I have never met Martheus Wade in person, but wish to change that soon. The last time I interviewed him, we were talking about his Toshigawa series, which lead to us talking about fate and free will. It was an interview I enjoyed and Martheus was someone I wanted to interview again at some point in the future. Martheus is thoughtful, deep and presents some dynamic images in his work. With Shinobi, Ninja Princess on the horizon, I thought it would be an ideal time to talk to him again.
Joshua Pantalleresco: Describe Shinobi to the public.
Martheus Wade: Shinobi: Ninja Princess is about Shianndrea Toshigawa, a 14 year old ninja of the Toshigawa Ninja Clan. Her and her strike team have a new mission: spy on their rivals, the Azumi Ninja Clan, and discover what secret dealings they have with the evil Emperor of Japn. But when their plans go awry, it’s up to Shianndrea to overcome her lack of confidence and save the day. Meanwhile their are dark forces moving against the toshigawa looking to consume them all.
JP: Tell me how you got involved with Shinobi?
MW: Actually, Shinobi: Ninja Princess was always in the back of my mind while developing the Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa graphic novel series. I’ve always wanted to yell the story of a young Shianndrea Toshigawa growing up in this ninja clan and going on missions. Ironically, I didn’t have enough confidence in the story to start. So I scrapped it and moved on to when the character was older and began the story in the middle. Last year, with the Jetta graphic novels coming to the end soon, I revisited those old ideas and that turned into Shinobi: Ninja Princess. I also have a 5 year old son and there are so many things going on right now that I worry about what he is getting into and what influences he will be up against. I teach comic illustration in the schools as well as my own classes called, The Comic Studio, and I see a lot of kids who are struggling. This book is really geared towards them as well as my core Todhigawa audience.
JP: It seems these days that comics are darker in nature. There are companies that go out of their way to do great things for kids, but the young adult audience is forgotten by and large. Why do you feel that is?
All of us geeks that where kids reading comics have grown up and we are now the people making the content we loved. But, we tend to make the content for our own audience and we miss an entire section of the population that would be into this stuff just like us. This just doesn’t apply to age either. It’s the same for race and gender in comics. There is a section of the population that comics have been geared to because those have been the core readers. But what we are finding out is that, as this core readership ages itself out, comic readership starts to dip as well. I think it’s time to remember that we weren’t already 20, 30, 40 somethings when we fell in love with comics.
JP: What did Toshigawa teach you when it comes to confidence to tackle Shinobi?
MW: Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa has taught me a great deal. I love that book and the characters and Shinobi: Ninja Princess is (to an extent) another part to that greater world. If it wasn’t for the Toshigawa series, I wouldn’t be in comics today. It taught me the business of comics as well as the politics. It’s taught me to step out on my own and get things done because, in the end, you are the only person responsible for your dreams. No one would take a chance at publishing a book about a ninja woman from an unknown creative. So, I just did it on my own. It taught me to not be afraid to try things on my own; that just because you hear the word “no”, it doesn’t mean “never”.
JP: You’ve been working on your own for a while. So coming back into a collaborative process, has there been an adjustment?
MW: Not really because it’s pretty much the same team and everyone new that is in the mix are friends and artists who I admire. So, I trust them to bring their A game. The one difference here is that we are not souly publishing the books. These books are being published through Action Lab Entertianment. So Shinobi: Ninja Princess will be distributed nationwide reaching a greater audience. So that is a different feeling.
JP: Do you have a preference between collaboration and working on your own creative?
MW: I really like working with a team. More stuff gets done and it is inspiring to see what the other team members come up with. I love that. It’s also fun for me to be the creative force for others as well as myself. I love motivating other people to try something different.
JP: Also, last time we talked we were discussing fate and free will. Are there any themes that are similar? Or is this a completely different story?
MW: This is a pretty different story. Shianndrea Toshigawa is 14 in this. So Shinobi: Ninja Princess puts the Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa series in a sort of vague future. Because of that, there is always a looming pulse of fate surging. But this book is less about that and more about how the characters interact with one another and what it’s like to be a 14 year old ninja trying to balance martial arts life with the problems and dreams of a teenager. How do you handle having feelings for one of your teammates when you are out on a mission fighting a demon? How can you get over your confidence problems in order to be an effective leader? Why is it important to remember where you came from in order to clearly see where you are going? This is the core of Shinobi: Ninja Princess. Fun martial arts action and adventure.JP: Anything else you like to add?
MW: I hope everyone gives this new book a shot. It’s just a fun ride that is meant to entertain new readers and old. It’s something that parents can read to their kids and teens can understand, enjoy and relate to. But this book is also one that you have to ask your local comic store to stock because it is not a standard Marvel or DC Entertainment comic. This is published by Action Lab Entertainment and we need the awareness that this title is out there. So ask your local retailers to order this book so they know you want it.
Anyone can always get in touch with me through facebook and join my growing Toshigawa Community to talk shop and keep up with where I’ll be.
Facebook: Key word Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa
Martheus was pretty gracious enough to include his contact info in the last question, so I won’t repeat it. Instead I’ll just say to pick up Shinobi, Ninja Princess at your local comic shop, or order it through previews. I know I’ll be picking this up. It would be worth your time to do so as well.
Before I go, if you are in the browsing mood, check out the The Watcher right here
if you enjoyed this interview. Make sure to check out my webcomic Paradigm
as well. Thanks to all who read this.