Saturday 3 August 2019

The House of the Seven Gargoyles

Dick Thomas pulled a huge workload at the Hanna-Barbera studio. He arrived in 1959 from Walt Disney (after almost two decades at Warner Bros.) to work on the Kellogg’s series, and was providing backgrounds not only for short after short, but for complete episodes of the half-hour prime-time series.

The painting below is part of the opening scene for “The House of Seven Gargoyles” episode of Jonny Quest. Thomas was tasked with making all the background art for this cartoon from layouts of no fewer than four artists—Iwao Takamoto, Jerry Eisenberg, Lew Ott and Sparky Moore. There are plenty of shadows, overhead shots and overlays in the artwork.

We can’t snip together complete backgrounds because of the overlays (foreground cels that move at a different speed than the background pan) but these will give you an idea what Thomas came up with.

The owl’s head is animated, the rest of the body is stiff.

A few of the background pans are reused and there are the usual Hanna-Barbera shortcuts, such as characters on a cel that is slid on a background, heads talking while bodies are stiff and that sort of thing. One thing that irked me as a kid is there are at least two Jonny Quest cartoons with realistically rendered cars but only the wheels move. The car doesn’t bounce a bit on the road. It’s rigid. It looks unnatural. When you see that kind of thing in a Huckleberry Hound cartoon, it’s one thing, but it looks out of place in the Jonny Quest world.

I may have pointed this out before, but in case I haven’t, you may not have noticed that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera’s credits alternate. Hanna’s name is first in one cartoon, then Barbera’s in the next. I’m certain this goes back to their MGM days.

Jonny Quest is out on Blu-Ray, and it’s a treat to see that Warners has made the effort to put the proper end credits on the cartoons (as well as restore some cut footage in the DVD release of several years ago). It means Dick Thomas and others can get the credit they deserve.


  1. On the Blu Ray, they've also added Mike Road's " Jonny Quest, brought to you by.." I like that because it adds to the nostalgia.If they can do that with Jonny Quest, they could do it with " The Flintstones ". I'm sure Warner assumed the elements from Turner. Turner was infamous for taking one end title from each season, and using it for the entire season. They did the same with " Jonny Quest " for years. Maybe one day we'll get the restored titles on other H-B series.

    1. Earl Kress explained the reasons they went with recreated credits on the first two seasons of The Flintstones but I can't remember what he said.
      I would hope if TC is released on a different format that the credits will be restored. Same with the coming Jetsons release.
      I remember the little sponsor intro, too. The only thing missing is the Screen Gems dancing sticks ending.

  2. Yep, your right Yowp, the Cinemascope years started to flip the names in their "Produced and Directed by" credits (I think started with 1956's Busy Buddies).

  3. And then that rotten half-arsed animation had to go and stand in front of those beautiful backgrounds.