10 Questions for Joe Eisma

You can find the work of illustrator Joe Eisma in the “Dodge’s Bullets” short story in Dynamo 5 #18 (Image Comics), the OGN Serpo (Devil’s Due Publishing), and A Dummy’s Guide to Danger: Lost at Sea (Viper Comics). You can find the actual Joe Eisma, illustrator, hanging out around the Dallas / Fort Worth area.

His upcoming projects include We, The People and The Super Life from Outlaw Entertainment.

It’s easy to find out more about Joe at his website, deviantART, or ComicSpace.

Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?

It was my dream to draw comics when I was growing up. I started reading Uncanny X-men in the 1980s and knew that I wanted to be a part of that industry. I worked at it as a teenager, and got good critiques and encouragement from industry professionals, but by the time I got to college, I got more interested in partying and guitars, so I drifted away from comics. It wasn’t until over a decade later that the comic bug bit me again.

Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

Creatively, I’d say Akira Kurosawa has had the biggest influence on me outside of the comics industry. I studied film in college, and immediately fell in love with his films. The way he set up his shots and his use of tones and in his later films, color, had a huge impact on how I approach setting up my own panels in my comics.

Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

Jason Burns, my compadre and collaborator on several of the books I’ve worked on is probably the most significant influence on my comics career. The guy gave me a shot when I was so green to the comics industry, and encouraged me to grow as an artist. He’s kind of taken me under his wing and showed me the ropes since we’ve started working together. He’s challenged me as well with his scripts — with scenes and situations that sometimes make me wonder, “How am I gonna draw that?!” Jason’s an incredibly underrated writer, and I hope one day he’ll get his due notoriety.

Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Spending time with my wife and new baby helps keep me centered and helps to recharge those batteries. Going out with my wife to see movies or to dinner helps clear my head as well from the grind of making comics.

Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.

I work freelance in both the comics and video game industry. Most of the time, my day begins with video game work — which can include 3D modeling, texture painting, 3D animation and design work. In the afternoons, I watch my son, and after my wife gets home and we get the kid to bed, I work on my comics. I generally work page to page — I haven’t had too many crazy deadlines in my career yet. So I’ll lay out a page, then draw it with pencils and inks in one step, and after some finishing touches, send it off for final approval. Generally, I can do a page every other day.

Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?

I use a Wacom Cintiq tablet and Adobe Photoshop to draw. I also build models to use as reference stand-ins for backgrounds using Autodesk 3ds Max.

Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

The finished page. Completing each page feels like you just ran a marathon or climbed a mountain. Especially if I finish ahead of deadline — that’s a real good feeling.

Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career — in or out of comics — and why?

Doing comics over this past year has been so much more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done professionally. If I ever have a bad day drawing, I think back to my old jobs and realize that my worst day with comics is a million times better than my best day at one of my old jobs.

More to the point, I’d say working with Jay Faerber on the “Dodge’s Bullets” short recently was the most rewarding way to end 2008. I’ve always admired Jay’s writing, and it was such a kick to draw a story by the guy whose comics I used to kick back and read back in college.

Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

The best advice I’ve ever heard was to be persistent. Never give up. No one’s journey into comics is the same. It may take some time, but if you work at it, eventually it will pay off. I’ve followed that to success!

Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Have realistic expectations. Too many times, I think people wanting to get in comics, and even in everyday life have these pie-in-the-sky dreams of how to get what they want. You have to be pragmatic. You won’t be the next Jim Lee overnight. It relates to that “be persistent” advice I’ve followed. You have to pay your dues before getting to the brass ring. I know last year, with the publication of my first comic, I had some unrealistic expectations for how my career would be affected. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I wish I knew then what I know now!

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