Published on January 16th, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Jeff Rougvie On The New “Gunning For Hits” Comic Series, Working With David Bowie & More
In collaboration with artist Moritat (The Spirit, Harley Quinn, Hellblazer), award-winning music producer and writer Jeff Rougvie — known for his work with David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Big Star and Morphine, to name a few notable artists — has released a new comic book series called Gunning For Hits. The series draws on Rougvie’s rich background in the music industry, in particular his experiences with David Bowie, who inspired the first storyline. The first edition of the Gunning For Hits series was released on January 9, 2019, between the anniversaries of Bowie’s dates of birth and death.
Published by Image Comics (The Walking Dead, Saga, Wicked & Divine), Gunning For Hits is the story of Martin Mills, a record company talent scout in the shady 80s NYC music business. Following an unbroken string of hits, Martin jumps at the chance to make a comeback album with his favorite classic rock legend. But when things go wrong, Martin is forced to use deadly skills from his mysterious past in a desperate bid to save his reputation and the artist’s career.
Gunning For Hits aside, Jeff Rougvie is owner of the Supermegabot record label. He also lectures about working with David Bowie and is currently writing a history of the Rykodisc record label, which was at one time the biggest independent record company there was. I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Mr. Rougvie himself, who you can visit online at www.jeffrougvie.com.
Jeff Rougvie: I came up with the core idea in 1989 and kept developing it over time. It may be one of the longest gestations in the history of comics!
When in the process did the artwork come along? Did you know all along you would be working with Moritat?
Jeff Rougvie: I was looking for artists and having no luck. Then Eric Stephenson put me together with Moritat and we hit it off. I was already a big fan of his Spirit and Jonah Hex work, so it was a no-brainer and he is a magnificent visual problem-solver because I write talky books, and he finds ways to keep it all visually interesting!
The first edition of Gunning For Hits is inspired by your work with David Bowie. Is there something you wish more people knew about him?
Jeff Rougvie: He was the most charming and persuasive person ever, I think. Super easy-going, but able to get his way without having to fight for it.
Your credits also include Elvis Costello, Big Star and a lot of greats, thanks to your work with Rykodisc and other labels. Is there one project that you look at most fondly?
Jeff Rougvie: It changes from week to week. Getting the the Big Star and Chris Bell records exposed to the audience they really deserved was a win, but there are tons of records that never got their due. The Waltham album is one that I love and it still hurts that we didn’t make them stars.
You notably worked with one of my favorite bands, The Misfits, although your website talks about how challenging it can be to work with the different parties involved with The Misfits. Any chance that you may have a future edition of Gunning For Hits related to The Misfits?
Jeff Rougvie: All my experiences feed into the book, so while some my time with the band may inform parts of a storyline, it would more likely be a mash-up of a bunch of ideas, not just The Misfits. That said, around 1999/2000, my partner and I talked to the band about doing a Misfits comic book. My partner had been in animation and he got Batman and DC [Comics] animator Butch Lukic to do an illustration of Jerry [Only] that they really liked. It ultimately didn’t happen, but the art subsequently became pretty famous, printed on posters and t-shirts.
Promotion of Gunning For Hits aside, what are you currently working on? New Supermegabot Music LLC releases, I presume?
Jeff Rougvie: Yes, the Jeff Whalen album is a primary focus and a collection by an amazing Britpop-era band called Fabulous, who were sort of like the [Sex] Pistols meet the Manics [Street Preachers], but only released a few singles before imploding. They’re brilliant. And I’m writing a history of Rykodisc.
When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?
Jeff Rougvie: Watching movies, reading, driving up the coast from Boston to Maine.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Jeff Rougvie: The Struts or Roseanne Cash. Can’t remember which!
Finally, Jeff, any last words for the kids?
Jeff Rougvie: Music is the best. If you’re going to be in a band do it with your friends, because even if nothing ever comes of it, you get to hang out with your friends more. Be excellent to each other.