I haven't exactly hidden my love for Morning Glories in the past. (Volume 3 review coming soon, spoiler alert: it's still bloody incredible.) So when I saw that the artist Joe Eisma was going to be at Baltimore Comic-Con this past weekend, I knew I had to chat with him about this spectacular Lost-cross-Runaways series.
I approached his table, where Joe was doing a sketch for another con goer. I saw some of the MG pages for sale, and I suddenly wished I had more money and more space in my apartment.
After finishing the sketch, Joe graciously shook my hand, his wry smile widening as I gush over the book. (Totally unlike the creepy version of himself played here.) He kindly took a few minutes to chat Morning Glories: the ramifications of issue 19's shocking events, the start of the newest arc with the introduction of the Truants, and what to expect for the rest of this "season."
OPEN THE FRIDGE: One of the things that I love about your art is your ability to capture character so well. For a book like Morning Glories, the emotions that play off of characters' faces are so important, and you achieve that so strongly. What goes through your head when you try to capture what Nick [Spencer, Morning Glories writer] is trying to convey?
JOE EISMA: Well, I went to college to study film - I didn't go to art school or anything - so I always look at it like I'm a director. I know that sounds kind of pretentious, but you know, I see the characters [in] a "how can I get the best performance out of them?" [kind of way] or whatever.
I'll get the script and there's obviously, in Nick's writing, a lot of emotion going on there with the characters, so I want to bring that out as much as I can. With comics, we're very limited with what we can do; we're not like TV or video games. We're very static. So, my thought process is always to overemphasize, overexaggerate a reaction just to really drive it home. Because of the fact it's a 2D medium, I'm always just looking for the best way to amplify the mood of any scene.
OTF: A new arc has started with issue 21. We've been introduced to some new characters, and one of our own is now dearly departed. What can you tell us about what's coming up and where we're going in this next part of the story?
JE: We view the book as seasons, like 25-issue seasons. So, we're nearing the end of our first season, which is our first quarter of the book because it's a 100 issue series.
We've got our new characters - a lot of whom have been introduced in issue 1, actually - but we call them "the Truants." They are definitely a harder-edged group of kids, and they're really going to take the rails off. We're going to get a lot more time with them, a lot more time with Abraham, and a lot more time with the twins, Jun and Hisao. We're definitely leading up for a big finish of our first season.
OTF: Morning Glories has had the occasional small delay in with some of the more recent issues, will the remainder of the season be slated for monthly release or will there be a break?
JE: No plans for a break, really, it just depends on schedules. Every issue we do average about 30 pages, so that's a grind for anybody, especially when we try to put that out monthly. We put them out as fast as we can.
I know that issue 25 is probably going to be over sized, if not double sized, so that'll be a big issue. We may end up taking a month or two after that to start the next season, but it won't be a long wait.
OTF: You mentioned earlier that the entire run will be 100 issues. Is that a set number, or is it more something that you and Nick are aiming for?
JE: It's more of an aim, I think, because Nick tends to fluctuate with that. When I first started on this book, he told me 75 issues. And then when we got going, it was 100. A few months ago, he called me saying, "I think I can do 125!" So he kind of changes his mind a lot, but he's got the overall plan set, and he's got the ending done. It's just, you know, a lot of the time when we're doing these issues, he'll happen upon a story aspect that he might want to explore, which adds more issues to the overall run.
OTF: Is there a particular page or frame in the work so far that you were particularly proud of? You know, something where even you had to step back and go, "Damn, that's pretty good." Is there one that just sticks out in your mind like that?
JE: Yeah, the double page spread of the death scene in issue 19. That one was pretty harsh, pretty hardcore. I was really proud of that one. I took it to the nth degree. It's not really -- it's a gunshot wound, and if you want to be accurate, it's not accurate. [laughs] But it's comics, and we can have a lot more fun, so I really emphasized the gore and the overall violence of that shot. That one was a lot of fun, and that's probably my stand out moment in the series thus far.
[Click here to see the death scene. MAJOR SPOILERS.]
OTF: One of the main rules in comic books is that death isn't always final, that it doesn't really mean a whole lot. My understanding is that you're trying to step away from that, is that true?
JE: Dead is dead! We do bounce a lot through different times, but I think a main theme of this book is that death is fated. We're all going to die; it's going to happen. It's sort of like in Lost when they said, "Whatever happened, happened." Basically kind of the same thought process here. There would be no way to prevent that character from dying. So, yeah, that character is not coming back.
OTF: Stepping away from Morning Glories for a second, is there anything that you're reading right now or something that you've been really impressed with?
JE: Yeah, I read Chew pretty religiously. I love Rob [Guillory, artist] and John [Layman, writer]. They're great guys.
Manhattan Projects I love. One of my best friends in comics is Nick Pitarra [Manhattan Projects artist] - he's quite the weirdo, but I love him, and I love his art. He makes Manhattan Projects for me. I love [writer Jonathan] Hickman, but I think the way Nick embellishes that story takes it to a whole other level.
I read Unwritten from DC/Vertigo, and Stuff of Legend from Th3rd World Studios. Charles Paul Wilson III is another one of my best friends and he's a fantastic artist. Those are the big ones for me.
OTF: Closing back on Morning Glories, as we're coming up on the end of season, is there a specific issue in particular that you think people should really watch for?
JE: Yeah, I think issue 22; I just finished it before I came out here. It is a big issue; there's a lot going on in that issue. I know we throw a lot of stuff at our readers every issue, but this one is going to pile on even more. It's going to -- I hate to say "confound" because already I get a lot of angry fans saying "What's going on?!" -- but this one was a lot of fun. It's very Indiana Jones-esque, I'll say that. Think Temple of Doom. [laughs]
OTF: I have to admit, I have definitely found myself saying "What's going on?!" at one point or another, but I think that's part of the fun! It's the reason why we watched Lost, and it's the same reason we keep reading Morning Glories -- with every mystery, you just have to keep going to find out more.
Thanks a million for chatting with us, Joe! We look forward to the ongoing craziness of MGA, each and every month -- and that is, in no small part, thanks to you. Be sure to look out for the next four issues over the coming months, as they close out the first season of Morning Glories.
Check back later for more coverage from Baltimore Comic-Con 2012!