The Big Comic Page was fortunate to have the chance to conduct an interview with Joe Eisma, the artist and co-creator of the extremely successful – and frankly awesome – Morning Glories series, published by Image Comics. Here’s what was said;
Big Comic Page: First off Joe, thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to have a quick chat with us. Now I’m sure the majority of our readers will best know you from your critically acclaimed work alongside Nick Spencer on Morning Glories, so we should probably start with that. Where did the inspiration for Morning Glories come from? Did Nick come to you with the idea, or was it more of a collaboration between the two of you?
Joe Eisma: Nick approached me in 2009 after seeing my art on a comic message board we both frequented. I’d been getting pitches from a couple of different writers, but his intrigued me when he said it was ‘Runaways meets Lost.’ From there, we fleshed it out and refined the visual look together.
BCP: I’m always really intrigued about the writer/artist dynamic when it comes to comic books. How do things work between you and Nick? Does he storyboard a lot of stuff, or do you have the freedom to do things your own way?
JE: I do all my own layouts. Nick tends to be very specific in describing each panel and what kind of shot he might want, especially if it’s a vital plot point. Other times, he’s more looser–like during fight scenes or establishing shots. It’s a mix of hands on direction and freedom.
BCP: I know you’re both been fairly tight-lipped when it comes to any Morning Glories spoilers, so I won’t bother trying to pry any out of you ;) But it’s been well documented that you guys have a clear hundred-issue story arc in mind with a definitive ending. A hundred issues is quite a commitment in today’s comic book world. Do you ever get concerned that you might get itchy feet, or that the thrill will wear off after such a long run on the same title?
JE: I think what attracted me to this book initially was that idea of a long run. I’ve always admired people like Chris Claremont, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley–creators who could do extended runs on books. Even Pia Guerra drew most of Y the Last Man, which was amazing to me. Plus, I like the idea of the job security a 100 issue run brings! That said, yeah, I do find my mind wandering from time to time. Thankfully, I’ve been able to develop enough drawing speed that I can explore other options, like a one-shot or miniseries.
BCP: Now stepping aside from Morning Glories a little, you’ve branched out recently into some other titles, including a guest slot on Higher Earth alongside Sam Humphries. Tell us a little about how that came about?
JE: I’d been an admirer of Sam’s ever since I read Our Love is Real. The guy has such a unique voice in his writing. I basically Facebook stalked him after that! We ended up sending emails back and forth and seeing each other at conventions in 2012. His artist on Higher Earth needed a break after the first arc, and he threw my name to his editors at Boom! Studios. They liked my stuff, and brought me on board. It was a great experience all around, and Sam and I are planning on working together again in the near future.
JE: Most definitely. Number one on that list has to be Naoki Urasawa, the legendary Japanese Manga artist of 20th Century Boys, Pluto, Monster & more. Of any artist I like, his influence is the most prominent in my work, I think. I admire his storytelling skills and the way he works with the huge casts in his books. I also dig guys like Frank Cho and Steve McNiven for their linework. I’m always studying their lines and how they draw hair and drapery.
BCP: A lot of people might also not know this, but you’ve also worked on quite a few video games in the past, including titles which have been released on Nintendo DS, PC and iPhone. How does video game design compare to the comic book world, and if it came down to it, which would you choose if you could only pick one?
JE: There are quite a number of similarities, at least politics and personality wise. Everything I’ve worked on in games has been developed by small teams, which is a lot like how it is with creative teams in comics. There’s quite a bit more technical know-how needed for games, and it can at times be tedious work. My passion’s always been comics, so comics would definitely win out!
BCP: We don’t want to take up too much of your valuable time, so finally, what can we expect to see from you in the future, and do you have any plans to visit the UK at any point?
JE: Obviously you can expect more issues of Morning Glories, for one thing! We’re wrapping up our first ‘season’ of the book with issue 25, and it’s a doozy. Following that we have our $1 prelude to season 2 in issue 26, which I think will answer quite a few questions for people. Outside of Morning Glories, I’m doing a couple of covers for folks, some anthology work that will be announced soon, and hopefully a mini-series or two! And I would love to visit the UK! I last visited about 15 years ago on vacation, and I’m itching to go back. If I’m invited by a convention or a shop for a signing, I will absolutely be there.
BCP: Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions, Joe, and we can’t wait to see more of your work in the future.
You can also check out a BCP review of Morning Glories Volume One (For a Better Future) HERE.