|Date(s):||March 30, 2001 – August 19, 2006|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Invader Zim is a cartoon created by Jhonen Vasquez that debuted in 2001 on Nickelodean. It was cancelled in 2002, partway through production of the second season. It was rebooted as a fairly successful comic book series in July 2015 and has been ongoing ever since. A Netflix movie, Enter The Florpus, premiered August 16, 2019. The fandom has a large online presence on DeviantArt.
Invader Zim is about an alien named Zim of the Irken race being tricked into coming to Earth by his leaders ("The Tallest"). He believes he is on a mission to destroy and/or subjugate the human race for the Irken Empire. In reality, no one of his species likes him, and The Tallest sent him to Earth to get rid of him. However, Zim is unaware of this. When he arrives on Earth he disguses himself (badly) as a human and disguises his robot Gir as a green dog. Almost all of the humans, adult or child, cannot see through their costumes. Zim tries to blend in by going to elementary "Skool," and discovers at least one child named Dib can tell that he is an alien. The premise of the show then follows Dib constantly trying to thwart Zim's plans and out him, while Zim constantly concocts bad ideas to take over the planet.
The Invader Zim fandom is "made up primarily of 1990s and 2000s kids, as well as nostalgia purists," according to The Toxic Fandoms and Hatedom's wiki. At the height of its popularity many young online denizens were going through early 2000s "phases," such as falling in line with emo, goth, or scenekid sensibilities. Whether Invazer Zim influenced the popularity of these movements in young fans or the popularity of these movements influenced the popularity of Zim, is unknown. Invader Zim was popular at a time when MySpace was also at its peak and social media was only beginning to come into public light. As a result, a lot of very early fan follows for Invader Zim were hosted via their own domains, with a number of them currently down or moved to Facebook. As of Jul 2020 Invader Zim is still a wildly active fandom, and would likely have been reguardless of Enter the Florpus releasing on Netflix. Becca James, writing for The A.V. Club said, "Invader Zim was destined for a cult following..."
The Invader Zim fan wiki has a section on the front page that says "Would you like to help Invader ZIM get back on air as a full fledged animated TV series again? Then visit any or all of these links!" It then lists five pages, the first being a Facebook link for "Soapy Waffles," a once popular website for those who loved the show and wanted it back on air. Soapy Waffles used to be it's own domain, called soapywaffles.com, but this link is no longer owned as of 2020. The Facebook page seemed rather active in 2018, didn't post in 2019, then it's newest post was on May 2020 with a link to a Invader Zim script compliation. The oldest Wayback Machine capture of the original site site from Dec 30, 2010, said on it's front page:
Invader Zim canceled!!!!? We can't accept that - no, we WON'T accept that and we are going to do something about it. For too long we have waited for Invader Zim to return with new episodes. The wait will soon be over thanks to the crack artists at E & S Productions. Follow our slow but steady progress here at soapywaffles.com. We appreciate your support.soapywaffles.com, 2010
After Soapy Waffles is another Facebook page called Operation Head Pigeons (OHP), which had its own domain like Soapy Waffles. And just like Soapy Waffles this domain is down has of 2020, only accessible via Wayback Machine. However, trying to find OperationHeadPigeons.com on Wayback Machine only results in being re-directed to a Tumblr blog called operationheadpigeons.tumblr.com. OHP's Facebook sidebar says: " WE LOVE INVADER ZIM. And we did a lot of cool stuff “back in the day..."
Ships in the Invader Zim fandom usually work by combining the two first initials of a character’s name, separated by an 'a' for "and" (such as ZaD) and then tacking on a "R" for romance, "F" for friendship, or "E" for enemies. For instance, ZaDR, refers to Zim and Dib romance, ZaDF refers to Zim and Dib as friends, and ZaDE refers to Zim and Dib as enemies. GIR’s name is fully written in ship names to avoid confusion with Gaz. For example, GaGIRf is Gaz and GIR as friends. This method of ship naming is so far unique to the Zim fandom.
Additionally, after Enter the Florpus was released, many new fans entered the fandom. They began shipping Zim with Professor Membrane and called it the portmanteau Zimbrane, probably because they were unfamiliar with older fans’ conventions. One other exception is the rarepair of alien Zim with Zim in his human disguise. This selfcest ship is called Zimcest.
ZADR has always been the most popular yet most controversial ship. Vasquez dislikes it, but other people working on the cartoon have drawn art of it or shown support in other ways, such as when Andy Berman (voice actor of Dib) said "I love you, Zim!" at Invadercon.
After Enter the Florpus aired, ZADR anti-shipping was renewed by new fans. The reason ZaDR is so controversial, despite also being popular, is the characters' ages. While Dib is undoubtedly a middle school child, Zim is an adult. However, historically fans have treated Zim as a child. This is evident in the way many artists (in visual art and fanfiction) make Zim "aged up" and in high school, showing him as aging at the same or similar rate as Dib. Many older fans of Invader Zim were children or teenagers themselves during the height of its popularity, suggesting they either didn't see Zim as an adult or, if they did, didn't understand why shipping Dib with an adult was inappropriate. Fans in 2020 are much more conscientious minor/adult ships, so discourse surrounding it may be more common in late-fandom Invader Zim. This is also why modern Zim fandom have begun shipping Zim and Professor Membrane, as those who understand Zim is an adult believe this ship is acceptable.
A comment on the Anti-ZADR-Club's says:
4. Stated by Jhonen himself, Dib is 11. Zim is 160 earth years. Let's do the math: 1 Irk year equals 10 Earth years. So, that's 160 ÷ 10? Zim is 16 Irk years, which means he's fully grown. By the time Dib's a teen, Zim will be in his late 20's, so Dib would be out of his league. Any fanfic or pornography of Zim and Dib having butt-sex would be considered pedophilia to me. Anyone who finds enjoyment in an 11 year old being raped needs to seriously get evaluated.agentalienscum (deactivated) Feb 14, 2014
Invader Zim's first convention]] was in March 2011 to celebrate it's ten year anniversary. It was held in Atlanta, Georgia by Wasabi Anime. The con was well received and voice actors even attended, where they read the scripts of some of the unreleased episodes. One dollar of each ticket purchased for InvaderCON was donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). The heads of InvaderCON held the convention each you until 2014, when they intended it to be their last. However, a few years later in 2019 they began raising money for a 2020 InvaderCON in Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been postponed to August 2021.
Scott Dyleski is a murderer who claimed the Invader Zim episode "Dark Harvest" inspired him to kill his neighbor.
Meta and Further Reading
Archives & Fannish Links
- Invader Zim Fandom, Toxic Fandoms and Hatedoms]. (Accessed 7/11/2020)
- Invader Zim, Wikipedia. (Accessed 7/11/2020)
- Invader ZIM Home, Zim Wiki. (Accessed 7/7/2020)
- Soapy Waffles, Wayback Machine. Dec 30, 2020 (Accessed 7/6/2020)
- Operation Head Pigeons, Facebook. (Accessed 7/7/2020)
- Operation Head Pigeons, Tumblr May 18, 2014 (Accessed 7/7/2020)
- DeviantART Comment. Fev 14, 2014 (Accessed 7/7/2020)