Review by C.J. Bunce
A new book at last features a throwback many fans of classic TV cartoons may not be aware of. If you watched Hanna-Barbera animated shows Jonny Quest, Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, Young Samson & Goliath, or Space Ghost before you learned how to read as many kids did, you might never have made the connection that Tim Matheson was the voice of Jonny, Sinbad, Samson, and Jace. That’s the boy who would grow up to be well-known actor Tim Matheson, who would star in Animal House and Fletch, and have key roles in shows like Magnum Force and 1941, and guest star in several TV series, from Leave it to Beaver to Burn Notice, in addition to directing even more shows, all over the past six decades.
In the new book Jonny Quest Speaks: Jonny, Sinbad Jr. & Me, author Kevin Scott Collier pieces together past interviews with creators from Hanna-Barbera, giving a background for Jonny Quest, which premiered in 1964. He includes an interesting and informative interview with Matheson as he recounts not only voicing the various cartoon characters, but his direct work with animation legends Joe Barbera, Don Messick, and Mel Blanc. It all amounts to a good comic-con panel worth of content from Matheson, who recalls his interactions at this time in his life with great clarity. A big deal for Matheson was his first public appearance, flying first class into Kansas City and staying at the Muehlebach Hotel. He signed autographs at a department store, yet his series had not yet aired on television. Matheson illustrates how he learned how the business of Hollywood works (and why the animation pioneers had the biggest houses in town), something he picked up by paying attention to the adults working around him, all always serious about their craft.
Matheson discusses his takes on competing animated series (speaking fondly of animation pioneer Jay Ward) and goes into more detail about working with Blanc and Gary Owens of Laugh-In fame in a chapter on Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, Young Samson & Goliath, and Space Ghost. The actor has been working long enough and is lucky enough to be able to drop names he worked with including Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, and Bob Hope.
Collier includes an episode guide for Jonny Quest, and a brief title summary of Matheson’s other Hanna-Barbera series.
Fans of Tim Matheson will appreciate the actor’s reminiscences about his early acting days, and fans of his Hanna-Barbera series will gain some insight into the industry in the 1960s and a first-person behind-the-scenes account from an important figure in cartoon history. Pick up Jonny Quest Speaks: Jonny, Sinbad Jr. & Me by Kevin Scott Collier, now available here at Amazon.