The Quest For Doug Wildey

January 16, 2017

It's 1969 and I'm a nine year old boy staying with his Grandmother in a small town in South Carolina. There is not much to do in this small town when you are a kid so you live for Saturday mornings because that's when cartoons are broadcast over one of the big three affiliates and yes, they will be playing a Jonny Quest episode this morning. It's almost time and I slide in close to the old 18" color cardoid tube television set complete with rabbit ear antennae, a 4" monophonic internal speaker and you better believe the volume is jacked to "distortion" levels because I know that kick-ass theme song delivered by Hoyt Curtin and friends is about to come pouring out of this set at 100 miles per hour and man I'm excited!

I loved Jonny Quest when I was a kid, there was something so cool about traveling the world in super-sonic jets, flying in hover cars, fighting monsters and putting down the bad guys. And all of this was done with your best friend, your dog, and an indestructible, highly trained killing machine as your personal bodyguard - it just didn't get any better than that.

As I began to learn how to draw I would pull from the retro tech vibe of the show no doubt but honestly what I really took from Doug Wildey and Jonny Quest was the idea of perfectionism - even to a fault. As I learned more about Doug and his epic battles with Hanna Barbera over the quality of the show and it's story telling I came away with the sense of a man tortured by his own work ethic and maybe a little bitter over what should have been and never was. It's a bit sad to realize these things but I believe Doug Wildey will be remembered for his talent and ability, the man was above reproach when it came to character drawing and deep detail. His body of illustrations in the realm of the American West involving the Cowboy and particularly Native Americans should be seen and appreciated by all.

As I grew up and became a Father myself I would share this with my Son making sure he understood not only the levels of artistic quality and the advanced story telling involved in this 20 minute cartoon but also the history of the artist and exactly where he sits in the realm of American pop culture.

 

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January 16, 2017

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