Jide Martins

“I’ve been a geek for as long as I can remember”

Jide Martins drawing comic books
UNICEF

Jide Martins, CEO of Comic Republic in Nigeria, creates African superheroes to inspire children and pass on moral values.

Jide Martin, CEO of Comic Republic, remembers tracing every comic book that he received as a child. That’s how he started to draw. 

Young Jide would also tackle dilemmas by asking: “What would Superman do?”; and since the iconic cartoon character would always do the right thing, this also served as a moral compass.

Little did Jide know at the time that his fascination with comics was laying the foundations for something bigger later in life, but it was only after finishing school and studying law that this destiny would be realised. 

As Jide’s love of comics endured into adulthood, he noticed that the most popular movies featured superheroes.

‘I thought, “Yes! This is comic season!” This is the time I was meant for,’ recalls Jide.

Inspired to use the same superhero motif – of doing the right thing, regardless of circumstances – Jide wanted to combine his creativity and passion for comics to blaze a new trail in storytelling by using superheroes to communicate for change.

‘We don't have a lot of African superheroes, so I thought, "Why not create some?” But wasn’t just about having black heroes; it was about having heroes in general,’ Jide explains. 

His cartoon characters would reflect local cultures, familiar places and daily realities that people could identify with. After talking to like-minded creatives and sharing his idea, his concept began to come to life.

‘Comic Republic’s characters entertain, tell stories and strive to pass on moral values to this generation and the next,’ says Jide.

While the stories’ settings focus on familiar contexts – even mirroring the bus routes and buildings that people know – the characters also promote diversity and gender equality. Female characters feature prominently, as Jide believes that women should be empowered.

Igniting imagination

The comics’ effectiveness in igniting young imaginations is evident in children’s reactions to the stories.

‘A woman in charge of an orphanage sent us photographs of kids who had all dressed up as superheroes by using their bed sheets and coloured cloths. They’d also made masks from paper and painted their faces. This happened after they read our comics, because the kids wanted to be superheroes! She sent us the pictures to thank us,’ recalls Jide.

Real-life stories like this are what motivate the Comic Republic crew to keep sketching out colourful tales of triumph over adversity for both young and old.

For more information, got to: http://thecomicrepublic.com/