Geek Taco catches up with the independent artist.
Geek Taco’s own Chris Cowan recently sat down with Joe Eisma, the artist and co-creator of Morning Glories, a multiple Eisner Award nominated and New York Times Bestselling series from Image Comics, who has also drawn for DC Comics, Valiant Entertainment, Archie Comics and Boom! Studios.
GT: Joe, describe a day in the life of a comic artist
JE: For me, no one day is the same, especially juggling children and a day job! I work when I can, squeezing in drawing time while the kids are in school, and early mornings and late nights.
GT: Who is your favorite artist from when you first started collecting comics and who is your favorite artist working today?
JE: Jim Lee was the biggest influence on me when I was younger. Quick story, as a teenager, I went to get some books signed by him at a convention in Dallas. I figured he’d heard all the praise in the world at that point, so I told him ‘hey, when I get older, I’m going to take your job.’ That left him speechless for a second, but then he laughed and said ‘It’s yours if you want it!’ I hope to take him up on that at some point.
These days, I really love Adrian Alphona’s art. He has such delicate linework, and exaggerated character work. His stuff is always so fun to look at.
GT: What is the biggest challenge of being an independent artist?
JE: Finances. It’s really not easy to support yourself, let alone a family at the independent level. I’ve been incredibly lucky that Morning Glories has been such a success, but I know plenty of others who aren’t so lucky. The struggle is being tenacious and continually hustling for work.
GT: What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you at a con?
JE: Probably taking a group of Morning Glories cosplayers out for dinner, while they were in costume. One of the coolest and most surreal experiences of my life!
GT: Out of your body of comics, which is the one your most proud of?
JE: There are so many milestones, but in terms of every single aspect coming together and really standing out—I’d probably say that would be Morning Glories #10. So much of the early run is hard for me to look at, except for that one. It’s special to me.
GT: What was it like making the transition from video game design to comics?
JE: Very liberating. I did independent game development for 10 years, and it was creatively stifling. Management at the company I worked for was pretty poor, and we ended up working on one game for several years that didn’t even come out at the end of the day. So it was very frustrating. Comics was a breath of fresh air—I could have a real say in the creative direction of things and be my own boss.
GT: You were recently tapped to join the art team on The Flash. What’s it like working on a book for the big two versus doing independent titles?
JE: Nerve wracking! Intense, as well, due to the rapid nature of the deadlines. That’s not to say it hasn’t been incredibly fun and thrilling, though. We’ve never really had an editor on Morning Glories past the first few issues, so it’s nice to work with editors—someone to steer the ship, as it were.
GT: You recently setup a Patreon campaign, how successful has that been and what role do you see Patreon playing in the industry going forward?
JE: It started off kind of shaky, but it’s really gotten to be pretty decently profitable for me. I’m never not completely amazed by people’s generosity. I have some fantastic Patrons! I think Patreon could become an essential part of the independent comic creator’s toolkit. Much has been made of how little money there is in comics, and having a Patreon helps take some of that stress off.
GT: As a child of the 80’s what’s it like to work on Big Trouble in Little China and GI Joe?
JE: I was actually a bit nervous about working on those—as IP holders can be pretty difficult to work with. Turned out that both experiences were great. Big Trouble in particular was fun because I got to work with Fred Van Lente, whom I’ve been a fan of since before I broke in to the industry.
GT: Favorite Comic of all time?
JE: Uncanny X-men, the original Claremont run.
GT: If you could work on any one hero or team book, which one would it be?
JE: Nightcrawler, or Teen Titans.
GT: Team Cap or Team Iron Man?
JE: Team Cap!
GT: What is the thing you look into a script or character to help with inspiration on your art
JE: I go back to movies or cartoons that inspired me. That’s usually where I start. I’ve taken a lot of influence from anime from the 70s-90s, and rewatching that stuff or Ridley Scott’s Alien always fires me up.
GT: If you were a super hero, what powers would you want?
JE: Teleportation, so I could get around quicker.
GT: If there was a property you could work on that you haven’t yet, what would it be?
JE: The X-men.
GT: Any advice for aspiring artists
JE: Draw comics because you love it, and because it’s your passion. Draw like your life depends on you drawing comics. And don’t get jaded or let yourself stagnate—always be open to new opportunities!