Five Years On: Morning Glories Abides [Interview]

Image Comics: Nick, five years is a lot of time to spend with a single series, especially nowadays. How does the series feel to you now compared to then? Is the writing process still the same?

Nick Spencer: It's an eternity in comics these days! So much focus is on what's new, what's just come out, so I'm very grateful that we're still around and we still have a loyal fan base. That's nothing short of a miracle to me.

The book's continued success is a real point of pride for me because of that, in fact. This is really what I always dreamed of doing in comics—long-form storytelling, big canvas stuff. In terms of how it feels now compared to then, I suppose back then I didn't fully appreciate how rare the opportunity to do stories like this really can be.

The writing process is easier in some ways. I've spent enough time with these characters that their voices come to me pretty easily, the moves that they make feel natural to me.

IC: You've mentioned that you've got a 100-issue plan. Have the plans changed much since the first issue? Have you run into many surprises along the way?

NS: The plan hasn't changed too much, no. Most of the stuff I planned when we were starting out is still there, and certainly the general conceit and the ending have remained intact. But certainly there's been new stuff plugged in along the way, stuff that took on more importance. I tried to leave some room for improvisation and improvement as I went, thankfully.

IC: MORNING GLORIES has a ton of moving parts. How do you handle the plotting and keeping the status quo of the characters organized? Do you have a detailed bible or outline for reference?

NS: People freak out when I tell them this, but it's all in my head. There's no big board out there, or some magic notebook. Every dozen issues or so, I re-read everything, just to make sure I haven't lost track of anything. So far, so good.

IC: A commentary by Matthew Meylikhov runs in the back of each issue of Morning Glories. This is an interesting choice to me, since so much of the series is about the mystery the students are uncovering. How'd this relationship come about?

NS: As you mentioned, it's a big mystery, with a lot of moving parts. It's a book that can be challenging for the casual reader. We get that. So we're always looking for ways to help make it at least a little easier to process what's happening or remind people of something that took place in a previous issue. Matt was already doing "Study Hall" over at Multiversity—and he was doing such a great job, it seemed like a perfect addition to the book, a little bonus for single issue readers.

And in addition that, we use our back cover as a sort of resource page, to point people to all the stuff that exists online—the wiki, the chats that happen the night of every new issue release, the Tumblr tag, etc. Most of this stuff is done by our readers; they put enormous amounts of work into building up a community around the book. There's a wealth of discussion that occurs around this story—that, by far, has been the most rewarding part of all this for me. As a writer, I honestly can't think of anything better than that.

IC: Joe, how did you feel when you first saw the MORNING GLORIES Compendium in all its 1000-page glory?

Joe Eisma: I actually got a little emotional, I've got to admit. There's so much in that book—so many memories. I can see myself finding my feet as an artist, and stumbling a few times along the way. But I'm just so proud of the progression the art made over the years with Alex Sollazzo and Paul Little. They don't get enough praise for the hell I put them through!

IC: I asked Nick this as well, but how does it feel to still be working on MORNING GLORIES five years after the launch? Has your working process remained the same?

JE: I've refined things in my process over the years. Spending so long with these characters, I've come to know their personalities and quirks, so putting them on the page doesn't take near as long as it used to. I still love these characters despite having been on this book so long. I feel kind of responsible for them, in a way!

IC: You're working with a very large cast in this series, and lately you've taken to drawing fans into the book as background characters. Can you talk a little bit about that decision, and how it's been received so far?

JE: Well, after spending five years on this, I've drawn my fair share of background characters, and it was getting difficult to just think of random kids to put in. We have such a dedicated and passionate fanbase, I immediately thought putting them in the book would be a small way for me to say thank you for all the support they've given us over the years. The response was greater than I'd imagined! A year later and I am still going through the requests.

IC: Are you the kind of artist who likes to know all the secrets of the series immediately, or are you enjoying seeing them parceled out with each new script from Nick?

JE: It's funny, when I first get script from Nick, I excitedly read it as a fan first. I love seeing what kinds of craziness Nick is going to put into each issue. I'm not really the type that needs to know every detail in advance—I'm enjoying the ride.

MORNING GLORIES #47 shipped last week. The MORNING GLORIES COMPENDIUM is available now from booksellers everywhere. MORNING GLORIES, VOL. 1: FOR A BETTER FUTURE is free until the end of Wednesday.