By Angel Carreras
“Well, we’re all almost already dead,” Jhonen Vasquez, creator of Invader Zim, says with a smile.
Vasquez and the voice cast of Zim are in a room tucked away in a corner of the Hard Rock Hotel, ruminating on the show’s longevity and how the announced TV movie, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus came to be.
While it’s been nearly 12 years (!) since the show last aired, the voice cast and show’s creator seems like they haven’t missed a day apart from each other, gleefully pouncing on each other’s words, chasing surreal jokes (“Rikki’s bone fell out of his leg; it is now like a flesh-noodle”) down severely long hallways until a “Wait, you were asking a question” occurs between all the insanity.
While Nickelodeon has resurrected many of its shows that have had extended hiatuses — bringing back Hey Arnold, Rocko’s Modern Life, the Rugrats, and now Zim — this fun-loving crew were not the ones calling for more of the cult classic.
“It wasn’t any of our ideas,” Vasquez says, laughing and looking at his voice cast. “When the series ended, there were points in time where Nickelodeon wanted to talk about making more Zim stuff. It was like this thing that wouldn’t die!”
With years of steady rerun ratings and merch sales (“Thanks, Hot Topic!”), Nick repeatedly asked Vasquez about a potential Zim revival, with Vasquez giving the answer he always gave them: No.
“I didn’t want to do something just because people know it and just because there’s nostalgia attached to it,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of nostalgia. But I told them, ‘If I have an idea, I’ll bring it to you’. And, long story short, I had an idea and here we are!”
A day later, July 20 in Room 6A of the convention center, Vasquez is again joined by the returning voice cast (Richard Horvitz as ZIM, Rikki Simons as GIR, Wally Wingert as Almighty Tallest Red, and Kevin McDonald as Almighty Tallest Purple) as well as Enter the Florpus’ art director, Jenny Goldberg.
Goldberg says she grew up with the show, hoping she can bring what made the show unique to her to current fans and potential new ones with this TV movie.
“I want to channel how Zim made me feel, but update it,” Goldberg said. “It was this weird, special thing, and I feel like a lot of people got a lot out of it for that reason. The design, look, sounds– everything was so unique to itself.”
For fans who found solace in the eponymous comic when the show went off the air, Vasquez says the TV movie will have “jokes and moments” from the comics, but not any of the comic-specific characters; Enter the Florpus will focus on the main cast of the original series, “not a lot of side characters.”
A dialogue-less, music-backed (music created by Kevin McDonald, by the way) teaser trailer showed this, revealing the main characters in hilarious but bizarre situations: Gir and Zim are… working out a lot? Gir is swimming in pizza and waffle syrup?? Is that Dib in full-on conspiracy theory mode… with like, really long bangs???
While Enter the Florpus is a TV movie, questions of a series revival (like Rugrats) came up. The voice cast was up for it, while Vasquez cautioned it could be a “monkey’s paw” situation, adding he’ll wait and see the reaction to the TV movie first.
While Nickelodeon is somewhat tight-lipped about the movie’s plot (providing a bare bones summary via press-release), ComicsBeat was able to get Vasquez to spill an exclusive about the plot, told to no other outlet.
“It acts as if the series didn’t go off the air,” Vasquez said. “It’s not this great return, it’s just, they’re doing more stuff. We didn’t want spend time setting things up, wasting time, just wanted to get in the fun. Zim doesn’t need much set up. As long as they recognize the characters: this guy is angry, this guy is angry and yells, and this girl is angry and mutters. And this guy loses a lung and yells. Its Classic Zim. Also, now they’re genetically modifying dinosaurs. People were bored with T-Rexes, so they need like a new T-Rex/raptor hybrid. And then stuff goes bad. Classic Zim.”
You can view the teaser trailer for Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus here: