The Artist's Apprentice

My Personal Tribute to Greg Martin
January 20, 2014
In this crazy fast, information-driven world I can't believe that sometimes things can still slip through the cracks. I'll admit, I'm usually one of the first people up on the news, as my job requires me to get up at the ass-crack of dawn and get to work, where I sit and do nothing for a few hours wandering aimlessly on the internet. I found out about this site through that aimless wandering, as I also find out some bad news a few days too late, which is interesting because all of us found out close to a year too late. Greg Martin, an artist I'm sure most of us are very familiar with and don't even know his name, passed away in May of 2013. It was only through a friend of his breaking the news on the Nintendo Age Forums did anyone hear the news, and it's sure caused some ripples for nostalgia fans in the past few days.

This one image alone cements his status as a legend. I have my own sketch I did of this, at age 10.

I mean, it's all over the internet. Type in "Greg Martin art" on Google and the entire first few pages are articles dedicated to the guy, so why on earth should someone like me write another article praising his work? Do we really need another big kid sharing his memories of how much Martin's art meant to him? The answer is of course no, but I can't help myself. His illustrations are stuck into my subconscious forever, and I feel the only way for me to pay him proper tribute is to share what his art meant to me and how it's affected my life. I'll keep this short, don't worry.

It's funny, sometimes you forget things that were so important to you as a child while at the same time remembering other things you thought were equally as important. I can remember vividly watching cartoons like "The Real Ghostbusters" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," as can a lot of us that grew up in the late 80's and early 90's, but I completely forgot just how much I used to draw.

VHS box art from TMNT's "Hot Rodding Teenagers From Dimension X." (1987)
From as far back as my memory can go, I've always enjoyed drawing pictures. My dad would draw little doodles for me growing up, and I used to want to be a comic book artist more than anything. I remember now having tons of sketchbooks (long since thrown out) I would doodle in all day long, constantly mimicking the styles of Jack Kirby and Todd McFarlane. I took them to school and frequently got into trouble for drawing X-Men ripoffs when I should've been paying attention to math lessons (other kids in my class even made fun of me for drawing everything with exaggerated muscles). I wish I had some of these drawings on hand, but I live 500 miles from where I grew up and I'm sure none of you would want to see them anyways.

I will say I sketched Taz from this cover a couple of times, with varying degrees of success.

When I graduated from high school, I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design to pursue a degree in graphic design. I found that I worked a lot better with layout than I did with illustrating, and as much as I loved drawing, it was never my strong suit. Still I can't help but think that my life probably would have turned out much different if it weren't for Greg Martin capturing my imagination with his colorful, cartoony illustrations. I had forgotten most of them or taken them for granted my entire life, just figuring they were drawn by someone from Sega, or someone from Capcom, or someone who worked on the TMNT cartoon. I guess I didn't realize that veteran illustrators like Martin often worked for several different companies instead of one studio (although Martin did get his start at Hanna-Barbera).

Soooooooo good.

On a final note, perhaps it's fitting and a bit ironic I just received this game in the mail yesterday. Previously unaware of the knowledge of his passing and completely unaware of who did the cover art before stumbling upon it by accident, it's of no surprise to me now because of its' distinctive style. I'm sure Greg Martin didn't care that I never really knew who had drawn all of those images, so burned into my brain after all these years. What I'm not sure of is if he knew how his art affected lots of kids just like me.
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