Invader Zim

Invader Zim is an American animated television series created by Jhonen Vasquez for Nickelodeon. The series centers on an extraterrestrial named Zim, from the planet Irk, and his mission to conquer Earth and enslave the human race along with his malfunctioning robot servant GIR. He is antagonized by Dib, a young paranormal investigator who is determined to stop Zim from succeeding.

Vasquez pitched Invader Zim to Nickelodeon, who desired a series for their older demographic. As the series went on, ratings declined and budgetary issues became more frequent. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon cancelled the series, leaving several episodes unfinished. The show first ran on Nick from 2001 to 2002, with a handful of completed second-season episodes initially going unaired; these episodes were later seen on DVD in 2004 and aired on the Nicktoons Network in 2006.

Invader Zim won an Annie Award, an Emmy Award and a World Animation Celebration Award, with nominations for six additional Annie Awards and a Golden Reel Award. Despite its early cancellation, due to increasing popularity and above average merchandise sales[1][2] it has been labeled a cult classic.[3][4][5][6]

An upcoming television film based on the series, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus!, is slated to premiere sometime in 2019.[7][8]

Invader Zim
Invader Zim title card
Created byJhonen Vasquez
Directed by
  • Steve Ressel
  • Jordan Reichek ("Pilot")
  • Jhonen Vasquez (Enter the Florpus!)
Voices of
Theme music composerKevin Manthei
Composer(s)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes27 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Jhonen Vasquez
Producer(s)
  • Monique Beatty
  • Christine Griswold
  • Steve Ressel
Running time23 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor
Release
Original network
Picture format480i (4:3 SDTV)
Original releaseMarch 30, 2001 –
August 19, 2006
Chronology
Followed byInvader Zim (comics)

Plot

Invader Zim characters
From left to right. Top: Zim, Zim in his human disguise, GIR, GIR in his dog disguise, Dib, and Gaz.
Bottom: Professor Membrane, Ms. Bitters, Almighty Tallest Red, and Almighty Tallest Purple.

The series centers on Zim (voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz),[9] a member of the imperialistic Irken race, an extraterrestrial species from the planet Irk, who are bent on universal conquest and whose social hierarchy is based solely on height rather than any type of skill or intellect. The Irken leaders, known as The Almighty Tallest (Wally Wingert and Kevin McDonald), rule the Irken Empire together because they are exactly the same height. As recounted in series premiere, "The Nightmare Begins", Zim, who is very short, is also overzealous, narcissistic and megalomaniacal. He was banished to the Irken Food court planet, Foodcourtia, for absentmindedly nearly destroying Irk and his own race during their first invasion known as Operation Impending Doom I.

When Zim learns the Irkens are planning a new invasion called Operation Impending Doom II, he, not understanding the purpose of his exile, “quits being banished” and leaves Foodcourtia and travels to the Convention center planet called Conventia, for the Great Assigning, an event where Irken Elite soldiers are chosen to become Invaders–soldiers whose missions are to blend in with the indigenous life forms of their assigned planet, collect information about the planet and its inhabitants and prepare the planet for conquest by the Irken Armada. Zim is determined to regain his status as an Invader and pleads with The Tallest to assign him a planet. In a desperate act to get Zim as far away as possible and ensure he would not ruin things the second time around, The Tallest send Zim on a fake “secret mission” to a “mystery planet” located on the outskirts of their known universe which they do not think even exists, in order to keep him occupied and away from the real invasion. Zim is joined in his mission by GIR (Rosearik Rikki Simons), an ineffective and erratic Standard Issue Information Retrieval (SIR) unit.

After a six month long trip across the universe, Zim finally arrives at this "mystery planet" which not only really does exist, but also coincidentally happens to be Earth. (According to the DVD commentaries, Invader Zim takes place in an alternate universe of its own, with a present-day Earth somewhat more technologically advanced than the real Earth.) Delighted with his find, Zim quickly goes to work and succeeds at setting up his base of operations in a random suburban area on Earth, much to the dismay of The Tallest. Due to his short stature, Zim disguises himself as a human child and attends a local school (spelled “Skool”) in an attempt to collect knowledge about Earth and learn the planet's weaknesses. The remainder of the show focuses on Zim's time "infiltrating" the human race at school or at his home base, planning attempts at world domination, and the enslavement of humanity. Opposing Zim is his classmate Dib (Andy Berman), a young boy who is obsessed with the paranormal and supernatural and is determined to expose Zim as an alien and thwart his plans for world domination.

Supporting characters include Dib's cynical and apathetic sister Gaz (Melissa Fahn); Zim and Dib's demonic teacher Ms. Bitters (Lucille Bliss); and Dib and Gaz's famous, but neglectful father Professor Membrane (Rodger Bumpass). Later in the series, other alien characters begin to appear, including Tak (Olivia d'Abo), a fellow Irken seeking revenge against Zim; Lard Nar (Fred Tatasciore), the leader of a resistance group called The Resisty who wants to overthrow the Irken Empire; and Sizz-Lorr (Jim Wise), Zim's former Irken employer on Foodcourtia who attempts to recapture his employee.

Apart from eight double-length episodes (including the debut), each episode is a self-contained storyline. Some occurrences from previous episodes are mentioned, but there is little continuing storyline other than the main invasion plot. However, towards the end of the show, a larger universe of characters and organizations were introduced to build continuity: Tak appearing and seeking revenge against Zim; Dib's capture and repair of Tak's spaceship to travel through space; resistances to the Irken Empire such as the Meekrob and The Resisty; and other various devices which were becoming more and more a part of the show's central mythology.

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
PilotDecember 24, 2011Nicktoons
120March 30, 2001September 28, 2002Nickelodeon
27December 10, 2002August 19, 2006Nickelodeon (2002)
Nicktoons (2006)
Television filmSpring 2019[10]Nickelodeon

Production

Conception and early development

Jhonen vasquez
Invader Zim creator Jhonen Vasquez

Prior to creation of Invader Zim, Nickelodeon desired a series to suit its "eleven- to fifteen-year-old" demographic.[11] Nickelodeon producer Mary Harrington caught wind of a comic book called Squee!, which is a spin-off of another comic book called Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Impressed with Squee!, Mary Harrington contacted the creator of Squee! and JtHM, then-22-year-old Jhonen Vasquez, who had zero experience in animation at the time, and asked him if he would like to pitch an animated series to Nickelodeon; Jhonen accepted the offer.[12][13][14]

Jhonen knew from the start that his previous works were definitely not suitable for Nickelodeon, so instead of adapting something he had already done, he decided to make something new. Since he was creating a show for a children's network, Jhonen compiled together many things he loved during his own childhood, including: robots, monsters, horror films, paranormal investigators, sci-fi flicks, Monty Python, the works of Douglas Adams and of course, aliens.[12][13] Before settling on the darker concept of an alien invader, Vasquez briefly considered doing a more light-hearted show along the lines of Mork & Mindy, with a zany alien misunderstanding Earth customs and ultimately, learning a lesson at the end; Vasquez said that while this idea probably would have found more success on Nickelodeon, he quickly dropped the idea, believing it would not fit his style of writing.[15] Jhonen came up with the entire premise for Invader Zim in about an hour, while sitting in bed when he could not sleep. He was inspired by the idea of an alien who came from an incredibly advanced race and has access to such powerful and advanced technology that he could easily take over or destroy the Earth single-handedly, but instead, he decides to stay in school all day, never even thinking to sneak out.[16]

A pilot for Invader Zim was originally pitched to the network in 1999,[14][17] which led to the series being green-lit. Vasquez indicated that very little of his writing style was changed over the course of Invader Zim, other than restricting certain language and visuals that may not be suitable for children. Vasquez cited that the biggest change for himself was going from working alone on a comic to working with thousands of people at Nickelodeon, saying "it's an absolute misery".[18] However he said that the experience of working on Invader Zim was "incredibly gratifying" but also "fiendishly frustrating".[18][19]

Animation

Invader Zim was produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studio with Nick Digital providing the CGI animation services and Sunwoo Entertainment providing the 2D animation services. Salami Studios provided the post-production and sound services for most episodes of the series, and Encore and Hollywood Digital provided the post-production services for a few episodes in season one. In season two, the animation style became slightly more stylized and pronounced in motion than in season one.[20]

Invader Zim's art style is stylized with sharp edges, thick black outlines, big heads, small or elongated bodies, and big eyes for the characters. Invader Zim’s art-style was initially difficult for the animators to learn. Director Steve Ressel even admits that it was the hardest style he had ever worked on, citing the characters heads as the most complicated aspect of their designs.[19][13]

Invader Zim was one of the first animated television shows to merge 2D animation with CGI animation.[13] When the development on Invader Zim was first getting started, Steve Ressel consulted with the crew of Futurama to figure out how to integrate 2D animation with CGI animation, since they were one of the first animated television shows that merged the two mediums. When the Futurama crew saw the show they were very impressed by how seamlessly the Invader Zim crew integrated both mediums, specifically in the episode "The Wettening".[19]

While the average episode of an eleven-minute animated television show usually has around 80–120 pages of storyboards per episode, Invader Zim's storyboards were around 250–350 pages per episode. This is because Invader Zim has a very dedicated attention to detail outlining every ounce of a character's movements and method of acting, which is something Nickelodeon was very impressed by.[19][13]

The episode "Zim Eats Waffles" was originally supposed to be one long shot, panning between Dib's reaction and his computer screen; this is because the animators wanted to try to have the longest single shot in animation history. However, this idea was scrapped, due to it limiting the episode's storytelling capabilities and it being too different to animate. The majority of "Zim Eats Waffles" still ended up being one continual scene though.[19][13]

Voice acting

When casting voice actors for Invader Zim, series creator, Jhonen Vasquez did not want actors who were just capable of doing zany voices because it sounded less natural to him. He made a point to cast people with speaking voices that were naturally distinct and out of the ordinary so that the cast did not have to do unnatural voices, but instead just speak naturally.[19]

Mark Hamill was originally hired to do the voice of Zim for the pilot episode, but was replaced before the pilot was shown to Nickelodeon executives because his voice did not feel right for the character according to Jhonen.[19] Mark Hamill was replaced by voice acting professional, Billy West, who remained the voice of Zim for the pilot. After the show was picked up for a full series, Jhonen decided to replace Billy West with Richard Steven Horvitz, saying that Billy West was “too well known” and that he wanted all of the voices for the main characters to be unique and not similar to something that people have heard before. Also, due to Futurama still being on the air at the time, Jhonen did not want the same voice actor to be the lead in two current sci-fi comedies.[13]

Jhonen Vasquez wanted someone with no experience in voice acting to play the part of GIR, as a reflection of how broken and messed up GIR really is.[19] Jhonen wanted someone who sounded unprofessional and broken, but all of the actors who auditioned for GIR were "good actors" who just did a "stock crazy robot voice", and he was mad at that. Jhonen then asked his friend, Rosearik Rikki Simons, who was working with him on his comic called I Feel Sick at the time, to try to audition for GIR saying he "couldn't screw it up anymore than anyone else".[21] Rikki Simons did a few different voices for his audition for GIR, including one where he was trying to imitate his mother-in-law, but decided it was too "shrieky". He then remembered when he used to play with hand puppets with his father as a kid and tried to do one of those voices. Rikki was also a colorist on Invader Zim and in the same month he auditioned for GIR, in November 1998, he also helped color the pilot episode.[19] Jhonen said that he gave Rikki the part of GIR because he was "bad at it", and that fit the character.[22] When voicing GIR, Rikki's voice was edited to make it sound higher-pitched and metallic. While Rikki eventually learned to perform the voice without the high-pitch editing, the metallic quality still had to be added. Unedited versions of Rikki's voice-overs can be heard in voice recordings for the unfinished episodes.[13]

Music

Jhonen Vasquez asked his friend Mark Tortorici to come up with the theme music for Invader Zim. Jhonen said that all he really wanted for the theme music was military music to represent Zim mixed with futuristic electric orchestral music. Once the direction for the music was settled on, Tortorici produced the theme music on an Alesis QS8 very quickly and it did not go through many changes, but they did reorchestrate it for the TV series and stuck with it from that point on.[23]

Vasquez's team selected Michael Tavera, who is known for composing the music for The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and Stitch! The Movie, to compose the music for the pilot episode of Invader Zim. Vasquez said that he asked for several of the tracks that Tavera produced to be discarded and that ultimately the team had less than half of the number of tracks that they planned to submit. According to Vasquez, he and Tavera were not "a great fit" for one another creatively. Vasquez described the pilot music as having a "more 'children's television' sound," with a "much more traditional and not as surprising" theme as he wanted, but added that the music "worked for the pilot." Tavera's cover version of Tortorici's theme music did not appear in the pilot as there was no opening credits sequence. Vasquez said that members of the Invader Zim crew laughed at Tavera's version of the theme because it was "cheesy," adding that the reaction was not mean-spirited and that Tavera had received little information about the series before submitting the music.[13]

Tavera did not become a part of the regular Invader Zim crew, and was replaced with Kevin Manthei, who is also known for composing the music for Generator Rex, The Sims 2, and Robot Chicken, to compose the series' music.[24] Manthei's music for the series is industrial and techno in nature.

The anime internet radio station, “Anime Stuff R” did a radio broadcast special called, “The Kevin Manthei Invader Zim-phony Special” which featured a majority of the music Kevin Manthei composed for Invader Zim. The broadcast special was hosted by Kevin Manthei, DJ Richard Rae and Tom Mitchell (DJ Tomzer1) and was broadcast from September 13, 2002 to October 15, 2002. The entire broadcast is 5 hours, 26 minutes, and 28 seconds long and includes music from every episodes of Invader Zim, except for “The Most Horrible X-mas Ever”. The broadcast was extremely popular, so Anime Stuff R (temporarily renamed "Anime Stuff Z" for the special) decided to release a CD of the broadcast. However, due to financial reasons, they only made 100 copies of this CD. There are 325 tracks on the CD and the interior of the CD cover features messages from both Kevin Manthei and Richard Rae.[25][13]

Kevin Manthei's message says:

When I was approached by Richard E. Rae about the possibility of an internet radio show featuring hours and hours of my "Invader Zim" music, I was thrilled. What a great opportunity to let the fans of "Invader Zim" hear the music!

Richard went way beyond what I thought the show was going to be, and he poured his heart and soul into producing the "Zim-phony". Richard is not just a fan, he's a professional who uses his passion for music and his willingness to work hard at it to produce great shows. I am honored that he and Tom took the time to put the "Zim-phony" and this "Special Edition" together. Happy listening!

Richard Rae's message says:

We took chances with the "Zim-phony Special".

I took a chance by approaching Kevin Manthei with the idea. Kevin took a chance in trusting his music to someone he only knew from e-mail. My friend Tom took a chance too, okaying a show with music from an American cartoon series instead of a Japanese Anime. These chances definitely paid off! The "Zim-phony Special" broke every Anime Stuff R ratings record, thanks to the overwhelming response to this show from you, the "Invader Zim" fans. Of course, the "Zim-phony" is all about the excellent music of the remarkable Kevin Manthei. I certainly owe Kevin more thanks than I can ever hope to articulate for his terrific support during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This Mini CD you're holding is proof that some chances are definitely worth taking. Thank you for listening!

Broadcast history

Nickelodeon had initially desired a block of “edgy” programming for their older demographic when Invader Zim was green-lit. But for unknown reasons, no other “edgy” shows ended up being green lit for this block and Invader Zim was left as the only show on the network that could fit such a block, and as a result, this block of “edgy” programming never ended up happening; Leaving Invader Zim hard to place in an appropriate time slot suitable for its intended demographic. Invader Zim ultimately, ended up being sandwiched between The Fairly OddParents and Rocket Power, which did not feel like a suitable time slot for the show, according to the creator.[15] Invader Zim was originally intended for 11-15 year olds, but due to its poor time slot placement, it ended up being viewed primarily by 6-10 year olds, many of whom were turned off by the show's dark and disturbing nature, resulting in the show receiving poor ratings and viewership.[11]

Even though Invader Zim usually aired later at night, the show never found a time slot that the creators of the program thought was suitable for it and the show continuously suffered in ratings amongst 6-10 year olds, Nickelodeon's core demographic.[11]

In an interview with IGN in 2004, Jhonen Vasquez said that when it became apparent that Nick was the "place for kids" but not “kids who want their eyes ripped out”, they had asked for Invader Zim to be transferred to MTV or a more “adult network” similar to what Nick had done with The Ren & Stimpy Show, as the series did not feel right on Nickelodeon and would have likely found greater success elsewhere. Unfortunately, this never ended up happening and instead, Nick was all about trying to bury the show with ever-changing time slots, which further hurt the show's ratings.[15]

Invader Zim premiered on March 30, 2001, and contains 20 episodes in its first season. At the beginning of the series, new episodes of Invader Zim were aired on Friday nights usually at 9:00PM (ET/PT).[26][27][28] In August 2001, Nickelodeon renewed the series for a second season, which was originally planned to consist of 20 episodes.[29]

Invader Zim’s Friday night time slot ceased with the episode, “Door to Door” which was originally scheduled to premiere on September 14, 2001; but after the attacks of 9/11, three days prior, “Door to Door” and its paired episode "FBI Warning of Doom" ended up getting abruptly pulled from Nickelodeon's schedule and pushed back over six months to March 2002. This was partly because “Door to Door” contained a violent scene which resembled the attacks of 9/11, that now needed to be cut and re-done; but also due to the “blanket fears that anything remotely violent would be received as being in poor taste” given the atmosphere and condition of the country at the time.[15][30][31][32] Invader Zim suffered creatively after 9/11 and Nickelodeon began frequently and inconveniently changing the shows' time slots with little promotion for new episodes which led to an even further drop in ratings and viewership.[15][31]

The uncut version of “Door to Door” was accidentally aired on Nickelodeon on March 29, 2002, which was the first time the episode premiered. All subsequent airings of “Door to Door” were of the cut version.[33]

In January 2002,[29] Nickelodeon announced that they had plans to cancel the series; upon hearing hearing this announcement, many fans became outraged at Nickelodeon for scheduling Invader Zim for poor and frequently changing time slots towards the end of its run and for not providing the show with a good amount of promotional attention compared to some of their other shows at the time.[34] Almost immediately after the announcement was made, fans launched an online petition to try to change Nick's mind or get the show picked up by a different network, and even though the petition collected over 55,000 signatures by April 2002, it was not enough to prevent Nickelodeon from canceling the show.[35]

The episode “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever” was broadcast out of order, as evident by the presence of the new character, Minimoose, who did not get a proper introduction. Minimoose's introductory episode is called “Nubs of Doom” and was originally intended to air before “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever”, but because Nickelodeon was planning on canceling the series, the show's staff had to pick and choose their final episodes very carefully and Jhonen Vasquez said that he was more excited for “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever”, so that episode was made instead, leaving “Nubs of Doom” unfinished.[19][36]

The final episode of the series, “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever” aired on Nickelodeon on December 10, 2002. The show finished with a total of 27 of its initially contracted 40 episodes;[35] leaving at least 17 episode segments and a TV movie titled ”Invader Dib” unfinished.[13] Concept art, scripts, voice recordings, storyboards and animatics for some of these unfinished episodes can be found online or in the special features of some of the DVDs.

Six of the completed second-season episodes initially went unaired, these episodes were later seen on DVD in 2004 and aired on Nicktoons from June 10 to August 19, 2006. “The Most Horrible X-mas Ever” was the only second-season episode that premiered on Nickelodeon, the rest of the second-season episodes premiered on Nicktoons.

On December 24, 2011, the series' pilot had its television premiere on Nicktoons (it had previously only been seen on DVD.)[37] after an eight-hour marathon and followed by the result of Nicktoons' "Girreatest Zim Moments" online poll.[38]

Reruns of Invader Zim are usually aired on Nicktoons.[12] The series premiered on NickSplat for the first time on January 2, 2019, with an seven-hour marathon.[39]

Both seasons of Invader Zim are available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace,[40] Zune Marketplace and PlayStation Store. In addition, the entire series is available for purchase on Vudu, Google Play, YouTube and iTunes.[41] The entire series is also available for streaming on Hulu and Amazon Video.[42]

Challenges and censorship

Invader Zim would frequently find itself at odds with network censorships; as in many episodes, it was originally intended for certain characters (such as Keef and Iggins) to be killed off at the end of an episode, but Nickelodeon would not allow any characters to be killed off and demanded the crew add certain details suggesting that they survived or in some cases, rewrite the episodes to where they would not die. They complied, however did so in an intentionally forced and sarcastic way to purposely convey their disagreement and reluctance toward the decision, such as the sarcastic "No characters were harmed in this episode" end-card message at the end of the episode "Hamstergeddon" where many background characters "died" onscreen.[13][15]

In the DVD commentary for the episode "Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy", Jhonen Vasquez reveals that the original idea for the episode was for Zim to kill Dib off permanently, and for Dib to be replaced with a new kid named Louie. But once again, Nickelodeon would not allow any characters to be killed off permanently and so this did not end up happening.[43]

In "Door to Door" the virtual reality world that Zim shows people was originally going to involve a demolished city that resembled New York, but Nickelodeon demanded that this be changed due to its similarities to 9/11. On reflection, Jhonen Vasquez said that he prefers the new virtual reality world to the old one, since he does not like the idea of a real-life city existing in Invader Zim.[19][32] The original version of this scene can be found online.[44]

One of the biggest problems Nickelodeon had with the show before it premiered was with Dib's design. Jhonen wanted Dib to wear a trench coat, but Nickelodeon opted against this because they feared Dib's clothing would remind people of the Columbine High School massacre, in which the two teenagers responsible for the shootings both wore trench coats during the attack. Nickelodeon ultimately lost this fight and Dib ended up wearing a trench coat in the show.[15][19][13]

Later, Nickelodeon wanted to cut Dib from the show outright because they did not think he was funny or interesting enough. Jhonen fought back with a project called "God Save the Dib", which involved making slight changes to Dib's character to make him more funny and interesting in order to avoid Nickelodeon cutting him from the show. One notable change that came out of "God Save the Dib" was making Dib's head bigger than his body, which became a reoccurring joke throughout the series.[12]

The original name for Gaz's handheld game console was going to be "Game Slave Advanced", a spoof of Nintendo's handheld game console, the Game Boy Advance. However, the people at Nintendo did not like this parody and threatened to sue Nickelodeon if the name was used. So the name was changed to "Game Slave" instead.[13]

Jhonen wanted to add some red blood splatters to certain violent scenes in the episode "Bestest Friend", but Nickelodeon forbid this.[13] Also, at end of "Bestest Friend", Keef was originally going to fall off of a building and onto a power line, which would have electrocuted him, but Nickelodeon was worried that kids might try to imitate this behavior and demanded that it be changed. The next idea was that Keef gets run over by a car, and spins around on the tire as it drives away, but Nickelodeon denied this scene too, this time for being "too violent". In the final version, Keef gets attacked by a squirrel and falls off of a building, which Nickelodeon was fine with.[45][46]

In the episode "Hobo 13", Skoodge was going to be shown eating his own skin to survive, but Nickelodeon denied this scene and even the Invader Zim crew admitted that they thought it was "too much".[13]

In the original ending of the episode "Walk of Doom", Zim and GIR were dropped off in a ghetto with Mexican music playing in the background and a banner reading "Welcome to Mexico"; feeling that it would come off as racist, Nickelodeon denied this and the scenery was changed to a vaguely Mexican-looking (but still filthy) town, the music was changed to disco music and the banner was changed to say "CARNE", which translates into "MEAT".[45][47]

Originally, the episodes "Dark Harvest" and "Bestest Friend" were supposed to air together, but Nickelodeon would not allow this, saying that those two episodes are "too twisted" to air together. So instead, "Dark Harvest" aired with "Germs" and "Bestest Friend" aired with "NanoZim". Additionally, "Dark Harvest" was originally supposed to be called "The Hearts and Lungs of Zim's Darkness", but Nickelodeon denied this title.[19]

In response to these censorships and restrictions, the writers of Invader Zim slipped in ways to poke fun at Nickelodeon, or to simply go against their wishes. This includes the character Nick, who is a boy that is always happy and a not-so-subtle reference to Nickelodeon's frequent demands that Jhonen make the show "happier" and more appealing to certain viewers, which Jhonen always detested.[48]

Bloody GIR

Bloody GIR, which depicts an image of GIR covered in blood, was created when series creator Jhonen Vasquez illustrated GIR covered in blood and wanted to put this drawing into an episode of Invader Zim; Nickelodeon, however, prohibited it.[19][49] Director Steve Ressel and illustrator Chris Graham then snuck the forbidden drawing into a single frame of the episode "Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy." Post-production supervisor Jason Stiff has confirmed that the image does indeed appear in that episode,[50] and Ressel also confirmed its existence in interviews.[49][51] The image of Bloody GIR was reportedly scattered throughout the “last fourteen episodes” of the series by Ressel and Graham.[52][13] Bloody GIR can be seen the most clearly during the intro to the episode, “Mortos Der Soulstealer”.[53] Although the idea for Bloody GIR was confirmed by Ressel not to have surfaced until the episode “Bad, Bad Rubber Piggy”, some claim to have found it in earlier episodes of the series, such as "Dark Harvest" and "Attack of the Saucer Morons”. Additionally, some people have claimed that Bloody GIR was meant to debut in the episode "GIR Goes Crazy and Stuff", in which GIR was supposed to be covered in blood while floating with the data canister and draining humans, But this directly contradicts Ressel's statements on the matter.[13]

Many people believe that Bloody GIR was the reason behind the cancellation of Invader Zim; however, Jhonen Vasquez has revealed that Nickelodeon did not find out about the image's inclusion until after the show's cancellation. Vasquez also stated that when it was discovered by Nickelodeon, they were not particularly bothered by it, since kids would not notice it anyway.[12]

Certain images of Bloody GIR can only be seen in a frame-by-frame viewing. Otherwise, it will be a flash, or, in some cases, blended into the movements of the animation. Bloody GIR is never animated and will always appear as a still image. However, the opacity and size of the Bloody GIR is varied.

Cancellation

On the subject of why Invader Zim was cancelled, creator of the show Jhonen Vasquez said, "I could go on and on with variations of the most fantastic reasons for why the show was cancelled, but in the end, even I couldn't give you the whole and accurate truth for why the show got pulled," he wrote in a lengthy post on his website in 2010, nearly eight years after the show wrapped. "The most likely culprits are simply ratings and the sheer expense of the show, which was monstrously expensive at the time, especially when compared to more modern, flash-based savings fests."[54]

In an interview with syfy.com in 2018, Richard Horvitz, the voice of Zim, was questioned about why the show got cancelled, he responded:

There’s been a lot of rumors that have abounded for years about why Invader Zim was canceled. People think it’s the Bloody GIR episode, because there’s a quick subliminal shot of GIR all bloodied, but that’s not it at all. Nickelodeon knew about that shot and they didn’t seem to mind. But what [the cancellation really was] is this plain simple fact: We had horrible ratings. There were two things that were going on in 2001. Our ratings were not doing well, our demographic at the time was not The Fairly OddParents demographic, which is what we premiered with, and we premiered to really, really good critical acclaim. But ratings-wise, the only real barometer [was the] target audience, 6 to 10 year olds, and I think that it was a little too much for that [demographic], and the parents also might have thought it was a little graphic for them. Our ratings never really got off the ground. One other thing that people often forget, is that the show premiered in March of 2001. By September of 2001, we had the horrible downing of the twin towers. Given the mood of the country at the time, I don’t think people wanted to see shows that were about any kind of destruction or anything that had to do with someone trying to conquer the Earth.[31]

Controversy

Invader Zim became a controversial series when the show was mentioned at Scott Dyleski’s murder trial in 2005. Dyleski, who was 16 at the time, was convicted of murdering his neighbor, and cited the episode of Invader Zim, Dark Harvest as his motivation for committing the murder. Dyleski said that after watching Dark Harvest he became “fascinated with collecting body parts” and “curious as to how the human body would function without certain organs” which inspired the murder. Although, the people who defended Dyleski said that these comments were made in jest.[55][56][57][58][13]

Reception

Critical reception

Kristy Punchko from Nerdist praised the series' satirical themes and how it "relished in weird, pushed boundaries, and dared to be unapologetically stupid". Punchko also offered praise for the humor in Invader Zim, saying: "Colliding the sublimely silly with the cerebral, Invader Zim played as seminal precursor to subversive sci-fi shows like Rick and Morty".[59] Becca James, writing for The A.V. Club said, “Invader Zim was destined for a cult following. From its seemingly bizarre nature to its too-early demise, [Invader Zim] brought a darker form of entertainment to [Nickelodeon and] welcomed critical acclaim for straddling the line between child and adult entertainment [and the] constant depiction of Earth as a complete shitcan only adds to this dingy, but delightful program.”[60]

Allegra Frank from Polygon said,

[The series is laid out] in a story-focused half-hour unlike anything ever aired on Nickelodeon previously. Invader Zim had a villain at its center, years before Breaking Bad and Mad Men popularized that dramatic convention for adult audiences. As a character, Zim was mostly unlikable; the show’s color palette was narrow and unfriendly, and the entire design of the series — interiors covered in grime, streets covered in garbage, on-screen televisions full of screaming ads — dared viewers to be turned off. While jokes could easily revolve around the high-pitched screams of Zim’s useless robot companion, GIR, the comedy was also often derived from much darker places, like harvesting organs from living children and lice outbreaks and characters slowly turning into a sentient [bologna]. Dib wanted to kill Zim, after all; that’s not usually the subject of children’s TV.[6]

Sam Thielman from The Guardian said, “[Invader Zim]’s sense of humor is somehow dark without being bleak; even when the show takes its cues from horror movies it’s often quite scary, but it’s somehow never too much. [...] Invader Zim didn’t last nearly long enough, but it did spawn a cult following almost immediately and became a password for alienated millennials and teenagers everywhere.”[61]

Mary Grace Garis from Bustle praised Invader Zim for how it does not sugarcoat reality, saying, “You can't deny that [Invader Zim] really put in some heavy, soul crushing messages between "The Doom Song" and all those rubber piggies. And I'd say that a la The Powerpuff Girls, they did a really good job of hiding adult lessons in a children's cartoon, but well... I'm pretty sure they were a bit more blatant in delivering the news that we were all doomed.”[52] Kayla Cobb of Decider.com said “If you prefer your humor to be equal parts dark and random, then it’s time to re-watch this short-lived Nicktoon. [Invader Zim] can best be characterized by its sarcasm, cruelty, and violence. This is a show that creates a disturbing giant monster baby fusion in one episode and labels the ultimate face of horror as a room with a moose the next. So yeah. It’s kind of all over the place, which is why we love it.”[62] Lana Berkowitz, from chron.com praised Invader Zim's art-style and color pallet saying, “The series has an appropriately gloomy look of impending doom colored with dark reds and black, and a dash of alien green. The animation's angular look and the characters' big, expressive eyes give Invader Zim a distinctive look.”[27]

Variety’s Steven Oxman, wrote, “[Invader Zim] captures a nice blend of the innocent and the satirical”. Further stating that, “The artwork [in the show] isn’t especially original but still manages to create a nicely off-center vision of Earth and its inhabitants. Vasquez and co-writer Rob Hummel throw in some clever quips at life on this planet, taking aim particularly at the doomsaying schoolteacher, Ms. Bitters. Kevin Manthei’s music provides strong accompaniment to the escapades.”[63] Ryan Carlquist, from Screen Rant said, “Invader Zim is without a doubt one of the strangest and chillingly creepy television programs to debut on Nickelodeon. Following in the trippy cartoon styles of The Ren & Stimpy Show before it, Invader Zim doubled down on its oddball off-brand humor and its silly and often-times haunting characters. Invader Zim now appears to be a product that just happened to arrive far too soon. Rick and Morty has proven that audiences will flock in droves to be unnerved and made uncomfortable by a show that propels forward thanks to its “off the rails” narrative. The lack of a real coherent structure is something that's often lauded in television today, but was virtually unheard of in cartoons back when Invader Zim premiered.”[64]

George Dvorsky, from io9 specifically praised the character, GIR. Saying that, “Science fiction has portrayed its fair share of glitchy and bumbling robots over the years, but none hold a candle to Invader Zim's GIR. Quite possibly the most erratic and unhelpful robot to ever hit the screen, GIR has become one the most loved and often quoted characters to appear in a sci-fi cartoon in years.” Dvorsky added that, “In a show that features a nasty array of selfish, mean-spirited, and indifferent characters, GIR is symbol of child-like innocence and free-spirited rebelliousness. He may have weapons that pop out of his head, but he never once uses them. He hates no one, and despite the mission, actually comes to love the planet Earth.”[65] Lynne Heffley, writing for Los Angeles Times said “The deliriously original Invader Zim rocks.” offering praise for the show's humor and art-style, calling it a “visual feast of geometric lines, strange angles, vaulting curves, fantastic, transforming machines and odd, shadowed places.”[66]

Sean Aitchison from CBR said, “Invader Zim not only holds up incredibly well,  it also feels like it was rather ahead of its time and maybe it would have lasted longer today. [...] The weird humor, the eccentric characters and even the premise all feel like a show that would have easily gotten green-lit in the modern cartoon renaissance that began with Adventure Time. The show only ran for two seasons, which makes it such a shame when you realize how much it would have thrived in modern times.”[67] Animation Historian, Jerry Beck said in an article he wrote for Cartoon Brew that, “I always thought highly of [Invader Zim], but watching it again this weekend reminded how good it truly was. [...] I laugh long and hard at incidents, situations and visuals on [Invader Zim], and if there is any justice it should be ranked alongside the likes of South Park and The Simpsons.”[68]

The now-defunct magazine Christian Parenting Today negatively criticized Invader Zim in their May 2001 issue, written by Jennifer Mangan, calling the show "non-Christian", "immoral", "offensive", "blasphemous", "unsuitable for Christian children" and "insulting towards Christian values and beliefs" due to the show's dark nature and negative characters like Gaz and Ms. Bitters, among other complaints.[69] Common Sense Media’s Andrea Graham wrote mostly negative of Invader Zim, praising the show’s “laugh-out-loud” humor, but criticizing the way that Zim has a complete lack of concern for all life, how humans are depicted as less-than-intelligent life forms, how human society is depicted as a terrible disgusting place, the very frequent use of verbal insults like “stupid”, and that there is no good messages or good role models in the show.[70] Some parents have criticized Invader Zim for its pessimistic portrayal of humanity, the near constant-level of screaming among the characters, as well as the large amounts of verbal insults and threats, and the disturbing and disgusting content, calling it “unnecessary”, “misanthropic”, “too scary for children” and “inappropriate for children”.[71][72] According to Director, Steve Ressel, Nickelodeon held a test screening for the episode “Dark Harvest” during which one kid ran out of the room crying before the episode was over and others were visibly shaken and clearly terrified at what they saw.[19][73]

In 2006, IGN ranked Invader Zim at number 22 on their list of the Top 25 Primetime Animated Series of All Time[74] and in 2009, IGN ranked Invader Zim at number 57 on their list of Top 100 Animated Series.[75] In 2016, Entertainment Weekly ranked Zim as the 18th Most Memorable Nickelodeon Character.[76] That same year, Screen Rant ranked Invader Zim at number 9 on their list of the 25 Best Nickelodeon Shows[77] and The Guardian ranked Invader Zim as the third Best Nickelodeon Cartoon.[61] In 2018, Paste Magazine ranked Invader Zim at number 60 on their list of The 100 Best Sci-Fi Shows of All Time.[78]

Ratings

Invader Zim garnered decent ratings for its premiere episode, with a 6.0 rating/17 share (about 1.8 million views) among kids ages 2 to 11.[29] But as the show went on, ratings and viewership began to decline amongst Nickelodeon's target audience of 2-11 year olds.

While Invader Zim was popular during its original run, Nickelodeon did not think the show was doing well because they were only focused on a certain age group of viewers: 2-11 year olds. Even though Invader Zim was praised by critics and popular with viewers ages 14–18,[79][35][54] the ratings amongst Nickelodeon's core demographic were just not high enough for the network to justify the expenses being put into the show, as Invader Zim was the most expensive show they were producing at the time.[1][79] When Nickelodeon saw that some of their other shows with half the budget of Invader Zim were getting double the desired ratings amongst the 2-11 year old demographic, canceling the show just seemed to be the logical thing to do from a business perspective.[12][80]

Despite the poor ratings the show received during its original run, reruns of Invader Zim tend to receive average to above average views and ratings.[79] In March through July 2010, reruns of Invader Zim were aired on Nicktoons; these reruns became the second highest-rated show on the network, behind Avatar: The Last Airbender.[80]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2001 53rd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation[81] Kyle Menke Won
29th Annie Awards[82] Outstanding Achievement in a Primetime or Late Night Animated Television Production Nickelodeon for Invader Zim Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television Production Steve Ressel for “The Nightmare Begins Won
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Music Score in an Animated Television Production Kevin Manthei Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television Production Jhonen Vasquez Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television Production Steve Ressel for “Dark Harvest” Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Male Performer in an Animated Television Production Richard Horvitz as “Zim” Nominated
World Animation Celebration Awards Best Title Sequence[83] Jhonen Vasquez, Steve Ressel, Mary Harrington Won
2002 30th Annie Awards Best Animated Television Production[84] Invader Zim Nominated
2002 49th Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television Animation[85] Invader Zim Nominated

InvaderCON

Invader Zim has its own Fan convention known as InvaderCON[86][87][88] run by Wasabi Anime (also known as “Green Mustard Entertainment”.) The initial event was created to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of Invader Zim and took place in Atlanta, Georgia on March 26–27, 2011. (The convention's date was set exactly ten years, to the weekend, from when the show first premiered: March 30, 2001.[89]) Special guests included cast members Richard Steven Horvitz, Melissa Fahn, Rosearik Rikki Simons, Andy Berman and writer Eric Truehart.[90] The convention had over a thousand in attendance and featured many Invader Zim-related panels and activities; including a panel where the voice cast read the scripts for the unfinished episodes “Mopiness of Doom” and “Day of da Spookies”.[91][92] One dollar of each ticket purchased for InvaderCON was donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).[93] The choice of charity was selected by Richard Horvitz,[13] who was one of the first guests to be booked. In the end, InvaderCON raised almost $2,000 for JDRF.[94] InvaderCON was not endorsed, sanctioned or in any other way supported, directly or indirectly, by Viacom International, Inc. or Nickelodeon.[89] But it was confirmed that a few representatives of Nickelodeon attended to observe the turnout and were quoted as being "overwhelmed”.[95]

InvaderCON was originally intended to be a one time event,[89] but due to the success of the first InvaderCON and demand from fans, an encore presentation of the convention, InvaderCON II: DOOMCON, took place on July 28–29, 2012, in Los Angeles, California, featuring all of the previous year's guests[96] (except for Andy Berman[97]) with the addition of series creator Jhonen Vasquez,[98] character designer Aaron Alexovich, voice of Professor Membrane Rodger Bumpass, post-production supervisor Jason Stiff, storyboard artist Ian Graham and a surprise appearance from voice of Almighty Tallest Red Wally Wingert.[99][100] During this convention there was a panel where the voice cast read the script for the unfinished episode “The Trial”.[101]

According to InvaderCON's official website:

Since the first InvaderCON was on the East Coast (Atlanta) and due to travel requests on Jhonen’s part, we opted to host InvaderCON II: DOOMCON in California. This was a MASSIVE undertaking on our part since our production team is based in Florida and Georgia. We made it happen, though. Over 1,000 fans from 42 different states and 7 countries showed up near Los Angeles for two days of Invader ZIM fandom goodness. The show was an expensive risk and a major stress on the Green Mustard Entertainment team – but it was worth it for us to see the fans and families that all appeared to share in the experience. Autographs, panels, breakfast, dinner, puppets, surprise guests, and more added up to a once in a lifetime weekend for the cast, crew, and attendees.[102]

With over 10,000 fans on Facebook asking for another InvaderCON, Wasabi Anime decided to do InvaderCON “one last time”.[103] The third and final InvaderCON was funded via Kickstarter on June 21–July 21, 2013.[103] The Kickstarter was a success and exceeded its initial goal of $33,333. Wasabi Anime said that they wanted the third InvaderCON to be located “in the middle” of where the previous InvaderCONs were located. Thus, Austin, Texas was chosen as its location since it is approximately 1,000 miles from Atlanta (InvaderCON 2011) and 1,300 miles from Los Angeles (InvaderCON 2012.)[103] InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM took place on July 26–27, 2014 in Austin, Texas.[86] Special guests included cast members Richard Steven Horvitz, Melissa Fahn, Rosearik Rikki Simons, Rodger Bumpass and writer Eric Trueheart.[104] At this convention there was a panel where the voice cast read the script for the unfinished episode “Ten Minutes to Doom”.[105]

Even though InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM was originally intended to be the last InvaderCON, fans, as well as Wasabi Anime, continued to express interest in doing another InvaderCON. In the years following InvaderCON III: FINAL DOOM, the founder of Wasabi Anime, Tom Croom, repeatedly teased fans on Twitter with the possibilities of another InvaderCON on multiple different occasions.[106][107][108][109][110]

InvaderCON, unlike some other projects done by Wasabi Anime (such as Florida Anime Experience), is not an annual show done in a city near where Wasabi Anime is located. InvaderCON's attendees (at all three conventions) are only about 20% locals. Over 80% of InvaderCON attendees come from outside the convention's host city.[111] This makes predicting attendance and budgeting for InvaderCON “very tricky and extremely risky” according to Wasabi Anime.[103]

References in other media

Zim and GIR flying in the Voot Cruiser made a cameo appearance in the now-defunct simulator ride Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast at Universal Studios Florida.[112][113]

In the 2013 animated feature film Escape from Planet Earth, the word "Zim" can be seen written on the floor in graffiti in one brief scene, along with the names of multiple other aliens from various different movies and television shows.[114]

Invader Zim was featured as a clue on the July 29, 2013 episode of Jeopardy!. The clue was for $2000 under the category "What a Character!" and it read "Irk is the home planet of this title 'invader.'" None of the contestants were able to answer the question correctly.[115][116]

Ms. Bitters made a cameo appearance in the Nickelodeon animated series The Loud House during the episode "Linc or Swim", alongside several other elderly characters from other Nicktoons series.[117][118]

In the 2016 short film TMNT: Don vs Raph, which was written by Jhonen Vasquez, a picture of Zim is seen on the side of a building.[119][120]

Merchandise

Home video

In May 2004, Anime Works released the first volume of an official Invader Zim DVD collection titled “Doom Doom Doom” in cooperation with Nickelodeon and Media Blasters.[121] In August 2004, volume two titled “Progressive Stupidity” was released and in November 2004, volume three titled “Horrible Holiday Cheer” was released, completing the series' initial DVD release. All three volumes contain animatics, Irken subtitles, digitally restored and remastered picture and sound, as well as a Spanish language track. They also include audio commentaries for the majority of episodes, exclusive interviews with the voice actors, writers, and the post production staff and the series pilot. A box set shaped like Zim's house, known as the House Box Set has also been released,[122][123] which includes all three volumes, plus an extra disc for bonus features which includes the uncut version of "The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever", voice recordings for seven of the unfinished episodes, interviews with Kevin Manthei on the sound design and music of Invader Zim, and a soundtrack of Kevin Manthei's main compositions for the show. Originally, this set included a duty-mode "GIR" figurine in the roof compartment of the box set, but Anime Works silently stopped including it with the termination of Palisades Toys, the toy company that had been producing Invader Zim figurines. Another DVD box set for Invader Zim called the “Complete Invasion Box Set” was released in 2006, featuring all three of the DVD volumes boxed together, with the art of Volume one on the cover. This box set does not contain an extra disc for bonus features like The House Box Set includes.[124]

On May 4, 2010, the complete Season 1 of Invader Zim was released on DVD in a Manufacture on demand format.[125] A Season 2 DVD was released in that same format on April 2, 2010. Neither of these DVDs contain audio commentaries or special features.[126]

On February 22, 2011, an Invader Zim DVD was released called "Operation Doom". This DVD contains the eight highest-rated episodes that aired on the Nicktoons Network throughout 2010.[127]

Episodes of Invader Zim have been featured in several Nickelodeon compilation DVDs. This includes “Nickstavaganza! 2” which was released on September 2, 2003 and contains the episode, “The Nightmare Begins”.[128] (“Nickstavaganza! 2” was also released in a VHS format which contains exactly the same contents as the DVD version.[129]) In 2015, the episode, “Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom” was included in the DVD, “Classic Nickelodeon Halloween Specials”.[130] That same year, the episode, “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever” was featured in a DVD called, “A Very Nickelodeon Christmas”.[131]

Figurines and toys

Invader Zim Toys S2
Series two of the Invader Zim figures produced by Palisades Toys

Two series of Invader Zim figures were produced by the toy company Palisades Toys. The first series includes Zim, GIR, Dib, Ms. Bitters, and Almighty Tallest Purple. The second series has Zim in his human disguise, GIR in his dog suit, Gaz, Almighty Tallest Red, and the Robo-Parents. All of the characters in each series come with a detailed display base, as well as multiple character-appropriate accessories. A third series was planned with Zim in his Santa suit, GIR as an elf, Professor Membrane, Tak, and Nightmare Ms. Bitters, but this series was not made because Palisades Toys, the manufacturer, ceased operations in early 2006.[132] A multitude of other toys were produced before the termination of Palisades Toys, such as figures of germ fighting Zim, germ GIR, Zim in his old man disguise, angry Zim,[133] and GIR in his dog disguise with hood down. Palisades Toys released the Invader Zim Miniature Figurine Set...of DOOM!,[134] a separate set of smaller non-articulated figurines, featuring Zim in his human disguise first seen in "The Girl Who Cried Gnome”, Gaz in her Beaver Suit, Bologna Dib and GIR riding the piggy. A miniature replica of Zim's house,[135] the Voot Cruiser,[136] GIR on the giant piggy with a UFO Convention background display[137] and a "Mega GIR" figurine that was twelve inches in height and included a removable dog disguise were also released.[138] The Invader Zim Special Edition set of Doom![139] was produced by Palisades Toys, but released after the company had shut down, this set contains figures of: Screaming Zim in his human disguise, Doggie Suit Duty Mode GIR, Neutral Faced Almighty Tallest Red, Hypnotized Dib, and “Shadow” Ms. Bitters.[140]

Several Invader Zim Palisades Toys were released as Hot Topic exclusives; these include figures of: angry Almighty Tallest Purple, Almighty Tallest Red on a command platform, Duty Mode GIR, screaming GIR, robot GIR with removable dog disguise, Haywire Robo-Parents, Pustulio Zim, angry Dib and angry Gaz with her eyes wide open.[141]

Multiple official Plushies were made to promote the Invader Zim series. This includes plushies of: Zim, Germ Zim, piggy, robot GIR, GIR with hot dog, GIR eating pizza, Doggie GIR, Chinese takeout GIR,[142] GIR with piggy, Germ GIR, GIR fuzzy car dice,[143] GIR plush backpack,[144] GIR eating cupcake and GIR eating ice cream.[145][146]

Funko has released many Pop! Vinyl figures of GIR in several variations including: GIR in his dog suit,[147] Robot GIR,[148] GIR with cupcake,[149] glow in the dark GIR,[150] Zim and GIR on the pig,[151] and a mini GIR keychain;[152] these are usually sold as Hot Topic exclusives.

Diamond Select Toys released some Vinimates figurines of Zim,[153] Zim in his human disguise,[154] GIR[155] and GIR in his dog disguise.[156] All four of these figurines were released as Hot Topic exclusives and limited to 1,000 units each.

A toy company called Zag Toys has released some officially licensed Invader Zim Original Minis[157] and Plush Clip-Ons.[158]

Another toy company called Vision Toys has released some officially licensed laser cut 3D keychains of some Invader Zim characters.[159]

A company called Ikon collectables released an officially licensed 9-inch tall limited edition statue of GIR on the pig.[160]

FOCO released some Eekeez figurines of Zim[161] and GIR in his dog suit that were exclusively available at New York Comic Con in 2018.[162] FOCO also released some Eekeez figurines variants of Zim and GIR in his dog suit that were exclusively available at San Diego Comic Con in 2018.[163]

Video games

Nickelodeon Party Blast includes Zim as a playable character in all of the versions of the game. There are also multiple “Invader Zim-themed” stages in Nickelodeon Pary Blast, including a level in which the player competes against Dib and Gaz. Although they are not playable characters, GIR can be seen in the background of several levels and Almighty Tallest Purple is shown in the background of the level where the player competes against Dib and Gaz.[164]

The Arcade exclusive game, Nicktoons Nitro includes Zim as a playable character in his Voot Cruiser and there is a race course called “Irken City“.[165]

In the Game Boy Advance exclusive game, Nicktoons: Freeze Frame Frenzy, the final stage of the game takes place on Zim's ship and Zim and GIR are the main bosses of the game, but Zim becomes a playable character once the photo album is complete. Additionally, GIR, Dib, Gaz, Keef, Dirge, Ms. Bitters (mistakenly called "Mr. Bitters") and Bill the Paranormal Investigator (mistakenly called "Prof. Membrane") appear in the photo album and in the background of the game as well.

Zim's Voot Cruiser and house can be seen briefly in the PlayStation 2 version of Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island.

In the PlayStation 2 version of Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots, “Zone 3 (Part 2)” and the “Master Models room” are “Irken-themed”. Additionally, GIR appears in the game as a “Master Model” (unlockable) and becomes a playable character once he is unlocked. Both Zim and GIR are unlockable and playable characters in the Nintendo DS version of Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots, but there are no “Invader Zim-themed” levels in this version of the game.[166]

Both Zim and Dib are playable characters in all of the versions of SpongeBob SquarePants featuring Nicktoons: Globs of Doom. In the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions of the game, world 2 is model after and called “Zim’s Town” and the boss battle of the world takes place inside Zim's house and is against GIR. In the Nintendo DS version of the game, world 5 takes place on Zim's space station and the boss battle of the world is against The Almighty Tallest.[13]

The game Nicktoons: Android Invasion, exclusively released on the educational Didj platform, is set entirely inside Zim's base. Zim is the main boss in the game and several other characters from the series make appearances throughout the game.[167]

Zim and Gaz are playable characters in all of the versions of the game, Nicktoons MLB. GIR appears in the game as one of the announcers, and there is a ballpark called "Irken Field", Also, other characters from the show appear in the game as cameos when the game is loading and on the character cards.[168]

Invader Zim has yet to have a stand-alone video game release.

Podcasts

The complete Invader Zim series was covered on "Wizard and the Bruiser" on February 21, 2019. [169]

Books

A book titled, “Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!” was published on October 29, 2007 and written by Animation Historian, Jerry Beck. The book collects more than five hundred illustrations, images, storyboards, concept art, quotes, interviews, and anecdotes, among other special behind-the-scenes content for Nickelodeon's first thirty-one cartoons. ”Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!” contains a short chapter about Invader Zim, featuring some storyboards, images, illustrations, turn-around charts, character model sheets and short, exclusive interviews with series creator, Jhonen Vasquez, executive producer, Mary Harrington and head writer, Frank Conniff.[170]

An official art book titled “DOOM DOOM DOOM: The Art of Invader Zim” will be released on July 2, 2019. Written and designed by Chris McDonnell, who has previously served as the author and designer for Adventure Time: The Art of Ooo”, “Steven Universe: Art & Origins”, and “BoJack Horseman: The Art Before the Horse”, “DOOM DOOM DOOM: The Art of Invader Zim” will contain the definitive history of both the Invader Zim television series and the television movie, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus!. It will be 240 pages long and offer a fully authorized, all-access compendium of never-before-published production art, storyboards, behind-the-scenes photos, and ephemera. The art book will also feature exclusive interviews with Jhonen Vasquez and other key crewmembers that reveal the origins, art, and imagination behind the Invader Zim franchise.[171]

Comics

In February 2015, Oni Press announced that a Comic Book series based on the show, in collaboration with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon, would be released as a continuation of the series. Jhonen Vasquez said: "I'm always confused when people say how much they miss Invader Zim because the show never stopped running in my head, and then I remember everyone else isn't in my head". A pre-issue 0 was released on May 23, 2015 as a zine and foreshadow to the comic book series. The first issue was released on July 8, 2015, and since then most issues are released on a monthly basis.[172][173]

Other merchandise

Nickelodeon has licensed a multitude of official Invader Zim products including: a wide variety of clothing, fashion accessories, makeup, jewelry, tabletop games, backpacks, bags, home accessories and decorations, office supplies, car accessories, household appliances, furniture, holiday decorations, hygiene items and more,[1][2] all commonly sold at stores like Hot Topic,[174] Newbury Comics,[175] Spencer's[176] and other speciality retailers.

Failed revival attempts

In March through July 2010, reruns of Invader Zim were aired on Nicktoons, The reruns were the second highest-rated show on the network, and according to Jhonen Vasquez, were part of a plan by the network to see if a revival of the series would be feasible. Unfortunately, the budget Nickelodeon proposed was not quite big enough for what the crew wanted to do, so they respectfully declined the offer. Vasquez also asserted that, despite the widespread rumor suggesting otherwise, he would have returned to the show again had Nickelodeon not deemed the revival "too expensive" for what the crew wanted to do with it.[80][13][1]

In 2011, Nickelodeon approached Rikki Simons, the voice of GIR, about doing some animated shorts revolving around GIR; while Rikki was open to reprising his role, nothing ever came of these shorts for unknown reasons.[12][19]

Television film

On November 8, 2016, Harvey Beaks and Chowder creator, C.H. Greenblatt was asked by a fan on Tumblr if he would work with Jhonen Vasquez on an hypothetical Invader Zim movie, and Greenblatt responded, “Jhonen IS making an Invader Zim movie for Nick. I'm not a part of it, but I'm excited.” However, Jhonen initially denied this on his Twitter, most likely because he was under contract to not say anything at the time and was forced to dismiss it as a “rumor”.[177]

On April 4, 2017, over sixteen years since the series' debut and eleven years since the last “unaired” episode premiered in the United States, Nickelodeon announced that they had green-lit a 90-minute[178][179] television film based on the series with three teaser trailers being released in a span of the following four days.[180] Jhonen Vasquez will be returning as executive producer and as the voice of Zim's computer, along with Kevin Manthei as the composer and Jenny Goldberg who worked on the Invader Zim Comic Book series will be the Art Director for the movie. Most of the cast members from the television series will be reprising their roles in the movie including: Richard Steven Horvitz as Zim, Rosearik Rikki Simons as GIR, Andy Berman as Dib, Melissa Fahn as Gaz, Wally Wingert as Almighty Tallest Red, Kevin McDonald as Almighty Tallest Purple, Rodger Bumpass as Professor Membrane, Olivia d'Abo as Tak and Paul Greenberg as Poonchy.[181] It is currently unknown if other reoccurring characters from the television series such as Ms. Bitters and Invader Skoodge will be in the movie.

At San Diego Comic-Con 2018, Jhonen explains that Nickelodeon had been asking him about doing more Invader Zim for years and that he always had to decline their offers either because he was busy working on something else or due to not being able to come to an agreement with Nickelodeon on a budget for a Invader Zim revival; But being completely miserable with the other things he was working on at the time, Jhonen accepted Nickelodeon's latest offer to do more Invader Zim. Nickelodeon initially wanted a new Invader Zim television series, but Jhonen suggested a six-episode miniseries instead; he soon changed his mind to a television movie, since doing a movie would be “infinitely less stressful”.[182][183]

Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus! had a panel at San Diego Comic-Con on July 20, 2018; During the panel, some never before seen production art such as backgrounds and turn-around charts for the movie were revealed. A trailer put together out of unedited first take animation for the movie was also shown at the panel accompanied by some original music composed for the trailer by Kevin Manthei; During the panel, Jhonen explained that he put the trailer together out of some random animated footage he had for the movie that he thought looked presentable enough to show people and that most of the shots used in the trailer were going to be sent back overseas to be re-animated. Jhonen also revealed that they had written the movie in 2015 and that at the time of the panel, they were currently in the process of getting first take animation back from their overseas animation team, Maven Animation Studios, in South Korea.[182][183]

The release date is scheduled for spring of 2019.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Thompson, Barry (20 March 2015). "Aaron Alexovich on His New Invader Zim Comic, Non Sequitur Humor and the Power of Hot Topic T-Shirts". Paste.
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External links

Andy Berman

Andrew Mark Berman (born February 24, 1968) is an American actor, director, producer, writer, voice artist, and comedian, best known as the voice of Dib Membrane and various other characters in Invader Zim.

Energy being

An energy being or astral being is a theoretical life form that is composed of energy rather than matter. They appear in myths/legends, paranormal/UFO accounts, and in various works of speculative fiction.

Energy beings are typically rendered as a translucent glowing fluid or as a collection of flames or electrical sparks or bolts; somewhat in common with the representations of ghosts.

Energy beings have a variety of capacities. The Taelons (from Earth: Final Conflict) are barely more powerful than mortals, while others such as Star Trek's Q, Stargate SG-1's Ascended Ancients/Ori, Ben 10: Alien Force's Anodites, or the Meekrob from Invader Zim possess god-like powers.

Invader Zim (comics)

Invader Zim is an ongoing American comic book series created by Jhonen Vasquez. It is a continuation of the animated television series of the same name that originally aired on Nickelodeon.

In February 2015, Oni Press announced that a comic book series based on the show, in collaboration with Jhonen Vasquez and Nickelodeon, was being released as the continuation of the series. Vasquez said about the show: "I'm always confused when people say how much they miss Invader Zim because the show never stopped running in my head, and then I remember everyone else isn't in my head". A pre-issue 0 was released on May 23, 2015 as a zine and foreshadow to the comic book series. The first issue was released on July 8, 2015, and since then most issues are released on a monthly basis.

Invader Zim merchandise

Like other Nickelodeon properties, characters and content from the animated television series Invader Zim have been licensed out to be used for toys, clothing and various other merchandise. Collectible figure manufacturer Palisades Toys produced figures based on the characters. Media Blasters produced and released DVDs of the episodes.

Jhonen Vasquez

Jhonen C. Vasquez (born September 1, 1974) is an American comic book writer, cartoonist, and music video director. He is best known for creating the comic book Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, its spin-off comics Squee! and I Feel Sick, and the Nickelodeon animated series Invader Zim.

List of Invader Zim characters

Invader Zim is an American animated television series created by Jhonen Vasquez and originally aired on Nickelodeon from March 30, 2001 to August 19, 2006. The recurring cast includes voice actors Richard Steven Horvitz, Rodger Bumpass, Kevin McDonald (The Kids in the Hall) and Wally Wingert. Vasquez voices parts in the show. The show was cancelled early in its run and some episodes were unfinished. The show ran for two seasons before its cancellation.

List of Invader Zim episodes

Invader Zim is an American animated television series that was produced by and aired on Nickelodeon. The series revolves around an extraterrestrial named Zim from the planet Irk and his ongoing mission to conquer or destroy a dark and satirical version of the Earth. His various attempts to subjugate and destroy the human race are invariably undermined by some combination of his own ineptitude, his malfunctioning robot servant GIR and his nemesis Dib, one of very few humans not oblivious enough to be unaware of Zim's identity.

Invader Zim premiered on March 30, 2001. It was targeted at children in their early teens, and met with critical acclaim. After the first season the show's ratings began to suffer. Before the second season was completed, Nickelodeon cancelled the series, leaving at least sixteen episodes unfinished. Because of its continued fanbase and above-average DVD sales since cancellation, Invader Zim has been called a cult hit.The series consists of a pilot episode, 46 episode segments, and at least 17 episodes that were in production at the time of the series' cancellation. As of August 19, 2006, all produced 46 episodes have aired on television and been released on DVD. On December 24, 2011, the pilot episode finally aired on television. 38 episode segments were originally broadcast in pairs, each 12-minute episode segment debuting in the same half-hour. There are eight double-length episodes. This list is ordered by the episode order in the DVD releases, with broadcast dates noted. Almost every episode was directed by Steve Ressel; the only exception is the pilot, which was directed by Jordan Reichek.

An upcoming television film based on the series, entitled Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus!, is slated to premiere sometime in 2019.

Nickelodeon Party Blast

Nickelodeon Party Blast is a party game developed by English developer Data Design Interactive and published by French game company Infogrames. Party Blast was released for Xbox in North America on October 30, 2002, and later in PAL regions on December 6, 2002. The Windows version was released in one day later after the release of the Xbox version in North America. The GameCube version was released worldwide on December 6, 2002. A PlayStation 2 version of the game was planned, but it was cancelled. The game features characters from Nicktoons, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Rugrats, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Invader Zim, Rocket Power, and The Wild Thornberries, with CatDog as the hosts.

Nicktoons MLB

Nicktoons MLB is a baseball game released for the Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS. The game was developed by High Voltage Software and published by 2K Play. It features playable characters from Nickelodeon shows including SpongeBob SquarePants, Invader Zim, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Danny Phantom, Planet Sheen, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fanboy & Chum Chum, T.U.F.F. Puppy, and two characters that only appear in the 3DS version, one which is from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, and the other from the Nickelodeon game Monkey Quest. Characters from Rugrats, Rocko's Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold!, The Angry Beavers, CatDog, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, Back at the Barnyard, and The Mighty B! make cameo appearances in the game's loading screens. In addition to Nickelodeon characters, the game also features players from real Major League Baseball teams.

Not only does the Nintendo 3DS version have two additional characters, it has more stadiums and modes as well.

Nicktoons Nitro

Nicktoons Nitro is a racing game which is a sequel to Nicktoons Racing and Nicktoons Winners Cup Racing. It features characters from SpongeBob SquarePants, Danny Phantom, The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The Fairly OddParents, Invader Zim, and Avatar: The Last Airbender. The game was released in 2009 as an arcade game by developer Raw Thrills.

Richard Steven Horvitz

Richard Steven Horvitz (born July 29, 1966), sometimes credited as Richard Wood, is an American actor and voice actor. In the world of animation, he has voiced mentally unstable and neurotic characters. He is known for his work voicing the original Alpha 5 in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Power Rangers Zeo and Power Rangers Turbo, Raz in Psychonauts, Kaos in the Skylanders series, Billy and his father Harold in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Grey Matter in Ben 10, Daggett in The Angry Beavers, Bumble in Kinectimals, the title character in Invader Zim, Mouth in Kick Buttowski, Orthopox in the Destroy All Humans! series, the Zoni in the Ratchet & Clank series, the Space Weaver in Broken Age and Lugosi in Bunnicula.

Rosearik Rikki Simons

Rosearik Rikki Allen Simons (born September 8, 1970) is an American voice actor, writer, graphic novelist, and artist, best known as the voice of GIR in the Nickelodeon animated series, Invader Zim. Simons also co-created and wrote the Robotech: Clone comic series. In 2017, Simons voiced his first non-Invader Zim role as the Red Trollblin and some incidental Kotassian characters in the Cartoon Network series, Mighty Magiswords created by Jhonen Vasquez fan, Kyle A. Carrozza. He also does some frequent on-off voices on the show from time to time such as the Borfl in "Get that BORFL" and Dill in "To Balderly Go".

Steve Ressel

Steve Ressel (born October 12, 1967) is an American animator, comic book artist, illustrator, producer, publisher, novelist, script writer, and director. Steve directed animated series such as Invader Zim, The Wild Thornberrys, Duckman, Stressed Eric, God, The Devil and Bob, Rugrats, and others. Ressel directed and produced the entire run of Invader Zim.

After Invader Zim he went on to develop his own ideas. "Trubble Bub", a CGI children's program focusing on problem solving and behavior, was animated as a pilot. It is currently scripted and designed for a direct-to-DVD project.

The Nightmare Begins

"The Nightmare Begins" is the first episode of the first season of animated science fiction comedy television series Invader Zim. It originally aired in the United States on Nickelodeon on March 30, 2001.This is the first official episode to feature Richard Horvitz as Zim. In the pilot episode, he was originally portrayed by Mark Hamill, and then Billy West. Shortly after the cancellation of The Angry Beavers, Horvitz was brought in as a potential voice of Zim, and was asked to record over certain lines for the pilot. Though neither his nor Hamill's cuts made to an official release, Horvitz remained the voice of Zim for the remainder of the series.

UFO convention

A UFO convention is a convention about UFOs that usually take place annually at hotels or convention centers. Historically, many would mainly feature contactees giving presentations about their experiences. Other topics, like UFO conspiracy theory, general conspiracy theory, and other paranormal phenomena are often discussed. However, some serious topical discussions and seminars are conducted at modern conventions.

Giant Rock Spacecraft Conventions, held by George Van Tassel and helped pay for the Integratron from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s near Landers, California

MUFON International UFO Symposium (1969-present)

National UFO Conference (1999-present)

Conspiracy Con, produced by Brian William Hall from 2001-present

UFO conventions have been featured in various pop culture:

Television

The Lone Gunmen, from the 1994 X-Files episode E.B.E., originate from a UFO convention

Esteemsters, 1997 Daria episode

The Convention, 2000 Roswell episode

Attack of the Saucer Morons, 2001 Invader Zim episode

Alien Abductions, 2003 Bullshit! episode, features 3 days at a UFO convention

Wally Wingert

Wallace E. Wingert (born May 6, 1961) is an American actor, voice actor, singer and former radio personality. His best known roles have included Jon Arbuckle in The Garfield Show, Almighty Tallest Red in Invader Zim, the Riddler in the Batman: Arkham series and Renji Abarai in Bleach.

Invader Zim
Comics
Television
Other

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