Almost two decades after Nickelodeon canceled it, Invader Zim continues to burrow into our puny human minds like a grotesque alien parasite via Oni comics, a Netflix original film, and an extensive art book, which we exclusively previewed earlier this month. The sci-fi cartoon (created by Jhonen Vasquez) only ran for two seasons that yielded less than 30 episodes, but the wildly imaginative — not to mention unsettling — imagery and unique characters have turned the show into a beloved cult classic over the years.
Hosted by SYFY WIRE's own Jeff Spry, a Zim panel invaded Comic-Con@Home this weekend and featured a lively discussion of the franchise's enduring legacy. Participants included: Eric Trueheart (Invader Zim show and comics), Drew Rausch (Invader Zim #41), Aaron Alexovich (Invader Zim show and comics), and Chris McDonnell (The Art of Invader Zim).
"I think it's the audience, it's the people that kept it alive all these years," said Alexovich, who worked as a character designer on the show. "It just tapped into some kind of strange energy back in 2001 and people have kept it going since then." He added that "kid's animation seems to have veered off in a different direction," but traces of Zim can be felt in more adult offerings like Rick and Morty.
On the subject of catering to an older demographic, Trueheart (who originally worked as a writer on Zim) felt that the unabashed maturity of the content resulted in the property's lasting quality.
"We weren't making a kid's show, necessarily," he said. "We were making a show for all the demented sensibilities of us on the staff. I think because of that, it's the show you can discover as a kid and then you come back to it when you're an adult and it's, hopefully, just as entertaining and just as twisted."
Rausch's thoughts on the subject were as follows: "Probably why it's lasted so long is that it's one of those cartoons that you had to really pay attention to, or you missed the joke. There was just so much chaotic energy happening, that if you weren't actively watching it, it went right over your head."
McDonnell contributed to the virtual chat with some new stills from his art book:
The Art of Invader Zim goes on sale this coming Tuesday (July 28) from Abrams Books. The original series is streaming on Hulu and the movie, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, is streaming on Netflix. Oni will continue to publish quarterly comics, including a Christmas issue written by Trueheart.
While the series' 20th anniversary is coming up next year, none of the panelists were aware of any plans for an anniversary celebration, a Florpus sequel, or (and this is probably just wishful thinking) an animated revival.
"I happen to know that after Florpus aired, nobody from Nickelodeon or Netflix called up Jhonen to say, 'Hey, nice job.' I might not be able to tell people that, but I just did!" Trueheart revealed. "There might not be people at Nickelodeon or Netflix, who are really focusing on the fact that this is coming up, so it might be incumbent upon fans to remind them."
"I just know that everybody on the Florpus crew would love to make more. It's gonna be up to the fans to resurrect it again at this point," Alexovich added. "I think the coolest thing would be to do a movie every couple years or something."
Watch the full panel here:
Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of Comic-Con@Home 2020.