Oh, the horror! The funky horror!
As of Thursday, January 17, 2002, Invader ZIM has been cancelled. On that date, only a few hours after doing voice-recording for the Chirstmas special, all of the cast and crew were notified of this event. This must have been a huge shock, as the show seemed like a huge success. It was an even bigger suprise on January 20, 2002, when the ZIM fanbase found out.
Nickelodeon went back on its contract with Jhonen. They asked for only six more episodes, instead of the 20 second-season episodes that they originally requested. Nobody really knows why Nick did this, but there are many good guesses flying around. These are my personal view points on these theories, they are not 100% fact.
First and foremost, Nickelodeon is a network designed for young children with learning disabilities (or so I hear). It is filled with altruistic, happy, joyful, conforming CRAP writen by harmless middle-aged men. Invader ZIM was created by a twenty-something cult figure whose résumé is filled with past credits of drawing comics about a philisophical homicidal maniac. The two don't exactly match up, do they? Some people think that Nickelodeon just didn't like the idea of having somebody different than them putting stuff into their network. Nick must have rejected and censored many bits of ZIM before it was aired. This cramped Jhonen's style. He was used to writing without restraint, and most of his JtHM books are filled with profanity, violence, and political-incorrectness one each and every page. Some of the last episodes will never see the light of day on in the US. An upcoming episode, Door to Door, featured a scene where New York City lies in ruins. I don't think that episode has a very good chance of airing on such a network, unless greatly edited. It is a really great episode, too, and the loss of it cripples Jhonen's hopes again. So Nickelodeon and Jhonen weren't getting what they really wanted.
The second issue is ratings. It's pretty stupid for Nickelodeon to complain about this factor. Zim never had a good timespot in its history of airtime. For a long time it was on at 9PM on Fridays. First of all, many children, for whom the network is made for, don't watch television at this hour. And secondly, the more aged Jhonen fans in their teens and twenties have some sort of life where they are not home on a Friday night at 9! Of course, then Nick decided to bump Zim back another half-hour to 9:30PM. In addition to this, Zim was only on one day a week! What do they expect from a show that is on one day a week on a Friday at 9:30?! Apparently very much. Soon Zim disappeared from the Friday schedule. There were occasionally episodes on at 1PM on Sunday (when all good fans are at church!) but then these were ultimately bumped and Nickelodeon opted to put another episode of Rocket Power on, adding to other five that were going to be on that afternoon. In addition to the bad schedule, Nickelodeon never even tried to promote the show. There were no commericials, promotions or anything.
Ahem, money. Nickelodeon needs money. And Zim wasn't just not getting the ratings that would satisfy Nick, but it was also horrendously expensive to produce. To put this into perspective, one episode of Spongebob Squarepants costs roughly $300,000 to make. One episode of Invader ZIM costs about $1,200,000 to make. Wow. You see, Nickelodeon isn't making THAT much money as it is. But if Nick signed ZIM for many seasons, it would cost them millions and give them big financial problems.
Another issue is marketing failure. And this time, once again, Nick didn't even try. The first Invader Zim products came out months after the series premiered. But these products were limited. There were only shirts, sweaters, hats, stickers, and a lunchbox or two. Most of the clothing was aimed at older viewers and didn't even come close to fitting the young'ns. Besides the lack of merchandise, these few products were only sold at ONE chain of stores. Hot Topic. It's hard enough to find a Hot Topic that has Zim merchandise. But, somebody tell me; is a nine year old going to go into a Hot Topic just to buy a GIR sticker!? I should hope not. This marketing strategy just didn't make sense.
ZIM had every reason to succeed and every chance to fail.
But the ZIM community did not take the news of Zim's untimely death sitting down. Thousands of letters of complaint have been mailed to (and burned by) Nickelodeon. An online petition was created and in only twenty days has accumulated over 34,000 individual signatures. Also, harassment of Nickelodeon by fans has been caused by e-mails, phone calls, and boycott of Nick products. Heh. Sillies.
Updated August 14, 2003: Nickelodeon hasn't shown any new Zim episodes since The Most Horrible Christmas Ever aired back in December 2002. It seems that Zim has also been totally yanked from the airwaves completely on Nick. However, MUNDONICK, Nickelodeon's South American branch, began showing new episodes in the early Spring of 2003. They have aired, completely, the entire second season of ZIM, including: Backseat Drivers from Beyond the Stars, Mortos Der Soul Stealer, ZIM Eats Waffles, Frycook from Space, Vindicated, Girl Who Cried Gnome, Dib Ship, Voting of the Doomed, and Gaz, Taster of Pork. Backseat Drivers has already been encoded and is on the internet and #invaderzim. It is terrific. Mortos is supposed to be the crappiest episode of all time (as many of these episodes were rushed through production.) Frycook is just beautiful. We hope to have these episodes encoded via our connections in Brazil and Mexico very soon. There's more hope from this than from Nickelodeon.
The Invader ZIM fanbase is a unique one. Two major communities grew from it. The first came from ssjvaporeon and jiggly at the great GIR IZ fansite (gir.n3.net). They started "Gir's Board" in July 2001. From there, it thrived for a while. But suitable bandwidth was always difficult to find. Eventually, a guy named JACE offered to help and founded wormbaby.com. Jhonen Vasquez himself (in disguise, of course!) posted at wormbaby for a while (mostly urging people to $pend more money), but eventually left this experiment because wormbaby made his brain hurt. Jace also encoded episodes for a while, but was eventually shut down by viacom. Jace was paranoid, cruel, and a control freak. He deleted posts, he banned, and he threw little fits for no good reason. He put people on pedistals, realeasing IPs and email addresses for them to be pilloried by the general public. (Most notably a guy named Frank, who disagreed with an offensive advertisement on the wormbaby homepage. Jace said "you think you own the internet" and then blah blah...) He was rather tyrinical. At one point, he ran and IRC chat in affiliation with the people at Starfusion. As a guest of theirs, he abused his power and was eventually asked to leave. Before he left, however, he deleted all of the files on starfusion's server, and then proceeded to hack and spam the server afterwards. So... not only a jerk, but a criminal. There's more to be said, but, crikey, why? Jace was toppled when he shutdown Wormbaby and ssj decided to leave and join forces Room With A Moose in August 2003.
Room With a Moose (roomwithamoose.com) was the first fansite to offer episode downloads of Invader Zim, starting right after the first episode. They still do, only website to do so, to this date. After Zim was cancelled, they set up a messageboard in January 2002. This forum attracted not only fans, but also employees of the series! Greats such as Steve Ressel (Director and Producer), Hanzhi Tang (Nick 3D), John Fountain (character design), Chris Graham (storyboard), and Eric Trueheart (writer) have posted there. But it all started with Ian Graham, storyboard artist, (aka 45) who was the first to post there back in January 2002. Having such friend in high places, RWAM is now a plethora of Zim information and history. They also have unreleased episode scripts, premises, outlines, art, sound, and MORE in their closet section. They're still releasing it, so it's not all there yet. If you're interested in Zim, this is a MUST place to stop by. There is also an FAQ so amazing it will make your head implode. As for the messageboard, it's a nice tight-knit little community. Nothing's ever censored, nothing's ever deleted, and every one is left to be themselves. It's more of a mature place (SOMETIMES), but other times it's just wacky. Uuhhh... yeah. It's good. So...
Updated March 28, 2004: Okay, a LOT has happened since August. DVDs AND ACTION FIGURES ARE BEING RELEASED!!! Whee! I'll keep it short. The first DVD will be released May 11th, 2004. It is a double disc set. Two other double disc sets will be released thereafter. A special box for the DVDs, shaped like Zim's house, will be released with a special bonus disc after the other DVDs have been released. The DVDs will include: animatics, commentaries, and more. It is being produced by Media-Blasters. http://www.media-blasters.com
DVD information: http://roomwithamoose.com/dvd.php
Order DVD from Amazon ($17.46): http://tinyurl.com/yup4b9
Action figures are being made by Palisades Toys (http://www.palisadestoys.com). No release dates are confirmed, but the figures look cool!
Action Figure information: http://roomwithamoose.com/figures.php
That's it for now...
We are all saddened by the death of Zim. (Well I am, at least!) All we can do is ask why. Why? WHYYYYY?!
Of the universe. It's sad, really.
zim episode downloads:
#invaderzim on n1kio.starfusion.org
save invader zim petition:
zim dvd petition: