Gunning For Hits No. 3 review: “Hustle” is the name of the game


Gunning For Hits continues to deliver a real slice of the music life.

Stories about things the creators have actually participated in seem to have a stronger sense of truth and realism than cool topics that anyone could write about, like being a hitman, or racing cars, or gigantic inter-dimensional robots that become cars. To this author’s knowledge, nobody is actually a costumed superhero traveling across the globe fighting supervillains, or a demon, or part of an intergalactic resistance, although all those things are super cool. Jeff Rougvie, however, was deep in the music industry, on the business side, for decades, and that has given him both the experiences and the insider vision to make writing Gunning For Hits a highly entertaining, sympathetic, and, most importantly, believable, look at the cutthroat tactics and remorseless wheeling and dealing that goes on when musicians make music, set in the late ’80s. Illustrated by Moritat, and lettered and colored by Casey Silver, this is a comic that anyone who ever wondered how the music business works should read.

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When you’re broke, just take advantage of someone else’s fame

Last issue, ex-killer Martin Mills had signed the next big thing, and the last big thing was also maybe going to sign with him, as well. The last big thing, Brian Slade, is running out of money and ideas, so he plans to latch onto Stunted Growth, the next big thing, and piggyback off of their rising fame to recoup his losses. Another band’s recording plans fall through, so Martin rushes to get Stunted Growth into the studio, while Goldstone, Brian Slade’s bodyguard and former associate of Martin from back in his killer days, tracks down information about who Martin is pretending to be now, so that he can squeeze him for money in a blackmail scheme. Martin goes to meet with Slade and his manager, Ms. Rothstein, and they discuss signing Slade and his entire catalog of songs, which has Martin seeing stars, both fanboy and financial. Slade mentions he might stop by the Stunted Growth recording session, and Martin leaves after shaking on a ten-million dollar deal.

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Gunning For Hits has a knack for showing how washed-up musicians think

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At the studio session, Slade does in fact show u, and starts jamming with Stunted Growth, proving that he still has the chops and dazzling everyone there. He mentions that he was fooling around with the single he heard Stunted Growth perform the other week, and Martin senses trouble. With a slight modification, Slade has made the song better, but now he’s co-opted himself onto the song credits if it gets published, which is a sneaky move to pull on a band that doesn’t know any better. Goldstone told Rothstein how much money Martin signed Stunted Growth for, which causes her to up the deal from ten million to fifteen million. Martin hasn’t even approved the ten million with his boss, and he takes the news pretty hard.

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The last few pages of Gunning For Hits are a sort of dissection of how a band member gets fired, walking us through the process of being  just another band, getting signed, studio time, and the various characters who play a part in those steps. It can’t be understated just how truthfully and honestly Rougvie’s words come across; we are reading the lived experiences of someone who has been through what they’re writing about. That realism, combined with the lovely coloring and vivid linework, make this a comic truly worth reading. 10/10, highly recommended. Let us know what you thought in the comments section below.