The Art of Selling Out an Indie Book: MORNING GLORIES
The Art of Selling Out an Indie Book
School was never like this.
On August 11th, comics readers got their first glimpse of into the intriguing and bizarre world of Morning Glory Academy with the release of Morning Glories #1. This new ongoing series from Image Comics follows a group of new students enrolling in the school year, and learning that prep school life – life at this prep school – gives you more questions than answers.
Apparently comics stores are enrolling in record numbers for this series, buying up the complete print run of the first issue - twice - and leading Image to schedule a rare third printing of #1, being released today alongside issue #2. Last month we talked with series writer Nick Spencer, and now we turned to the cover artist Rodin Esquejo and interior artist Joe Eisma to talk about the series and how it came to be.
Joe Eisma: Nick and I are both longtime posters over at Brian Bendis' Jinxworld message board. We basically met there, and he sent me his pitch for Morning Glories. I mean, with a tagline like 'It's Runaways meets Lost,' how could I not be intrigued? I liked that it was different than what I was seeing on the shelves. What stood out most for me was Nick's attention to detail in the characters--they seemed like real people. One of my favorite aspects of drawing comics is storytelling, and I could tell there would be lots of potential to exercise those skills.
Nrama: Rodin, how did you end up joining the team with Joe and Nick for Morning Glories?
Rodin Esquejo: I got an email a couple years ago from (a pre-Existence 2.0-gone-wide) Nick asking if I wanted to work on a pitch with him. A quick 'net search and I found an old script that he had done. I was immediately taken by his dialogue and was eager to work on something with him. That initial pitch idea was put aside when he pretty excitedly got the idea for Morning Glories. I then completely fell off the grid and out of touch with pretty much everyone for a good while. When I came back from that with Glories character design sketches in hand, Joe had already stepped up and was doing fantastic work. Nick dug my designs, though, and asked if I would stay on as cover artist. I had already read that first issue draft and I couldn't say no to it.
Nrama: You two are working hand-in-hand for this book, sharing the duties of designing the characters. How does the design process for the characters work?
Esquejo: Nick will send over a description of the character along with some "casting" ideas. Just enough information that we're still free to get creative with the looks. We both sketch based on that. When we get to see what each other has designed, we incorporate those "wish I'd thought of that" parts into our own work.
Eisma: I think Rodin's amazing. I've been following him on Deviantart for awhile, and I'm just blown away by his style. He provides the basic structure for me to follow, but I make little tweaks here and there. I really push the 'Emo' aspects of Jade a lot and probably make Casey's hair bigger than he does. I shouldn't discount Nick's role in the design process either. He'll provide direction and give me some ideas as to famous faces he sees the characters resembling.
Nrama: Joe, although you worked on Existence 3.0 in the past, this is your first series you've been with from the start. What's that like to be in on the ground floor with Nick and Rodin on this?
Eisma: It's great! On Existence 3.0, I felt like I was just stepping in to help, but Morning Glories is much more mine. This has been a book I've been itching to draw for the longest time. It's like nothing I've ever worked on. With past projects, I had a hand in designing things, but for the most part, everything would already be developed by the time I came along. With Morning Glories, it's like a true collaboration.
Nrama: Most comic creators starting out do comics while also having a day job until it gets enough to do comics fully. What's your work situation like?
Eisma: That's true! I've become accustomed to juggling multiple things over the years. My day job would be Freelance video game artist. I've worked on games for the iPhone, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox 360 and the PC, doing everything from concept art, 3d modeling and animation. Being freelance gives me the ability to work from home and do the comics, but I have some seriously long days! I'm also Mr. Mom, taking care of my 2-year-old son for most of the day until my wife gets home from work.
Nrama: Although you've both done a little bit of work here and there, Morning Glories is the big stepping out point for both of you. Can you tell us about your career up to now?
Eisma: I originally pursued a career in comics in the mid-90s, but got burnt out, and rediscovered my love of the genre in 2005. My first published work was A Dummy's Guide to Danger: Lost at Sea in 2008 from Viper Comics. Writer/creator Jason Burns and I met on Myspace, and we continued our collaboration over the next few years with Serpo from Devil's Due and We the People from Outlaw Entertainment. I've also worked with Jay Faerber on a number of backup stories for Dynamo 5, the most recent of which has been Notorious.
Nrama: Rodin, I've tried to look up your past work, and all I see is a piece Fractured Fables. What other comics or art-related work have you done in the past?
Esquejo: I've done a couple covers and pin-ups for Vineyard Press, some G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary package art and concept designs for Hasbro, and a page in com.X's graphic novel, 45.
Nrama: What else are you working on besides this series, Rodin? Are you doing any interior pages for comics?
Esquejo: Right now I'm doing some cover work for various people. At the same time I'm working on beefing up my portfolio with sequential samples and getting ready to sell myself around.
Nrama: Before I let you go, I wanted to ask about the pace of the series. Morning Glories is announced as an ongoing – which is tough enough for a big company like Marvel or DC, but even harder for a creator-owned title. Can you tell us about the logistics of keeping up with it all?
Esquejo: I think it just comes down to the team continuing to put out the best work we can at a steady pace and hope readers catch on to the book and how much we love putting everything into it. Personally, it's making sure that, regardless of if I'm lucky enough to land some new projects here and there, awesome Morning Glories covers are my priority
Eisma: I was very surprised when Nick told me he saw this as an ongoing! It seems like an uphill climb, but then you have those few that make it, like The Walking Dead. When I initially heard the pitch, I figured this would be a miniseries, since that's mostly what I've worked on before. Nick was adamant, though, that he couldn't tell this story unless it was an ongoing. I could tell he was really passionate about this project! Logistically, it hasn't been too complicated, surprisingly. I've never had to wait around on a script. I'm able to keep a good pace on getting pages done, and our colorist, Alex Sollazzo, is never too far behind. We all gel really well together!