Interview: Rodney Alan Greenblat

If you’re a fan of PaRappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy, or even Thunder Bunny, then you’re familiar with some of Mr. Greenblat’s work. Having worked on the visual style of the former, he is known all over for providing some of the whimsical characters many of us grew up with through the PlayStation era. Now, another of the titles he’s graced with his unique touch is about to be released: Major Minor’s Majestic March. Molotov Cupcake was lucky enough for Mr. Greenblat to answer a few short questions about his work and his legacy. Hit the jump for the first official Spawn Kill interview with Rodney Alan Greenblat.

Molotov: Where do you draw inspiration for most of your art used in gaming?

Rodney: Working on a big video game team is a big collaboration. I have to listen to what the team leaders and publisher wants, and I have to listen to my own imagination too. The inspirations spread out like peanut butter and jelly on fresh bread. Without jelly, it would get stuck in your mouth. Without peanut butter it would be an unpopular jelly sandwich. Without bread, well that would just be a mess. The peanut butter comes from the game creator and production team, the jelly from my many years experience as an artist, and the fresh bread from the publisher. Delicious!

Molotov: Major Minor’s Majestic March seems to focus on a band dynamic. Is this true, and were you hoping to do work on another game similar to mascot conventions, like Parappa and Lammy?

Rodney: Actually we were not trying to make anything similar. Matsuura and I always want to make something very unusual. I love mascots and I love conventions, so if mascot conventions appear that is just because of my love.

Molotov: Who are some of your favorite artists? Who do you look up to?

Rodney: I own my whole great abilities to many of the genius artists of past-present, and the colorful TV world that was beamed into my eyes as I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. To mention a very small few:

Pablo Picasso: He beats the world with heart mind ego power.
Wasilly Kandinsky: He searches for the spiritual in abstraction.
Henri Matisse: He loosens up the color and forms.
Jackson Pollack: He beats Picasso.
Calder and Miro: Make living lines and soaring forms.
Phillip Guston; Crushing cartoons expose the breakdown.
David Hockney: More playful.
Elizabeth Murray: Weird and wonderful.

On TV:

Jay Ward: Bullwinkle and Quisp
Japan: Ultraman and Speed Racer
Mr. Rogers: Kindness, patience and understanding.
And I want to thank my wife Deena Lebow, all my inspiring teachers and Buddha.

Molotov: Can you divulge any details about Major Minor for us? Perhaps a bit of insight into the story?

Rodney: It is a story of an average boy cat whose comes from a prestigious family of great marching band drum majors. Suddenly for unknown reasons, he realizes he must own up to the family legacy and try to become the greatest marching band leader himself. Unfortunately he isn’t very clever or talented, but fortunately his best friend a blue teddy bear, and the spirit of his great great grandmother is there to help him.

Molotov: I’m a big fan of Dazzeloids (Note: Dazzeloids was one of Rodney’s earlier works, created specifically for children – get more info here). Are you planning on any sort of revival for kids these days to enjoy?

Rodney: I would love to put Dazzeloids on the web for all to see. Unfortunately it is a lot of work because it was written with old versions of software called “Director” on old Macintoshes. I need to find some genius person to open all the old source files and them make them work on the contemporary internet. I also have to afford to pay that genius person some money! If anyone out there feels up to doing this… send me a message!

Molotov: When you worked on PaRappa, did you realize that the music genre would become so widely appreciated in the gaming industry today?

Rodney: No, I had no idea.

Molotov: Who’s your favorite character to have devised?

Rodney: I used to say PJ Berri, but now I am leaning more towards Thunder Bunny. I have a new Thunder Bunny book and new Thunder Bunny products coming out in Japan (Spring 2009) and I think there may be a big new interest in Thunder Bunny in Japan.

Molotov: Can we expect any more forays into gaming after Major Minor?

Rodney: If Major Minor is a big hit – definitely. If not – probably.

Molotov: For aspiring artists, do you have any advice?

Rodney: For artists who want to get into the video game scene: Get jobs at game publishing companies. Work your way up from making coffee to head of a production team, all the while make tons of character drawings and weird worlds. Then make your own genius genre-breaking game.

For artists who want to make it in the fine art scene:  go to art graduate school (Yale would be best) and then forget everything they teach you. Go to a lonely studio and work from your guts.

For illustrators, animators and comic artists: Learn how to give publishers everything they ask for, but ALWAYS surprise them too. Do this over and over again forever.

Inspiring and insightful words from “Musho” Greenblat! We’d like to thank Mr. Greenblat for his time. For more information on him and all of his work, you can check out Whimsyload, his personal website.

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