Greg Martin, Creator of Sonic the Hedgehog Video Game Cover, Dies at 57 | Fanboys Anonymous

Greg Martin, Creator of Sonic the Hedgehog Video Game Cover, Dies at 57

Posted by SirenaFeniks Thursday, January 23, 2014
On January 3, 2014, news broke that Greg Martin, the artist behind such seminal works of video game cover art as Sonic the Hedgehog, Bomberman, Pac-Man, and others, had passed away in May of 2013. Bronty (the nickname of the person who posted the message on the Nintendo Age forum), stated that Martin was:
"Incredibly friendly and an excellent conversationalist... He had a gift for conversation and for making you comfortable in speaking with him. We shared an appreciation for many illustrators, comic artists, and fine artists and would pretty much discuss them endlessly on the phone. I admired his deep knowledge of artists and illustrators."
Many fans will recognize Martin's work from his '90s video game cover art. Martin created all of the Sonic covers of the '90s and was responsible for giving Sonic and Tails their distinctive features. A sample of his work is posted below, more of which can be found at the Nintendo Age Forum:

Greg Martin's Shining in the Darkness and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Boxart  Greg Martin's Sketch of Sonic the HedgehogGreg Martin's Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Artwork

Greg Martin's Artwork for Sega's Landstalker
Martin began his career at the Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio. He worked on features such as The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Duck Tales. After his career at Hanna-Barbera, Martin moved on to draw for Nintendo and Sega. At that point in time, video games were still 16-bit and the artwork was still airbrushed rather than digitally rendered, as shown to the right and below:

Sega's The Flintstones Cover Created by Greg MartinSega's Taz Mania Cover by Greg Martin

At the height of 16-bit consoles, there were so many game covers with Greg Martin's signature style that it is safe to say my generation took his work for granted. For the first time, many players identified with the unmistakably colorful styles of Nintendo and Sega characters. If there was one thing these rival companies had in common, it was the increased shelf life a good game cover could give a release. Greg Martin may not have been celebrated among gamers at the time, but it is safe to say that Martin was responsible for the golden age of video game art. 

Looking at his work above, we can see the finer details of the effort he took in creating fully-fleshed characters in an era with no digital equipment to photoshop or play around with. Martin did everything by hand and only used slight airbrushing. Martin is the reason that video games of the '90s are remembered so vividly and ingrained in our memories. Rest assured he is one of the cornerstones of the video game industry. We at Fanboys Anonymous lament his passing.

You may share your memories about Martin's works of art and what you think about them below. 

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