domingo, 13 de diciembre de 2015

Random thoughts on Invader Zim's revival

What can be said about Invader Zim? It was truly a great show that quickly distinguished itself amongst the broader elements of animation by going against everything that the genre tried so desperately hard to get away from since the very beginning of its existence. Its worlds were composed of pure madness that really didn't make any sense whatsoever, the characters were miserable to the extreme and were lucky if their mauling happened off-screen... and even in the technical phase it was a rather different show, with everything being simple and slick when it came to drawings -most of which were made of a thousand shades of the same colors- and incredible elaborate in CGI mode -which was used regularly throughout the whole series-. It was definitely a great thing to witness and we all felt lucky to be around at the exact time to enjoy it... and I mean it.

You couldn't literally have a conversation about Nickelodeon -and yeah, we actually had those by the hundreds- without mentioning Invader Zim along the way. And how could you overlook it? It was a very different show by every meaning of the word (I'm not just talking about the artistic choices here, which were very loyal to their creator's comic book background, although those get heavily underlined by the fact that this show was on in between "Cubix: The Unfixable Robot" and "Yu-Gi-Oh!"), relying almost royally on dark humor and yelling nonsense to get you to laugh... and magnificently succeeding after pretty much every try. This tale of an unique show about an insane alien trying to take over the world didn't have a happy ending, though: After only two seasons on the air (and with episodes like Dark Harvest and Mortos der Soulstealer making parents go insane about the supposed "cleanness" of content that they seemed to be expecting from Nickelodeon -haven't they ever seen "Rocko's Modern Life", then?-) Nick finally pulled the plug on Invader Zim on January 17, 2002; effectively ending the adventures of the Irken Invader in which I don't wanna say was a LOW note, but definitely a weird one.

You see... the cancellation of the show couldn't have come on a more unappropriated moment, because it happened right after the production of two episodes: Invader Poonchy and Nubs of Doom. This last one was going to be very important, because it was meant to be the introduction of MiniMoose, Zim's new sidekick. We got to meet him, though, because Nickelodeon basically said "yeah, you can pick one last episode to put into production before you go. It's on us". No, it was on US, because although the Christmas Episode was great, it was confusing as all hell... "who's that MiniMoose guy?" We said, "what any of this has to do with the main plot?" as well as many other questions that remained unanswered. Little did we know that the show was officially off the air at that point.

Zim in all his bear-suit-wearing glory.

Years passed and there was no word on the series (even on the internet) so we had to sit back and assume that it was actually gone for ever... no special ending, no farewell movie, no Invader DIB. Nothing. But there were some whispers to hold us over while we waited for news: Johnen Vasquez himself posted a blog entry that was headlined by a very exciting image of Zim raising from the grave, suggesting a revival... that was intermediately followed by the post explaining that Nickelodeon did actually contact him to revive the show, but that they finally decided against it, alleging that it was "too expensive" to make. Well, maybe if they didn't produce so many one-season failures in the past, money wouldn't be a problem! I'm sorry, I will chill out now. The other rumor was very hard to believe, but was there anyway... and it basically said that Vasquez was also contacted by Disney to put Zim on Disney XD. That was a very weak rumor and I can't see it happening in ANY scenario, but let's try to analyze it anyway: in fact, let's NOT try to analyze it at all, because it doesn't make any sense (aside from the fact that Vasquez actually works as a character designer for them). The fact is that Disney is NOT the kind of company that would have a character like Zim on their signal, they just don't match. And the fact that cartoons like "Star vs the Forces of Evil" and "Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil" -two marvelous shows on their own right- are the closer we get to Zim's insanity levels, says a LOT about how realistic this proposal was to begin with.

The arm reaching from the grave must have been the biggest teasing for this devoted fan-base.

More years passed and the Zim spark seemed to be finally fading away. Most of the communities I knew devoted to the show and character just ran out of topics to discuss and closed, while finding NEW information about it -even in the most nonsensical, made up way- was actually getting harder every day. There weren't many reasons to see the show as more than a mere nostalgic thing that we just had to let go... but something about it truly refused to die and that's why many of us didn't actually let it descent into the grave. There was always something keeping the show just above oblivion and that's why it keeps being talked about this many years after the final episode was aired. Having the whole cast reading scripts at InvaderCON II was a really sweet moment that awoke many great memories; and it was even during the same convention that someone from the show came up with the original sheets and designs for most of the invaders that were going to be on the show (most of them in unfinished episodes) so that gave us a LOT to talk about. There's even a group trying to come up with the animation for those "lost episodes", embodying that same love I feel about it. And, like I said, it just refuses to die.

So, I guess that everything just started to add up, because this enigmatic message was posted on Twitter by a company called OniPress:

It was in the unmistakable font from the show and was re-twitted by Jhonen Vasquez himself. So, maybe this was the big revival that we were all eagerly waiting for... and you know what? It was! The comic expanded on Zim's universe like a good episode of the series would, making it hilariously horrible and viciously attractive all at once. It was great to see the characters on the story actually acknowledging the time passing since the last episode as well, saying stuff like "it's been years since I last saw Zim, but I know he's up to something" or -in which I consider a truly highlight of the thing, very well on the spirit of IZ- The Almighty Tallest forgetting who Zim is and acting incredibly disappointed and discouraged when they find out that he's still alive and well.

Another thing to praise about the comic is that every line moves the story along, no filler allowed. So they actually feel mighty huge despite being only twenty-four pages long. And of course, there's a ton of new stuff just thrown in, for the hell of it. Without wanting to spoil anything, I'm gonna say that "Recap Kid" is probably my favorite new character and that it is always a pleasure to see him greeting you to a new issue of the comic.

And as for how it looks... well, I'm just gonna say that I didn't know who OniPress was prior to this, but I'm now eager to check out the rest of their work. They just NAILED it with every artistic choice made on the comic, and even those things that you wouldn't think would look good on plain-drawing form came out very well from it (I'm talking about The Massive). Also, the backgrounds as a whole are a delight.

I'm not crazy about Gaz's re-design, nor am I sure about why it was all that necessary, but it works. So, everything's fine, I suppose.

The stories are also what you would call "a job well done": every issue of the comic so far has been an invitation to the show's world, being inhabited by madness and really-damn-funny gags from cover to cover. I will say more, the originality on some of these plots is stunning. Also, the writers felt like giving an entire issue (and a lot of depth) to Gaz, which honestly we didn't have enough of.

But by far, the most insane idea to come out from the pages of the book was the Star Donkey issue. You just have to read it to believe it... and it WILL let you wanting more, like a very good idea should.

Shminvader Shmim, the artist. Are you in love with the thing yet?

There's definitely some genuine, undoctored feel to the comic that puts it alongside the best entries of the series -and some of the new material downright tops some of the weaker parts of the cartoon- so, if you are an Invader Zim fan, this comic would be money well spent for you. Definitely check it out.

3 comentarios:

  1. La serie me la perdí, pero supongo que se dará la misma situación que se da siempre con las series y sus fans. Aunque la idea de continuar absolutamente todas las series animadas (o no) nostálgicas (o no) en forma de cómics dirigidos exclusivamente a fans adultos ya me está empezando a dar un poco de picazón. Nadie les quita de la cabeza que deben mantener sus viejas aficiones vivas, no para sí mismos...

    OniPress publicó también Scott Pilgrim en inglés, puede que te interese.

    1. Es muy comùn eso de revivir series en forma de còmic?

      Y que tan bueno està el còmic de SP? Lo recomendarìas?

    2. Cuanta cosa existió en el siglo 20 y todavía es alabada por gente en I-net -por el motivo que sea, que no necesariamente es nostalgia o por considerarlo de calidad- tiene cómic, desde Cazafantasmas y Doctor Who hasta la Brigada-A y el Batman de Adam West. Hace unos años una editorial intentó sacar unos de Chip y Dale y el Pato Darkwing, pero fracasaron y Disney acabó cancelándolos. Todos ellos se pasan al público en general por el forro, que es lo que me disgusta tanto de ellos. Los autores del cómic de FiM (porque de MLP G1 no hay, por razones obvias) dijeron "no es solo para niños" y ese mismo instante los mandé a que se fueran bien a hacerse coger por un dragón.

      Scott Pilgrim es un "clásico de culto" y, como todo clásico de culto, es muy del tipo "lo amas o lo odias". A mí me gustó por los constantes chistes y referencias a retrojuegos (las referencias a manga/anime y a música indie no las entendí), pero cada cierto tiempo le encuentro más detractores y es bueno que los escuches a ellos también.