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Talking ‘Morning Glories’ with Artist Joe Eisma

This week saw the release of Morning Glories #9 from Shadowline and Image Comics and from our review spawned a conversation with the artist of the series Joe Eisma. Included is some art from Joe's work on Morning Glories along with a lot of great answers. At the end of the interview are some links to other Morning Glories reviews and coverage on the site. If you're interested in the series check out the trade paper back for the first volume in stores now!

PA) Right off the bat I have to ask, when you started Morning Glories did you ever think you’d draw so many kids dying? And did you have any fear that the public would still be sensitive to that type of material or did the uniqueness of the story make it a null point?

Joe EismaJE) Absolutely not!  I had an inkling, with the first issue's script of what I was in for, but the scale ended up being much greater than I figured.  I did initially worry that the gore might be a turn off for some people, but my fears were unfounded in the end.  People were so gripped by the story that the gore didn't seem to bother them!

PA) How much involvement to you have with the script? Do you give feedback or suggestions or do you stick to putting your input into the art?

JE) Nick's pretty open to hearing my thoughts on things, but for the most part, I leave those reins to him.  There are several instances where he'll defer to me and how I want to lay something out.  Jade's phone call and the descent into the catacombs at the end in issue 1 were all pretty much up to me in how they were laid out.

PA) With Morning Glories, what’s your monthly output on the comic? And also how far ahead are you typically of the book when it’s released?

JE) I can do about 23-24 pages a month comfortably.  But, Nick's been making a lot of these issues pretty epic--they average 26 to 32 pages.  I don't think we've ever had a standard 22 page issue!  When the first issue came out, I was starting issue 4, however that lead time has shrank down to nothing.  With Nick's full plate, I don't always get script in time, leaving me to scramble to make up time.  

PA) When inking your own material what do you use? Are you a pen and ink guy? Brushes? Or use the computer? If you use a computer to ink to you also use a program to draw as well?

Morning Glories #3 Page 21JE) I use a mixture of digital and traditional techniques to draw the book.  I do it this way since I'm not a very fast inker.  Everything starts out digital, with my Wacom Cintiq tablet and Photoshop.  I try to figure out ahead of time which pages I'm going to ink and take those from the rough stage, print them and then ink them traditionally.  I use Kuretake brush pens and Microns to ink.  Then things get a digital cleanup and they're ready to be sent to colorist Alex Sollazzo.

PA) Who came up with the character designs? Or was a group effort with cover artist Rodin Esquejo and what was your process for them?

JE) It was a group effort.  I did some designs when I started on the book, and then after Rodin came on, he refined them and we kind of joined our ideas together.  Some characters, like Nurse Nine, are all designed by him.  Others, like Miss Daramount and Mr. Gribbs were all mine.

PA) Is there a particular character in the series you enjoy to draw more? It seems like extra attention is paid to Miss Daramount when she’s on the page?

JE) It varies--it's hard to pick a favorite!  Of the main cast, I do enjoy drawing Jade--since she wears so much eye makeup and is so emotional--I can really exaggerate her expressions.  Miss Daramount is fun because she's just so evil.  In some ways, she's almost like the fantasy teacher I always wished I'd had in high school, so I try to play up her sexiness and have her move in a very sleek, sensual manner.  She's the type of character I want to make an impression in every scene she's in.

PA) How did Morning Glories come about from an idea to one of more popular Image books on the market?

JE) It really was quite a surprise how much the book caught on!  When Nick and I were initially working on the pitch, I knew we had something special, but nothing I'd worked on up to that point had really made a splash.  I figured we might get a little critical praise, but I didn't anticipate the way it blew up.  There's no real secret formula--we just came together and found we all really gelled as a creative team and tried to do the best book we possibly could.

Morning Glories #4 Page 16PA) How did you begin working with Nick Spencer and do the two of you have plans for any other series?

JE) Nick and I met on Brian Bendis' message board, Jinxworld.  He'd seen my art and liked what he saw, and sent me a message asking if I'd like to read this pitch of his.  He described it as 'Runaways meets Lost' and I was immediately hooked!  As for other series--no plans at the moment--Morning Glories is such a long-form series that it's taking a lot of our focus.

PA) Morning Glories seems like it has to obviously end at some point. Is there an issue number that you’re shooting for or is it just when the story has run its course?

JE) It seems to vary from week to week.  I've heard Nick say 100 issues, then 75, then 100 again.  I'm guessing somewhere in-between that!  But yeah, there is a definite end point in mind.

PA) Probably a dumb question, but is there anything you’re working on besides Morning Glories? If not is there any projects you’re cooking up for the future?

JE) Morning Glories is my main focus in comics at the moment!  I also do freelance game art as well, and I'm working on some iphone games and apps.

PA) Last question and I’ve been told its “Loaded”, who would win in a fight: Stan Lee in his prime or Jack Kirby in his prime?

JE) Steve Ditko.  (Okay, out of the two you mentioned--Kirby!)

We'd like to thank Joe for taking the time to talk with us and wish him the best with the series and also congradulate him the three Eisner Awards that Morning Glories is nominated for this year.

If you'd like to look at more Morning Glories coverage check out the following articles:
Morning Glories: Keeper or Leaver? Here's a hint "Keeper"
Morning Glories #7 - Review
Morning Glories #8 - Review
Morning Glories Drops It's Price With Issue #7 

Joe sent so many great pages that I had to post them all so enjoy some exclusive pages from Joe collected throughout Morning Glories!

Morning Glories #5 page 20
Morning Glories #5 Page 21
Morning Glories #5 Page 30
Morning Glories #5 Page 32                                               This is one of my personal favorites!

Morning Glories #8 Page 4
                                          This one too!


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