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  • Greg Martin (1956–2013)


    Greg Martin was the American illustrator behind much of gaming's most beloved box artwork. His illustrations graced many of the most memorable games of the early 1990s, including many Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man boxes, along with several Hanna-Barbera and Hudson Soft video game properties.

    From an early age, Greg loved drawing and loved cartoons, twin passions he carried on into adulthood and into his professional career. Fittingly, though Greg graduated from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California in 1980, he had already started his animation career at Hanna-Barbera in 1979. Greg took on projects relating to The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, and the rest of the Hanna-Barbera line-up, a dream come true to work on characters he had loved as a child. It would be no surprise that Greg later—as a freelancer—illustrated the packaging for both Hanna-Barbera VHS and video games releases—he already had perfected drawing those same characters!

    Greg’s greatest legacy comes from having illustrated some of the absolute standout Sega and Nintendo titles of the early 1990s, including several Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man boxes (identified in detail below), along with several titles in the Adventure Island series, Super Bomberman, DuckTales 2, The Flintstones: Surprise at Dinosaur Peak (and several other The Flintstones titles), several The Jetsons titles, Landstalker, Felix the Cat, and Snow Brothers. Between 1990 and 1995, Greg illustrated more than 60 boxes, along with dozens of additional images for promotional use. His first box artwork of this period was most likely Little Nemo: The Dream Master, released in September 1990. Knuckles Chaotix, released in May 1995, may have been his last of this period.  Greg’s airbrushed paintings were typically 24 to 30 inches and took nearly a week to complete.

    Pac-Man box artwork (earliest release date identified):

    1. Pac-Man (Tengen 10th Anniversary Version, NES) (1990)
    2. Pac-Man (Namco, Game Boy) (1991)
    3. Pac-Mania (Tengen, Genesis) (Sept. 1991) (Note: this cover reused the Tengen 10th Anniversary image identified above)
    4. Ms. Pac-Man (Namco, NES/Game Boy/Game Gear) (Oct. 1993)
    5. Pac-Attack (Namco, SNES/Genesis/Game Boy/Game Gear) (Oct. 1993)
    6. Pac-Man (Namco, NES) (Nov. 1993)

    Sonic the Hedgehog (and related) box artwork:

    1. Sonic the Hedgehog (Game Gear) (Dec. 1991)
    2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Genesis) (Nov. 1992)
    3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear) (Nov. 1992)
    4. Sonic Spinball (Genesis) (Nov. 1993)
    5. Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Nov. 1993)
    6. Sonic Chaos (Game Gear, Nov. 1993)
    7. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (Genesis/Game Gear) (Dec. 1993)
    8. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (Genesis) (Feb. 1994)
    9. Sonic Spinball (Game Gear) (Sept. 1994) changes to Robotnik design
    10. Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (Game Gear) (Nov. 1994)
    11. Knuckles Chaotix (32X) (May 1995)

    While game enthusiasts and art collectors have come to know Greg's name through his extensive work illustrating Sonic the Hedgehog and his 1990-1995 oeuvre, his earliest game works were for UMI-published games for the Vic-20 console in 1981 and 1982, which he signed "Martin" or "G. Martin" in an early block-signature style. Among the boxes Greg illustrated for UMI, Amok and Super Amok both included visual references to his own favorite artist, Frank Frazetta, with the female figure in the Super Amok artwork in particular referencing Frank's method of rendering hair in motion. Greg was the rare person who both worked in and was a fan of the work of others in his industry, himself a collector of art books, movies, comic books, comic strips and comic art. Indeed, Greg used his very first paycheck from professional illustration to get in contact with Ellie Frazetta and negotiate the purchase of the original artwork for one of Frank's Johnny Comet strips! Greg never lost the sense of wonder he had as a teenager for really great artwork.

    Beyond his work for games, Greg illustrated scores of VHS boxes, beginning around 1985. Typically, but not always, these were cartoon properties, such as Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, many of the Hanna-Barbera properties such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons, and many others. Greg’s Thundercats boxes were among his earliest VHS work; he illustrated almost the entire line.   He also illustrated approximately 50 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles VHS boxes alone.  While cartoons were Greg’s bread and butter, he dabbled in other genres, including horror, having done most of the box artwork for the Thriller Video releases hosted by Elvira; Greg was proud to have met Elvira / Cassandra Peterson at the time.

    Fun fact: fellow illustrator Lee MacLeod and Greg Martin were best friends in real life. What’s one game box you probably didn’t know was by Greg Martin? The Game Boy release of Milon’s Secret Castle.  Another surprise: Greg’s last known illustration for games came in 2002, with the Game Boy Advance release of Lilo & Stitch.

    Greg passed away on May 21, 2013.  Following his passing, a tribute thread on NintendoAge detailing Greg’s life and box art credits was the most viewed thread on the site, with the information having been picked up by dozens if not hundreds of websites reporting game-related material.

    OVGA has included below Greg Martin's full known box art catalog:

    1. Alien Blitz (UMI | Vic-20 | 1981)
    2. Amok (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    3. Arachnoid (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    4. Cloudburst (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    5. Outworld (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    6. Satellites and Meteorites! (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    7. Skibbereen (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    8. Sub Chase (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    9. Super Amok (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    10. Video Vermin (UMI | Vic-20 | 1982)
    11. Amazing Penguin (Natsume | Game Boy | 1990)
    12. Little Nemo: The Dream Master (Capcom | NES | 1990)
    13. Pac-Man (Tengen 10th Anniversary Version) (Tengen | NES | 1990)
    14. Atomic Punk (Hudson Soft | Game Boy | 1991)
    15. Marvel Land (Namco | Genesis | 1991)
    16. Pac-Man (Namco | Game Boy | 1991)
    17. Pac-Mania (Tengen | Genesis | 1991) Repeat art of Pac-Man 10th Anniversary
    18. Shining In The Darkness (Sega | Genesis | 1991)
    19. Snow Brothers (Capcom | Game Boy, NES | 1991)
    20. Toxic Crusaders (Sega | Genesis | 1991) Not NES
    21. Woody Pop (Sega | Game Gear | 1991)
    22. Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega | Game Gear | 1991) Not Genesis
    23. Adventure Island (Hudson Soft | Game Boy | 1992)
    24. Adventure Island 3 (Hudson Soft | NES | 1992)
    25. Felix the Cat (Hudson Soft | Game Boy, NES | 1992)
    26. Super Adventure Island (Hudson Soft | SNES | 1992)
    27. The Jetsons: Cogswell's Caper! (Taito | NES | 1992)
    28. The Jetsons: Robot Panic (Taito | Game Boy | 1992)
    29. Landstalker (Sega | Genesis | 1992)
    30. Taz-Mania (Sega  | Game Gear, Genesis | 1992)
    31. Whirlo (Namco | SNES-EUR | 1992)
    32. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega | Genesis | 1992)
    33. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega | Game Gear | 1992) Different game/art
    34. Bonk's Adventure (Hudson Soft | Game Boy | 1992)
    35. Adventure Island II: Aliens in Paradise (Hudson Soft | Game Boy | 1993)
    36. Cartoon Carnival (Philips Media | CDi | 1993)
    37. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (Sega  | Game Gear, Genesis | 1993)
    38. DuckTales 2 (Capcom | Game Boy, NES | 1993)
    39. The Flintstones (Taito | Genesis | 1993)
    40. The Flintstones: King Rock Treasure Island (Taito | Game Boy | 1993)
    41. Inspector Gadget (Hudson Soft | SNES | 1993)
    42. Milon's Secret Castle (Hudson Soft | Game Boy | 1993)
    43. Ms. Pac-Man (Namco) (Namco | Game Boy, Game Gear, NES | 1993)
    44. Pac-Man (Namco) (Namco | Game Gear, NES | 1993)
    45. Pocky & Rocky (Natsume  | SNES | 1993)
    46. Speedy Gonzales (Sunsoft | Game Boy | 1993)
    47. Super Bomberman (Hudson Soft | SNES | 1993)
    48. Tom & Jerry: The Movie (Sega | Game Gear | 1993)
    49. Sonic Spinball (Sega | Genesis | 1993)
    50. Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega  | Sega CD | 1993)
    51. Time Gal (Renovation | Sega CD | 1993)
    52. Sonic Chaos (Sega | Game Gear | 1993)
    53. Sonic Spinball (Sega | Game Gear | 1993) changes to Robotnik design
    54. Bonk's Adventure (Hudson Soft | NES | 1993) Repeat art
    55. Pac-Attack (Namco | Game Boy, Game Gear, Genesis, SNES | 1994)
    56. Adventures of Yogi Bear (Cybersoft | SNES | 1994)
    57. Aero the Acro-Bat 2 (Sunsoft | SNES | 1994)
    58. Aero the Acro-Bat 2 (Sunsoft | Genesis | 1994) Separate painting from SNES
    59. Desert Speedtrap starring Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote (Sega | Game Gear | 1994)
    60. Disney's Aladdin (Sega | Game Gear | 1994) Not Genesis
    61. The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak! (Taito | NES | 1994)
    62. The Flintstones: The Treasure of Sierra Madrock (Taito | SNES | 1994)
    63. The Jetsons: Invasion of the Planet Pirates (Taito | SNES | 1994)
    64. Pocky & Rocky 2 (Natsume | SNES | 1994)
    65. Super Bonk (Hudson Soft | SNES | 1994)
    66. Taz In Escape From Mars (Sega | Game Gear, Genesis | 1994)
    67. Yogi Bear's Gold Rush (GameTek | Game Boy | 1994)
    68. Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (Sega | Genesis | 1994)
    69. Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble (Sega | Game Gear | 1994)
    70. Speedy Gonzales: Los Gatos Bandidos (Sunsoft | SNES | 1994)
    71. Turbo Toons a.k.a. Hanna Barbera's Turbo Toons (Empire | SNES | 1994) Europe only release
    72. Cheese Cat-Astrophe starring Speedy Gonzales (Sega | Game Gear | 1995)
    73. Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions (Sunsoft | Game Boy | 1994) Not SNES
    74. Knuckles Chaotix (Sega | 32X | 1995)
    75. The Great Counting Caper with The 3 Blind Mice (Thinking Cap | Sega Pico | 1995)
    76. Adventures in Letter Land with Jack & Jill (Thinking Cap | Sega Pico | 1995)
    77. Disney's Lilo & Stitch (Disney Interactive | Game Boy Advance | 2002)

    Note on misattribution: While Greg Martin did illustrate the 1994 Game Boy box for Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions, the SNES release in 1993 is not Greg's work. Similarly, though Greg is responsible for the box artwork for Super Bomberman, Greg confirmed that Bomberman II (NES) was not his illustration.

    Separately, the original artwork for the Super Nintendo release of Pirates of Dark Water is a collector-owned piece; while the painting differs in execution from much of Greg Martin's airbrushed box art, it is believed to be Greg's work, though it was not obtained directly from Greg and cannot be confirmed. Given the uncertainly, Pirates of Dark Water (SNES) has not been included in the above list. Greg Martin did not illustrate the Genesis release of the game.  

    Greg Martin

    Greg Martin (1956–2013)
    Born: October 14, 1956
    Died: May 21, 2013 (aged 56)
    Nationality: American
    Education: ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California (1980)
    Known For : Sonic the Hedgehog series
    Years Active: 1981–2002

    Additional Images

    Greg Martin's Website
    As signed on Alien Blitz (1981)
    As signed on Super Amok (1982)

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    OVGA has newly identified Hanna Barbera's Turbo Toons (European SNES exclusive) as a Greg Martin box art; this title has been added to the box art catalog in his bio above.

    Turbo Toons2.jpg

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    With credit to @VgDensetsu, OVGA has removed the Sonic & Knuckles logo from Greg Martin's box art catalog. That logo was the work of Tom Nikosey, working for designer Garrett Burke: 


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    OVGA has updated Greg Martin's box art catalog to include two Sega Pico games: The Great Counting Caper with The 3 Blind Mice and Adventures in Letter Land with Jack & Jill.

    The original painting for The Great Counting Caper with The 3 Blind Mice has been listed on Heritage Auctions, and OVGA subsequently identified Adventures in Letter Land with Jack & Jill from the same publisher and year as also having been Greg Martin's work.

    Thinking Cap - Jack and Jill.jpg

    Thinking Cap - Three Blind Mice.jpg

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