Invader Zim, Issue 1, by Jhonen Vasquez


Jhonen Vasquez has found a large phone with which to phone in an Invader Zim comic years on. He hasn’t even done the art in any capacity. I kind of love his transparent loathing for the whole process. The way he can’t even be bothered to be viciously caustic about his fandom in the introductory section, even though he’s taking the time to swipe at it. I’d say ‘Vasquez hates his old work now’, and that’s especially true of the beleaguered Invader Zim project, the cult popularity of which haunts him, but it’s also a bit pointless: I am 95% sure Jhonen Vasquez hates everything he has ever done, with an option on also hating everything everyone else has ever done as well. That is the gnostic genius that powers him, like a hate-hamster burning up a loathing wheel. (Some of the art choices feel a bit fatphobic, but I pretty much understand this as part of Vasquez’s gnostic loathing of all bodies: it’s not you, it’s the unbearable hideousness of material existence.)

The plot (Zim goes into hiding for Some Time, Dib slips into ruin without him to fight) is a reversal of an episode that got written and story-boarded, but never finished, in which Dib gave up paranormal investigation for real science and Zim went to pot. It’s–all right? It’s not a bad comic, but it doesn’t feel quite like Invader Zim. The world’s less dirty, less nastily funny, Professor Membrane is less obviously a terrible terrible parent. Vasquez still has his back for unexpected, weird, curt little moments of humor. “Aw, that’s interesting, tell me more!” “Nope.” I sort of wonder who the comic is aimed at–people my age with fond memories of the show, or a younger audience that might match the original intended audience demographic. It isn’t that clear. The comic lacks the… ‘maturity’ is the wrong, wrong, word, but–maturity of the JtHM books.

I’m surprised by how well I remember this voice acting, and how well the writing evokes it, though. A lot of people suck at producing anything like ‘fanfiction’ of their own work (and returning to a long-abandoned universe is more like writing fanfiction than it is taking up where you left off, I suspect–no one is the person they were ten years ago). The art’s not very intricate–too clean, for a start, and too full of perky, flat color. It lacks the H.R. Giger twistyness of Vasquez and the Zim team in flow, the inventiveness, the techno-fetishism. And we miss out on the programme’s great music with the medium change, obviously–ah, well.

I’d read the others (two more issues are out now), but I’m not RUNNING to do it. It does remind me how residually fond I am of this show, though, and make me wonder what the loving fuck Vasquez has been doing with himself since.

(Oh and that stupid mini-moose is back. The fucking latecomer Scrappy Doo of this canon. I never LOVED Gir/thought he was a major source of the show’s humor. The last thing I needed was a second, crapper Gir.)


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