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Rising Stars: Meet Martheus and Janet Wade of Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Martheus and Janet Wade.

Hi Martheus and Janet, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Janet and I met in a summer creative writing class at the University of Memphis in college. Iwas already developing my comic book, Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa and she helped me to refine it in. I self published my first book from the series for my Senior Problem Presentation in 1998 and soon got a publishing deal with Shooting Star Comics shortly afterwards. We soon begin our own studio called MAW Productions and began publishing Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa ourselves, branching into an all-ages spinoff book titled Shinobi: Ninja Princess. That book was picked up and distributed by Scholastic in schools all over America. Kids love it and we have continued to publish the continuing stories as well as relaunched Jetta with new art and additional story.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The road has been anything but smooth. I am from a part of Memphis that was not all that great and being a black male wanting to do comics was going against the grain. Finding out information on “how-to-do” anything before the internet was on a strictly need-to-know basis. And I wasn’t on that list of people that needed to know. However, I had perseverance. I just wanted it badly. So what I learned was by trial and error. Janet was born in Okinawa, Japan, and moved from there to the MidSouth at a young age. While we loved comics and manga, both of us where new to pop culture, the business practices and, at sometimes, prejudices that accompany getting into this line of work. When Janet and I got married, no one was really hiring. My profession is graphic design and trying to get employers to take me seriously was next to impossible it seemed. It wasn’t until some of my friends who had made it into the industry invited me to conventions and I saw the possibilities of building my own thing, that I really started to move in this direction. However, money was always tight and we had to figure out how to get projects done, set up at conventions and distribute books without breaking the bank. Through all of the changes in the industry, as well as having a son, we have managed to persevere and thrive.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
We take pride in our books being fun adventures that harken back to the days of Saturday morning cartoons. However, we have books and stories for all readers. Shinobi: Ninja Princess is an all-ages book while Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa is a young adult book. We blend traditional American comic book trappings with manga and anime stylings. I am a second degree black belt and have been training Janet in Kickboxing since we have been married. So, that martial arts influence is prevalent in all of our books. My son and I are working on two books together that are also martial arts based. We love the fact that we are a family of creatives and that we can share that love of art with our son, Anakin!

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
As mostly indy artists and publishers, we depend a lot on the support of our website, our online store and social media platforms. While our books are in most stores in the Memphis and surrounding area, we see the most support when readers visit our site and online store. We love the one-on-one interaction and direct responses. We also have a YouTube show that highlights our artistic family. We also review movies and play video games together as well as have art demos and tutorials. Joining our Community online helps us tremendously and we are always answering questions, doing demos and signing comics to send out to readers. Below is a list of our contacts:

Facebook: @Toshigawa Universe
Instagram: @Toshigawa Universe
TikTok: @Toshigawa Universe

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Photos by Press Pause Photography

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