The original run of Jonny Quest from 1964 to 1965, on prime time television, just might be my absolute favorite animated series, especially from my youth. The first season or two of Scooby Doo, Where Are you? were good. As were Star Blazers and Underdog and, in my young adulthood, Batman: The Animated Series was really impressive. But Jonny Quest holds a special place in my heart.
I’ve blogged about Jonny Quest’s first series before and listed my three favorite episodes (see here), so I won’t go too deep into why I love that series so much. To put it in a nutshell, despite its forays into the supernatural, that series was more realistic, both in its stories and in its animation. Characters died in that series, which added a decided sense of danger. And, as a kid, I appreciated that realism. No one ever died on Scooby Doo.
And that series looked like a comic book, thanks to Doug Wildey, a comic book illustrator who created the characters and the shows animation style. I loved comic books as a kid (still do). Maybe that’s the reason I dig Jonny Quest.
It was inevitable that the series appeared in comic book form. Gold Key did a one off adaptation of The Mystery of the Lizard People (the first episode of the original series) in 1964. Then in 1986, Comico began publishing Jonny as a comic book series.
And that is where this month’s great cover comes in!
It is issue #5 (October, 1986), which was illustrated by the great Dave Stevens. Stevens’ well-disciplined, classic style feels both old school and modern. On this cover, he uses lots of flat black, which was a staple of Wildey’s Quest shows, so it captures the animated series feel and sets up that our heroes are facing danger in some dark back alley in some exotic location. Jade’s .45 automatic, Jonny’s oar (why does he have an oar?), and Hadji’s look of apprehension also tell us there is danger afoot.
Stevens puts fear in the faces of Jade and Hadji, while infusing Jonny and Bandit with defiant determination. Just what sort of trouble has this group found itself? And, is that the shadow of a bad guy on the wall?
His style doesn’t overuse lines. Dave Stevens was a master of form using just enough linework. His illustrations were never busy with lines, lines, lines. (Something the following decade’s comics would be plagued by, in my opinion.) His clothes feel like they are filled with bodies. His backgrounds offer enough detail to understand the setting without looking busy. And, of course, Dave Stevens certainly could draw the female form well. Something he was known for.
It’s a great cover.
Oh! Wait! Maybe Jonny has an oar to indicate they are in a port city! Shanghai or Hong Kong, perhaps?
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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Please check out our eBay page, as well. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on Apple Podcasts.