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Although most of the success of Marvel Comics and DC Comics comes from their original properties, the addition of a key licensed property can be a big boost. The Star Wars license moving to Marvel Comics is a great example, as it made that line become some of Marvel’s highest selling titles of 2015. So the news (released by Entertainment Weekly) that DC Comics was relaunching properties originally developed as Hanna-Barbera cartoons (and owned by Warner Brothers, which owns DC) was big news. DC will be publishing comics for The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, Herculoids, and others.
Hanna-Barbera was a television animation company founded by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. They were one of the leading cartoon creators of the 1950s up until the 1980s. Even after that, their shows were syndicated to influence many additional generations. Some of the other Hanna-Barbera cartoons that were not announced as part of the DC Comics line are The Jetsons and The Smurfs. DC will be using some of their best talent as the creative teams on the Hanna-Barbera comics. The comic lineup and creative teams were not announced, but we do know that the following talent will work on DC’s Hanna-Barbera comics: Jim Lee, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, Howard Porter and Mark Sexton.
Beyond the fact that DC was relaunching these Hanna-Barbera properties with fanfare, the other big revelation from the announcement was that DC was going to be updating the properties to a degree. This seems like it could be a controversial decision. It is certainly understandable that DC might want to update at least some of the cartoons, many of which were conceived and designed in the 1960s. However, the execution will be incredibly important. The only update we have seen is Scooby Doo, redesigned by Jim Lee, and the results aren’t all that great, in my opinion. Fred is a bro with pointy tatts, Shaggy is a hipster with a handlebar mustache, Scooby seems to have some robotic eyepiece. The female characters aren’t quite so extreme, with Daphne looking more badass and Velma seeming more geeky than bookish.
Still, regardless of whether DC mishandles some of the updates, bringing new Hanna-Barbera comics will probably yield more kid-friendly comics (or at least it should). As comics have matured, comic books were young audiences have become more difficult to find. Marvel and DC have course corrected in the past few years, giving more options, such the recently launched Spidey. Hanna-Barbera cartoons, beloved by children for decades, seems to be the perfect opportunity to add even more kid-centric titles.