Who Censored Roger Rabbit?
First edition cover
|Author||Gary K. Wolf|
|Publisher||St. Martin’s Press|
|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 hard-boiled private eye, and Roger Rabbit is a second-banana cartoon character. The rabbit hires Valiant to find out why his employers, the DeGreasy Brothers, the owners of a cartoon syndicate, have reneged on a promise to give Roger his own strip. 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, including Roger's widow Jessica Rabbit and his former co-star Baby Herman. Roger's duplicate, who is used as a stunt double, has only a few days to live.
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."
Comparison to the film
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 a couple of 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 was re-used in the film was 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.