Exclusive: Artist Aaron Alexovich on Nickelodeon's INVADER ZIM: ENTER THE FLORPUS! - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Artist Aaron Alexovich on Nickelodeon’s INVADER ZIM: ENTER THE FLORPUS!

When I was in middle school, I was the kid lurking on my own reading issues of Jhonen Vazquez’ Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Squee. Something about the macabre, dark sense of humor and the jagged, sharply drawn characters directly appealed to the awkward, uncertain, and, admittedly, embarrassing 12-year-old me. But I loved them then and I still hold a fondness in my heart after all these years.

I guess that’s why Vazquez’ cartoon series Invader Zim, which aired on Nickelodeon, held such an appeal to me. It was much of the same but friendlier and brought to life. Zim’s (mis)adventures in his attempts to take over Earth were endearing and charming and no one can prove me otherwise that they didn’t love Gir at one point or another.

Almost two years ago to the day, it was announced that there would be Nickelodeon was bringing the band back together for Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus!, an all-original movie. Since then, we’ve gotten teasers and even a full-length trailer (see below) but that’s really about it. Nickelodeon is being very quiet about the film and trying to pinpoint a release date makes as much sense as throwing darts while blindfolded…and in a completely different room from the dartboard.

But don’t let all hope fade away! Today, we’re here to have Aaron Alexovich, someone who has been a part of the Invader Zim universe for many years give you a bit of information about the film! Don’t get your hopes up for anything too concrete but know that enough is shared to whet some appetites!

Alexovich tells Dread Central:
“I’ve been living in the grip of ZIM for so long I can barely remember my life before. I think maybe ZIM exudes some sort of hypno-drug? Dunno! I do remember the first time I encountered Jhonen Vasquez’ work, though. Back in animation school I already had this kind of creepy/cute Tim Burton-influenced cartoony horror style, and one day a friend of mine said “Oh man, I know a comic you’re going to like…” He showed me Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and I was like, “What the hell? Did I draw this myself in some sort of fugue state?” It was just this really eerie feeling. Even eerier, a couple years later, Jhonen just happened to attend my school’s big end-of-the-year student film festival, saw my little animated horror short (featuring my future comic character Serenity Rose), and decided to give me a shot as a character designer on ZIM. I’ve been doomed ever since.

Zim was kind of a dream job. I was incredibly lucky to get to work on something so wild and innovative right out of school. I mean, it was basically my job to draw hideous monsters and even more hideous children all day every day, so there’s no complaining about that! I knew I was working on something special when one of my first assignments was to draw X-ray scans of kids who had their organs stolen. Try that, Jimmy Neutron!

“I made some great friends with equally bent brains during my time there, too. I kind of fell out of love with the animation industry itself during my time there, though. I still take freelance jobs here and there if the project sounds cool, but making my own comics suits me WAY better. No dopey studio politics, fewer ridiculous notes, etc. I don’t feel like a cog in some big, gross money machine anymore. It’s great!

“I’ll always be there for my friends, though, which is how they dragged me back for the Zim movie. I mean, Zim was such a huge part of my life, it’d feel almost blasphemous to bail on it now. I LOVE that world, and anytime Jhonen and Jenny (Goldberg, the art director) need me, I’ll be there. I think I was the only member of the old design crew who returned full-time. Luckily not back in the same old cubicle, because that would’ve felt a little weird and time-warpy. Same job though, back doing character designs and revising storyboards, so if there are any specific shots of Zim or Dib in the movie you particularly hate, it’s very possible they’re my drawings. YOU’RE WELCOME. I also worked as an artist on the Zim comic in between, so those Irked talons are buried deep!

“It’s basically one big oversized episode of the show, only even more gorgeous to look at this time.”

“I can’t tell you too much about the movie’s plot, unfortunately. I mean, I COULD, but then I’d get sued and possibly have to spend the rest of my life in the basement prison at Nickelodeon studios. (You can hear the screams echoing down there while you work. Bone-chilling!) I CAN tell you that it’s totally finished, we had a crew screening not too long ago, and it WORKS, dammit. IT WORKS. Couldn’t stop laughing. Just wall-to-wall weird jokes and screaming madness. It’s basically one big oversized episode of the show, only even more gorgeous to look at this time. Except for the things that aren’t meant to be gorgeous. Those things are more loathsome than ever before! We haven’t heard about any specific release date for the movie yet, so I recommend everyone reading this head down to Nick with picket signs immediately. A hunger strike would be GREAT. Hopefully, you’ll all get to see it before the end of the year!”

Alexovich was also incredibly kind enough to share several sketches of his from his Invader Zim comic days!

While you’re here, make sure to help Alexovich out by peeping the Kickstarter for his kid’s book It’s Not Scary, which will integrate with an app that brings the story to life! You can read more about it right here.

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