Zim's back! You dare agree with me? Prepare to meet your horrible doom!
July 23, 2018 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Invader Zim, the unlikely sounding pairing from Jhonen Vasquez, the creative mind then best known for Johnny the Homicidal Maniac [previously], and the cable channel for kids, Nickelodeon, is coming back for a movie, and it looks gloriously weird (Invader ZIM: Enter the Florpus Exclusive Teaser | San Diego Comic-Con 2018 - mostly cinematic score with limited sound effects). Not sure what these words even mean? Join me, friends, for more details from a fellow perfectly normal human worm-baby.

You could jump strait to the videos, you may want to start with the full pilot, which may be widely accessible on YouTube, and if YTV permits your country to view such things, here's a YouTube Playlist of official full episodes in no particular order. There are also 8 episodes on Vimeo, including The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever!

For history, here's Vasquez on the Nickelodeon Animation Podcast (Podtail; also on YouTube - 37:40), from his history finding the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and Alien artbook, to becoming a published comic artist, and sketching up the idea of Invader Zim in a half our, making something new (his old stuff isn't really kid-friendly), something "relentless," full of sarcasm, cruelty and violence. You know, for the kids.

That cruelty was tempered in the ongoing comic series, which started about 9 years after the show was cancelled for various reasons (tl;dr: too expensive for its poor ratings with 11-15 year old target demographic, despite the fact that the show was lauded by critics and older fans).

Given that the TV series went off-air over a decade ago, it might be surprising to find that some TV-focused fan-sites are still online: Room with a Moose & Gir and Cyan Blue's "The Zone" have downloads and information, and "The Zone" has the complete episode list, including titles of episodes that were never made, because Nick pulled the plug with only 7 episodes for the second season (the first had 20). If you want a TON of quotes AND sounds, Scurvy Jake's Invader Zim Sound Page of Doom is also still online, serving up samples from all the aired episodes. Want something with less context? Great! Here's a bunch of Invader Zim clips to stream and download.

If you're just here to know more about the upcoming TV movie, Jhonen wants you to temper your expectations:
Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez can’t promise that the long-awaited Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus! — the first new episode of Nickelodeon’s cult-classic dark comedy in more than 15 years — will be better than, or even as good as, the cartoon you remember.

The way he sees it, it almost definitely won’t be.

”What I’m making isn’t going to be the best episode of Invader Zim,” Vasquez told Polygon just ahead of the creator’s appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, where he and the rest of the team are sharing first details about the series’ one-off reboot.

”I would be battling people’s childhoods and trying to carve out space for a new favorite thing, and that’s the worst attitude to have when making this stuff.”
There's no release date set. So until then (whenever "then" actually is), enjoy the soundtrack, with main theme by Michael Tavera and the rest of the soundtrack by Kevin Manthei.
posted by filthy light thief (40 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Yay, trailer!!! Wooooooo!!
“I’m gunna watch it agiiiiiiin.”
posted by greermahoney at 9:14 PM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Zim was always hilarious in that maybe-I-need-to-be-chemically-altered way.

The sounds of The Doom Song, as well as Kids in the Hall's Kevin McDonald as alien leader Almighty Tallest Purple, are still stuck in my head, fifteen years later.

Fifteen years? Holy crap I'm old.
posted by rokusan at 9:16 PM on July 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oooooooooooooonly if you dance with meeeeeeee!
posted by praemunire at 9:34 PM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

He made it himself!
posted by Palindromedary at 10:01 PM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Yay, we're doomed!
posted by Pronoiac at 10:01 PM on July 23, 2018 [11 favorites]

Is it a hunter destroyer machine?
posted by Crystalinne at 10:21 PM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Invader Zim was way ahead of its time. Though it had a rocky ending and Vasquez doesn't get anything from the mountains of Hot Topic merchandise, without the show there would not be the animation of today... especially the wacky and experimental things.
posted by Docrailgun at 10:31 PM on July 23, 2018

posted by daq at 10:38 PM on July 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Vasquez has a weirdly small overall ouvre for somebody who's been working as long as he has- I've always assumed he must've made out okay on Zim.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:47 PM on July 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Has anyone revisited Invader Zim recently? I was the exact right age for it when it came out (13 years old), and I was totally obsessed with it. I suspect that it probably doesn't hold up in 2018, but I'm too scared to go back to it and verify.

Either way, there probably never has been and never will be anything as perfectly tuned to a 13 year old's wavelength as Invader Zim was in 2001.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 10:56 PM on July 23, 2018 [6 favorites]

The number of Zim quotes I still use on a regular basis is a testament to the cultural phenomenon that was Invader Zim. I mean, I even named my parrot Gir. And went as Gir for Halloween one year (and vaguely want to again now that I’ve mentioned it. 🤔)

My late husband also has a website in the late 90s that featured Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. In fact, iirc, Jhonen had given my husband his blessing to have a bunch of the art from the comics on the site. (Those were the days) I’ve been digging into my memory, trying to remember the url because I think archive.org has/had it, but alas I can’t recall.

So yeah, this may not be the best Zim, but I am looking forward to it so so much.

“Let’s go to my room, Pig!”
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:19 PM on July 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

One Second Before Awakening- I’ve not watched really recently, but I have in the last decade and I would say it does. However, I was in my early 20s when it came out, so viewed it as an adult.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:21 PM on July 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have all of the comics rattling around somewhere in my house, but I only read the first year or so of them. They were funny and bizarre and weirdly joyful. They tickled the places in my brain that the cartoon did when I first became enamored of it growing up. If the same sensibility behind the comics is at work on the movie, it'll be a good time.
posted by Mizu at 11:30 PM on July 23, 2018

”What I’m making isn’t going to be the best episode of Invader Zim ... I would be battling people’s childhoods and trying to carve out space for a new favorite thing, and that’s the worst attitude to have when making this stuff.”

Wow, what an astoundingly sensible attitude towards reboots. I wish more creators (and execs, and fans) saw things this way
posted by saturday_morning at 12:56 AM on July 24, 2018 [12 favorites]

Whyyyyy was there baaaacon in the soooappp?
posted by fizban at 1:10 AM on July 24, 2018

I haven't seen Invader Zim in ages, but I've gotten a lot of mileage out of "AHH WHY DOES IT HURT?" over the years.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:51 AM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I loved Invader Zim and I want this movie to be a runaway rocket success so I can write the spin-off novel.

That is all.
posted by cstross at 1:53 AM on July 24, 2018 [18 favorites]

This is exciting! And such plentiful organs!
posted by wheek wheek wheek at 2:21 AM on July 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

Do you want to wake up the whole planet!?
I do!
posted by moonmilk at 2:58 AM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

Living for this. I just rewatched Zim and it does hold up very well I reckon. I quote it a sickening amount still. Most common is whenever I accomplish even the smallest thing I wonder: Why am I so amazing?!
posted by supercrayon at 3:13 AM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

You have head pigeons.
posted by Foosnark at 4:25 AM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by SansPoint at 5:05 AM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

An hours-long extended Doom Song video was my go-to copypasta in workgroup chat whenever an all-hands meeting was announced.
posted by ardgedee at 5:11 AM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

posted by rmd1023 at 5:47 AM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I discovered JTHM at a college-town comic book store in Bloomington, IN, sometime around 1997/98. The store was one of the few places where I could reliably find rave flyers AND the violet hair dye that I always used at the time. I picked up one of the issues and fell into the whole series over the next few weeks. I began to collect the Squee companion series as well. When the omnibus collections for both series came out, I immediately bought them and pored over them, discovering the joys of Fillerbunny in the process.

A few years later, I remember hearing about Invader Zim coming out on Nickelodeon and having that combination of anticipation and dread that is so common in fandom. In the end, I was really glad that Vasquez didn't try to replicate or adapt the absurdist ultraviolence of JHTM, but instead created something new and coherent. I've always wondered what it was like to discover Invader Zim first, and then go to JHTM. Did the latter make sense in the context of the former?
posted by LMGM at 6:22 AM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

Worse... or better?
posted by Aznable at 6:38 AM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was writing a comic published by SLG -- Dead Eyes Open -- at the apex of Zim, and spent a chunk of time hanging out with Jhonen at a Toronto comic convention. He had (has?) a following: James Turner (Rex Libris) and I would see if we could spot him coming to the table by looking for a procession of tall hair and a general aura of darkness winding its way through the hall.

I, a chubby bald guy with glasses in a button-up shirt, would routinely shock people in line to see Jhonen by demonstrating an encylopaedic knowledge of early Skinny Puppy/Ministry/NIN albums, depending on their jacket patches. They would look at me and see their futures: khakis, spectacles, genteel failure. Once I was goth! Now I am this! Despair, young eyelinered arbiter of Emily Strange accessories!

Jhonen was a really good guy, and not at all "famous" despite the adulation. Quiet, thoughtful, a little embarrassed by the fuss. We all went to Chinatown and had a big SLG table of weirdos. Dan Vado paid.

My time trying to break into comics was ultimately pretty painful and a tetch traumatic, but that was definitely one of the high water marks. I liked him a lot. If he hadn't been amazingly famous and living in California, I flatter myself to think we probably would have stayed in touch.

I'm really glad he's getting this. It's well deserved.
posted by Shepherd at 6:44 AM on July 24, 2018 [23 favorites]

Between this, Clone Wars and Young Justice the 2018 SDCC feels like the year of corporations admitting that canceling immensely popular animated series because they don’t align with whatever arbitrary vision of corporate alignment is on the rise at the moment might just be a stupid idea.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:17 AM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

"It's not stupid, it's advanced!" is a quote that comes into my head far too often while battling IT.
posted by praemunire at 8:42 AM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

One of my favorite bits of trivia is that "TV's Frank" Conniff, from Mystery Science Theater 3000, was a writer on Zim, and later Head Writer.
posted by JHarris at 9:10 AM on July 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

JHarris: He also had a cameo in one episode!
posted by SansPoint at 9:56 AM on July 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

cstross: "I loved Invader Zim and I want this movie to be a runaway rocket success so I can write the spin-off novel.

That is all.

That is hardly all. A cstross-penned Invader Zim novel? That is everything, and I need this in my life.
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:44 AM on July 24, 2018 [7 favorites]

JTHM was really important to me as a depressed teenager. In addition to finding it hilarious, I related to Johnny’s misanthropy and angst. A friend of mine managed to figure out Jhonen’s AIM account and I started chatting with him. We’d play online games together occasionally at night. This was back in the early days of Invader Zim, so he would talk about production sometimes.

It’s hard to read JTHM and not come to the conclusion that Jhonen was struggling with depression and loneliness when he wrote it. The author’s notes in particular seem to reflect that. As someone who was also struggling with those things, I desperately wanted to talk to that person. But Jhonen just wanted to crack jokes and play games. So it became me repeatedly trying to steer the conversation towards serious topics and Jhonen using humor to avoid those subjects at all cost. I cringe now looking back on it. Eventually I managed to wear out his patience with my tiresome angst and we stopped talking. I don’t blame him. I was a pretty big mess at the time. Oh well. He seemed like a good dude.

I still have my copies of JTHM and Squee in a binder somewhere, though like everything else from those years I can’t really bare to look at them. I haven’t followed Jhonen’s work since Zim but I’m glad he’s still out there doing his thing.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:09 AM on July 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

Hey, Dib got a new shirt! He was always my favorite character (and it still takes a lot of effort for me to resist sneaking in "I'll be there ... doing stuff" any time I have to write up a formal plan of action for work or school).

I hope he gets plenty of air-time in the movie, and I hope they manage to get back all the original voice actors. Looking forward to seeing this.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:03 PM on July 24, 2018

I'm down for this. All the characters were so good. The animation was great and true to form. The voice acting was spot on. The dialoge was zany and kept you guessing.

Bring it on Jhonen (who also comes across as really meek and understanding of, and I'm not belittling at all here, at least what NOT to do when making a remake/reboot/sequel this many years later).

posted by RolandOfEld at 7:13 PM on July 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Aww dephlogisticated. I wonder if he remembers you?

I actually haven't watched much Zim (it appeared at a time when I had little access to television), but what I've seen seems awesome. Rebecca Sugar, creator and showrunner of Steven Universe, is known to have been a huge fan of the show as a teenager, to the extend of having written fanfiction and art.
posted by JHarris at 8:49 PM on July 24, 2018

Bonus link: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles | 'Don vs. Raph' by Jhonen Vasquez from SDCC (2016) | Nick -- mentioned in the Nick podcast, where Jhonen sounds like a really nice guy now, but someone who definitely has (and maybe in the past had more of) a dark or depressed streak -- first latching onto the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the art of the alien chest burster as a pre-teen, then how happy he was to be able to quit his job to make comics full-time. But now he's downright cheerful, even looking back on Invader Zim and feeling bad for how bleak it all is, noting that the comics are less bleak, which is really interesting for me, as someone who first knew of him from his Johnny days.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:35 PM on July 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

...I hadn't seen that Don vs. Raph short and now I am all "why isn't this the real show?"

Maybe they should just give Jhonen ALL the shows.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 3:38 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Meanwhile, Vasquez (@JhonenV) appears to be having fun on Twitter:
—I’m getting asked why, if the interest was there, I didn’t do a ZIM series instead of just a single movie and the answer is simple: if I do another zim series I WILL DIE. Thanks, dark wizard’s curse.
—All joking aside, the real answer is: I promised a dying alien never to abuse the power it passed on to me - that power being the one to create children’s entertainment SO powerful it could end the world.
—There hasn’t been more ZIM until now because it’s exhausting for me. I can only DANCE my scripts out while someone interprets my meaning, a process that can take a week per page, and my body just can’t take it.
—Alright, this has been fun, but I should stop and be honest with you all: the real reason I couldn't do more ZIM until now is the two turtles I used to carry me around (one for each foot) died, and I refused to move from where they last carried me (Carl's Jr restroom).
—No, but seriously, making stuff up is fun and all, but the reality is far more sobering and harder to discuss. I haven't done ZIM in so long because of some legal battles that consumed my life resulting from a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos that ended in a couple of murders.
—People are like 'Hey, Jhonen, why haven't you made more ZIM stuff? What else could be so important?" but when I show them the enormity of my world's largest collection of Solarbabies paraphernalia they shut up real fast. My time is precious. RESPECT, SOLARBABITCHES.
And so on and so forth.

Invader Zim's humor was frequently slapdash, but "Zim Eats Waffles" is sublime.
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:42 PM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

I wonder how much of the plot of Zim Eats Waffles was inspired by a certain infamous series of MST host segments?
posted by JHarris at 5:26 AM on July 28, 2018

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