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Proving their worth as part of the larger Warner Bros. media family, DC Entertainment has just announced a comic book revamp of the Hanna-Barbera characters bringing the Flintstones, Scooby-Doo, Johnny Quest and Space Ghost and more into the “modern world,”

A long interview with co-publisher Dan Didio and Jim Lee that doesn’t actually come out and name the teams on the new books, but from what we can gather they are:

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Scooby Apocalypse with designs by Jim Lee, and apparently an ongoing by Keith Giffen and Howard Porter.

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Wacky Raceland, a reboot on the venerable Wacky Races story that was satirized in a lovingly nostalgic fashion last year by South Park, with vehicle designs by Mad Max Fury Road designers Mark Sexton and Ken Pontac.

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The Flintstones updated by Amanda Conner and written by Mark Russell (Prez)

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Future Quest, which gathers up Jonny Quest and a bunch of characters designed by Alex Toth in a version by Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner and Darwyn Cooke—which, looking at the art suggests that if these characters were created today they would look exactly as they did when they were invented!

That wasn’t the goal, according to DiDio who says “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. We didn’t want to just repeat what people saw in the past. It’s really important for this to resonate with folks who have never even heard of the characters.”

I don’t mean to pick on a promotional interview, but I think most people have heard of Scooby Doo. including all of JIm Lee’s nine kids, it seems.

“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,” Lee told EW. “It’s a multigenerational 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.”

Lee jokes that the reaction to the new characters will be “Outrage!” — showing he knows a thing or two about the internet.

These are not kiddie books, so it’s unknown what will happen to the ongoing DC Scooby-Doo comic with the “classic’ version of the characters. The target age for these books seems to be “young adult.”

I don’t know where to begin with all of this. The materials shown look just fine for what they are. It does smack a little bit of Loonatics, a revamp of the Loony Tunes characters as futuristics space cops a decade ago that was even more dreadful than it sounds. WB has historically had an uneven track record in trying to update their legacy characters. Sometimes, as with Loonatics, it’s spectacularly bad; on the other hand Space Ghost Coast to Coast, the talk show version of the character, kicked off Adult Swim and inspired a generation.

The oddest thing about all this is that one of the “revamps” —Future Quest—is just a continuation of the originals, although I’ll buy anything by Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner, let alone Darwyn Cooke. Amanda Conner interpreting the suburban sensibilities of the Flintstone is another natural and Mark Russell is great. Nobody needs to redo Scooby Doo — it’s one of the most durable and beloved franchises of all times. However Lee, Giffen and Porter can add the same thing that countless kids on tumblr do to their professional portfolio now.

Wacky Races…now you’re on to something. This is a property that’s been batted around many times with an eye to finding out what happened to Dick Dastardly. Suggesting that he become Immortan Joe is not a bad idea.

To my eye the origin of this project is probably more a notch on the belt of corporate synergy than anything else. But if you were REALLY going to update these characters, how about making them more diverse? Imagine Johnny Quest as a story of a white kid who goes to live with a gay South Asian Couple and their daughter.

Now THAT would be totally 2016.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Future Quest honestly looks awesome! And that seems to be the overall consensus on the net (from what I’ve seen.) The rest… Hmm.

    Scooby Doo is a great idea that’s trying way, way too hard.
    Wacky Race Land – I’ve never even heard of this cartoon? How is that possible?!
    The Flintstones – again, not sure how I feel about this? Kinda intrigued, depending on who the interior artist ends up being.

  2. Future Quest could work, but I’m betting Dc First Wave all over again. Still good to that DC has some balls left and is willing to draw the Quest team with actual guns. And are keeping true to their orgins , Wish I could say the same for the super heros.
    Wacky Races via Mad max reeks of hipster prentious hipster desperation along with Flinstones. There was nothing wrong with Wacky races as is. Heck South PArk proves in their last season its still funny concept that works.
    Oh and Alex Ross space Ghost comics, Boom! triple digit sales.

  3. Future Quest is the only one of these that looks interesting – and that’s all because of the creative team (who know how to do all-ages books based on existing properties).

    For the rest – was the world really crying out for a grown-up Scooby-doo? Or Flintstones? Really? I know DC might be really jealous of the good press Archie has been getting but really?

  4. DC’s corporate timeline is littered with failed imprints, including Johnny DC and Cartoon Network.

    DC never seemed to be able to make titles aimed at kids and teens work. Or care to.
    The highly visible properties were ignored by DC, and are now successfully published by Kaboom and IDW. (Super Secret Crisis War! was loads of fun!).

    So DC has to dig into the archives and find what remains.
    Yes, it feels a bit like First Wave.
    Me… I’d like to see Scooby-Doo and Johnny Quest in a manga style. Quest seems perfectly suited for speed lines.

    What DC isn’t doing? They’re not trying to develop the DC Universe properties for the kids and young adult markets, for libraries and bookstores and book fairs..DC generally waits for Warner Animation to develop a property, and then DC prints the comics, ending the series when the TV show leaves the airwaves.

    Where’s the new version of Young Justice? (Or even the old version by Peter David?) Or a young adult version of the Legion of Super-Heroes? Or the next volume of “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures”?

    Or is DC happy to let others like Random House, Capstone, and Scholastic license the characters?
    Maybe they should do the same for the New 52?

  5. The Flintstones one looks truly terrible. Like fan art of the John Goodman movie. I just don’t understand who their target audience is for something like that. Fans of the cartoon who, uh, want more Flintstones, but in a totally non-Hanna Barbera style? Fans of the movies who want drawings that kind of look like them?

    Same thing with Frankenstein JR and The Impossibles. Jonny Quest looks fine.

    And Scooby Doo……… euuugh.

    Hope it finds an audience!

  6. Torsten, you’ve got the wrong idea.

    DC no doubt would have loved to have the Cartoon Network books coming out from them. CN didn’t want that because they don’t get any money from the comic sales via licensing or anything like that because they’re all part of the same family. Which is why CN went to BOOM@, which of course did well, and IDW, which I suspect the rights have lapsed because IDW hasn’t published anything since the end of the Powerpuff Girls Smash Up mini..

    And it’s certainly not like you’re going to s4e this stuff promoted either on the CN or Boomerang, where they’d get to the right target of fanbase, But Cartoon Network is too busy trying to convince their Family Guy animation inspired version of Scooty-Doo is what everyone whould be watching instead of the way they sank Mystery Incorporated as well as Young Justice, Green Lantern, and Beware The Batman. All because they couldn’t get any merchandising sales. So they got spiteful.

    Second, most of this stuff couldn’t be done by DC. The rights to the HB characters for the most part have been tied up elsewhere. I suspect the Scooby-Doo Team Up book was the first attempt at seeing if something like this would work. And it more than did.

  7. Going to echo some posters upthread and say Future Quest looks great cross-over fun. Don’t really care for the rest on first glance, though I think Scooby Doo could be interesting, depending on how self-aware it is.

  8. Besides Future Quest, which looks kinda awesome, the rest (especially Scooby) look like somebody doing a parody of what DC’s new edgy take on Hanna Barbera, like “Hanna Barbera! It’s not for little kids anymore!” Ugh.

  9. Fine with me to do ‘update’ revamp of Scooby-Doo, etc; but could they also PLEASE make a series that takes from the ’69 – ’71 episodes? We have a developmentally challenged 8 yr old daughter that KNOWS the shows & an accompanying book series would REALLY help us parents by reinforcing storyline, plot development & language. I KNOW we wouldn’t be a ‘small niche’, parents across the board & around the world would use such a series to help their children make the leap from entertainment to education. Something to consider?

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