Jonny and Race on the cover of Amazing Heroes #95. Artist: Doug Wildey


Original Medium: TV animation
Produced by: Hanna-Barbera
First Appeared: 1964
Creator: Doug Wildey
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Four years after The Flintstones, the first successful animated series on prime-time TV, Hanna-Barbera again broke new ground. Jonny Quest was …

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… the first successful networked animated series to tell a straightforward adventure story instead of going strictly for laughs.

Jonny was the creation of cartoonist/designer Doug Wildey, whose work includes a newspaper comic strip named Amber, a graphic novel titled Rio, and hundreds of western stories for DC, Dell, Marvel, and many other publishers. Jonny Quest is his best-known work in animation. His voice was done by Tim Mathieson, who later did Sinbad Jr. and Young Samson.

The show debuted on ABC, on Sept. 18, 1964, in an early prime-time slot. But prime-time animation was quickly proving to be a mere fad (it wasn't until 1989 that The Simpsons sparked a more long-lasting trend), and only 26 episodes were made. The final one aired for the first time on March 11, 1965, and the reruns lasted until Sept. 9 of that year.

In 1967, CBS started re-airing those 26 episodes on Saturday morning. By that time, Space Ghost was a certified hit, and networks were responding with more adventuring animation, such as Shazzan, The Herculoids and even Super President. Jonny Quest fit right in, and was, intermittently at least, a part of the satmorn scene for the next couple of decades.

In 1986 and '87, those 26 episodes were supplemented with 13 new ones. Ten years later, 52 more were added, enabling the show to appear in a five-day-a-week, after-school time slot without becoming impossibly repetitious.

During the show's original run, only one issue of a comic book version appeared — Gold Key published it in December, 1964. But after Jonny's fans grew up, it was licensed by Comico (Mage, The Elementals) for a 31-issue run, from June, 1986 to December, 1988. Doug Wildey drew the first issue of the Comico run, but the book's credits quickly became a virtual who's who of top comics artists — Bill Sienkiewicz (Moon Knight, New Mutants), Steve Rude (Nexus, Mister Miracle), Murphy Anderson (Hawkman, Captain Comet), Joe Staton (E-Man, Plastic Man), Dan Spiegle (Space Family Robinson, Blackhawk) and many others all had work in it. During this period, Comico also published three issues of Jonny Quest Classics, written and drawn by Wildey, which adapted episodes of the show.

Tho Jonny Quest's success was only modest at first, it's proven to be an enduring classic of TV animation. The show's many fans just won't let it go away.


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