Background, layout artists and cameramen played an important role in setting the right mood for “Jonny Quest.” The layout people came up with different angles to mimic adventure comic strips so it didn’t appear the characters were being filmed looking at them like on a stage. Drawing in perspective would have been expensive and time-consuming, so the camera swooped into (or out of) shots while panning at the same time to simulate additional movement of the action on screen. And the background people had to provide realistic-looking sets; stylised stuff like in the early Huck Hound cartoons just wouldn’t fit.
Fortunately, the studio had some quality background artists who were versatile enough to work in different styles. Bob Gentle was one; look at his settings in the 1940s Tom and Jerry cartoons. The great Paul Julian, a veteran of both Warner Bros. and UPA (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), picked up credits on a pair of episodes. And another was Richard H. Thomas, who came up with some solid backgrounds for Bob McKimson at Warners in the later ‘40s.
We’ve profiled Dick Thomas in this post. But with Jonny’s 50th birthday days away, I thought I’d post some of his background labour from that show. He handled “Shadow of the Condor” all on his own and was tasked with painting a backdrop featuring the top of the Andes, a stone castle and ancient biplanes.
Here are a couple of longer backgrounds that were snipped together. Unfortunately, two are not complete due to colour changes on the DVD frame as drawing is panned.
This particular cartoon also features fine effects animation of wisps of clouds by a presumably uncredited artist. The credited animators were the great George Nicholas, Irv Spence and Lefty Callahan.
We’ll go into the show a bit, thanks to press clippings, on its 50th anniversary.