Toon Musings: The Return of Zim


INVADERZIM CHARACTER AVATARS ZIMOftentimes, as I gad about town, I catch the eye of a young person. He may be a burger jockey at the local fast food eatery, or a random student at my son’s high school while I’m there signing him up for something. The young person will spend a moment coolly appraising me, then gift me with a knowing smile, and often a compliment. I am, you see, one of those Cool Dads.

“How does he Do It?” you ask yourself. “From whence does his ‘cred’ with the ‘teenz’ emanate?” “How might I become ‘With It’ amongst the youngsters, who seem to regard me with naught but Scorn and Disgust?”

And well you might ask. Come closer; I’ll tell you my secret:

I have affixed, to certain articles of my clothing, embroidered patches that depict characters from Nickelodeon’s long-defunct and now cultishly-revered cartoon series Invader Zim.

Zim debuted in March of 2001. It told the story of a hapless alien reject and his malfunctioning robot sent to infiltrate a seedy backwater planet peopled mainly by crass, gormless boobs (Earth, naturally). Here’s a nice recap, from the creator himself.

Critics loved it. It was cancelled in its second season. The network claimed it drew poorly in its target demographic: 9- to 12-year-olds.  It’s set in a mildly dystopian near-future of rampant mindless consumerism that looks very much like the way sullen adolescents view… everything, I guess. They had commissioned Jhonen Vasquez, author of the comic Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, to create a series for kiddies. Perhaps Cormac McCarthy and George R. R. Martin were busy.

And thus we had in place a nearly Perfect Storm for the creation of a Cult Hit TV Show:

  • Deeply, snarkily pessimistic about Humanity
  • Apocalyptic
  • Critically acclaimed
  • Cancelled too soon, under suspicious circumstances

Of course the Teenz are going to love it, and they are very savvy of the Ways of the Internets. It also can’t hurt that they’re just now entering their peak spending years. That’ll get the Suits’ attention. Now it’s one of those shows that Will. Not. Die.

As should probably be obvious by now, I am a fan of Zim myself, and not just because I’m grotesquely immature. Not just.


This is Gir, Zim’s busted robot sidekick, on the back window of my car.

It’s always sad when a well-crafted bit of entertainment isn’t allowed to develop to its fullest. The history of human creativity is replete with examples of thwarted brilliance; of paintings never painted, films never filmed, buildings never built, TV shows never shown or cancelled early. I always liked Zim in part because of its satirization of modern consumerist society, and the resultant world-building that took place. One of the creators on the original cartoon show was Aaron Alexovich, who did an even neater bit of world-building of his own in his own Serenity Rose Comic series. I hope to bloviate a bit more about this comic in a future column, so go get the book now so you can follow along.

Now nearly ten years since Zim’s demise, the fans are still posting bitter regrets and breathless speculation on message boards. And in full compliance with Rule 34, there is porn of it. Google “ZADR” if that’s your kink.

Dark Horse Comics has undertaken to revive Zim by launching a new series, the first issue of which dropped last Wednesday. Comics companies these days will release certain issues with several different covers, determined by geography or sales venue or distributor, mostly to cater to the avid collector. This is no exception. Check out all the cover variants they’re releasing for Invader Zim #1: [Give me a comment; do you like them all? Are they gorgeous? Is there one you especially love?]

Now go buy yourself a copy; I command it. Besides, I’ve got all this Zim stuff, and my cred with the Teenz needs a little buffing.

And if you do, let me know in the comments where you live and which cover you were able to buy.


UrbPoutPhil Maish is a freelance cartoonist of no repute. His modest efforts may be viewed at He has worked for the Government, the Press, the Opera, and a Soulless Corporation. Self-taught and beholden only to his formidable wife and amazing son, he spends his free time gadding about in his vintage autogyro and, with his faithful manservant Nicopol, exploring untrammeled wildernesses, discovering hitherto unknown animal species, smashing spy rings, and regaling fellow members of the League of Intrepid Adventurers with tales of his intrepid adventures. 

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