Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Shadow of the Condor

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.


  1. Always loved the " Shadow Of The Condor ". Ranks in the top-5 of my favorite " Jonny Quest " episodes. Great artist layouts. I remember it was one of the first JQ episodes to get the scissors from ABC back in 1969 re-runs. I remember seeing the condor flying into the Baron's plane, the Baron covering his eyes, the spice, then suddenly the plane in a heap at the bottom of the mountain, then another cut taking out the explosion. Looking forward to more " Jonny " blogs as we approved his big 5-0.

  2. This Jonny Quest episode is set in Chile.

  3. Cool post on 50th anniversary of HB' and ABC tv's 4th and last primetime animated show. It's interesting to note that although The Flintstones was a huge success, Top Cat, The Jetson's and Jonny Quest were not (at the time anyway). Sadly, by 1965, HB had turned their attention to Saturday morning and things went steadily downhill afterwards.

    1. ...HB's and ABC TV's 4th and last primetime animated show.

      Actually, if you count the short-lived efforts, (I do) it wasn't the last foray into evening hours animation for either one:

      H-B produced Where's Huddles? (1970 CBS), Wait Till Your Father Gets Home (1972-74 syndicated), Jokebook(1982 NBC), Capitol Critters(1992 ABC),and Fish Police(1992 CBS).

      ABC aired the aforementioned Capitol Critters, The Critic (1994), Clerks: The Animated Series (2000), and The Goode Family(2009).

    2. I forgot the live action / animated The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from H-B (1968-69 NBC).

  4. Not having any syndicated shows in production and only one prime-time show on the air during the 1963-64 season seemed to have provided a little respite that allowed Hanna-Barbera to recharge their creative batteries slightly in the fall of '64. But once production ramped up again, the same problem from the 1961-62 period of over-extending the staff's ability to come up with appealing characters and story lined again reared it's ugly head, and the move to Saturday mornings (where Bill and Joe made what Fred Silverman and the other network execs wanted them to make), just sped up the downhill spiral (Jonny Quest being the jumping-off point for the more serious superhero cartoons CBS and later ABC wanted beginning in the fall of '66).

  5. J.L., I'm pretty sure Peter Potamus was in production then.

  6. the great lefty callahan told me that episode was most fun he'd had working on anything.....he was a huge war time plane enthusiast.....

  7. Can you imagine Tabloid story MAN SAVED BY CONDOR and the Condor is on the Flag of Equidor and the Coat of Arms for Chile and some other South American Nations and Black Condor himself was raised by Condors