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Does It Hold Up?: Invader Zim

By Crystal Harrell

In honor of Invader Zim concept artist, Aaron Alexovich, appearing at ReaderCON a couple weeks ago, let's take a look at how well the animated series stands the tests of time in this new blog series called, "Does It Hold Up?" 

Originally premiering on Nickelodeon in March of 2001, Invader Zim captured audience's attentions with unique animation, creative storytelling, and characters refreshing from the norm. The show follows an alien named Zim who strives to conquer planet Earth and goes on a mission to do so disguised as a human boy, but a young paranormal investigator named Dib may blow his cover. Series creator Jhonen Vasquez pitched the concept to Nickelodeon, who originally wanted an older demographic for the series.

From left to right: Zim the alien, his robotic sidekick GIR, and young conspiracy theorist Dib.

From left to right: Zim the alien, his robotic sidekick GIR, and young conspiracy theorist Dib.

Despite gaining a major cult following, Invader Zim was cancelled after a tragically short run on TV, and actually ended twice. The show first ended in December of 2002 with several episodes left unaired and plans for a TV movie abandoned. After moving to the Nicktoons network, all previously unaired episodes of Invader Zim finally saw the light of day and officially ended in August of 2006. 

It may not seem like that long, but Invader Zim first aired over ten years ago and I still think it holds up as a quality show amid all the less desirable programming that kids watch today. Just looking at the animation style itself says a lot about the artistic direction Invader Zim was aiming for. The color palette mainly consists of vibrant purples, greens, and blue-tinged blacks, which makes the world of Zim appear with a sickly quirkiness. The character designs themselves take note of Tim Burton's signature "creepy emaciated stick figure" style, but with a quality that's less sinister and more cooky. 

The ensemble of characters found in  Invader Zim .

The ensemble of characters found in Invader Zim.

With episodes involving the daily going-ons of Zim adjusting to Earth life all while plotting his takeover, you get a unique brand of situational humor that borders on the macabre. An example of this would be a scenario in which Zim must transport as many human organs inside himself to prevent the school nurse from noticing he's an alien by stealing entrails from unsuspecting students. I'll let you register that for a moment.

As far as humor goes, Invader Zim has an unending supply. Whether it's the subtle kind resulting from the weird inflection of Zim's voice, or the blatant ridiculousness of his robotic companion GIR, you're bound to find some quotable dialogue to annoy your friends with later as you repeat it over and over. 

The first issue of the new  Invader Zim  comic book series.

The first issue of the new Invader Zim comic book series.

To conclude, Invader Zim was not only adored by the masses but was critically acclaimed as well, even winning an Emmy for its storyboarding. With a new comic book series that started this year, I won't be surprised to see a resurgence in Zim-related merchandise lining the shelves at our local Hot Topic. All in all, Invader Zim definitely holds up as a TV series.

Crystal HarrellComment