For the next few years, at least a few of Warner Animation Group’s upcoming projects will be based on your favorite Hanna-Barbera properties (Scooby-Doo and The Jetsons). But these classic characters won’t just be making their resurgence on the big screen. Starting this year, they are also set to make a big splash in the world of comics.
As recently reported by Comic Book Resources, DC Comics has announced a new line of comics that will feature revamped versions of characters and franchises from the Hanna-Barbera library.
Launching this year, the titles announced are: Scooby Apocalypse, Wacky Race Land, Future Quest, and The Flintstones.
Scooby Apocalypse puts a unique, sci-fi action-y twist on the Scooby gang. Keith Giffen and Howard Porter are the writers, with DC Entertainment co-publisher and superstar artist Jim Lee doing the artwork.
Wacky Race Land is a new Mad Max-inspired take on the 1968 animated series Wacky Racers. Writer Mark Sexton and artist Ken Pontac are handling the book.
Future Quest is a crossover title featuring the action heroes of the Hanna-Barbera library, fronted by heavy-hitters Johnny Quest and Space Ghost. Tackling this book is the creative team of writer Jeff Parker and artist Evan “Doc” Shaner.
The Flintstones will bring the iconic pre-historic family to comics for the first time. Mark Russel will write the book, with art by rising star artist Amanda Conner.
DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, speaking to Entertainment Weekly, spoke of his love of the original cartoons and his aim for the new line of titles: “I think what you find right now is there’s so much material on pop culture, and these characters resonate with so much of our fanbase. It was so fun to go out and look at them, but not just bring back versions that existed 40, 50 years ago and really look at it the way of saying, if these characters were created and interpreted today, how would they exist? So we handed off our materials to a number of top creators, and what came back was an exciting look that felt very true to the existence of the characters.”
(Future Quest art by Evan “Doc” Shaner)
According to both Lee and DiDio, Scooby Apocalypse is intended to be the “crown jewel” of the new line. “I’m a huge Scooby Doo fan, as I think most people are,” said Lee. “I mean, look at these iconic series and they were cultural touchstones for everyone. All my kids know of Scooby Doo from the various cartoons and live action movies, and we’re in a period where you have people my age that are spending their days thinking about cartoon and sci-fi action movies. It’s a multi-generational obsession at this point, and we just thought it would just be really interesting to take the cartoon version of these characters and see where they would be if we took what existed in the very first iteration of the cartoon and moved it into this day and age.”
Not to be outdone, the DC publishing heads have already anticipated the knee-jerk reaction to these titles and the radical reinvention of some of these classic characters.
“Outrage!” Lee jokes with a laugh. “I hope that they put a smile on people’s faces. I think we think of these characters so much as our childhood, and I want people to kind of embrace these updated versions of the characters and really understand that at the core, these concepts are not just limited to little kids.”
(Future Quest art by Evan “Doc” Shaner)
In addition, Dan has also addressed the idea of taking these kid-friendly cartoons and turning them into comic book fare aimed at older audiences: “You have to have to remember that Jonny Quest and Flintstones were both primetime fare when they were introduced,” says DiDio. “They were already going for the older audience at that moment.”
The plots for these books are being kept underwraps, but as for the general tone of each title: “You’re gonna have an epic adventure in the future stories with Jonny Quest and Space Ghost,” says DiDio. “You’re going to have a scary, dangerous world in Wacky Race Land that is just as strange and dynamic as you hope it would be. I think Scooby Doo is going to excite people and challenge people, and I think that we’re going to use Flintstones to really bring out that voice and social commentary that they might’ve brought out in the ’60s and raise it back for today.”
These new spins will also allow the creators to tell stories with these characters that couldn’t be told in any other media. “There are certain things you can do in longform serialized content that you can’t do in other media,” adds Lee. “And we want to take advantage of that and give our creators the freedom to take chances with these characters in a way you might not see in other media. I think that’s the fun of working in comics.”
Lastly, DiDio and Lee hinted that there could be more DC/Hanna-Barbera titles beyond the initial lineup: “There’s a deep, deep bench of wonderful characters in the Hanna-Barbera library we’d love to get involved in, so this is just the first step into a very steep pool,” reveals DiDio.
These comics will debut in local comic shops in May.
What do you think? Any thoughts on these new comics and the new spins on the classic cartoon characters?