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The Return* of Invader Zim!

By / Posted on 01 April 2011

Zim ReturnsThere’s no doubt Invader Zim was absolutely ahead of its time when the show premiered on Nickelodeon in 2001. Dark, twisted, morbid, and unceasingly hilarious, Zim was everything everyone expected a cartoon from the mind of Jhonen Vasquez would be, including cancelled just as it was hitting its prime. Seriously, who at Nickelodeon thought they’d get a clean, wholesome cartoon from the artist behind the indie comic sensation Johnny the Homicidal Maniac? The story of a mentally unhinged alien trying (poorly) to take over the planet Earth, Invader Zim attracted outrage from Christian parent groups, adoration from fans of sci-fi and black comedy, and a number of awards including an Emmy and an Annie for its premiere episode.

This past weekend, for the tenth anniversary of the show’s television debut, loyal Zim fans hosted an Invader Con in Atlanta, GA, as sci-fi/fantasy fans are wont to do. In addition to the trivia games and waffle breakfast, original voice actors Andy Berman (Dib), Melissa Fahn (Gaz), Richard Horvitz (Zim) and Rikki Simons (GIR) were on hand to answer questions, goof around and, most notably, perform live readings of a pair of unproduced scripts written before the show was cancelled in 2003.

First up is “Day of Da Spookies,” written by Jhonen himself. The story revolves around Zim, his bumbling sidekick GIR, his intentional-shark-jump secondary sidekick Minimoose (only seen in “The Most Horrible X-Mas Ever” and promo art) and a bored Invader Skoodge attempting to prank Dib by pretending to be ghosts in order to discredit him on live television.

The second script read was “Mopiness of Doom,” by Danielle Koenig, in which Dib abandons his dream of becoming a paranormal investigator in order to pursue REAL SCIENCE with his father, Professor Membrane. Without a nemesis to challenge him, Zim puts off his plan of taking over the world to lay on the couch, watching tv and eating junk food. GIR lures Dib back to his unending battle with Zim sheerly to regain his rightful place on the couch back.

If these synopses or line reads sound familiar to you, then congratulations, you are a huge Invader Zim nerd who frequented fansite gir.n3.net (later roomwithamoose.com). That site was amazing enough to post seven of the unproduced scripts back in 2004, including voice cast reads for three of them. Compare the live read of “Mopiness of Doom” above to this official recording:

Zim and GIR in the Voot CruiserInvader Zim episode 32A: Mopiness of Doom

Sometimes, you really don’t appreciate how important sound effects and music are to a proper radio drama. Foley artists are the unsung heroes of the moving picture and Kevin Manthei’s score added layer upon layer of dripping wet darkness to every scene.

* – okay, so the title is a little misleading, but today is April Fool’s Day. Also, Jhonen said that the return of Zim to Nicktoons Network in 2010 was a test to see if the show warranted a revival. Ratings have reportedly been great, and the only show that seems to be on Nicktoons with greater frequency is Avatar: the Last Airbender, which has a new series coming next year. The possibility is there, but we wouldn’t count on it.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.