Episode 18: Dr. Zin from Jonny Quest, Jeff Parker Interview

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Dr. Zin

Dr. Zin is the arch nemesis of Dr. Benton Quest on the animated cartoon Jonny Quest that first aired on September 18th 1964. Jonny Quest actually aired in prime time and was a huge success both because of it’s incredible art and storytelling but it only lasted one season. Like a lot of Sci-Fi shows of that time it made most of its money and gained even more popularity in syndication. The program was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems, and was created and designed by comic book artist Doug Wildey.

I remember just loving this show. I watched it in syndication and like a lot of shows that you only have evern seen in syndication, I thought there were more than one season and was surprised to find out that it ended so soon. It’s like when you find out Bill Murray was only on one season of SNL.

Quest, or The Adventures of Jonny Quest an animated series, a sci-fi series, that to put it simply is about a boy, his friend and dog Bandit accompanying their father on very cool adventures against all kinds of baddies. The show’s main protagonists where Jonny Quest an 11-year-old boy whose mother had died when he was young and was schooled in all kinds of fun stuff like judo, firearms and scuba diving. Dr. Benton Quest is Jonny’s dad and is a scientific genius who works for the government and tries to be the best dad he can figuring people are trying to kill them every episode. To help with that the government has put Roger “Race” Bannon in their employ as a bodyguard. Race is an awesome character and always reminded me of Steve McQueen. Hadji is Johnny’s best friend and was kind of adopted by the Quest’s. He’s more of a thinker than Jonny but is well versed in judo and all the activities that Johnny excels in but also has some mystical ability. And to round out the cast there is Bandit who is an actual dog, unlike a lot of Hanna-Barbera dogs like Scooby-Doo.

The quests base of operations was there futuristic compound in the Florida Keys but they are rarely there as the race around the globe solving scientific mysteries that threaten the world. Now the quests faced a lot of cool villains and plots of world domination and destruction but only one villain appeared in more than one episode, and that is Dr. Zin.

Dr. Zin is a criminal mastermind who on more than one occasion tries to take over the world through various evil schemes and or creation. He is on the same level as Benton Quest as far as intelligence goes and they, as Dr. Quest announces in Zin’s first episode, are arch rivals. The only problem with the character is unfortunately the era he was created in. Dr. Zin is asian and he fits into the category of a Yellow Peril villain that was common in the Cold War era. You can see this a lot with villains of that time. It’s all pretty gross and racist but to be honest this kind of stuff still happens today.

Zin first appeared on The adventures of Jonny Quest in episode 5 titled the “Rise of the Gold” which aired in 1964. In the episode the Quest’s discover a plan that Zin has masterminded to destroy the world’s economy via the introduction of “fake” gold via alchemy. He actually in f our episodes in the original series and never actually fought Quest but was the mastermind behind the plans. He was the high level guy, the idea man. His most famous or remembered appearance was in the episode, “The Robot Spy” and it was not so much for him, but for the robots he created. They were these cool spider-like robots with on eye. They were really cool. There are plenty of images on the episodes page so check them out.

The character of Zin was voiced by Victor Herbert Perrin who you have heard and seen here and there in the 1960’s. I love doing research on these characters and this was a fun find. Victor Perrin was not only the voice of Zin, but he did the introduction for the show The Outer Limits. I love that show and to learn he was the voice of “Control” was awesome. And if that wasn’t cool enough he voiced characters in the original Star Trek series. He was the voice of the Metron in the episode “Arena” when Kirk fought the Gorn and was the voice of Nomad probe in the episode “The Changeling.” He did get to appear in person in a very memorable episode called Mirror, Mirror where the crew transported to a evil mirror universe. Victor plays the Halka head of state.

Well back to the show. Zin and the Quests battle many times throughout all versions of the show. There was the original series, The New Adventures. a Jonny Quest movie and The Real Adventures. But as always no matter the plan Zin unfortunately came up short. But man could he build a really cool robot.

One of the reasons why I wanted to highlight a Quest character was because of the new comic book out titled “Future Quest” written by Jeff Parker. It is just amazing and fun and I cannot recommend it enough. It just doesn’t have the Quests in it, it has everyone in it. Whse everyone? I’m talking Space Ghost, Zin, The Impossibles, Frankenstein Jr., The Herculoids, Mightor and more to come. This is like childhood crack in four colors. If you loved those shows, buy this comic. If you just like awesome comics…buy this book. It’s just so much fun.

Now for something a little different. I had the opportunity to work with Jeff Parker, the writer on Future Quest on a project called Meteor Men a few years ago and asked him if we could talk about the new series and totally geek out. So I give you a conversation I had with the amazing Jeff Parker.