Artist Joe Eisma is best known for his work on Morning Glories with writer Nick Spencer. Recently though, he had the opportunity to draw a special story written by Wil Wheaton as part of IDW’s Star Trek #400. During New York Comic Con, I sat down with Eisma to discuss this epic assignment, why he walked out of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and which fictional captain he has a man crush on.
Tom Smithyman: What goes through your mind when you are told you are not only drawing a story in the landmark Star Trek #400 comic, but you’ll be illustrating the story that Wil Wheaton wrote?
Joe Eisma: Initially, my jaw dropped. Literally the first two words that came into my mind were `no way!’ It was just completely mind-blowing. A total shock. I had seen the Star Trek #400 announcement, and I saw that Wil was going to do a story. I had no idea which one I was getting. I would have been grateful for any one of them. To be able to draw Wil’s was super, super exciting.
Smithyman: Wheaton’s tale gives some backstory to his surprise appearance in Star Trek: Picard. Are you a fan of the show? Did you see the finale when he appeared?
Eisma: Not to throw my wife under the bus, but we have to watch it all together. Otherwise, if I watch it without her, she’ll get upset. So we’re still working our way through season one because she’s busy and, of course, I’m busy. But I was able to watch some clips so I was ready to draw the story.
Smithyman: When you read his script, what did you think?
Eisma: I loved it! I thought it was such a love letter to Wesley and Next Gen and Picard. Picard is such a beloved character, and there’s a reason for that. A lot of that is Patrick Stewart. There have just been so many great story written about him over the years. I thought this was just a great script that I was super excited to get to draw.
Smithyman: In the story, Wesley goes to Picard and asks for advice. Have you had the opportunity to draw Picard before this?
Eisma: I’ve drawn sketches of Picard for commissions. This is my very first foray into anything Star Trek professionally.
Smithyman: Really? And they give you Wil Wheaton’s story?
Eisma: I know! What luck right?
Smithyman: So I take it you are a fan of the franchise.
Eisma: Absolutely. I was 4 or 5 when The Wrath of Khan came out. And my parents, in their infinite wisdom, took me to see it. And the Ceti eels in the ears scene freaked me the hell out! I was screaming. My mom had to take me out of the theater. But I still ended up being a fan of the series. That was my intro: the original cast’s films. I went back and watched the original series when it was in syndication in the 80s. I was about 10 or so when Next Gen started, and my dad and I would watch that religiously together. So that was our thing – Next Gen.
Smithyman: What’s next for you with Star Trek? Or if you can’t talk about it yet, what Trek titles would you like to draw?
Eisma: I can’t talk about yet what I am going to be drawing next Star Trek-wise, but like everybody else on Planet Earth, I’m head over heels about Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. That would be my brass ring. I love all of those characters. I can’t even remember a time that every single cast member where I immediately loved them. I know we’re doing a Strange New Worlds comic – I’m not drawing that one. I’d love to. I’ve love to do a series following any one of those cast members if they wanted to do a solo series. My next favorite is Deep Space Nine. I love all of those characters as well. I love that era.
I love it all. Of course, I’d love to draw the original cast at some point. But I’m just happy to be here and to make my way into this franchise.
Smithyman: I know constantly get asked about Morning Glories…
Eisma: (Laughs) My favorite question! Morning Glories was really my first success in comics. It ran for 50 issues. We’ve been on hiatus since 2016 because Nick Spencer got a little bit too busy to manage all of it.
Smithyman: And along came a Spider-Man?
Eisma: Yeah, yeah. And along came Substack and all that. But he and I still talk pretty regularly. My thing is whenever he’s ready to write it, I’m ready to draw it. There have been times when I’ve suggested bringing someone in to script over his plots, but this is his baby. He wants to see it through – and I understand that. I’m just trying to find ways to help the fans.
I do get the question over and over again. But I’m just so happy that people care enough to ask me about that. That means the world to me. I just always wish that I had better news.
Smithyman OK, back to Trek: Who is your favorite captain?
Eisma: Oh man! I have to go with Christopher Pike from Strange New Worlds. I saw him on Star Trek: Discovery. I loved Anson Mount there. I really have a man crush on the dude. Everything he does, everything he represents – that’s what a Starfleet captain is to me. That’s what I love. He’s business, but he’s not afraid to be silly. To me, he’s my number one.
Smithyman: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, and congratulations on breaking into Star Trek!