There's this one quote I keep repeating because it perfectly describes life under capitalism; it came from a 1990s issue of TV Guide, in a piece written by columnist Joe Queenan:
"We are doomed to be
beaten over the head
by anything we express interest in
until well after we lose interest."
Rare is the hit that doesn't come with a follow-up, and rare is the follow-up that has a point beyond milking the original. Most iconic movies that are still loved today have a string of sequels that are mostly left on the shelf. Multiple cable channels run Poltergeist every Halloween, but very rarely does anyone bother showing Poltergeist III.
But there are movies that escaped this baggage, and one of them is Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the biggest hit of 1988. It stands alone. It's never been sequeled, aside from a handful of shorts produced to run before other movies.
Of course, it wasn't from a lack of trying. A second Roger Rabbit was proposed not soon after the original took off. Who Discovered Roger Rabbit would have been a prequel set during World War II that chronicled the bunny's rise to fame, how he met Jessica, etc. For unknown reasons, this movie fell ino a development quagmire and never saw production. Every now and then someone says they're going to try to make a new Roger Rabbit movie (search YouTube and you can find a nasty-looking CG Roger test) but it's never actually happened.
There was plenty of demand...it just wasn't being met. Indirectly, the absence of a proper sequel is the reason why there's a Cool World video game (among many other products now in landfills....you would not believe how many 1992 investors thought that thing was going to reach Roger's heights). If you've been waiting years and years for a sequel and you just can't wait any longer, a follow-up DOES exist, officially licensed by Disney and everything....you just may not like what you see.
In 1989 Roger Rabbit and Baby Herman starred in the short "Tummy Trouble," which played before Honey I Shrunk The Kids. The year before, Marvel Comics had published a graphic novelization of WFRR that made them a ton of cash. It made sense to turn "Tummy Trouble" into a graphic novel too, but there was one problem....the short was eight minutes long. How were they going to wring enough material out of that for a 64-page book? It meant they had to get creative...
Around the same time "Tummy Trouble" was playing in theaters, something called "Roger Rabbit: The Resurrection of Doom" appeared in comics shops. "Tummy Trouble" was covered in there, but it was the last eleven pages of a larger story that revealed what happened to the characters AFTER the original movie ended. It may not be much, but it's the closest Disney has ever come to actually producing a sequel.
The book opens with a newsreel recapping the events of the original movie and then....revealing the true name and face behind Judge Doom??? We were never meant to see what Doom actually looked like; he was much more intimidating as a mystery figure. But if you believe what "The Resurrection of Doom" prints, this guy started out as a toon named Baron Von Rotten, who played mustache-twirling villains in many early cartoon shorts.
According to this book, afetr sustaining an injury on set, Von Rotten started believing he was the villains he played, and became reclusive, concocting his plans in secret. After his demise, police raided the Von Rotten mansion and found evidence of the connection....but all that remained of Doom was a puddle, which couldn't be prosecuted.
Roger and Jessica are in a dark theater, watching this newsreel....unbeknownst to them, so are a gang of Weasels from Doom's old Toon Patrol. The head Weasel gets excited and tells the others they may have a method of resurrecting Doom. If they do, it would be quite a feat. The entire tension behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit was that the effects of Dip were irreversible, so you shouldn't be able to get deader than Doom.
But they know how to do it, and they show the audience:
That's correct....to bring Doom back to life, they simply have to re-photograph him on film. There's a multiplane camera at Von Rotten Manor, and after rigging up a new cel of Doom, they dramatically throw some switches and parody the familiar scene from "Frankenstein." As expected, it ends with one of the Weasels declaring "HE'S ALIVE!" -- but only while Doom's arm is choking him.
At first Judge Doom wants to immediately kill Roger, but then he gets the idea to destroy his life instead. Classic villain overplanning. But...why Roger?
I know his name is in the title, but Roger's role in the climactic scene of the movie was to be tied up and need rescuing by Eddie. He played no role in Doom's actual death at all; it was Eddie that did everything, Eddie who killed Doom, and Eddie which Doom should be truly mad at. Why pick on this poor rabbit, Baron -- hasn't he suffered enough?
At this point, we check in on the aforementioned Mr. Valiant. He's still at his detective gig, but he's trying to wean himself off the bottle by popping a jelly bean every time he gets the urge. It's at this moment that he receives his next case, but it comes from an unexpected source: C.B. Maroon.
Wait, wasn't Maroon shot in the movie? Yes, but wait'll you hear this....the man on the phone is his identical twin brother. And upon the demise of R.K. Maroon, C.B. inherited the company. Awfully convenient, don't you think?
The studio has been temporarily shut down ever since Maroon left, and his brother wants to start it up again "with some small projects at first." But first, he wants to know more about the toons he'll be in charge of, especially Roger Rabbit. Well, Eddie had quite an adventure with Roger, so he tells C.B. all about it --------- actually, C.B. hires Eddie to simply walk around and interview people who have interacted with Roger in the past. The job costs $500, a lot in late-forties money. What a waste. If this is C.B. handles his company's finances, Maroon Cartoons will be bankrupt in a week.
Eddie finishes his report and turns it in. He tells C.B. the most common thing he heard about Roger was that he loves to make people laugh and that he has a passion for being as animated as possible. Two things both Eddie and the audience already knew. What was the point of this, you may ask? We're getting to it.
Back in Toontown, Roger is pleased as punch when his phone rings and the man on the other line tells him to report back to work. He hails a ride from Benny and races to the studio as soon as possible. What Roger isn't expecting is that, due to the regime change, there have been some cutbacks.
This is the one part of the "sequel" I thought was truly inspired and had potential. Doom's original freeway plot was based on a real scheme in the 1940s to shut down the trolley cars in SoCal. This new plot is also based on historical events, this time hitting much closer to home. If you haven't figured it out by now, "C.B. Maroon" is Doom's new disguise. No wonder that "twin brother" thing was so implausible.
Doom's plan is to introduce cheap TV animation to the industry and ruin cartoons. Which is exactly what happened. Roger having to deal with UPA and the decline of full animation is a teriffic hook, and his "simplified" design -- such a GREAT sight gag -- is the icing on the cake. The only downside to this is that you could forget a happy ending; animation was about to slide into a dark age that would take decades to crawl out of. I don't want to think about Roger suffering for that long.
Ultimately, Roger just isn't a good fit for these "new" cartoons and he is fired, to be replaced by "that other rabbit, the one with a tiger for a buddy." C.B. is talking about Crusader Rabbit, the first cartoon series produced exclusively for TV. They did their homework on this one.
Roger runs back to Eddie and p-p-p-p-pleeeeads with him to find out what's really going on. Eddie thinks this C.B. character is starting to sound awfully odd, so he sifts through newspapers to track the man's behavior over the last two weeks. Most recently, C.B. has fired not only Roger but the majority of Maroon Cartoons' stars. And he's about to hold a press conference the next day, where it's believed he's announcing the studio will be sold.
That is indeed what C.B. is doing -- he's offloading Maroon Cartoons to some company called "Weisel Development Partnership." Currently, Doom doesn't actually own Maroon Cartoons, even if he's pretending to be someone who does. He won't need to pretend anymore if he can sell the place to a company he DOES control. Still, this extra step feels unnecessary...can't Doom just pretend to be this "C.B." guy indefinitely?
Eddie finds the answer when he gets jumped by Doom's weasels after Doom finishes his rant. They cart him to a storage shed, lock him inside and he sees....none other than the real C.B. Maroon, tied and gagged. ....There's actually a C.B. Maroon?? But....that's so stupid!
Thanks to Eddie's new jellybean addiction, Roger and Jessica are able to track him via the trail of jellybeans he left (which wasn't intentional on Eddie's part). After they bust him out of the shed, he introduces them to the real C.B. and informs them about Doom's new plan. They have ten minutes to stop the sale of the studio, so they hail Benny and race to Maroon's. Unfortunately Benny takes 11 minutes and they arrive just in time for Doom, in his C.B. disguise, to wave the contract in front of their faces and gloat.
All seems lost, until Valiant points out that the signature is only valid if the real C.B. Maroon signed it, and he can now prove that it isn't. Then he aims a gun at Doom's face, but since a real-world gun won't necessarily hurt a toon, what good is it against Doom?
The truth is what you have already guessed: Eddie filled the squirt gun with Dip. Neither the weasels nor Doom realize this until they're all drenched in the stuff, and once they find out the truth, they dissolve dramtically.
Now that everyone has witnessed the truth of what was going on, and Doom is once again dead (unless there's another model sheet somewhere...seems likely), the real C.B. emerges and announces the studio will NOT be sold, to the cheers of the toons surrounding him.
This leads into the last eleven pages of the book, which consist of the Tummy Trouble adaption. And that's the story of how Judge Doom came back for revenge, if you want to believe it. The whole affair has an uncomfortably bootleg feel to it, but right now, it's all we've got.
Or perhaps there's more. If you want to get technical, the entire eighteen-issue Roger Rabbit comic book released by Disney themselves in 1990 takes place after the movie, so that amounts to nineteen sequels when the preceding comic is factored in. It's a bit different though. Since Disney didn't feel like paying for the rights to Bob Hoskins' face beyond one issue, Roger's PI partner is not Eddie Valiant, but a legally safe copy named Rick Flint. There is also, like here, a frequent use of squirt guns filled with Dip as anti-toon weapons:
This scene does not actually occur in the comic itself.
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