A revolution was about to begin. Although many had written animation off as dead, this amazing medium was about to make a dramatic comeback. Richard Williams had been secured to direct the animated segments of the innovative new motion picture “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” Williams’ animation team would be headquartered in the UK while the live-action unit filmed locations around Hollywood before joining the rest of the team in London.
One morning our Disney team enjoyed breakfast at Steven Speilberg’s nifty facility on the Universal studio lot. It was my first visit to Steven’s movie headquarters. Because of its Spanish Mediterranean design we often referred to the facility as, Taco Bell. However, the successful filmmaker spared no expense and we were soon ushered into a plush screening room that resembled an old fashioned, opulent movie palace. We heard an exciting pitch and had the opportunity to view some test footage. It was clear this surprise collaboration of Disney and Speilberg was about to create something truly special. I remember speaking with animator, Andreas Deja in the studio parking lot. He was about to head to the U.K. and the Richard Williams Studio. I truly wanted to come along because I knew something amazing was about to happen in our wonderful world of animation.
Because our publishing group would be preparing several books and magazines based on the motion picture, I continually received material from both the live-action shoot and the Richard Williams Studio in the U.K. Before long, I had a wealth of material, much of it was really cool behind the scenes stuff that I knew Disney fans would love. After going through the stack of material on my desk I soon realized I had the makings of an amazing behind the scenes look on the creation of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up so I took the idea to our publishing boss, Michael Lynton. “There are Disney fans out there who would go nuts for a book like this,” I pleaded. “This is a making of book that truly needs to be done.” My pitch fell on deaf ears, however. Lynton didn’t see any possible need for a “Making of Roger Rabbit” book. Oh well, I guess the boss knew best. Today, Michael is the big boss of Sony and I’m hardly running any major studios, am I?
Of course, when “Who Framed Roger Rabbit was finally released it was a huge hit for both Steven Speilberg and the Walt Disney Company. The odd collaboration seemed to work out just fine …until it finally didn’t. Here’s a look at one of our publications based on the motion picture. It’s a pretty cool graphic novel adapted by Don Ferguson, penciled and inked by Dan Spiegle and Daan Jippes. It was published in several languages and I remembered being able to provide foreign language additions to the many Disney fans who attended the San Diego Comic Con that year. I still regret we were never able to publish a making of Roger Rabbit book. Then again, Disney executives are far wiser than I am, wouldn’t you say?