DC Comics launches a gritty reboot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons

DC Comics launches a gritty reboot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons

Every decade has its own mood. The ’60s were about peace and love, the ’70s were about malaise, and the ’80s were about greed. Halfway through the ’10s, it’s become pretty clear that our current decade is about rebooting, relaunching, and recycling every single story that’s ever been told in any medium since the beginning of time. To that end, DC Comics is nostalgia-mining in hopes of striking gold with Gen-Xers who still have fond memories of spending Saturday mornings with sugary cereal and cheaply made animation. Yes, the company is launching a new comic book line with hipper, gritter remakes of animated chestnuts including The Flintstones, Wacky Races, Jonny Quest, and Scooby Doo.

However, DC is handing each title to a different creative team, so each has a different look and feel. DC sister publication Entertainment Weekly got a first look at the artwork, and interviewed DC co-publisher Dan DiDio about the new titles. Scooby Apocalpyse’s team is led by heavy hitter Jim Lee (All Star Batman & Robin, Batman: Hush, X-Men, and DC’s other co-publisher), alongside Keith Giffen (52, Hero Squared), and Howard Porter (JLA, The Flash). Their artwork clearly intends to modernize the enduring characters—Shaggy sports hipster facial hair, Fred has a tribal tattoo, Daphne wields some sort of futuristic rocket launcher, and Velma appears to be three feet tall and holding a video game controller. The title implies the gang has traded in ghosts and schemers in masks for an apocalyptic wasteland. No word on whether they team up with any of the Monkees.

Future Quest seems to be far more faithful, as Space Ghost comes out from behind the talk show desk to team up with Jonny Quest to fight dinosaurs, aliens, and of course, Brak. Jeff Parker (The Big Book Of... series, Fall Of The Hulks) and Evan “Doc” Shaner (The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Flash Gordon) have stuck to the classic look of both characters, and seem intent on recapturing the spirit of the ’60s-era adventure stories.

Wacky Races, in which H-B characters across its various cartoons faced off in a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-style race each week has been renamed Wacky Raceland, and given a more realistic look, thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road designer Mark Sexton and Ken Pontac (LazyTown, Happy Tree Friends). DiDio describes the revamped story as a “scary, dangerous world... that is just as strange and dynamic as you hope it would be.” We assume that means Muttley won’t be driving, but who knows.

Likewise, Amanda Conner (Archie, Harley Quinn, Power Girl) has made Bedrock’s modern stone-age family look a little more, well, modern, transforming blocky Fred and Barney into characters that more resemble real people. DiDio says, “we’re going to use Flintstones to really bring out that voice and social commentary they might’ve brought out in the ’60s,” and reminds us that the original (as well as Jonny Quest) aired in primetime for viewers of all ages.

This could just be the beginning of a trend, as DiDio reminds readers that, “there’s a deep, deep bench of wonderful characters in the Hanna-Barbera library.” So if you’ve been waiting your whole life to see Deputy Dawg on the trail of a serial killer, or Grape Ape speaking out against climate change and its effects on the world’s vineyards, stay tuned!

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