Jonny Quest is a media franchise that revolves around a boy named Jonny Quest who accompanies his father on extraordinary adventures. The franchise started with a 1964–1965 television series and has come to include two subsequent television series, two television films, and three computer games.
1964–1965 television series
Jonny Quest – often casually referred to as The Adventures of Jonny Quest – is the original American science fiction/adventure animated television series that started the franchise. It was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems, and created and designed by comic-book artist Doug Wildey.
Inspired by radio serials and comics in the action-adventure genre, including Doc Savage and John Carter of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, it featured more realistic art, characters, and stories than Hanna-Barbera's previous cartoon programs. It was the first of several Hanna-Barbera action-based adventure shows, which would later include Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman and the Galaxy Trio, and ran on ABC in prime time on early Friday nights for one season from 1964 to 1965.
After spending two decades in reruns, during which it appeared on all three major United States television networks of the time, new episodes were produced for syndication in 1986. Two telefilms, a comic-book series, and a modernized revival series, The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, were produced in the 1990s.
The New Adventures of Jonny Quest
By the mid-1980s, the edited episodes of Jonny Quest were part of the syndication package The Funtastic World of Hanna–Barbera. Each episode was time-compressed and edited to reduce the runtime from 22 to 25 minutes, with edits focused on the comical scenes with Bandit. Thirteen episodes were produced in 1986 (although some sources state 1987) to accompany the originals in the Funtastic World programming block. These episodes were referred to simply as Jonny Quest in their opening title sequence (the same ones seen on the original series since the censoring), and were noticeably less violent and more "kid-friendly" than the 1960s originals, and introduced the new regular character Hardrock ("The Monolith Man"), an ancient man made of stone. Hardrock did not return in any later versions of the program.
A feature length animated telefilm, Jonny's Golden Quest, was produced by HannaBarbera for USA Network in 1993, which again pitted the Quest team against Dr. Zin, who murders Jonny's mother in the film. Jonny's Golden Quest also reused the storyline of the recent series' episode "Deadly Junket," wherein a little girl named Jessie Bradshaw, the daughter of a missing scientist, asked the Quest party to help find her father. Here she is revealed to be lying about her parentage at Dr. Zin's behest, and to Race's surprise is actually his and Jade's daughter. Jessie would appear as a character in all subsequent versions of the Jonny Quest property. A second telefilm, Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects, was produced for TNT in 1995, and was promoted as being the final iteration of the "Classic Jonny Quest".
All three of these productions featured the voices of Don Messick and Granville Van Dusen as Dr. Quest and Race Bannon, respectively. Messick also reprised performing the "voice" of Bandit in the series, but the features had this done by Frank Welker.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, premiered on all three major Turner Broadcasting System entertainment cable channels (Cartoon Network, TBS, and TNT), and met with mixed ratings and reviews. The characters were aged, with Jonny, Hadji, and Jessie becoming teenagers. Dr. Quest's compound has moved to a rocky island off the Maine coast.
Production on the series had been problem-laden since 1992, and when it was finally broadcast, it featured two different versions of its own Jonny Quest universe: the first batch of episodes (referred to as the "season one" episodes) gave the Quest team a futuristic look, while the second batch (referred to as "season two") harkened back to the original 1960s episodes. Several of the "season one" adventures in this series took place in a cyberspace realm known as "Questworld", depicted using 3-D computer animation. Both "seasons" aired during the 1996–1997 television season, and the show was canceled after 52 episodes (26 of each season). A live-action movie was planned to debut following the series premiere but never materialized.
The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest returned in the late 1990s on Cartoon Network. It was part of the original Toonami rotation when the block launched on March 17, 1997, and aired consistently on Toonami until September 24, 1999. It then continued to air sporadically until December 14, 2002. The first 13 episodes of the first season were released to DVD on February 17, 2009.
The character Dr. Zin was believed dead during the first season of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. However, creators of the show felt the series wasn't reminiscent of the original enough and brought Zin back in the second season episode "Nemesis," where Zin reveals himself as alive to Quest and holds a NASA station launching a new satellite hostage. Zin's two daughters, Anaya and Melana, returned to later episodes of 'Real Adventures' after being absent from the 'New Adventures' series.
In the early 1990s, Turner planned a "Year of Jonny Quest" marketing campaign to feature a new television series, the release of classic episodes on VHS, the creation of two new animated movies in classic continuity (Jonny's Golden Quest and Jonny Quest vs. The Cyber Insects), and the production of a live-action film. Director Richard Donner, producer Lauren Shuler Donner, and Jane Rosenthal optioned the rights for the live action film, having expressed interest in the property soon after Turner's acquisition of Hanna-Barbera. Slated to begin production in mid-1995, filming was pushed back to 1996 and ultimately never began. By early 1996, the project had already fallen well-behind development of other films, such as a live-action Jetsons movie.
Zac Efron and Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson were reported in 2009 to have been cast as Jonny Quest and Race Bannon in an upcoming live action movie, respectively, according to a Moviehole.com interview with Johnson . No further announcements regarding the movie have since been reported.
A Jonny Quest comic book (a retelling of the first TV episode, "Mystery of the Lizard Men") was published by Gold Key Comics in 1964. Comico began publication of a Jonny Quest series in 1986, with the first issue featuring Doug Wildey's artwork. The series was written by William Messner-Loebs and ran for 31 issues, with 2 specials and 3 "classic" issues drawn by Wildey retelling Quest TV episodes ("Shadow of the Condor", "Calcutta Adventure", and "Werewolf of the Timberland"). Wildey drew several additional covers, as did Steve Rude and Dave Stevens. The series also spun off a 3-issue series named Jezebel Jade – drawn by Adam Kubert – which told the story of Jade's relationship and adventures with Race Bannon.
In 1993, Hollyware Entertainment published "Jonny Quest: Curse of the Mayan Warriors," a licensed title available only on 3.5" floppy disk. The pre-release title was "Jonny Quest and the Splinter of Heaven."
In January 2009, IGN named Jonny Quest as the 77th best in its "Top 100 Animated TV Shows".
Less Than Jake referenced Jonny Quest in their song "Johnny Quest Thinks We're Sellouts"
The Reverend Horton Heat performed a version of the Johnny Quest theme music (paired with the tune "Stop that Pigeon") on Saturday Morning: Cartoons' Greatest Hits, which is a tribute album of songs from Saturday morning children's television shows and cartoons (mostly) from the 1960s and 1970s, released in 1995 by MCA.
Parodies and homages
The characters and setting of Jonny Quest have frequently been the subject of brief parodies, especially in later animated programs, some of which have aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim late-night programming block. (Time Warner owns both Cartoon Network and the rights to the entire Hanna-Barbera library, including Jonny Quest) In addition, there have been several substantial references to the show:
- Adult Swim's The Venture Bros. features characters who are satirical analogues of the Jonny Quest cast: Dr. Thaddeus "Rusty" Venture, his bodyguard Brock Samson, and his sons Hank and Dean. Flashbacks reveal that Rusty is himself the son of a Benton Quest analog, now coasting on the fame of his late father. During the first season, the creators of the show realized that Cartoon Network's parent owned Jonny Quest and began using the actual characters, including Jonny as a paranoid drug addict severely damaged by the constant danger his father put him in, Race Bannon as an OSI agent that Brock Samson calls "one of the best" until his death, and Hadji as a hard-working competent engineer for Rusty's successful brother Jonas Jr. However, starting with the third season, the Jonny Quest characters were renamed: Jonny was renamed "Action Johnny", Race Bannon was referred to as "Red" and Dr Zin was simply called "Dr. Z"; there was no in-show explanation for the change.
- Adult Swim's Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law features the cast in several episodes. In "Bannon Custody Battle", Bannon and Dr. Quest fight for custody of Jonny and Hadji, and in "Return of Birdgirl" the men try to marry. Other episodes featured the Lizard Men from "Mystery of the Lizard Men", the mummy from "Curse of Anubis", a yeti from "Monsters in the Monastery", a gargoyle from "The House of the Seven Gargoyles", the robotic spider from "The Robot Spy", etc.
- An 8-minute parody appeared in 1995 on the animated series Freakazoid!, under the title Toby Danger, featuring the voices of Scott Menville, Don Messick (in his last role before he died), and Granville Van Dusen (all of whom provided voices for the original series). It was written by Tom Minton as a twelve-minute stand-alone short for Animaniacs, but edited by director Eric Radomski to fit into the available Freakazoid! time slot.
- Matt Fraction's spy-fi comic book series Casanova features a genius villain going by the name of Sabine Seychelle, who works with a large Indian bodyguard named Samir; Fraction recounts his inspiration for them in the text column at the end of Casanova No. 4 that "I liked the idea of Jonny Quest, all adult and crooked. The son of an adventure scientist and his bePolo'd sidekick would grow up...how, exactly? Bent, I supposed. Weeeird. The kind of guy that would create phenomenal machines...and then sleep with them three at a time."
- Brazilian pop rock band Jota Quest is named after the series. Originally, they performed under the name J. Quest, but to avoid legal conflict with Hanna-Barbera, the J. was expanded to Jota (the Portuguese name for the letter J) from their second album onward.
- The Indianapolis-based punk band Racebannon takes its name from the Jonny Quest character.
- Lefton, Terry (June 19, 1995). "Turner Relaunches 'Quest'". Brandweek (VNU eMedia, Inc.) 36 (25).
- Saturday morning fever, Timothy Burke, Kevin Burke pages 113–116
- Strauss, Bob (July 30, 1995). "On the set, it's either her way of the highway – Shuler-Donner's insistence just a way to show she cares". Daily News of Los Angeles.
- Timm, Lori (September 15, 1994). "Cue card> Lost on Quest for broad appeal". Peoria Journal Star p. C1 (Peoria Journal Star).
- Carter, Tammi (November 19, 1995). "Fine tuning". The Times-Picayune p. T51 (The Times-Picayune Publishing Corporation).
- Hollywood Reporter (April 25, 1994). "Live-Action 'Johnny Quest' in the Works". The San Francisco Chronicle p. E3.
- Hettrick, Scott (March 18, 1996). "Turner lets Virgin put spin on new Quest CD-ROM, $1 mil marked for game based on toon". The Hollywood Reporter (BPI Communications, Inc.).
- "IGN – 77. Jonny Quest". Tv.ign.com. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- Saturday Morning: Cartoons Greatest Hits at AllMusic
- "Jota Quest web site". Jotaquest.com.br. Retrieved 2010-08-26.
- Jonny Quest (1964) at the Internet Movie Database
- Jonny Quest (1964) at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Jonny Quest (1986) at the Internet Movie Database
- Jonny Quest Wikiquote page
- Jonny Quest – Galoob