25 September 2011


By the time Jonny Quest hIt the prime time TV slot on Fridays nights back in 1964 Hanna-Barbera had already had a few animated TV shows, including The Flintstones and The Jetsons. But Jonny Quest was a different type of animated show and while perhaps not as successful in the long run as its more comedic counterparts the 26 original episodes that were produced have become the stuff of legend. The series was developed and designed by comic book and comic strip artist Doug Wildey whose confident pen and ink style resembled that of Milton Caniff (terry and the Pirates, Steven Canyon). Those drawing elements are seen in the drawings of the characters and backgrounds for Jonny Quest and the style was a bit of a leap for the time period and the drawings still stand on their own in this day and age as far as I, and the many Jonny Quest fans out there attest to, am concerned.

The James Bond film Dr. No, as the story goes, inspired Joe Barbera to try an adventure cartoon with more realistically rendered characters. Wildey is given most of the credit now with how the show finally looked as well as the development of the shows characters. The main characters were Dr. Benton Quest who is always involved in some sort of top secret adventure or another. He always takes his young son Jonny along despite potential dangers. Jonny’s mom died under circumstances I am not clear on yet but it is is possible some sort of intrigue was involved. To make sure Jonny is safe and sound Dr. Quest has employed Race Bannon (a character based on an earlier comic strip called Steve Bannon by Wildey) as a bodyguard and mentor of sorts. In the series’ second episode we are introduced to the Hindu boy Haji though we are never really told who he is and why the Quest group have him hanging around.  This may be explained in a later episode and if anybody out there knows where Haji comes from please let me know. The last regular member of the group is Jonny’s dog Bandit, and like many boys in the 60’s I had a little dog named Bandit myself, after the TV show dog. Bandit supplies the comic relief for the show as well as sometimes helping Jonny out of a bind or helping him get into one. Some recurring characters include the sexy Jezebel Jade who is a sort of Mata Hari femme fatale who has some possible romantic connection to Race Bannon though for the most part it is always implied. The evil mastermind of various plots Dr. Zin shows up now and then as Dr. Quest’s nemesis and arch rival.

Clarifications from Race Bannon himself would leftt this in the comment section:  Just a couple of clarifications, if you will:

1. There's a short scene in one episode where two US government agents (CIA, FBI, Secret Service) are talking about Race Bannon and how he is permanently assigned to protect Dr. Quest and Jonny.

2. In the episode where Hadji (correct spelling) is introduced, it become apparent that he is an orphan. He is taken in by the Quest family and Race as he and Jonny became instant fast friends.

A couple notable aspects of the show outside its graphic design was that the adventures always took place in some new exotic local and the use of violence, to the point that in each episode cartoon characters actually died. Of the course the people who died were either bad guys or nameless “natives” but characters in cartoons dying off was not something audiences were used to back in 1964. The vibe between Race and Jade at times was a little smoldering too, especially in the episode called Double Danger where something appears wrong with Race and there is even a kissing scene. Wow! The show inspired a couple animated movies and later some TV series later but I have not seen any of them and cannot comment. There is much talk about a live action movie being negotiated but I am not sure where any of that of that is going. But the 26 original episodes are classics and have been released on DVD with some extras. In this post I present a couple of those extras and in my next post I will give you a matinee feature of the Double Danger episode I just introduced. Also in this post I am giving a list of all the 26 episodes with titles and brief description. I did not compile these and got the list from this page at Animated Views. Lots of good stuff on the net and some of the best related to the original and classic shows can be found at this Classic Jonny Quest fan site. And yes, I am old enough to remember seeing the original episodes on an old b/w TV. There are some perks to being over fifty.




1)    Mystery Of The Lizard Men – A mystery involving missing ships brings the group to the Sargasso Sea to face laser guns and “lizard men”.

2)    Arctic Splashdown – A deflected missile lands in the frozen wasteland, and the race is on to recover it.

3)    The Curse Of Anubis – An Arab chieftain lures the Quest team to Egypt to use them in a plot to unite his people and become their leader. Before the story ends, a mummy will walk again.

4)    Pursuit Of The Po-Ho – Dr. Quest goes into the jungle to save a friend kidnapped by natives, and finds himself captured.

5)    Riddle Of The Gold – This tale has a trip to India and the first appearance of Quest nemesis Dr. Zin, in a story involving a process to create gold.

6)    Treasure Of The Temple – An ancient Mayan city holds the promise of a lost treasure.

7)    Calcutta Adventure – This flashback episode is the “origin” of how Hadji joined the Quest team.

8)    The Robot Spy – In perhaps the series’ most popular episode, Dr. Zin uses an arachnid-like robot to gain the secret of Dr. Quest’s new ray gun.

9)    Double Danger – Dr. Zin and Dr. Quest compete to find a rare plant in Thailand. Race’s old flame, Jezebel Jade, also arrives on the scene to help determine that Race is not who he appears be. This was actually the first episode produced, which explains its weaker animation. One can tell that the Hanna-Barbera animators initially struggled with the more realistic drawing style. Despite improving greatly over the next few episodes, this awkwardness would show up again years later in Super Friends.

10)    Shadow Of The Condor – A forced landing in the Andes leads to a meeting with a baron who flew in World War I , and his mute servant. A conflict is decided in an air duel.

11)    Skull And Double-Crossbones – Modern-day pirates overpower a Quest expedition and force Jonny to dive for treasure.

12)    The Dreadful Doll – Voodoo and a secret submarine base figure into this mystery.

13)    A Small Matter Of Pygmies – Another forced landing, this time in a jungle, finds the group chased by pygmies.

14)    The Dragons Of Ashida – An insane zoologist and his giant reptiles trap the Quest team on a small island.

15)    Turu The Terrible – A search for a special metal leads instead to the discovery of a flying dinosaur controlled by a wheelchair-bound schemer.
16)    The Fraudulent Volcano – Dr. Quest unintentionally comes into conflict with Dr. Zin, who is using a volcano as a testing ground for a new weapon.

17)    The Werewolf Of The Timberland – French-Canadians and a wolfman figure in this mystery of smuggled gold.

18)    Pirates From Below – Criminals attempt to steal another of Dr. Quest’s inventions.

19)    Attack Of The Tree People – The boys and Bandit survive a boat fire and come ashore an island, then require the assistance of apes to thwart some would-be kidnappers.

20)    The Invisible Monster – A colleague of Dr. Quest disappears after accidentally creating an energy creature.

21)    The Devil’s Tower – You just cannot beat an episode with a mile-high mountain, Nazis, and aborigines who speak German.

22)    The Quetong Missile Mystery – Poisoned swamp fish, a General Fong, and a secret missile enter into this story.

23)    The House Of Seven Gargoyles – Gravity reversal, a dwarf, a submarine, and a glacier— this is a shopping list for a typically exciting Jonny Quest episode.

24)    Terror Island – Dr. Quest is kidnapped in Hong Kong, and Race must ask Jade for help in locating him.

25)    Monster In The Monastery – Jonny meets monks in Nepal threatened by Abominable Snowmen.

26)    The Sea Haunt – A sea monster seems to have a taste for treasure.the Smith Conan comics for marvel I will get working on that.


Andrew said...

Kudos to YOU, for making sure that stuff like Johnny Quest is remembered....

Bill D. Courtney said...

I will being some more Jonny Quest in the future, maybe some episodes and a little ore trivia. I rushed through this post and I think I can add more on another day. No need to cover everything at one time I have found. Thanks.


Chuck Wells said...

Jonny Quest is still the best, and considering how great the other Hanna-Barbera cartoon adventure stuff was, that is technically a compliment and a half.

Bill D. Courtney said...


Really enjoying the episodes I have seen and will watch a few more before bed tonight. The drawings were marvelous. Nice little stories that were not really silly at all.

Retro Hound said...

They picked up Haji in a trip to India (you have it listed as #7). They meet a hip swinging supplier guy named Pasha. He's pretty groovy.

hoopcity said...

During the final credits of each show, they start with a desert scene and natives. Where is this episode? Did it get scratched and never completed?

Darci said...

I hadn't read of the link to Dr. No. What I had read was HB was trying to negotiate a deal with the owners of the Jack Armstrong, All-American Boy stories. When they couldn't get the rights for what they considered a reasonable price, HB came up with Jonny Quest instead.
P. S. BTW, apparently Jack Armstrong was created by Frank Hummart. I don't know if the rights owner was his ad agency, or General Mills?

jeffm12012 said...

I had the pleasure of exchanging several letters with Doug Wildey around 1979, when he was at Hanna-Barbera producing and designing Godzilla and the undeservedly forgotten Jana of the Jungle. He was a terrific designer AND story editor; whose shows had a style and "feel" all their own. Nobody else like him then or now.

Responding to hoopcity, the scenes with natives throwing spears at a jet taking off in a desert scene came from test footage made for the unproduced "Jack Armstrong" project; salvaged for use in Quest's closing credits.

David Williams said...

I don't know if anyone would be interested - and I do NOT want to spam this group/site - but we created a CG cartoon similar to Jonny Quest. Growing up in the 60's and 70's Jonny Quest was my favorite cartoon and even today I can easily remember how I felt as I watched the shows. The cartoon we created - while obviously not Jonny Quest - was to me a homage to the storytelling style of the prime-time animation series.

Please check out our website and let us know what you think of the show. Granted, the first 2-part episode has less-than-stellar pacing, but the second episode is much better. Essentially this was a "proof-of-concept" project to see if the production was viable.


and episode part one on youtube direct is:


Thanks for your time!

Dave Williams

Race Bannon said...

Very nice site. Thank you for the obvious hard work. It shows.

Just a couple of clarifications, if you will:

1. There's a short scene in one episode where two US government agents (CIA, FBI, Secret Service) are talking about Race Bannon and how he is permanently assigned to protect Dr. Quest and Jonny.

2. In the episode where Hadji (correct spelling) is introduced, it become apparent that he is an orphan. He is taken in by the Quest family and Race as he and Jonny became instant fast friends.

Bill Courtney said...

Race, I posted your classifications up into the post and gave you credit. Thanks!

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