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DoomCon: Making Lippy-Smacky Noises about the InvaderCon Sequel

posted Aug 6, 2012, 11:49 PM by Douglas Sun

Having lamented not going to InvaderCon, last year's "Invader Zim" fan convention in Atlanta, I could hardly pass up the chance to go to its sequel convention, DoomCon, when Green Mustard Entertainment brought the show to Torrance, CA late last month. Torrance sits at the other end of Los Angeles County from where I live, but compared to Atlanta it's very much in my back yard.

I spent parts of both days at the con, taking in Q&A sessions with Richard Horovitz (Zim) and Melissa Fahn (Gaz), the "Behind the Scenes" panel with Eric Truehart (writer), Jason Stiff (post-production coordinator) and Aaron Alexovitch (character designer), the main panel discussion on Saturday, and of course, the script reading. Coming two weeks after San Diego Comic Con, DoomCon felt like a modest thing by comparison, driven far more by enthusiasm than by sheer numbers. The Dealer's Room wasn't so much a room as it was a walk-in closet — I bought a copy of Spooky, The Thing What Squeaks, a squeeze toy designed by Johnen Vasquez, from SLG, but apart from that there wasn't much to see. But all the same, I'm glad that I went.

More than anything else, however, I found myself confirmed in some of the observations that I made in this post about InvaderCon and the 10th anniversary of "Zim"'s debut on Nickelodeon. To wit:

The "Invader Zim" fan base really is a breed apart. These InvaderCon events are driven by the white-hot enthusiasm of a relatively small number of people. During the Q&A's on which I sat in, it became clear that people had come to Torrance from all over North America for this event, and that they were just as enthused about going to Pontiac, MI next year forDoomCon II (or InvaderCon III, whatever they're going to
call it).
I believe that this version of the DVD set includes the all-important commentary tracks. However, Eric Truehart mentioned something about a version in which Nickelodeon purged certain comments about them. I have the Media Blasters version, which is unexpurgated. It is also out of print.

In an environment like that, I was bound to feel a little out of sync. First of all, my tolerance for screaming — and I don't mean squealing, I mean screaming — fangirls only goes so far. It's like going to school knowing that you're going to hear someone's fingernails dragged across the chalkboard not once, but over and over. Furthermore, although I cede pride of place to no one in the depth of my appreciation for "Invader Zim," I have a habit of maintaining a degree of analytical distance, even from things of which I am very fond. Call it a form of diffidence if you like, but I'm actually quite proud of it. As a consequence, I'm always going to feel like I'm skulking around in such an environment compared to the people who came up to Richard Horovitz during his Q&A to present him with mediocre original poetry and sketches of Zim.

Sentiment in favor of producing new episodes seemed to be near-universal. No surprise there. No surprise, either, that everyone on the main panel said that they would love to work on new episodes (to much acclamation from the crowd). I was glad, however, to hear Jhonen sound a cautionary note, invoking the old British horror story "The Monkey's Paw," which is basically a dramatization of the saying that you should be careful what you wish for, lest you get it. I suspect that he and I were the only people in the room who understood the risk that a revived "Invader Zim" would not live up to expectation, that it would be a "zombie" form of itself, as he put it. Wally Wingert (Tallest Red) invoked the example of Fox reviving "Family Guy" to tremendous commercial success, but that's not the point. Of course, Nickelodeon could make money by bringing back "Zim." Johnen's question — and mine — is whether or not it would be as good as the original.

During the "Behind the Scenes" panel, Eric Truehart seemed genuinely flattered when I offered the opinion that "Invader Zim" was very much a writer's series in that writing was just as responsible as the visuals and the voice acting for the show's appeal. Less than a week later, when I looked over my posts from 2011, I realized that I had said pretty much the same thing in these pages over a year ago.

Jason Stiff also told the story of how he had a screaming fanboy moment at Comic Con 2004 thanks to someone who recognized his name from the credits and the DVD commentary tracks. In animation, this is something that happens to show creators and voice actors. It does not normally happen to post-production coordinators. Which would seem to illustrate my earlier point about the unique enthusiasm of the "Invader Zim" fan base.

I checked YouTube this morning, but such videos of the script reading as were posted did not look terribly impressive. I'm not going to link any of them. If a good one turns up, I'll link to it because it was well worth an hour of my time. They did an un-produced two-part script called "The Trial—" no doubt because Dib did not appear in it, and so it did not require the participation of Andy Berman, who had to cancel, alas.