Puffy design genius

Much of the whimsical designs that featured on early Puffy record releases were down to the talents of illustrator Rodney Alan Greenblat. The US-based artist is probably best known for his work on the classic game Parappa The Rapper as well as a variety of other characters including Thunder Bunny and Wonder Mew.

His work has a very distinctive and colourful style that captures the imagination and he continues to work via his studio in New York, The Center For Advanced Whimsy. J-Pop Go was fortunate to be able to conduct a brief interview with Rodney.

How did you start doing work with Puffy?

At that time (1996) I was working for Sony in Japan designing cute characters for products and video games. The management of the newly formed Puffy was friends with the management of the group I was working for. Everyone was happy with the idea of combining Puffy with Rodney and creating a super friendly pop phenomenon.

Did Ami and Yumi have any input into the design work?

Yes. Although Puffy’s excellent management came up with most of the over-all concepts, Ami and Yumi’s funny ideas were incorporated into some of the designs. I tried my best to get everybody’s ideas into the designs.

Thunder Bunny and Wonder Mew were Puffy’s mascots. Were these characters originally designed exclusively for Puffy?

Thunder Bunny was already on the market at the time as cute products, and Ami was a fan of Thunder Bunny. Yumi wanted her own character based on her pet cat, so the Sony management asked me for some sketches, and somehow we all came up with Wonder Mew.

Do you think there’s a chance you will do more work for Puffy in the future?

There is no plan at this time, but I have a feeling Puffy and Thunder Bunny will become “retro” and have a come-back in a few years.

Is there any Puffy sleeve design that’s a particular favourite?

There were two singles where the art went together to form one image. Puffy was on motor scooters and also piloting a flying saucer that was shooting a love beam, transforming the grey city into a happy Rodney town.

Do you have a favourite Puffy song?

I like the song with the race car sounds from Jet.

Are there any other musicians and artists you would like to do work with?

I’d like to do an album cover for Yes.

J-Pop Go gives its warmest thanks to Rodney Alan Greenblat

This interview originally appeared in issue 1 of the J-Pop Go magazine