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Tag Archive: Jay Ward


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.

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Rocky and Bullwinkle cover 1

“Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.”

It must be pretty hard to take a classic property and bring it to the present with the same zing that made it popular years ago.  Publishers continue to try over and over again and usually the effort misses the mark–the original voice is hard to mimic, and the heart of the characterization is never grasped just right.  The exceptions can be found in places like Dynamite Comics’ pulp masked hero monthlies.  Now IDW Publishing has managed to bring the humor and look that we remember so well from the mind of Jay Ward in the 1960s and 1970s back to us as if it never left with its new Rocky & Bullwinkle series.

Like the original series, which featured the moose named Bullwinkle and his flying squirrel pal Rocky, we get the arch-enemies of Boris and Natasha.  Interspersed between stories of Rocky & Bullwinkle we also get that affable Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right and his classic moustached villain, Snidely.  Mr. Peabody and Sherman, who played in segments in the original cartoon, now have their own monthly at IDW, so we don’t know if we’ll see them back here very soon.  But in Issue #1 we get plenty of the same humor and art stylings that we enjoyed in the original cartoons with the other characters.  The voice of each of Bullwinkle and Rocky are simply dead-on.  Even the voice of the narrator, the sign fonts, the environments, and the other characters, all mirror the original show.

If nostalgia is your thing, and you’re after some of that innocent humor kids of all ages will appreciate, look no further than the new Rocky & Bullwinkle.  After the break, check out a seven-page preview of Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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MPcover

Peabody here…

Much more so than we can tell from previews of the coming DreamWorks film Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which we previewed earlier at borg.com here, a new monthly comic book series based on Jay Ward’s classic animated series has all the heart that made the original loved by millions.  Mr. Peabody is the genius dog, of course, who takes his boy Sherman back and forth across time like Doctor Who and his TARDIS or Doc Brown and his DeLorean.

The original animated series-within-a-series called Peabody’s Improbable History, which was featured in episodes of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, is as classic as classic gets, and fans can recite episodes decades after it first aired for kids in the 1960s and re-aired to kids in reruns in the 1970s and beyond.

Issue #1 of Mr. Peabody and Sherman, written Sholly Fisch with art and colors by Jorge Monlingo, is funny, appeals to all ages, and captures the spirit and look of the original.  Here’s a preview of Issue #1 courtesy of IDW Publishing, now in comic book stores everywhere:

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C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

*In memory of Jenny, who waited beside me many hours this year as I wrote for this website, tail wagging and always there for me.  You will be missed.

Jenny 113013

Robinson Robot

I was lucky to catch up with an aspiring creator of short films who has a love for the sci-fi vision of the future as seen through the viewfinder of the past–U.S. filmmaker Michael Prestage.  His films harken back to everything from 1950s serials and commercials to 1960s cartoons like Fractured Fairy Tales, old NASA films, and even the live-action series Tales of the Riverbank.  Michael has a great eye for styles of the past and you could easily see his work used in modern marketing and commercials or to help create the setting for motion pictures taking place in decades past.

I interviewed Michael about three short films, which I am posting in their entirety here.  First, check out Michael’s recent competition entry in the 2013 Firefox Flicks contest:

CB:  Michael, thanks for sharing your work with us today.  Please tell us about your work on Tale of the Firefox.

MP:  Tale of the Firefox was a project that came ridiculously close to never happening.  It was past midnight when I remembered I’d left my PC on in the other room and went to go shut it down.  I got there and there was this little blurb that had popped up sometime in the interim, imploring Firefox users to enter their short film contest proclaiming the virtues of Firefox.  I like Firefox as much as the next person, I’ve been using since the 56k days, but I ran the prospect over my brain cells and I came up dead empty.  I said to hell with it, shut the PC down and forgot about it… or, so I thought.  Lo and behold, I wake up the next morning, grab a scrap of paper and start madly scratching out this offbeat story about a cherubic little kid suddenly finding himself tossed into this creepy netherworld.

CB:  I love the narration that sounds just like someone out of the 1960s.  Was that you or someone else’s voice?

MP:  I’d hit upon the idea of placing my pocket voice recorder inside this old NASA floodlight that I’d been noticing for some time to have unusual resonating properties.  I spent the rest of an afternoon reciting my narration into the amphitheater-shaped lamp, and by that night I had my narrative track laid down exactly as it plays in the completed short.

CB:  How long did Tale of the Firefox take to create?

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