Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Jeff Rougvie
Colours/Lettering: Casey Silver
Release Date: 9th January 2019
The sticky floors. The cloakroom that costs a small fortune – almost as much as the watered-down beer they sell at the bar. The stench of BO masked by the thick layer of cigarette smoke which makes the place look like a loud opium den. The spontaneous mosh pits spilling your pint and giving you a Doc Marten to the noggin. Ask any rock fan to sum up their experience going to gigs growing up and they’ll all likely share similar stories. This was the time before flossing and iPods, where new bands were sprouting up left and right and any gig you attended could bear witness to the makings of another legend. I caught a bit of the buzz of the late 2000s coming out of London, but nothing compared to the plethora of talent of the late ‘70s and ‘80s.
It was a completely different time back then for creativity, with so much music being made that managed to be both good and different, while also being at odds with the corporate beasts of the materialistic times and the record companies themselves. Many look back at that period and only see the neon smiley faces of TV and video, but Gunning For Hits gives you the real story – in its own hilarious and bonkers way, mind you.
We open with an A&R bloke during an exhaustive negotiation meeting in the arse end of New York, having to try to deal with the ego of a manager who thinks she has the greatest band in existence but doesn’t realise that she may actually be right. Our humble narrator talks us through the reality of signing these bands in a time where the product may have been good but it still didn’t mean the band wouldn’t get fleeced for every penny they earn. The writing from Jeff Rougvie, someone who more than knows what they’re talking about (a fact which the autobiography at the end just affirms), manages to provide an insightful look at just how things were run back then, along with the wonderfully sharp wit and dry humour of the veteran record rep.
Through this exchange we see that there’s more to this character than just business. He has a real love for music and a past that serves him perfectly in the cut-throat music industry of the ‘80s. The tough exterior does him well in negotiation but the love of the music comes through in the soft spot he’s got for the naive front man.
The writing in a great tandem with the artwork of Moritat. It reminded me a bit of another thriller Chew, with the same dull greys, greens and reds overshadowing any brightness and giving each panel the feel of the gig venues we know so well along with the tension of the thriller which is permeating out around this guy’s mysterious past. Also, the unexpected use of a Looney Tunes-esque diorama to explain the ins and outs of music money? A masterstroke, and bloody funny to boot.
A perfect first comic of the year for any music and/or gangster fans out there, and one that’s already setting a high bar to jump over for the rest of 2019.
The writer of this piece was: Mark Scott
Mark Tweets from @macoy_comicgeek