Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
First edition cover
|Author||Gary K. Wolf|
|Publisher||St. Martin’s Press|
|June 6, 1981|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Pages||214 pp (paperback edition)|
|ISBN||0-312-87001-9 (paperback edition)|
|LC Class||PS3573.O483 W5|
|Followed by||Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?|
Eddie Valiant is a hardboiled private eye, and Roger Rabbit is a second banana cartoon character. The rabbit hires Valiant to find out why his employers, the DeGreasy Brothers (Rocco and Dominic) who are owners of a cartoon syndicate, have reneged on a promise to give Roger his own strip and potentially sell his contract to a mystery buyer. Evidence shows that there was no mystery buyer and the reason Roger Rabbit remained in a secondary role was because of his lack of talent. Soon after, Roger is mysteriously murdered in his home. His speech balloon, found on the crime scene, indicates his murder was a way of "censoring" the star, who apparently had just heard someone explain the source of his success. Valiant's search for the killer takes him to a variety of suspects which includes: Roger's widow Jessica Rabbit; Roger's former co-star Baby Herman and Roger's photographer Carol Masters. Eddie Valiant then meets a doppelganger of Roger's and promises to solve the mystery of his death. At the same time, his former boss Rocco DeGreasy was also murdered and witnesses point out Roger as the killer, as he was allegedly seen fleeing the scene of the crime.
While Eddie Valiant investigates, the key suspects ask him to be on the lookout for a certain kettle in exchange for a reward. He eventually finds the kettle which was in Roger's possession and gives it to Dominic, only to find it was actually a magic lamp with a Genie, who then kills Dominic. After the Genie explains its origins (as well as the reasons for its actions) and confesses to being the one who shot Roger (he granted the unwitting Roger his first two wishes — marriage to Jessica and a comic-strip contract — but made sure both wishes fell apart within a year, out of sheer nastiness. When Roger accidentally activated the lantern a third time, the Genie killed him), Eddie Valiant defeats the Genie before holding the Genie hostage over a salt-water fish tank; salt water being its weakness. The Genie is then forced to grant a wish made by Eddie for proof of Roger's innocence which is provided in the form of a suicide letter from Dominic confessing to both Roger and Rocco DeGreasy's murders along with his own suicide. Not trusting the Genie to keep its word of letting him go and also knowing that no one would believe him about the Genie, Eddie drops the Genie's lamp into the fish tank as the salt water dissolves the Genie to nothing.
With the murderer gone now, there is but one issue left to solve: Who really killed Rocco DeGreasy? Eddie Valiant finally concludes that the murderer was the original Roger Rabbit himself, who created the doppelganger to create an alibi and murdered Rocco for stealing Jessica. He intended to plant the murder weapon at Eddie Valiant's office to make him the fall guy but was shot by the Genie when he accidentally summoned it. The doppelganger confirms the truth and confesses that he "had it planned for days". However, for clearing his name and befriending him despite what he did and tried to do afterwards, he praises Eddie for his morals (calling him "a real stand-up guy"). Roger gives Eddie a final heartfelt goodbye before disappearing.
The different covers used for the book give different impressions. The first is darker in tone and only shows a shadowed Roger from the back, while Valiant's face is unshaven. It focused on the two in a close-up with a black background. A later edition showed a cleanshaven Valiant while Roger's face was brightly shown. It was panned out and showed the city during day in the background. It also showed a speech bubble coming from Roger saying "Help! I'm stuck in a mystery of double-crossers, steamy broads, and killer cream pies." Both show author Gary K. Wolf modeling as Valiant.
Comparison to the film adaptation
Although the book features many of the same characters used in the film, some of their characteristics, as well as the basic plot, are significantly different. The novel is set in the present day and in a strange universe in which real humans and cartoon characters co-exist. The cartoons of the novel are primarily comic strip characters, as opposed to animated cartoon stars, with famous strip characters making cameos, such as Dick Tracy, Snoopy, Dagwood and Blondie Bumstead, Beetle Bailey, and Hägar the Horrible. Strips are produced by photographing cartoon characters. In this version, "toon" characters speak in word balloons which appear above their heads as they talk. Although some characters have learned to suppress this and speak vocally, the use of word balloons forms several important plot points.
In the book, the toons have the power to create duplicates of themselves as stunt doubles for risky shots. They crumble to dust in a few minutes, though Roger does create one that can last three days. When Roger is shot and killed by an unknown assailant, his doppelgänger works with the detective to solve his murder before he goes to dust. In the film, toons are more or less unkillable — except by "dip" — and, with a few exceptions, shrug off even the worst injuries.
The only lines of dialogue from the book that were re-used in the film were spoken by Baby Herman and Jessica Rabbit with Baby Herman saying "I've got a 50-year-old lust and a 3-year-old dinky" and Jessica Rabbit saying "I'm not bad, Mr. Valiant. I'm just drawn that way", though in the book, Baby Herman's actual age is given as 36.
Comparison to the spin-off
In 1991, Wolf wrote another Roger Rabbit book, Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?, but (in the form of a memo from Valiant) the book says that Roger Rabbit "and his screwball buddies play fast and loose with historical accuracy", which means that the stories do not have much continuity between each other. There is no connection between this novel and the first one, with the exception of Jessica mentioning having a dream containing the events of the first novel, retconning such as just a dream. In fact, the second book attempts to connect itself more with the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit than to the first book.[need quotation to verify]
- Sampson, Wade (December 17, 2008). "The Roger Rabbit That Never Was". MousePlanet.com. Retrieved November 6, 2009.
- Robinson, Tasha (September 12, 2008). "Book vs. Film: Who Framed Roger Rabbit". The Onion A.V. Club. Retrieved November 6, 2009.