The creator of iconic box art that included Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Bonk's Adventures, and Bomberman II died last May.
CVG broke the story after an obituary from one of Martin's friends appeared on the Nintendo Age forums. Head over to the full forum thread to pay your respects and view collections of the artist's work. It appears that a combination of factors contributed to keeping this news from being reported earlier. However, the primary reason appears to be because box art illustrators aren't always credited for their work and the friend who started the thread commemorating Martin's work didn't know about Martin's death until recently.
As a kid growing up during a time when the internet was in its infancy and video game journalism was pretty much unheard of outside of Nintendo Power (to which I never had a subscription), box art meant a lot. There is the old adage to never judge a book by its cover, but when it came to video games that was often the only way to decide whether to purchase, or more often times rent, a game. There were precious few reviews to be had other than word-of-mouth or whatever could be gleaned from Funcoland employees.
Box art was what sold you on a game as a kid. It fueled your imagination for what the game would be like and also helped you visualize what was going on in-game. It made the difference between watching a tiny collection of pixels hop around a colorful screen and knowing that sprite was a swashbuckling duck in search of adventure and treasure. Part of the fun of playing a game was exercising your imagination and envisioning what was happening on the screen as being more real than it appeared. Box art helped give those imaginings direction. Whether he knew it or not, Greg Martin's work helped generations of people fall in love with video games.
I used to wonder where the art on video game boxes came from, who made it, if it was ever intended to be the face of the game, etc. I didn't know Mr. Martin's name until today. I didn't know that he worked for years as an illustrator at Hanna-Barbera, the animation company behind the Flinstones, Jetsons, Yogi Bear, and Scooby-Doo. I didn't know that he worked with Jack Kirby and Seth McFarlane. There are tons of things that I don't know about Greg Martin and will never have the opportunity to know. However, I do know that he spent many sleepless nights working on images that defined my early years and helped make my life a happier one.
Many people might not know it, but Greg Martin had a hand in shaping our childhoods and I, for one, am sorry to see him go.
Here's to you, Greg. Thank you.