Jonny Quest opening title sequence redone as stop motion

Jonny Quest Opening Titles from Roger D. Evans on Vimeo.

Jim Leftwich sent me the link to this excellent stop-motion recreation of the opening title sequence for Jonny Quest. Wow!
In 1964, Jonny Quest aired to rave reviews as the first, adult action/adventure cartoon in prime time. It had cool jazz music by Hoyt Curtin and terrific, high contrast pen and ink design work by Doug Wildey. As an animator and long time JQ junkie, I had always wanted a set of Jonny Quest action figures but, due to high production costs, the show only lasted one season; not long enough to spawn any kind of serious toys or other merchandising tie-ins. So, almost 50 years later, I made my own. Here is my Valentine to one of the coolest, if not THE coolest, cartoons ever to spin up the imagination of a 53-year-old man now going on six. Enjoy!

To see how this was produced, go to Roger Evans' site.



    1. Did anyone say you had to be impressed by it?  Not one fuck will be given by me this evening as to whether or not you were impressed by it, let me tell you that much.

    2. If you’re not impressed by Johnny Quest, that’s most understandable. If you’re not impressed by this recreation, then you haven’t looked at any of the pages that explain how the models, sets, and shots were built.

      Or you’ve done better, and I beg to humbly bow at your feet, sirrah.

    3. I completely agree. The one thing the world absolutely needs is for some random person on the Internet to coolly and disdainfully view something that was done as a labor of love with considerable craft and render the only appropriate judgement, which is, of course, “Meh.” The world is a much better place for you so doing, and we all thank you.

    1. The creator has gone out of is way to state that it is 100% stop motion with NO CGI, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

      I saw a lot of background effects that I assumed were done by computer but I’m even more impressed to find out I was wrong.

      1. The creator has gone out of is way to state that it is 100% stop motion
        with NO CGI, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

        I’m not sure that can be true, unless I’m missing something. For one thing, Jonny’s and Hadji’s heads are about four times bigger than Race’s:

        He goes on to say, “And this is the final with full ‘Marx Action Figure’ paint and eyes added via Photoshop. [Jonny’s] head was reduced in size and body fitted with the pre-requisite black turtle neck, straight from Steve Job’s wardrobe.” Unless there’s some super-secret doll-head reducing technology I don’t know about, I think shots like the one heading this article have to be composites.

        He certainly uses PhotoShop for eye animation: “You’ll notice that the eyes of Generic Race are in different positions for each photo. This is because only whites of the eyes were painted and the dark, round corneas were put in with Photoshop. I found this necessary as his eyes need to move and he also needs to blink on occasion. So adding them in Photoshop was just easier than trying to insert small orbs that I could move during animation.”

        1. Yeah, from his own site, it’s obvious there is some computer use in post. Now it makes me wonder where he draws the line of “no CGI.”

          1. After reading the production diary, I’d say it is “no CGI” in the sense that every pixel ultimately maps back to a real-world object. Roger freely makes use of compositing, some filtering, keying, etc., but ultimately everything shown was shot through a real camera. Even the shell casings ejected from guns are “real”, albeit scaled and positioned through Photoshop. These are small departures from purity though, and the vast majority of his shots are traditional stop motion. The muzzle flashes are, for example, done with an LED penlight – hardly CGI. The web-site is an awesome resource for budding animators. I applaud his pragmatism.

          2. It was obvious that the camera flares were post production computer generated. But the figures were not. I’ll give him a pass considering the time it takes to do stop motion and if you mess up it can ruin a week’s worth of work. (Not just one animation cell.) As to what else is CGI, I’m not sure.

    2. How exactly would “CG using actual models” work? He’s posted quite the complete behind-the-scenes website:

    3. Used to get into the same sort of debate with my parents about “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. No matter how many times I’d tell them it was not done with dolls the more they’d insist it was a cartoon. I’d argue with you too but I feel the specter of my parents approaching. //shudder//

  1. Yes, for Boing Boing has declared it thus.

    In response to your defiance, your name shall be declared anathema in all the twitterverse and blogosphere.

    I do, however, admire your courage in speaking out, and providing a voice for all your compatriots who  remain less than impressed by this little video, though do not share your courage.

  2. I don’t even remember ‘Jonny Quest’ but I was impressed, in spite of not being easily impressed. I am, however, willing to accept that there are people who won’t be impressed by that, although it would probably be indulgent of me to waste any time wondering by what criteria they do not give a fuck.

  3. That is indeed fantastic work!

    Sad how Hadji and Bandit kind of went together in a way. Both of them basically being, by the standards of the day, less than white males.

    1. You just couldn’t resist looking at it through that filter, could you? You just had to place the bummer idea into the mix. Maybe everyone was just having too much fun. Congrats on a sort of win at subtle trolling.  And if at the end bandit had been in JQ’s lap, I’d imagine you would have said something along the lines of how it’s terrible that an Indian couldn’t be trusted to hold a dog.

      1. Oh, look- it’s this guy again.

        Guess he didn’t read anything I’ve posted about pretty much this, like a zillion times. No surprise there. :/ Dude, what is your damage? lol

        I get it, millie. Completely. I got it even when I was a little kid. One of the big reasons I didn’t watch this as a child. There was just something kind of creepy about the interactions between some of the characters, too…

        1. Oh look it’s you :-)
          big pat on the back for you… you haven’t freaked out about the inherent sexism of Jonny Quest and it’s reinforcement of gender stereotypes etc. Or maybe I just haven’t seen THAT comment. 

      2. Here I was all set to protest that Hadji was more likely from Pakistan,
        being quite obviously Muslim (despite whatever’s up with dressing like a Sikh). But no, I see upon looking it up that he seems to be from Kolkata.

        So there you go.

        1. Yeah – an early episode (I believe it was ep. # 2, but I’m not going to take the time to dig it out now) shows Dr. Quest, Race, and Jonny meeting the orphaned Hadji while Dr. Quest was lecturing in Calcutta.  (They also meet Hadji’s ‘old and venerable friend’, the Pasha Peddler, voiced by Jesse White (the first Maytag Repairman).  Pasha may be old and venerable, but he could probably turn the tables on Sgt. Ernie Bilko without turning a hair…)

    2. Sad how Hadji and Bandit kind of went together in a way. Both of them
      basically being, by the standards of the day, less than white males.

      I didn’t care for the dog so much – never been big on the cutesy characters they used to put in family shows (I wanted to shove Wesley Crusher out an airlock on a weekly basis) – but Hadji was my favorite JQ character. He just seemed to be wise beyond his years in a way Johnny wasn’t. I never got the vibe that the show was presenting him as a pet, though I don’t doubt many viewers of that era saw him as such anyway because assholes watch TV too. Ignore LeoMoon; your observation wasn’t a bummer.

      1. I fucking HATED Chimp Chimp (Speed Racer)…  he was the worst of all. Screechy little bastard…

        just watched the Dauphin episode from TNG tonight- I agree about Wesley Crusher. Right out the airlock for him.

        1. I never liked him, either, even when I was five. I always secretly hoped that Spritle and Chim-Chim would get carbon monoxide poisoning from hiding in the trunk of the Mach 5. 

      2. Hadji was my favorite JQ character. He just seemed to be wise beyond his years in a way Johnny wasn’t.

        Hmm, maybe a Magical Arab, cousin of Magical Negro? 

        LeoMoon, popular TV (and movies, and fiction, etc.) generates popularity by relying so heavily on tropes, including types of characters. I don’t think it’s a bummer to spot them–quite the opposite. Pointing out the obnoxious ones might help prevent their recurrence.

        1. Hmm, maybe a Magical Arab, cousin of Magical Negro?

          Actually, Hadji’s back story has him originating from Kolkata in India, not the Arabian Peninsula, so magical Indian would be more accurate. I just like that he was less reckless and thought things through more carefully. As a very cautious kid myself, it made him easier to identify with than Johnny, who, for all his brains, I always thought was a bit of a fool.

          1. Not to read too much into this, but…

            It was the early 60’s, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  All the writers were worried about was selling the show, getting enough audience to keep the show on the air, and maybe having some fun.  As a writer, you set up two kids for the kids in the audience to identify with.  One is the smart-but-brash ‘action hero in training’, the other is the maybe-smarter, more thoughtful, ‘good-example-you-want-to-set’, think it through and look before you leap, character.  That way you have all your bases covered, and the kids can run plot exposition by talking to each other.  Keeps the story moving, and keeps the kids watching, and that’s really about all there is to it.

            I was seven when JQ went on the air – the Perfect age to be sucked in by it, and I still *love* it.

            (Ever see the ‘Toby Danger’ parody they did on Freakazoid?  That, too, was a labor of love.)

          2. Ever see the ‘Toby Danger’ parody they did on Freakazoid?

            Somehow I missed Toby Danger altogether. Looks even campier than JQ :)

            Freakaziod, on the other hand…let’s just say I once had a ringtone…

        2. Hadji an obnoxious stereo-type? If I recall correctly, there is an episode in which he says he loves hamburgers. I’d say that’s pretty non-stereotypical for an Indian character (even if that was only because the creators hadn’t done a great deal of research). I made the comment because you seem to be doing what I’ve seen you do on a number of BB posts: pop out of the wood work to ‘educate’ your fellow commenters that no BB post is without a PC sin of some sort. 

          1. A bit hard to imagine where Hadji would encounter hamburgers before leaving Kolkata (though I guess you can get a chicken or lamb patty, at least these days). But not as strange as if a character called “Hadji” had said he loved BLTs.

  4. I got a little thrill from watching this, just like when I used to watch the original cartoon opening back in the 1960s.  I’d forgotten how deeply this thing was imprinted on my memories.

  5. Pretty damn impressive!  ok the (spider) spy robot needs to have its legs reduced to their original thin disturbing filaments …but other than that it was damn near perfect.  The robot-chicken producers should give this guy some seed money.

    (crap… i’m old)

  6. You know, it wasn’t until this moment that I realized how much Johnny Quest has shaped my aesthetic as an adult. This is especially damning since I dated a Race Bannon look-alike in college.

    1. Also, the ensuing divorce; it was a shame.

      I’d say regardless whateverthehell this guy used to do it, it is awesome. Labor of love + OCD insanity; humans are cool that way.

      And of course, JQ is the grooviest!

  7. I decided to read Roger’s shot breakdowns before actually watching the finished animation. An hour later and I’m only part way through his detailed production diary. Anyone who can read these notes and then claim Roger’s efforts aren’t a dictionary definition of “wonderful thing” will be taken out back and shot when I become King. And not regular real-time quick-death shot either. I’m talking hot-glued to a cement wall, stop motion executed by a “bullet” on a holding stick moving incrementally forward “shot”. For those final few frames, we’ll likely need to give you muscle relaxants to stop the flinching. Consider yourself warned.

  8. What happened to the part where the spears bounce off the side of the jet???

    I seem to recall a blurb (maybe on boingy) that perhaps Dr. Quest and Race were TV’s first openly gay couple. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Anyway, loved it!!!

    1. The spears bouncing off the jet come from the end credits. As does the boat landing on the frog men and Race flying with a jet pack, armed with bazooka . . .

    2. Wasn’t there a closing sequence as well? It was different than the opening sequence & that’s where the spear chucking occurred   

    3. The ‘spears bouncing off the jet’ was part of the closing credits.  Doug Wildey had been working on an animated version of ‘Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy’ (look it up).  Some test footage had been shot, but that show ultimately did not go into production.  A lot of the work and ideas from ‘Jack Armstrong’ were reworked and recycled into Jonny Quest.  Some of that test footage went into the JQ closing credits.  In fact, if you look at that sequence, you can see the stylized ‘JA’ logo on the plane’s tail, which never showed up in JQ.

  9. All new to me, don’t think JQ ever made it to the UK. Great work all the same.

    Original credits pretty fascinating too; not dealing a ‘bummer’ but it is interesting how various stereotypes and attitudes change over the years.

    Particularly like how the guy being brandished by the mummy gets crushed too. Probably a baddie so had it coming. :)

    1. Oh, he did, he did.  He was a government official trying to fake an ‘incident’ for the sake of stirring up strife.  Dr. Quest, Race, Hadji, and Jonny were to be found (dead) robbing and desecrating the tomb of Anubis.

  10. Johnny and Hadji were no more than common thieves. Every time there was the least bit of trouble they would jump on the nearest motorcycle, boat or other vehicle and take off. No word to the owner, I never saw them return one or compensate the owner.

  11. I remember many happy (and frustrating) hours trying to build a model of the mechanical spider with my Erector set. The poor thing never worked very well.

  12. A fantastic effort!  Faithfully executed, beautifully detailed! Laudable work, worthy of admiration! Kudos, Mr. Evans! — me  

  13. Been a big fan of Hoyt Curtin since his work on the Battle of the Planets soundtrack way back when.  This video is amazing, thanks for sharing it.  Oh, and Race Bannon, RIP. Died in Episode 7 season 1 of the Venture Bros.

  14. Thanks to everyone that has posted. Regarding whether this is all stop motion or CGI, let me address that by saying that I used Photoshop on the computer to composite a variety of stop motion elements frame by frame just as someone in the 60’s would use an optical printer to so the same. Things like lens flare were taken directly from the Photoshop image library so, I suppose, that qualifies as CGI. But, ultimately, the lens flare only appears in a couple of cuts and had to be added by hand, frame by frame as I did not use AfterEffects or any other automated computerized app. The reasons are too varied to get into here but, suffice to say, 99% of the final is pure, good old fashion stop motion. Again, thanks everyone for looking. For those that “get it”, this has been very rewarding. Take care.

    Roger Evans

    1. Mr. Evans, I was 7 when JQ started.  The perfect age to be completely enthralled by it.  I still love it completely.  [Did you know that several years back, someone took a poll to pick the ‘best mother in cartoons’, and Race Bannon won in a runaway?  Not female, but took care of the primary work of bringing the kids up.  And how cool is a ‘Mom’ who can take you scuba diving and teach you Judo?]

      Anyway, my sincerest thanks for this labor of love.

  15. I’ve been following Roger’s progress on this project for over a year. What a triumph. I agree with those who recommend viewing his and Brandi’s work on their blog before criticizing or dismissing the final product.

    And yes, all men who hang out together are gay as blades … Kirk and Spock, Jim West and Arte Gordon, Race and Dr. Quest, every man in on every sports team and every army and navy worldwide … because of course, it’s patently impossible for men to remain merely friends.

    What a world.

  16. OMG an early poster compared JQ’s black turtle neck to Steve Jobs wardrobe and it’s all so patently clear…JQ = Steve Jobs!  But, does that make Woz = Bandit?

    I am beside myself (not because I am multiple personality, that would be “…beside my selves”), no, I remember this from Saturday mornings and was transfixed by this opening. 40 years later I am transfixed again! Roger, you are some kind of wonderful.   Thank you.

  17. Correction, after viewing Rogers site, which you absolutely must do, I learned that it is Roger himself who claimed to have raided Steve Jobs wardrobe to gain the correct black turtleneck for JQ.  I still think that JQ = Steve Jobs BTW, it answers a lot of questions…

  18. To Mr. Evans,

    Thank you for this wonderful slice of nostalgia. I absolutely loved this as a child (quite possibly because there was one character with my skin color, but that’s hindsight talking). I look forward to your future work (I don’t suppose you’d do the end credits as well?

  19. When I think of the show series that have had several seasons and I remember almost nothing about them.  But when I saw the picture at the top, I instantly remembered every character’s name.  Hell, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday!

    The show wasn’t that good but at the time it was something completely different in cartoons and we were mesmerized. 

    I’m sorry to reveal I always kinda dug the ‘magic negro’.  Had a serious crush on Kwai Chang Caine, and Raji from the ‘Maya’ television series.

  20. Wow…..absolutely perfect.  This is the best cartoon ever.  Well written and the drawing style was a complete departure from most other shows….even now.  Great work! 

  21. Yes, I, too, am a 53 year old male, LOVED JQ when I was a kid, and got a big, sh*t eating grin out of this outstanding video. Thank you!

    (To the unimpressed, those likely well under my age, guess you had to be there). : )

  22. if i remember right JQ was one of the cartoons shown by the banana splits.
    a boingboing post of the dickie’s version of the banana splits theme song as soundtrack for hit-girl totally sold me on kick-ass. and then later of course chloe became queen of /b/….

  23. The lens flare over the clouds in the initial rocket-plane exterior shot fogged my eyes with man-tears. I love this opening above all others and this makes it much better. Thank you.

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