Green-Grey Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with or haven’t seen the Green-Grey Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles in a long time – you are in for a great next few days as we unveil digital downloads including Turtle Soup, NEVER before see sushi toy designs, a new updated GSST story, original artwork, fantastic prints and portfolios and a celebration of the March 30, 1990 release of the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

– enjoy this fun read detailing GSST creator Mark Martin and Kevin Eastman’s early collaborations

Serving Turtles with a Twist

Leeds artist creates the official parody of famous foursome

By Bryan Crowson
News staff writer
The Birmingham News
Wednesday, March 6, 1991

Four talking turtles have hidden in the sewer beneath the “Popeel” TV marketing development labs, where they learned “to use and master” the full line of quality Popeel products for the home.

One turtle, master of the “Pocket Fisher-dude,” reels in villains. The second, master of the “Dude-L-Loom,” snares villains in woven scarves.

The third is master of the “Clapster” – clap on, clap off. The fourth is master of “Master Microphone.” He attacks the villain by shouting with ear-splitting volume through the microphone: “Hey, good lookin’, I’ll be back to pick ya up later!”

If these Green-Grey Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles sound like a slightly weirder version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that’s because they’re supposed to. Cartoonist Mark Martin created them in his quiet home, across the street from a cemetery in Leeds.

The Sushi Turtles are the official parody of the Ninja Turtles. Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman liked Martin’s work on the parody and other comics so much, he offered the Leeds artist a job at his new company, Tundra Publishing in Massachusetts.

Since June, Martin has been production manager for the company, and he’s enjoying success on a half-shell.

Martin, 35, decided to seriously pursue a career in comic art when he was 30. The self-taught artist had been making a living in the “pain-in-the-neck work” of commercial art when he shifted to comics.

“I got up off my butt and did it,” he said in an interview with The News two years ago. “It was a mid-life crisis: ‘If I’m ever going to do it, now’s the time.'”

Martin drew his own success story on a drawing board set on his dining room table in Leeds.

He met Eastman several years ago at a cartoonists’ convention in Kentucky, and that association led to Martin creating three Ninja Turtle comic books.

“I’d seen some of Mark’s work. I’d seen an issue of Gnat Rat (Martin’s Batman parody) and was blown away” Eastman said in a telephone interview from his Massachusetts office.

Eastman and Peter Laird created the Turtles in December 1983, and the first issue was May 1984.

Eastman said Martin’s “technical ability and storytelling was breathtaking…  I immediately wanted to do some work with Mark with the Turtles. He did Turtles No. 16. He produced the whole thing – when he turned it in, it was a finished book. We got a real good response from the fans to Mark’s book… We asked Mark to do a couple more issues. He did Turtles books 22 and 23.”

Martin’s versions of the now – famous Ninja Turtles were distinctly different, Eastman said. Martin has a more “cartoony style” than normally seen in the Turtles comics

“They’re drawn in a more exaggerated way. Mark would get expressions and movements that sort of pushed the limits of believability to the extreme. They did things in Mark’s books that they couldn’t do in anybody else’s books. It’s incredibly humorous and far-fetched. Mark’s got a natural knack for doing that. And the stories were well-involved – it wasn’t just slap-stick comedy.

“Around the time of Turtles No. 23, the first Turtles movie came out, Mirage (publisher of the Turtles) was doing the official movie adaptation. Because of Mark’s great sense of humor, we asked him if he would do a full-blown movie parody. What he came up with…” Eastman recalled, pausing to chuckle.

“My girlfriend April, who was the inspiration for the comic character, can attest to this. I was 15 pages into Mark’s parody and literally had tears in my face, I was laughing so hard.”

The Green-Grey, Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles was published by Mirage Studios.

Two years ago, Martin said that his “twisted sense of humor” gave his work distinction. “The degree of success I’ve earned is probably because of the goofy humor. That’s the compliment I get most: ‘I actually laughed out loud,’ ” he said then.

After Eastman laughed out loud, he offered Martin a job.

“When I was putting together Tundra Publishing (Eastman’s own company), I needed somebody with the knowledge to do a wide range of things. I wasn’t sure if I could get him, taking him from his home in Leeds. But he was interested in a change. It took six months of negotiating and begging and pleading,” he said.

Martin his wife, Jeannie, and son, Brigham, moved to Massachusetts in June.

“He (Eastman) knew about my background in advertising,” Martin said. “he knew I could do that job, and that’s why he offered it to me and I took it.”

Martin oversees the publishing of comics by a variety of creators, including himself. He recently published a book called 20 Nude Dancers 20, a collection of a year’s worth of his comic strips of that name that appear in Comics Buyer’s Guide. In it he satirizes things such as self-appointed censorship groups, Barbie dolls, comic fans and cartoonists, including himself.

“The strip is satire or commentary, usually having to do with comics. Sometimes it’s a strip, sometimes a giant panel, sometimes an article with artwork. They always have to do with comics, comic collecting, or controversy of the time, like censorship. The only character that keeps appearing in there regularly is a caricature of myself,” Martin said.

That caricature – a manic, elfin image of Martin with his long hair and glasses – may seem unlike the soft-spoken man at his drawing board, until you get to know him better.

Eastman said, “He’s a very quiet almost shy person until you get to know him. He’s continually surprising you with the things he can do and his abilities.”

Martin said he enjoys his work at Tundra, and he continues to take on new challenges. After years of drawing comics with adult-level humor, Martin is turning his talent toward children’s story books.

“I just started on a new book, a children’s book. It will take a year to finish. That;s one of my goals,” he said.

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