GUNNING FOR HITS #1 by Jeff Rougvie, Moritat, & Casey Silver
Music producer Jeff Rougvie brings his knowledge and imagination to the comics world in Image Comics music thriller GUNNING FOR HITS #1. Moritat's artwork and Casey Silver's colors give Rougvie's work the crime noir/punk rock vibe it deserves!
92 %
Ready to Rock

Don’t be fooled by the cover. Jeff Rougvie’s debut work from Image Comics, GUNNING FOR HITS #1, isn’t about David Bowie. However, fans of David Bowie, Prince, and the great musicians of the 80s, will not be disappointed! Anyone with an ear for rock and roll and an eye for gritty zines will enjoy Rouvie’s tribute to the seedy underbelly of the music industry that defined a generation.

Jeff Rougvie knows the scene, and GUNNING FOR HITS #1 proves it. The man who helped produce Bowie and many other greats has turned his attention to comics, aligning the comic world with the music industry in this exciting series. What Rougvie lacks in comic experience, he makes up for with raw enthusiasm. With artist Moritat and colorist Casey Silver, Rougvie’s first set is enticing and fresh.

Image courtesy of Image Comics.

GUNNING FOR HITS #1: What Makes a Hit Man?

Rougvie’s story opens in a dark industrial zone. It’s May 1987. The smooth-talking music promotor Martin Mills sits in a dingy office working out an elaborate deal with his latest talent find: Billy’s band Stunted Growth. Billy is a mix between a young Bon Jovi and Billy Idol. But his manager/girlfriend Diane, a cross between Joan Jett and a deranged Betty Boop, drives the negotiations.

Although the business side of music is less glamorous, Rougvie crafts a compelling narrative. GUNNING FOR HITS #1 sets the stage by focusing on Mills’ approach to signing new talent. Mills is ruthless and cunning. While Diane and Billy make outlandish demands, Mills carefully schemes. Mills’ music industry life is small change compared to what he did before. GUNNING FOR HITS #1 carefully alludes to Mills’ past life but gives little away.

Image courtesy of Image Comics.

I Want My MTV: Drawing Rock

GUNNING FOR HITS #1 turns a cunning business exchange into thrilling intrigue. Indeed, Rougvie takes time to educate his readers with an intricate breakdown of music industry strategy. While informative, Mills’ lesson isn’t as exciting as the main plot. The pause runs the risk of pulling readers out of the narrative. However, the explanation is useful to better understand Mills’ motives. Moreover, Moritat’s illustrations with Silver’s moody colors carry the energy of the comic forward.

Moritat’s illustrations capture a fanzine appeal appropriate for the genre, yet lends a crime noir ambiance. This is largely thanks to Silver’s ability to match the 2-in-the-morning feeling of the dank concert venue where Rougvie sets his scene. Additionally, the artwork captures the personalities of each main character. Billy lacks business savvy, and his torn jeans and stringy hair prove he’s mostly in it for the rock n’ roll. Diane’s angry and assertive body language turns into growing annoyance and fanaticism by the page. All the while Mills coolly plots, cigarette in his mouth.

(Mostly) Music to Your Ears

GUNNING FOR HITS #1 combines music-industry expertise with comics-industry excitement making for a fresh and interesting read. Indeed, combining 80s music, punk zine appeal, and crime is electric. Anyone who loved LOVE & ROCKETS and other alternative comics from the 80s will feel a kinship with Rougvie’s work.

However, in the middle of GUNNING FOR HITS #1, the comic takes a strange and concerning turn. Any comic involving a hitman will inevitably involve a little violence. However, a hint at sexual extortion wasn’t expected. It is clear Rougvie is attempting to humorously set up Diane and Billy’s last contractual demand. But sadly, Rougvie’s ploy for extra drama falls flat. Indeed, Rougvie even goes as far as suggesting that any true 80s rocker should force prolific sexual experiences purely because many musicians of the era were sexual fluid, regardless of the ethical consequences.

Because I do not want to spoil an otherwise interesting debut comic with too many details, I will turn readers to a more exciting aspect of GUNNING FOR HITS: the playlist. Available on Spotify, each issue comes with a perfectly curated mix. Issue #1’s list includes Patti Smith, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Sisters of Mercy, Beastie Boys, and many more.

Image courtesy of Image Comics.

Don’t Miss the Back Story!

While I love the playlist, the best part of GUNNING FOR HITS #1 is probably the backstory behind the comic. In a wonderful timeline, complete with illustrations from Moritat, Rougvie outlines his life’s experiences in comics and music. His love for both art forms is clear, as are the interesting parallels he draws between both industries.

Both industries are exciting, a little rough, and very punk rock. GUNNING FOR HITS #1 carefully combines those elements plus a little criminal intrigue, enough to capture the attention of music and comics fans alike.

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