In March 2011 something unspeakably terrible happened at the Marriott Century Center in Atlanta GA. Approximately 1,000 people in a variety of disguises descended upon that fair city for InvaderCon, celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Invader Zim, a cartoon that was initially overlooked by a lot of viewers but eventually generated a huge following, created by Jhonen Vasquez (responsible for comics such as Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and spin-offs Squee! and I Feel Sick featuring characters from JTHM) that was produced and broadcast by Nickelodeon.
Due to a fall in ratings after the first season, Nickelodeon pulled the show midway through season two. In the years that followed, due to it gathering a cult following around itself, Nickelodeon aired the remaining episodes and have subsequently put out reruns of the show, resulting in them becoming the second highest-rated show on the network. Despite the above-average DVD sales figures, huge spin-off merchandise sales and rerun popularity, Nickelodeon have sadly not talked with Jhonen about creating more seasons, deeming them too expensive to make.
The cartoon follows the story of Zim, an alien from the planet Irk. He and his fellow Irkens are born and raised to be an invader species, with the goal of complete universe domination. Upon being deemed worth of Invader status, an Irken is assigned a planet and given whatever technological supplies they might need to travel there, discreetly establish themselves and work on assuming control of the inhabitants. Once a planet has been successfully overthrown by an invader, a fleet of Irken spaceships arrive to complete the conquest, enslaving the planets inhabitants and designating the planet with a new purpose that supports the Irken goal (some planets serve as huge intergalactic food courts, others are nothing more than colossal parking spaces for spaceships).
Even though our antihero Zim has the hardcore invader mentality, he’s cursed with always screwing up, being single-handedly responsible for the near destruction of Irk during Operation Impending Doom I, one of the first plans for mass synchronized universe conquest.
The Irken leaders organise a convention in order to reveal their plans for Operation Impending Doom II, but in this instance they decide to assign Zim to the mysterious planet ? which turns out to be Earth and is located at the absolute furthest reaches of known Irken space. It has never been conquered by the Irkens as it was deemed valueless, and therefore the leaders assume that sending Zim so far away will minimise his chances of sabotaging another Operation. They overcome Zim’s doubts and convince him that his mission is of the highest importance, with the entire Irken population celebrating his departure.
Each invader is given a SIR (Standard-issue Information Retrieval) robot who is designed to assist with information gathering and conquest, however Zim being deemed unworthy of decent resources is given GIR, a defective robot made from junk parts, with a hyperactive, disobedient nature and, upon arriving on Earth, a huge love of junk food and cartoons.
Once Zim arrives on Earth we discover a planet that, although technologically advanced, is inhabited for the most part by dumb humans and filled with stereotypes and generalisations. We meet Zim’s nemesis, a young boy named Dib with a huge intellect who is outcast by his fellow humans, and therefore his warnings that an alien is among them go ignored. Dib makes it his goal to thwart Zim, and hilarious high jinks ensue.
InvaderCon was the first of its kind, gathering fans of the cartoon from all over the world. It was initially meant to be a one-time event, with the organisers categorically stating as much, however due to the overwhelming fan support and pleadings for a followup event, they decided to do the one-time only event one more time, and made the bold decision that if they were going to go ahead with a sequel they had to make it bigger and better than last time.
This year, on July the 28th and 29th, InvaderCon II: Doomcon is occurring in Los Angeles CA. They offer day or weekend tickets, and additional tickets to attend either a Dinner featuring some of the event’s celebrity guests, or a Waffle Breakfast also boasting celebrity attendees. This year boasts the same celebrity guest lineup as the 2011 InvaderCon (cast members Andy Berman (the voice of Dib), Richard Horvitz (VO Zim), Melissa Fahn (VO Gaz, Dib’s little sister) and Rikki Simons (VO Gir) as well as writer Eric Truehart, with this year having the exciting additions of character designer Aaron Alexovich, production supervisor Jason Stiff and Jhonen Vasquez himself!
There is always a costume contest, and I cannot wait to see some of the offerings from this years attendees.
Although I’m not able to attend this year, I’m hoping that, true to form, there will be another one-time only event yet another time in the future as I know there a few friends in the UK who will be most interested in coordinating a holiday in America with an InvaderCon visit.