The first public mention of a Roger Rabbit film was in the 1981 Walt Disney Productions Annual Report. Page 26 shows an early character design for Roger Rabbit. The caption states that the film was scheduled for a 1983 release. Marc Stirdivant was slated to be the producer and Darrell Van Citters was slated to direct the animation sequences.
Van Citters headed a development team from 1981 to 1984. Roger made another public appearance in a 1982 Happy Easter greeting drawn by Russell Schroeder in Disney Marketing. He was one of fifteen Disney “Easter Bunnies” accompanying Donald Duck, who was dressed in a bunny suit.
On April 18, 1983, The Disney Channel began broadcasting and on April 19 began airing a show called Disney Studio Showcase. The April episode featured Disney historian John Culhane wandering the Disney Studio – reminiscent of Robert Benchley in The Reluctant Dragon (1941). Culhane happens upon Van Citters, Stirdivant, and designer Michael Giaimo. Stirdivant explains the premise of the Roger Rabbit film and two rough pencil tests are shown. A short colored animation test of Roger Rabbit is also shown. Roger Rabbit was voiced by Paul Reubens, of Pee-wee Herman fame.
Sport Goofy in Soccermania was being worked on in 1984… and another early version of Roger Rabbit appeared in a crowd scene. Sport Goofy in Soccermania was not released until 1987.