You’re not a kid anymore, INVADER ZIM Facts! You’d better shape up and get your priorities straight because it’s not all fun and games now, you hear? No more galavanting around and thinking you’ve got forever to leave your mark. You see the dark at the end of this tunnel you just thought went on forever and ever now, don’t you? I know you do. There’s just one more day of this left, so I hope you have your affairs in order before I take you out behind the shed and put you down with the ol’ shotgun. That’s right, just like we did Grampa.
But you’re here for today, and isn’t today, right now for that matter, this very moment all that we truly ever have? Live for this moment, try not to think about the horrific nothingness of the void that awaits in so little time, the empty dread of having your being dissolve into zero, and then that which isn’t even zero, for even zero is something, and you shall simply be nothing.
Forget I said that. You just try to have fun, yeah? Good.
Wow. 30. How about that? Did you ever think we’d get this far? I sure didn’t. I’m walking around looking over my shoulder every couple of seconds, wondering when some of the people featured in these entries will decide I’ve said too much, and try to take me down, or when a rift in space-time will open up like an angry, white-hot anus in the very fabric of things, and shit out a time-traveling toddler bent on revenge.
I don’t even have to ask if you learned anything over the past month, but I didn’t expect to learn so much myself in the process! Did you know that when you write in a conversational tone, often times addressing a “you” that is no actual person in particular, certain readers will take that as an opportunity to write to a very particular me and speak as if they actually know me? It’s true! There have been some truly horrific things said, often, I’m assuming, meant to be in the “spirit” of my entries, but instead coming off as just unpleasant and overly personal! Pretty neat, huh? The things you can do to the human mind with just a few words and the occasional jab at cat lovers! Here’s an example!
“Hey, Jhonen! Your entry today and some stuff right? I hope you fucked your mother and also time-baby is my brother because you’re a pussy! Maori ZIM please!”
Okay, I made that response up , but writing it made me laugh, and using Maori instead of “more” made me happy, and that’s what matters.
That’s another thing I learned. People unfortunate enough to be around me when I’m writing stuff like I’ve been, recently, they tend to get sick of my constant giggling while hunched over the laptop. I can’t help it, the truth just makes me laugh, ya know? The more truthful, the more likely I’d be to start gasping for breath for the sheer, ridiculous sincerity of it all. The truth shall set you free and laughter is the best medicine, so they say, and what better remedy than the one made from combining the two? Potent shit, that Laughtruth. Potent and not tolerable for more than a few minutes, too, I guess, as the sound of my shrill, girlish giggling is apparently not “cool” to some people who just don’t appreciate the healing power of piercing laughter. That I can’t help but grab people by the sides of their heads and shriek my laughter directly into their faces when I laugh is not “cool”, too, I guess. Fuckin’ people, man. I don’t know why I try.
It should be mentioned that I have also learned that speaking ill of certain child-murdering lunatics as Jason Stiff gets you sleepless night of having certain child-murdering lunatics, freshly escaped from their internet-enabled asylum, chasing you across the rooftops for hours and hours until you throw a feral cat at their face, buying you enough time to gather up a whole mess more of feral cats to bury Jason Stiff with. Feral cats, you served your master well that night. I’m your master, by the way, feral cats.
Look at me going on and on as if there wasn’t one day more of this stuff! Forgive me, I’ve gotten emotional in my old age, and I do like to reminisce about the good ol’ night ago. What say we get on with things and not wallow around in the maudlin recollections of an broken old man? What say we get on with today’s fact?
What’s that? Oh, I know, I know. You’re overwhelmed with how sad it is that it’s almost over. I know. I’ve enjoyed having around, too, but like with everything, this has to come to a conclusion, and isn’t it better that we part ways with glad hearts while we can do so? Let us be like the BBC Office, come and gone having left the best impression, leaving us happily wanting more, and not like the American version, overstaying its welcome and practically starring sharks jumping over one another.
Shark Week is awesome.
Sharks are fuckin’ scary.
Sharks have nothing to do with ZIM, regardless of how factual or scary they are, so let’s try to stay on the subject, yeah? Thanks. No, what I think INVADER ZIM fans would be more interested in knowing is how a person even comes up with an INVADER ZIM show. That’s the sort of thing people have been tuning in for day after day.
“But Jhonen,” you crap outta your face, “you already talked about how you came up with INVADER ZIM!”
Wrong. What I talked about was how I came up with the name, and a little bit about how I got the show, but that’s not really much about how the overall idea for the show came about, is it?
“No, I suppose n-”
“No. It’s not. I’m sorry I-”
You’re damn right you’re sorry. Your hair’s getting a bit long for my tastes, too. Get that mop cut and go start up the bath, woman! I’m all sludgy from getting angry. You know how this weird stuff seeps from my pores when I get angry. I hope you’re happy with yourself now.
The story begins with…hey…why are you looking at me? You know I don’t like it when you look at me. Peripheral vision only, remember? Right, you forgot. I’ll give you something to try to forget, dammit. By god I’ll give you something and you just try to forget it! Woman, don’t think that because you’re the only one of my golems to survive, you can just fuck up however you please and think that I will not tear you apart and scatter all the pieces of the women I built you with! I will do it! I’ll do it!
D’ohhh, I can’t stay mad at you when your head sags to the left like it’s doing right now because I’m terrible with stitching. Eeheeheeheeee!
So I knew I was into the idea of having a cartoon show on the teevee, was one of those dreams of mine and to have the opportunity to scratch that off my list of things to do before I blow myself up in a final showdown with mortality was just something I couldn’t pass up. From the day, early in my childhood, when my father decided that entering me in cage fighting matches was not going to be a path for early retirement for him, the day I was given the freedom to choose my own career path as well as which diapers I would have to wear for the rest of my life (my last opponent kicked a hole in my bowels), I knew that I was going to ride dinosaurs. When that didn’t pan, I knew that I would be a storyteller, and that what attracted me most was the manipulation of the audience, the control over the minds of the hungry reader, the eager viewer, the screaming listener. I took up this career path with an enthusiasm unmatched by even the most vicious blow any of my cage-match enemies had ever delivered.
“Guess what, daddy?!” I said to my father one day, eager to show off my developing skills as a weaver of dreams.
“What’s that, my son?”
“I don’t need the diapers anymore! I’m like a normal kid now.”
“Really? That’s great news! Wonderful! I was so ashamed to tell people that my son – wait, what’s that smell?”
“I made it up, daddy. I just soiled myself and didn’t know it was happening because I am like a jug of apple juice with a hole punched through it.”
“A jug of apple juice filled with…”
“Don’t cry, daddy.”
By the time NICKELODEON came around in their big green limousine with the flames of slime painted on the sides, I had already regaled up to three people with my work in comics bookery, and, though I had much to learn, my eagerness to take on new media, new avenues of delivering narrative into mankind told me that I had to reach a bigger audience, fill them with MY MIND. Man, was that a stupid thing to do. Most people don’t even read books, and I was about to pull in a shit-ton of those loonies! You ever try to talk to people who spell words wrong while SPEAKING? What the hell was I thinking?
Wait, I remember now, I was doing it because I just love making things up! Always have and I always will. It’s why I’m terrible in relationships: because what I consider to be ingenious “micro-fiction”, romantic interests see more as horrific, life-shattering lies and it’s kept me out of many a happy time, really.
I’m not sure if I mentioned this in the previous posts, but what NICK wanted was more of a SQUEE! nature, and perhaps even some modified version of SQUEE! itself. At the time, I remembered Evan Dorkin mentioning that some similar situation had popped up with a kids’ network approaching him and hoping to get a Milk and Cheese animated idea. Milk and Cheese solve everything thing, sometimes things that aren’t even problems, by punching the bloody shit out of them, and though SQUEE! is about as much of a pacifist as you can get, what goes on around the kid is anything but friendly for children’s television.
People read about how I don’t hold the rights to ZIM or anything to do with it, how I don’t really have a big hand in the merchandising and they are shocked and sometimes angered, but like I said before, it was clearly expected on my part. One of the biggest reasons I wasn’t interested in adapting anything from my comics was that I saw ZIM as my “screw me” project, my entry into animated television, and the thing that I would have to take the bullet for if I wanted to show people what I could do to an audience of unsuspecting wee ones.
This meant I still needed the idea to go charging into the fray with, and that’s why I came up with the a show about a magical beaver that solves mysteries and warms hearts while slowly gaining the trust of Clue-Town.
I did a few sketches, got the general idea down in writing, and felt confident enough to leave it at that until going in to meet with the NICK people. The night before the meeting, I had trouble sleeping, and so I walked out onto my porch to drink some sleepy tea. ’Sleepy T’ is my rapper name, by the way. That’s when they came.
What I thought was just another plane crashing on my law turned out to be a smoothly descending vessel about the size of a spaceship, and when it touched earth it was without so much as a whisper. I spat out more tea than I had actually drunk, and while my mind grappled with that, the vessel split down the middle like a giant silver egg, pouring out two blobs of animated, gelatinous matter.
The blobs approached me and before I could utter a word, the blob to my right, spoke.
“How ’bout a show about aliens.” it said.
“What?” was all I could get out before gagging on my tea again. It had gone down the wrong way and I was feeling stupid because the aliens probably thought I was handling the shock of aliens poorly when really I just drink weird sometimes.
The other blob spoke next. ”He could be all crazy, but sorta cute, but not too cute-”
“No, no. Not too cute, no. That’s not really your style, anyhow.” interjected the other.
“Yuh. Not too cute, but it’s a kids’ show, so you know, you gotta make it acceptable for the audience.”
I was getting over the choking, but was still finding it hard to speak. ”Mhmm…”
“He’s gonna need a sidekick.” said the first blob, scratching a place on itself that I assumed was its belly.
“Well, duh. Gotta have a sidekick. Maybe a cat. Cats are always good.”
“But I hate cat-PEOPLE. UUUGH!” the first yelled, its hand joining the other as the blob raised them to the sky in anger.
“Gotta agree. They give me the willies.” I finally said, regaining some composure and wanting to be in on the process.
The first went on. ”You’ll end up with a bunch of creepy girls stunted by anime and huffing catfood.”
I hi-fived that blob.
“Don’t get me wrong,” I said to the second blob, seeing that he wasn’t so happy about all of this, “I think cats are nice, but come on…cat people.”
“No, no, you’re right,” it said, “but the show can’t NOT have a morbidly obese homeless man in a pig-suit, okay?”
The first blob turned to me at that point and grabbed me by my coat, shaking me as it implored “My fellow traveler is right, this is a thing that simply must be!”
I agreed (how could I not?), and added that “the man should be fatter outside of the suit than he was inside.
“Oh, my god, that’s brilliant!” said the second blob. ”Is the show out yet?!”
“Nope. We’re talking about what the show should be just right now.”
That blob nodded slowly, understanding.
We went on and on like that for hours and hours until the sun rose and the blobs exploded from the sunlight. Their kind could only visit the earth in shadow as direct contact was lethal to them. Despite that, they were still a thousand times better than those idiot invaders from SIGNS.
And so I went in, not with a pitch about a magical dog, but with the show you now know as INVADER ZIM.
Well, that’s that. Until tomorrow when we reach the end of these ZIM facts, have yourself a merry something or other.
In case you’re curious, I finally got my hands on the video interview of Rikki Simons that I’ve been promising the past couple of entries. It’s not quite what I was expecting, not quite the big finale that I was hoping for, but I’ll try to make up for it with a few little bits of information that leave you with a better impression than yet another boring behind the scenes glimpse into the show.