Sunday, August 9, 2009


Three years after the release of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" the Disney Corporation decided to "expand the franchise", "capitalize on the market", "go cross-media" or whatever MBA doublespeak they use to make crappy toys and bad spinoffs from successful films.

Some time I'll write about my childhood experience with comics -which turned me off of the format until discovering Dan Clowes "Eightball" a few months after "Roger Rabbit's Toontown" issue #1 was release in August of 1991.

The first story was drawn by John Costanza and inked by Dave Hunt. Costanza has a pedigree in comics from animated characters, Hunt did a lot Marvel Comics superheroes.

The comic book demonstrates the strengths of "Roger Rabbit" the character. Roger Rabbit is about animation. He works in the film because he is frenetic, flexible, indestructible as only certain types of animated characters can be.

Roger Rabbit is like the Platonic squash-and-stretch pratfall player.

Richard Williams' team understood this as animators, they crafted the character to exploit every trick their medium allows.

The panels above show how this doesn't translate to print.

The action lines, swallowed up by opaque white, weigh him down. The bulging eyes are more gross than comical. An animation cliché, humorous in the film, out of place on the page. Even the anthropomorphic fire hydrant, it's double take is funny if it exists in time -here it's simply crowds the frame. The eyes looking over the safe (in the previous panel the face of the safe has eyes) are a graphic nuisance which add little comedy or character in print. Even Roger's pose, it takes elements that might never exist in same frame of animation -the popped eyes, the jagged ears, the angular feet, the airborne position, the speed lines, the wagging tongue -and combines them into an awkward hold.

I think this panel is very nice. There's clear and sensitive inking. While you could complain about the overlap of the indian's finger and the thug's hat, I appreciate they didn't insist on the design-centric "no intersecting lines".

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