWII drew thousands out of Appalaichia into Chicago, Detriot and other midwestern manufacturing centers. The Uptown neighborhood in Chicago was known as “Little Appalaichia”, and the papers loved covering stories of hicks unable to deal with the big city, indoor plumbing, etc. While the rube-goes-to-the-city story was a bestseller from the mid-19th century, the rise of Hillbilly comics in the 1950s makes sense, historically.

    So, could someone please write a script that adds apostrophes to a disemvoweled post, thereby hillbillifying it?

    Hillbillification will be th’ nxt int’rn’t meme, mrk m’ w’rds.

  7. Not really sure why this is offensive. It’s just hillbilly humor, which is usually enjoyed by everyone, even (especially!) hillbillies. (My family comes from the Ozark Mountains, and there’s even a bit of talk about Melungeon blood on my maternal grandparents side…)

    And the article’s notion that hillbilly humor was a post-war phenomenon is silly (Ma and Pa Kettle movies not withstanding.) In this case the model is clearly Li’l Abner which dates back to the early 30s and of course it wasn’t new then.

    As comics the artwork is pretty nice and the writing is serviceable. Very little that hadn’t been covered by Al Capp years earlier, although I rather like the Hank the Hermit stories.

  8. “America’s zaniest hillfolk” … the competition must be fierce. I bet they’re not as “zany” as the ones in the UK. Have you seen the Wicker Man? Now in my book, that’s zany. These country folk here, they’re just having a nice old time, celebrating their freedoms and whistling … whatever it is.

    What’s offensive is the Hollywood tradition of treating all country people as lunatics. Or maniacs. Is there ONE instance I can be pointed to of an entire town populated by bucktoothed idiot killers? C’mon – just one.

    Now that – that’d be zany. Put the comic to shame. Even more than its apparent limited run of 5 editions.

  9. “even (especially!) hillbillies.”

    since any caricaturization is generally permitted by the group being targeted, that’s hardly an argument as to why this isn’t offensive.

    If this were watermelon farming, soul food eating, black people from the south, the existence of said people wouldn’t make jokes about them not racist.

  10. Seems to me depictions of hillbilly women with their big racks and outgrown blouses have always been a significant underlying attraction in the hee-haw oeuvre.

  11. @ #16 CPT. TIM

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but I seriously doubt that this comic was written or drawn by anyone who’d ever been within spittin’ distance of a real hillbilly. Upon another rereading of your comment, I’m baffled as to your point (must be my hillbilly heritage…)

    Getting offended by what is a silly comic book, produced by a minor publisher from around 50 years ago seems a bit too sensitive. Nearly _any_ work of popular entertainment from the 19th century could be attacked as “offensive” if published now; but it’s silly to actually get offended. If this really bothers you I strongly advise you to stay away from works by such racists as Mark Twain or Harriet Beecher Stowe…

    Really, there is very little in the way of character based humor that couldn’t be sold as offensive with the right marketing. I mean, Bugs Bunny? Clearly an ethnic Brooklyn stereotype. Pepé Le Pew? Outrageously Francophobic! And don’t get me started on Speedy Gonzales…

  12. When I was a kid there was no such thing as “Country & Western” music. It was “hillbilly music,” and deemed hilarious and inferior by all and sundry. The guiding light was radio’s Grand Old Opry, with its ongoing narrative of hillbilly humor. I have somewhere a playbill from 1941, listing the acts and performers.

    It should be noted that radio’s infamous ”Amos & Andy,” a blackface program, was matched by a comparable hillbilly show called ”Lum & Abner,” and an even more popular one starring Judy Canova that mercilessly parodied hill people and their accused backwardness.

    ”Hillbilly” and ”white trash” are Southern terms. My paternal grandmother, a Tennessee flatlander, used them casually.

  13. “I mean, well… they just passed a law last year making it illegal to have a couch on your porch.”

    And why should the government have any say over what type of furniture you have on your porch? I thought Boingboing posters were pro-freedom?

  14. “Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but I seriously doubt that this comic was written or drawn by anyone who’d ever been within spittin’ distance of a real hillbilly.”

    that statement shows that you do, in fact, misunderstand me. I was pointing out that the logic of saying hillbillies make fun of hillbillies doesn’t really mean much. As a general rule most groupings of people (by race, nationality, sexuality, whatever) are allowed to make fun of their own. The fact that this was most certainly drawn by someone outside that group is precisely what makes it offensive.

    However, your statement:

    “Getting offended by what is a silly comic book, produced by a minor publisher from around 50 years ago seems a bit too sensitive.”

    is dead on. It is silly to get offended by this. But it doesn’t change the fact that it is offensive. Just like when i’m not offended when i see law jockeys in antique stores. They are relics. offensive relics, but they have kind of lost their punch.

  15. Having lived in the North Georgia mountains for a period of time, I can sadly attest that the comic book is not really that much of a stretch.

  16. I commend the poster for labeling this as ‘highly offensive’. Why are poor southern white folks so often the butt of jokes that would be deemed offensive or racist or culturally elitist when applied to any other minority in this country? And before you say its just desserts remember- poor folks didn’t perpetrate slavery. If this was a comic featuring ‘Moishe the greedy’ or ‘shuckin and jivin Leroy’would we get comments like these-

    ‘Having lived in the North Georgia mountains for a period of time, I can sadly attest that the comic book is not really that much of a stretch.’

    ‘Since moving to Tennessee I’ve … seen things. Things, that make those comics seem almost documentary. I mean, well… they just passed a law last year making it illegal to have a couch on your porch.’

    ‘Highly offensive? Having lived in both Southern Maryland and Southern Ohio, I can guarantee it’s pretty much highly accurate.’

    Is cultural sensitivity only for people of differant skin colors? I’ve lived in the urban ghetto and I’ve seen things, too. I also have the common sense to realize that the actions of the few are not indicative of the character of the whole. My culture is beautiful!

    If you want to troll meet me over at FARK.

  17. @ #25 Does “cultural sensitivity” mean that a person has to ignore the things they see with their own eyes? I can tell you that I have seen those things…all over the south. I didn’t choose to make them up. Just because somebody might not like the thing I’ve observed, doesn’t mean that I have to be silent or even accept it. Also, if we are gonna use your line of thinking…what about the fact that they used their culture to attack or offend me? Don’t I have a right to a sensitivity too?

    It goes both ways. Such is reality.

  18. Just keep your nose
    To the grindstone they say
    Will that redeem us, Uncle Reemus?
    I can’t wait til mah ‘fro is full grown
    I’ll just throw away my doo-rag at home
    I’ll take a drive to
    Beverly Hills
    Just before dawn
    And knock the little jockeys
    Off the rich peoples lawn
    And before they get up
    I’ll be gone
    (I’ll be gone)
    Before they get up
    I’ll be knockin’ the jockeys off the lawn
    (Down in the dew)

  19. @ REDSQUID

    There is no point in doing a cartoon or satire that is perfectly reasonable and/or factual.

    Cartoons and comics, and many other forms of satire, are nearly always based on and use stereotypes. It’s how the form works. They are not meant to be interpreted as “true to life” but as a burlesque and commentary, often not even aimed at the purported subjects of the work.

    (Is the _Mikado_ about feudal Japan or is it really about Victorian England? Most of Al Caps _Li’l Abner_ stories are really poking fun at urban life…)

    Now I would be hard pressed to argue for the _quality_ of the comic book in question. It is clearly a 3rd rate product of a minor publisher (although, as I said in an earlier post I thought the Hank the Hermit stories had some merit.) But to worry about sensitivity issues with a form of entertainment that, when well done, is meant to be outrageous is pointless.

  20. OMG, here it is. A web service that translates a page into Redneck. Also does Cockney ans Swedish Chef.


    I just translated a page from the Sydney Morning Herald –

    “Let me say this hyar as plainly as ah can: by Augest 31, 2010 our combat misshun in Iraq will ind,” Obama said, layin’ out a noo war strategy at a Marines base in No’th Carolina.

    ah aim t’remove all US troops fum Iraq by th’ end of 2011,” Obama said, addin’ th’ post-2010 interim fo’ce’d number between 35,000 an’ 50,000 troops.”

  21. We’re all too touchy-feely. Like when I saw the last ten minutes of “Bamboozled”, I thought to myself, those statues and coin banks and drawings and movie clips are damn entertaining!

  22. I was born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia. I never knew anybody who was truly offended by hillbilly humor. Case in point: the mascot of the high school in one of the towns I lived in was the Man High Hillbillies.


    Granted, the website that looks like it was coded circa 1995 isn’t the best argument for the high academic standards of the area; but mountain folk are smarter than you think. We’re used to the jokes and take them in stride. Our attitude is, “Let them tell jokes. We know how freakin’ awesome it is to grow up in the mountains.” I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything.

    Now pass the jug.

  23. “Offensive?” These are my people. My Grandpappy’s last name was Hill. ‘Cause that’s where he lived, and ain’t nobody remembert any other name. None of them would find this offensive, because they know they’re better than you. You wouldn’t survive five minutes living the way they did. So laugh it up, city boy. They don’t care.

  24. @ 22, Cpt. Tim –

    Lawn Jockeys may have lost their punch in antique stores, but I am still uncomfortable when they appear on people’s lawns – the difference being that if a person chooses to display something offensive, the context is offensive, whereas the mere existance of such things is not upsetting.

    Unfortunately, there’s one on my lawn – and I can’t remove it, as I’m only renting the property. Instead, my husband and I dress our local jockey, named Charlie: http://picasaweb.google.com/jjbuster/CharlieEtAl?feat=directlink

    Also, thanks for making the point that something is still offensive even if one doesn’t bother getting worked up about it. I think the number of people turning up on this thread to say, no, that’s accurate, reflect the ongoing unkind stereotypes about those who live in the country. Just because you think it’s funny doesn’t mean it’s not offensive, folks.

  25. Sorry wasn’t trying to come off as PC or offended personally. I was just trying to convey that there is definitely a double standard when it comes to cultural satire. It does get annoying to see southerners portrayed as being stupid. To make it even worse- I’m from Florida. We have our own tag on FARK for christ sake.

  26. @ Darren, I am not only pro-freedom, but pro-
    People minding their own bizness, a roof over every head, a meal on every table, and health care for every person. Even if you don’t have a job. I found the no couch thing hilarious, stereotyping, and just a bunch of stuffed-shirt bullfeathers. :)

    The comics themselves are only relevant as history, and as examples of the lengths ethnic groups will go to in their attempts to acknowledge the “others” as they leave their ghettoes and step onto the public stage. Most ethnic groups have also played with the stereotypes, but I’m not sure all have. I’ve seen Hee-Haw, but I’ve never seen an Irish publication showing the images of themselves that were prevelant in both the UK and the US last century.
    And I’ve never seen it for religions, but then I don’t see many besides the Jesuits having a sense of humor. ROFLMAO. Pity.

  27. Hillbillies aren’t a race, they are a group of people who choose a particular lifestyle just like “hippies” or “yuppies.” And please don’t tell me I have to live in a world where we aren’t allowed to make fun of hippies and yuppies.

  28. choose? Hillbillies are people. Hillbillies are poor people. Hillbillies are poor people who live in the mountains. That just happened to them, they didn’t choose it.

  29. @ REDSQUID

    It’s important to remember that anywhere you go, in any community, with any cultural, racial, or ethnic group, fully half the people you are likely to find are of below average intelligence. There is no shortage of stupid, ill behaved southerners, just as there is no shortages of stupid, ill behaved northerners. People at the extremes of behavior are the most likely to become the subject of stories, jokes, and beliefs because they are the most visible and the most interesting. That’s just human nature and it won’t change.

    Economics, history, and (believe it or not) prejudice all can have an effect on any group and create positive and negative traits that become associated with those groups. In the past a lot of perceived “racial” or ethnic characterizations actually become an important part of a community’s self image; for example, the upstream posters comment about the West Virginia high school with the hillbilly mascot. Other times those characterizations become tools for oppression and marginalization.

    The trick for an adult in a multicultural, pluralistic society is to not sweat the small stuff when it comes to ethnic friction. Slavery, ethnic cleansing (genocide) and denial of human rights are bad. Hillbilly jokes aren’t such a big deal. It’s just the normal tension you get with colliding cultures and values in our melting pot of a country.

    As a southerner who now lives in the Boston area, I’ve had all sorts of reactions to my accent. Some people are clearly charmed by it and other’s immediately become defensive. I find it interesting that people living in cosmopolitan area like this, with all the foreign students and global businesses, who have no trouble dealing with Indian, Russian, and Japanese accents, are so often confounded by a bit of a southern drawl.

  30. @ TAKUAN

    Sometimes Hillbillies are just poor people who get lucky while shootin’ at some food, and up from the ground comes a’ bubblin’ crude…

  31. We hillbillies, particularly those of us from generations of Eastern Kentuckians, appreciate that we are an invisible minority. We are one of the few cultural groups still approved for ridicule and offense. The interesting part is, being primarily caucasion (although not exclusively; we are, despite word to the contrary, open-minded and welcoming of those who appreciate our values), we can leave the beauty of the mountains, change an accent, and live among the dimwitted prejudiced unrevealed. Then we can return to our isolated sanctuaries and laugh at the antics of those, like many of the posters here, who feel the need to make themselves feel superior at the expense of an unknown ‘other’. Take care, and be sure to spend some cash as you admire my home from the interstates!

  32. @ #40 posted by Takuan:

    choose? Hillbillies are people. Hillbillies are poor people. Hillbillies are poor people who live in the mountains. That just happened to them, they didn’t choose it.

    Labeling every poor person who lives in the mountains a “hillbilly” is like labeling everybody who lives south of the Mason/Dixon line a “redneck.” Who, incidentally, I also think we should be able to make fun of. Just like suburban geeks, fashionistas, valley kids, soccer moms, bible thumpers, goths, and any other arbitrarily defined subcultural construct.

  33. If I may add a joke of my own:

    My boyfriend worked at 7-11 years ago. He was sitting around joking with his manager one day, and it came up that she was born and raised in rural West Virginia. He joked that they probably lived on a mountain whose name was the same as her last name. In all seriousness, she said, “Yes we did, actually.” He thought she was joking until she brought a map in the next day. It turned out she wasn’t.

    The joke isn’t all that offensive considering that it was told by someone from the area People would probably argue that she must not have liked the area much to be able to make fun of it like she had, but she said herself that the only reason why she moved was because there weren’t many decent jobs out there. She didn’t have much of an accent, but she was in her 50’s and had lived away from the area for at least 30 years. I know from experience (my mom’s originally from the Ozarks, but she’s lived in different major cities since she got out of school) that people tend to adapt to the local dialects over time.

    In other words, as Woody Allen once said in the movie “Bananas”, something isn’t offensive if they’re a member of the group they’re joking about.

    Plus, I wanted to get that joke out. It’s funny. :)

  34. I’m a native of western North Carolina, deep in the mountains. What bugs me about all this is that I’ve seen the same bunch of low-class, shabbily-dressed, backward hicks all over the country (rural Connecticut comes to mind). We mountain people (and Southerners, by extension) are the only ones who get wholesale labeled with it, though.

    How many New Yorkers would be able to laugh at being called child molesters simply because they’re from the same state as Joey Buttafuoco?

  35. The only thing I find offensive is when people assume that hillbillies are all Republicans. I am as much of a hillbilly as Hank the Hermit and I am as liberal as they come.


  36. @ CPT. TIM and REDSQUID

    You two are dead on, thanks for articulating it so well.

    I’d like to just add that “offensive” and “funny” are not mutually exclusive! This comic is funny, I am not personally offended, but it is indeed an offensive stereotype. I can’t say exactly why I’m not offended by this, whereas I would be offended by “Jew Comics” or “Chink Comics,” but they all fall into the same bucket by any objective measure.

  37. maybe hillbilly isn’t as offensive since just adding money changes it. Beverly Hillbillies notwithstanding, it’s the same dynamic as: there are no crazy rich people, just eccentrics.

  38. hmmm…a selection from the 1959 musical movie based on L’il Abner: afilm with bizarre art direction.
    Some of the girls are cute, too:

    My ma & pa have a copy of this here film.
    Speakin’ fer myself, it just don’t feel like I’m to home, unless’n there be buckshot a-flyin’ through the air.

  39. All I can say is – yes, clearly Nashville (which isn’t Appalachian thus isn’t hillbilly) is clearly Hillbilly as sin – I mean, urban sprawl resulted in inadequate dedication of resources to sidewalks! Clearly part of the Appalachian conspiracy to destroy pedestrians.

    God, I’m so glad it is still okay to publically mortify Appalachians. Whew. . . without socially acceptable sexism and racism what were we going to do?

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