Invader Zim Script Book Reveals Scrapped Episode
As much as we all can to love and remember Invader Zim, there is so much, so much more to series which eventually ended up on the cutting room floor—bbecause animation, like any creative process, is a vicious profession in which you sometimes have to kill their darlings. Just because something isn’t on the air doesn’t mean it was completely forgotten.
Although Eric Trueheart’s The Mid-Sized Book of Zim Scripts is, well, a book full of Invader Zim scripts is also a deep dive into the larger creative process that made each episode of the series possible. Trueheart makes it clear that the crazy energy that defined the series was an integral part of the atmosphere in the writers’ room, but taking an idea and turning it into a full-fledged presentable process was much more methodical than you might imagine. .
Even though you’ve been a pure and hard Zim fan since the beginning of the series, there are all kinds of interesting details about the series that you may not have known, like the premises behind the episodes that never aired, unless you were in the room. with the creative team. Take, for example, “Pants!“, an episode in which Zim plans to take over Earth is unexpectedly derailed by the arrival of sentient alien pants. The story is rather convoluted to sum up beyond that, because it is complicated a little by the very existence of Zimthe contemporary counterpart of Nickelodeon, Jimmy Neutron. Your best bet to fully understand “Pants! »And why you’ve never seen it, is to watch this exclusive excerpt from The medium-sized book that we have here.
STORIES WHAT NEVER HAS NEVER BEEN: TROUSERS!
aka when pants reigned
I have a bad habit of not letting go.
Like the time I held onto this sandwich even after it was grabbed by a giant arctic ice hawk, and transported to its nest in Greenland.
Sometimes in the middle of ZIM running, I understood in my head that I wanted to do some sort of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers episode. By no means was this because many of the staff liked to suddenly stop and point at each other, eyes rolled back into their skulls and mouths wide open, making a horrid shrill sound like Donald Sutherland at the end. from the 1978 film, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. No way at all.
No, I was more bothered by a recent round of fashion ads featuring people wildly turned on by some of the world’s most boring pants. For those who may only vaguely remember that time, it was a time in history when khaki pants seemed to have caught the public imagination. Things called “Dockers” adorned billboards and TV commercials, presented as thinking they were something we were meant to care about.
We all know that advertising at some point is less about creating demand for something and more about reassuring an otherwise numb and dazed audience that yes, this product is real and you can buy it without being weird. Everyone does it. Just go to a store and exchange money for it. No one will laugh at you. You will not be attacked by security. Really, it will be that easy. The person at the counter will intuitively understand the transaction you are there for. Then you can take the product home and wear it in public without worrying about strangers accusing you of contempt on the street, pointing fingers with twisted looks of glee on their faces as they shout “Look at the freakboy.” in pants! Look at them ! Huuuuuh? “
Anyway, an idea slowly came to my mind for a scenario like this Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, but the aliens that grabbed human beings were shaped like pants. They were designed to be worn by their victims, and once they had their alien form wrapped around this poor hapless fellow’s legs, they controlled their minds, slowly convincing them that these alien pants were all the rage, and that they should hunt down everyone. DO NOT wear them and put pressure on them to put on a pair, thus conveying their conquest of the host world.
The main character in a story like this would naturally be Dib, and ZIM would have to be sort of in cahoots with those alien pants, siding with them to conquer earth, but for his own benefit. Somehow Dib would end up showing those alien pants that ZIM was using them, they would turn on him, and we would have a climax worthy of the kind of stuff we did on that ridiculous show.
Totally satisfied with my vision, I went to present it to Jhonen in his office.
He was busy modifying the DNA of fly larvae to drink blood and survive in the vacuum of space, but he listened with some interest. Then he asked me, “And what do the pants look like?”
Stuck on the horror of the Slacksian kakhi menace now ravaging America, I replied, “I don’t know, like boring old Docker-type things.”
Immediately, his attention shifted, ostensibly to prevent one of the mutant slugs from killing an intern. But i knew what arrived. The boring pants had lost him. The story just wasn’t … I don’t know … visually quite strange.
So I put the story away in the rusty binder of my mind and went back to my office to wrap myself in a cocoon of failure and shame, or just to play. Diablo until my next mission or something like that.
A few weeks later, I wondered how to make this idea more appealing and began to subtly slip it into my arguments. Between ZIM’s ideas of opening a restaurant selling the best durn pies in the county and Dib commanding an 18th century merchant sailboat in the heart of pirate waters to save the Princess of Portugal, I slipped “Oh hey, remember that story of pants. ..? ”
This time when Jhonen asked me the question, I was ready.
“How are the pants,” he asked, clearly expecting me to fall in the same lap twice.
“Like veined, slimy HR Geiger type pants,” I replied, and then I knew I had won!
Fortunately, Mary Harrington liked it too, and armed with an “approved to describe” notice, I began to plan this story.
Sadly, an evil, dark way more insidious than alien pants stopped this story in its tracks: Jimmy Neutron: Genius!
One day, the executives told us that the episode should be canceled.
“WHY?” we shouted in unison.
“Jimmy Neutron did a Christmas special called ‘When the Pants Attack.’ “” So? “we shouted again.
“So this is robotic pants that is hit with a virus and is trying to take over the city.”
We paused briefly, assessing the situation, and then responded, “N / A? ? “
“So that’s too close to your pants episode. This network cannot have of them cartoons on the pants, by chewing gum! “
There was a long pause, and then …
“WHY?!?” we cried out in unison again.
We have tried to reason with them. Look, we proposed, this pants episode won’t even be over for at least nine months after the Jimmy Neutron special broadcast. Surely this is enough time for America to cleanse its memory of all the pant hijackings!
They still said no.
We tried to counter again. The two shows do not even have the same audience, we stressed, but the executive captains would not be swayed.
Jhonen also presented one of the most convincing arguments of all: “This is Jimmy Neutron! It’s not like it’s something everyone cares about! Oddly enough, that didn’t change anyone’s mind.
Full disclosure: I have already worked for the people who made Jimmy Neutron on a show that never saw the light of day called Dirk Derby: Wonder Jockey. They are good people, and funny, and clearly not on purpose to stop anyone’s pant ambitions. Also, Derby Derby was a really hilarious show that unfortunately couldn’t find its place on TV, probably because it was too ‘out there’ for kids’ TV. So for the record, they Neutron people are fine!
It was the end of the Pants episode, one of my favorite ideas killed in its tracks by a pants-themed Christmas special. It would have ended there, but fate intervened.
Years later, when the right folks at Oni Press decided to launch a series of Invader ZIM comics, I once again launched the “Pants!” episode. Now it had the added benefit of being a “lost episode” in the series. This time, common sense was on my side, and our editor Robin Herrera said yes almost immediately.
You will find the script of this little comic epic later in this volume. Suffice it to say, I was as surprised as I was happy to complete this weird little bit almost twenty years later.
I was even able to slip into Donald Sutherland by making this face.
The Mid-Sized Book of Zim Scripts is on sale now for digital download with a physical release of the book scheduled for a later date not yet disclosed.
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