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January 6, 2014 posted by Jerry Beck

Greg Martin (1956-2013)

greatest-cartoons600

It has just come to my attention that animation artist Greg Martin has passed away. You may not know his name – but I’ll bet you have some of his art in your bookcase, on your video shelf or in the box where you store your video games.

I met Greg after he was hired by Turner Publishing to paint the cover of my book The 50 Greatest Cartoons (1994). It turned out to be one of his dream jobs – because, like all of us, he loved the classic cartoons with a passion and was living his dream: being paid to masterfully illustrate video boxes, book covers, and packaging featuring Bugs Bunny, Felix The Cat, Fred Flintstone and Mickey Mouse.

Greg graduated in 1980 from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena but had already started his animation career at Hanna Barbera in 1979. He worked as a production designer and layout artist on everything from The World’s Greatest Superfriends and Scooby Doo to The Smurfs and Pac-Man. He also freelanced for other studios (on everything from Disney’s The Black Cauldron to Henson’s Muppet Babies).

Beginning in 1986, Greg began his freelance career – doing illustration work for a variety of clients, including Warner Bros., Disney, Sony, Sega, Saban, Universal and on and on… He has a cult following for all the packaging artwork he created for Flintstones and Jetsons video games, Bonk’s Adventure, all of the early Sonic the Hedgehog and DuckTales games. For images of his video box art, click here.

We weren’t close friends I’m sorry to admit – but we hooked up several times at Comic Con and Cinecon where Greg was an enthusiastic collector of films, books on artists, comics and movie memorabilia. The last time we hung out was at Cinecon in 2012. We sat together during an interview with actress Phyllis Coates – he even snapped a photo of me and Ms. Coates.

He was 57 at the time of his passing, last May – and I do not know the cause of death. His passing was only just reported this past Saturday on the Nintendo Age Forums as well as several other gaming sites.

He was an amazing talent and sure to be missed. Below is a small sampling – the tip of the iceberg – of the images he created. How many do you have?

looney-tunes-assorted guffaw-and-order jetsons-gm600 Greg-martin1 greg-martin2 gre-martin-speedy

5 Comments

  • This is a shock. I worked with Greg in the layout department at H-B and later, bought a few of his FLINTSTONES video box illustrations. As you say, he was a good guy with a lot of enthusiasm and I always enjoyed running into Greg at Comic-Con. In an age when most package art for cartoon characters suck, Greg’s — as well as that of Todd Schorr — were the only ones that had an inner sparkle of LIFE to them beneath their finely-rendered exteriors. R.I.P., Greg.

  • I love the drawings of Judy and Jane Jetson. Very interesting change from the regular models.

  • As someone who has been into cartoons and video games since I was three, it’s quite saddening to hear this.

  • Greg did a great job on that 50 Greatest Cartoons cover. Back in those days, Turner Publishing used to choose some of the “more artistic” covers from their newest offerings and print up full sized posters, which they gave away as free promotional materials for the books. I still have that 50 Greatest Cartoons poster framed on my wall, all these years later.

  • What is the “Meet George Jetson²” artwork from?

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