Early Disney character designs – Roger Rabbit

A project development team was set up at Disney under the direction of Darrell Van Citters.  It operated from 1981 through to 1983.  Michael Giaimo was the designer.  Chris Buck joined the team as a designer and animator.  Joe Ranft was on story.  Randy Cartwright did some of the proof-of-concept animation tests.  Some of the work appeared on the Disney Channel show, ‘Disney Studio Showcase,’ in April 1983.

Variations on the image that first appeared in the 1981 Walt Disney Productions annual report…                       11 images follow

1981 Walt Disney Productions annual report - page 26 announcement of Roger Rabbit film

Discussion with Amblin began in October 1985.  When Bob Zemeckis began taking a leading role in directing the project, it became clear that Darrell Van Citters had lost control of the project he (and Marc Stirdivant) had managed since Roger Rabbit first came into the Disney organization.  Van Citters left Disney in February 1986.

Michael Giaimo stayed on for a bit.  He did some character designs for Roger Rabbit based on Zemeckis’ wishes.  Zemeckis had just finished ‘Back to the Future‘ and was already working on a sequel.  He had an attachment to Michael J. Fox and the new design for Roger Rabbit looked and behaved like Fox.  Giaimo left Disney in April 1986.  Further development on Roger Rabbit moved to Amblin.  Richard Williams synthesized the final design of Roger Rabbit after that.