This is an interesting situation to review. The music industry is built on rumor, wild stories, and itself is a mix of lies and truth. How can one know, in reviewing Gunning for Hits, if what is being stated as fact, is actually fiction?
I should emphasize – this is an interesting comic for me to review! Like Jeff, I happen to be involved in the music industry myself! I am a graphic designer for a music manufacturing plant, curator for music festivals, the musician behind Lure of the Unknown (go to LureOfTheUnknown.com for more!), occasional DJ, music journalist, I owned a record label that released music from Grammy-winning talent to world-renowned composers.
My experience is enough to have a fair amount of knowledge of the facts that Jeff writes supporting his story. Jeff’s experience in the music industry is very different than mine. He’s worked with some big-name artists like Big Star, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Devo, Ministry, Misfits, Mission of Burma, Morphine, Yoko Ono, The Raspberries (Cool! Cleveland, Ohio representing!), The Replacements, Sugar, They Might Be Giants and The Undertones. What an interesting list of people! If Jeff brings any of his experiences with these stars, you know it will be interesting!
Most stories do use some facet of facts to support fiction writing. There is a difference in the use of facts in writing fiction. For example, someone who has no involvement in the music industry can guess. They use what they might know through secondary experience or popular culture to draw on. They can also do research to on the music industry. That is always good to do. Research. It is how every writer writes of things that they don’t have direct experience with. All writers do it and there is nothing wrong with that.
With direct experience, that is something altogether different. It is a tap taking you directly in the heart of that matter. And if done right, it can create a unique story that might not otherwise exist. And sometimes that when the magic happens!
How does this work out for Gunning for Hits #1? Let’s find out! We are taken back to the ’80s. A great time in music for sure! This is before digital music came into being and the industry as a whole was a lot more interesting.
The story opens up in a nightclub in New York. We come into the story to an already in progress negotiation between Martin Mills, a record label rep.
Billy is the voice and innocent face behind the band Stunted Growth.
There is considerable back and forth in the negotiations. Martin, Diane and Billy personalities shine with humor, insight, and intrigue.
The negotiations get heated and wild…then a blow job is called for. Except it’s Diane asking the label rep., Martin, to give her boyfriend, Billy, the blowjob. To both Diane and a hesitant Billy, the blow job represents a physical commitment that Martin has to commit to.
The comic then pauses. More so, Martin breaks the forth wall and pauses the story. Right at the dramatic moment – before his answer to Diane is given. With the forth wall broken, the comic swerves into how the music industry works. It relates how Diane’s many demands will actually be handled in the real world of music.
The art up to this point is noirish. Once the story breaks the forth wall Moritat (Gunning for Hits artist) makes a point of changing his style to a more cartoon style. It’s an interesting choice. To go cartoonish when the real deal is dished to the readers.
This is where the reader might ask….is that how the record industry is? From my experience, in the corporate world of music….yes. It can be that way. What way is that….you’ll have to read the comic! I’m not bashing the corporate music industry. There are good deals, good labels and good people in the industry. The indie music scene has its share of bad players. The corporate world has more of them. As a reviewer who has worked in the record industry, what Jeff writes here stems from the truth. This is one of the paths that can be taken in the high stakes world of corporate music. It might be surprising, but as anyone up the corporate ladder will tell you, its a business.
The first issue ends on a Pulp Fiction like feel. I’m not going to say how. Martin unpauses the story and we return back to the story. Its how Martin replies to the blow job demand from Diane. To where this will take the story? We’ll find out in the next issue!
From what previews of the future issues indicate, this is just a warm up to a much bigger storyline and larger cast. As a warm-up, it does its job well, whetting the appetite and give you a taste. Rougvie calls Gunning For Hits “a comic book revenge fantasy for every song you ever loved that should’ve been a hit.”. I get the feeling this is just the start of a wild ride.
If you are a musician, you can learn a thing or two before you learn it in the school of hard knocks by reading this issue. Future issues might be as fun and educational!
You might know Moritat for his work on The Spirit, Elephantmen, Jonah Hex, Harley Quinn and Hellblazer. All great works and Gunning for Hits shows another side to Moritat as an artist. One that I think we’ll see more of in the future.
Jeff offers up back matter. Acting like a B-side to the main story, we get the behind-the-scenes story to Gunning for Hits. The story of how it became an idea and its journey to being published at Image Comics.
This starts off with school mimeograph machines in 1974. It continues detailing his interest in comics and details his history in music.
Jeff points the readers towards a twitter account @MartinMillsHits. Here we get excerpts from Gunning for Hits lead record label rep.
Jeff adds a Spotify playlist for people to follow. It serves as a Gunning for Hits soundtrack. For more, you can go to the official comic website at GunningForHits.com.
Gunning for Hits Music Thriller Issue One
Written by Jeff Rougvie and features art from Moritat.