Jhonen, I just want to thank you for making Devi. I've been looking for a female character that I relate to since I was little. I always liked characters like Buttercup or Spinelli, but they never quite clicked with me. Devi is just perfect. She seems like a person rather than someone going "What do women like/do?" Anyone else would have had Tenna try to get Devi to go out by taking her shopping or something. You didn't. So thanks.
Hey, thanks. Not sure she started out as such a great idea, though. Hell, initially the gag was that she was going to be this character, kind of like Squee, who was just a focus for terrible life-events, only specifically dating events.
Seriously, a female character defined by her disastrous interactions with guys, ya know? Now, it’s not like people like that don’t exist but I didn’t exactly want to be doing that kinda thing by the time I Feel Sick Came around. There’s still a bit of that bad date stuff in there, but I hope that it doesn’t color the character as being one note in that way. Ultimately I Feel Sick was just me having fun with a far more confident, more badass kind of fuckup than Johnny’s kind of fuckup.
Johnny was more of a joke on people who think they know everything and deal with being treated like shit by only becoming more shit, and even worse, god-like, untouchable, pretentious shit. Devi was just a bit more grounded while hopefully not being boring. I think it’s easy to WANT to be Johnny, superficially anyhow, but Devi was probably the more realistic option, or at least slightly less absurd.
I always like when people say I Feel Sick is their favorite work of mine, and it’s always a little funny when they tell me I wrote a cool female character. It’s funny because I sure as hell wasn’t even trying to convincingly portray any kind of female experience so much as just write a character I’d like. She’s just another way of telling a condensed version of a situation Johnny probably went through, with a slightly happier outcome.
I have a very good question (or at least I think it's good. The goodness of this ask is purely subjective). Do you read fanfiction? If so, what's the fanfic that left you thinking "Good god, these people must be crazy"
No, I don’t read any fan fiction, not in any way where I pursue it anyhow, but now and then a friend will send me something particularly awful and I’ll read a paragraph or so and be done with it. I think it’s great for people to be writing in general, and in some ideal scenario it’s actually some kid doing the writing and then moving on to their own thing at some point. Inspiration, no matter what kind of hideous product it inspires, is still a good way to start on your own shit down the road.
As for people doing fan fiction of my stuff, yeah, I’m aware of it being out there but I just don’t really care past what I’ve already said. I’ll have people, usually girls from their mid teens to early 20’s, come up to me at conventions and tell me about some ZIM fanfic they wrote or read, and they’ll tell me to my face that it would make me furious or disgusted. There’s like this standard face and attitude these people have when conveying this stuff to me, like they’re barely able to contain their glee at being the person two bring this mind-blowing craziness to my attention and I’m not sure I’m ever really capable of impressing upon them how much I don’t give a shit.
I think it’s because I look and often act a lot younger than my age that they think I exist in the same realm of interests as they do. like they think I’m trolling fan fiction pages and gaining rage power by checking out all these things people are writing up as they say stuff like “Jhonen would KILL me if he knew I was writing thisssAAHAHAHHAHAH!!!” They’ll confuse me shitting my pants with shock and awe instead of what it really is, just me not knowing how to use the toilet.
I just nod and, sincerely tell them it’s cool they’re writing at all, which it is, but if I’m gonna read anything myself it’s not fan fiction. Not enough time in the world to add that to my list of things to consume.
Hey, you may or may not have been asked this question before, and you may or may not know the answer but I believe it's worth it to ask. What's your status on attending Invadercon III? My sister and I live very far away from where it's being held but we're willing to cross oceans in our birthday suits to get there. Well, that's if you're going of course. You should go, it's the last Invadercon, a convention all about you! (This is the Devi from those B&W cosplays a while back btw THANK YOU SO M)
No I don’t think I’m going to this new Invader Con, but don’t let that stop ya! I wouldn’t say it’s a convention dedicated to me so much as a convention for some of the fans, and that’s cool, yeah? The last thing those people need is me there mucking up their enjoyment.
Dude! DUDE! DUUDE! Kaos from Skylanders is Zim! Like... not just the same Voice Actor (which it is) but the same voice/tone/phrasing/love of Doom... so what I'm trying to say is that you don't need to make any more Zim because someone else already has. You're FREE!
Yeah, I heard about that, though I haven’t actually heard it with my ears. It was funny, before ZIM I had known Richard’s voice from Power Rangers and Angry Beavers, but after getting him in to do ZIM’s voice, I’d come across things that I didn’t even know he was in and hear him doing a sorta ZIM thing. It was odd to realize people were probably directing him to do that ZIM-style thing even though ZIM is such a specific character.
One of the things I would do with Richard in the recording sessions was waver my hand up or down like I was playing a theremin, and Richard would adjust the quaver of his overly dramatic line read. There was no “just do ZIM” back in those days! We had to MAKE him, dammit! People these days have it easy! Grumble.
This one's been bugging me for a while. Considering the...unique content of your comics, how many angry letters do you get from self-important mothers saying you've "ruined [their] child's innocence!" or "twisted [their] mind with your sick artwork!"?
To date, since starting out with comics, through my time on ZIM and since, I can’t recall any kind of communication like what you’re describing. As parents who know about my work go, most, thankfully, have better things to do and far greater things to worry about than to write angry letters at me.
The only “parent letters” I’ve ever received on the subject of their children have been overwhelmingly positive, whether it’s about how some of my work inspired their kid to start making comics or made them want to get into animation, or some such thing. I’ve gotten mail from teachers describing students who opened up a bit because they were into my comics and, through comics, they were able to deal with some issue or another.
Now and then I hear about parents who were themselves fans of my comics from back when I was first doing them, and, despite being fans of my comics, managed to get someone to sexilize with them and they procreated! These parents tell me about how they sit with their kids to watch ZIM, they’ll tell me what parts the kids laugh at and it’s pretty awesome.
Was any of this my intent when I was making all that stuff? Not at all. Hell, I was too busy giggling while writing something or drawing, the exact same way I do now when I’m working on something, to even think of a surreal future where people are digging my work with their kids, or, in some cases, waiting until the kid is old enough to show them the more intense stuff. Either way, it’s cool to hear about.
I have a great curiosity about the JtHM animated project! The art style on the comics transformed subtly from beginning to end (as generally happens with comics), and then made a big jump of change in style in I Feel Sick. Visually, are you wanting to keep with the original style, or more like in IFS, or something even more different and new? (No matter what you go with, I'm sure it'll be the bees knees. ROCK ON)
Sort of like the person who asked before about the content, the visual’s would very likely be something different, still distinctly Johnny and world, but still different.
The funny thing about going dark for a while, having made my living on a fishing trawler since stopping work on ZIM, is that it kind of locks your audience down, freezes them in time in a way. People much younger than me find the books and think that, somehow, I am that same person who made those books or that cartoon from over a decade ago now, and in the case of the comics, DECADES. People much older also find those same books and THEY also think much the same thing because there’s nothing past a certain point to compare to, visually or on the narrative front.
That’s the trouble with not continuing to provide a frame of reference throughout time for people to update their idea of you or what you do. It’s like getting up every morning and finding the paperboy has been delivering you the same newspaper from 1996 because he thinks that’s where you’re from and can never escape.
Visually, it would HAVE to be different because those old comics are fun for what they are, but they were never intended to move, and they were especially not written with actual human beings speaking those lines in mind.
19 year old me from back then was just having fun, but he was also something of an idiot.
I hope I’m a far more capable, proficient idiot now, and I’d want the animation to reflect that. So it’d likely not look like the comics and it wouldn’t just look like JTHM in the ZIM universe.
ok ok ok I'll ask the question everyone wants to know but everyone is afraid to ask...when are we gunna see the live action movie based on your hit series "Bread" everyone knows you've secretly been working on?And is it true Bette Midler will be playing the guy who eats bread with a spoon?
Bread’s just too expensive a film to even imagine. Russell Crowe’s fee alone would break the budget, and without him in the title role there’s just no movie.
What do you consider to be your all time favorite movie? The 1991 movie Kafka by Steven Soderbergh is brought up in JTHM, but I could never be certain that your adding the movie into a work of fiction actually reflects your own tastes or just the tastes you were creating for NNY.
Hey, thanks for not assuming what I wrote decades ago isn’t enough to construct my definitive character as it stands now!
As for Kafka, I still think the movie is worth a watch, and Cliff Martinez’s score is still one of my favorites, but overall it’s lost some shine over the years for me. I’ve always been a sucker for the anti-utopian stuff, though, and that one came along at just the perfect time with there prefect combo of elements: Soderbergh, Kafka, Martinez and Jeremy Irons.
Brazil had pretty much altered my brain very early on, and Kafka was channeling that something fierce in spots, only with more of a straight face.
My including it in the comic was only the most shallow nod to something I thought was pretty cool back then but it wasn’t ruling my universe. Really I should have just made something up and disconnected Johnny’s world from reality a bit more.
What is your favorite book or novel, out of everything that you've ever read?
That’s one of those questions I don’t even try to answer properly because there’s just no good answer, and my opinion would change based on the direction of the wind and the amount of dust on the surface of my eye at any given moment.
Still, there are books I’ll always go back to think about and scream about point blank into the faces of strangers while in line at the bank.
A Confederacy of Dunces, Dune, God Emperor of Dune, 1984, Cat’s Cradle, War of the Worlds. Those are a few. I can devour Lovecraft like chips on the right day. I don’t ever really understand people that don’t enjoy reading and do so as a rule of life. Well, it’s not that I don’t understand it so much as find it disgusting.
I have to read, the same way Pac Man has to keep eating dots or else the madness gets channeled elsewhere and he has to eat his wife or child. he HAS to eat dots because it makes the pain go away. Reading is fundamental, pac mans.
Do you think it would have been a better idea for Oscar to use his intestines as a sort of long range lasso or whip against Riki instead of the upclose sneak attack?
It’s not really anyone’s place, especially my own, to try to understand or interpret Oscar’s reasoning or apparent lack thereof. It’s said that when Oscar shows his tattoo he HAS to kill. Why? I don’t know, and maybe even Oscar himself doesn’t know, so to even question his intestinal weapon choices in the heat of combat is like asking the sky why it drops mysterious moisture beads on us on cloudy days.
Nobody can know!
For all we know, Oscar purposefully chose to strangle instead of lasso BECAUSE it was tactically inferior just to end what might have been a tortured life for someone who just liked going around shirtless but hated the requisite killing it entailed.
Hahahahaa at the people asking you about Invader zim.
I think people think they’re having fun exasperating me when, really, that hasn’t happened in probably longer than before they were born. No, more important than any of that is that people see the movies those gifs are from.
Actually, the ZIM question got me curious. If you had the opportunity, WOULD you continue the show, or do you think it's sailed its course, or would you refuse out of spite? (I couldn't tell if the head explodey GIF was meant to imply frustration that the fans are still bugging you with questions about it or that your head would explode out of surprise/excitement if you got the rights to it.)
If the JTHM movie catches fire, will a lot of the original material be in there, or will there new joke's and dialogue? or both?
S’a funny thing revisiting something from The Long Long Ago. Ultimately I make what I make to enjoy it, as in for me to feel that elusive mixture of challenge, pride, terror and exhilaration at creating something. It doesn’t always result in something good, and rarely is it perfect, but if I can look back on the process of working on a thing and know that I set out to make something memorable and with actual passion and love, or even genuine , constructive hatred, then I’m cool.
What I’ve worked on of the Johnny animation is purely in script, and though it would cover those 7 books, I don’t think any of the dialogue is actually directly from the comics. Why? Well, I already made those comics. I loved the Watchmen in comic form but that overly literal movie version was cool looking but just not very interesting for how ripped from the pages it was. Reverence can often lead to an unholy lack of surprises.
I hope the JTHM animation comes to pass sooner than later, and I hope people dig it, but mostly I hope it’s something I’m proud of despite Johnny now being a cyborg and instead of phantom splinters of his own personality manifesting physically he has to deal with a rival camp instructor from the rich kids camp challenging him to a boating contest.
If you could choose any voice actors to bring your JtHM characters to life who would they be?
It’s always a tricky situation when finding a voice for any character in animation, let alone a character/characters that have existed in print alone for such a long time. Ultimately it has to be whatever sounds right to me based on how I’ve imagined the characters from day one of creating them. It’s never a good idea, from my point of view, to get tangled up with what fans expect you to do based on their preconceived notions of what something should act or sound like - it’s doing both sides a disservice, I think.
With all that mess in mind, I’d probably go with what some people would see as the most obvious direction and hire the entire cast of FULL HOUSE to voice a JTHM animation.
In the everyhing you had ever created, which character is your favourite?
Not to sound like I’m playing it overly safe and just going with the most predictable answer, but of all my characters to choose as a favorite, I’d go with the one that happens to be the most popular, Floopy the Cashew Loving Alien Hamster.
I know it's probably super secret info (that you probably get asked about all the time), but how are things coming along with the Squee short? Do you think it'll be released by the end of this year? :)
Right. I partnered up with Titmouse Animation a while back to do a short animated SQUEE! movie. Since announcing it, we both got caught up on other projects, one of them also with Titmouse.
Right after we announced the SQUEE! thing, I, along with Titmouse, developed a series idea for a company Titmouse was dealing with, lots of writing, character and story stuff. While that was going on, I was, and still am, developing a pitch and now pilot for another animated thing of my own.
It’s a little quieter now, and though the pilot is still going, I have a little breather from being intensely involved until some of the other team do their part, so there’s a bit more movement on SQUEE! again as of maybe two weeks back.
It will be released the day right after you die. HURRY UP!
Do you prefer drawing on a graphic tablet or on paper? What pens would you recommend using when drawing on paper?
Computer drawing or on paper, they both have their draws for me. Drawing with pencil or pen, sitting there with a piece of paper in front of you, the feel, the smell of erasers or paints, it’s like sitting next to a warm fire versus and not just an electric space heater.
Sitting at the computer, however, I’m even more loose, more relaxed to make mistakes until something just feels alright to me, and I can have all my favorite music going, often on top of a favorite movie while friends chat with me and I am playing Hotline Miami and youtube is also going and probably I am having cybersex with someone and I can make my own brushes.
It really all depends on my mood.
I’ve been using Pentel Graphgear 1000 pencils for awhile now, and Copic Multiliner SP pens, but that doesn’t mean you should run out and get some yourself, You use whatever feels good in your hands, what feels good running along the surface of whatever paper you yourself like using.
I used to go out with this girl, right? She was a lovely thing, and she just happened to have an unusually peach-fuzzy skin texture. You know how some people, they look perfectly smooth and all, but they have this almost invisible peach fuzz that you can detect if you brush your fingers along their faces. I’m crazy sensitive to that kinda thing, so I’d always pick up on that texture, like a needle reading bumps and grooves in a record, and though it wasn’t off-putting, it was a thing that distracted me a bit to the point where I said “YOU’RE FACE IS OFF-PUTTING!” and ran. I kinda handled that whole situation badly.
But that’s how I deal with my work tools as well, some of them are fine, but for very personal reasons, they just don’t feel right in my hands, so my favorite pens might feel like someone’s weird face to you.
Well, if I was lucky enough to even find an art block, I’d sure as hell sell it at one of the trade markets just near the town center. Ever since the world changed, and the great corruption took all goodness from the growing things of the earth, art blocks are pretty much the only things that contain enough magic to reverse the wasting away effect the great corruption has on the land.
These blocks, they’re like pure, concentrated imagination, crystalized in a tangible form, the last remains of those who couldn’t get ideas out of their tortured heads, some say. I myself have only found 2 in my life, resting in the mostly dust reminders that these things used to be people. They might BE magic, but they sure as hell smell human.
So yeah, I sell art blocks. Everyone does when they can, and use the money towards their off-world hopes and dreams. I figure just two more and I’m outta this barren shithole.
Is there a reason why the ending to Squee seemed so rushed? Was there a deadline or something? I don't mean to talk shit, I really enjoyed the book it just felt like it was cut short.
Hey, talk all the shit you like! I have no problem with people having problems with my stuff. Hell, I love seeing people actually THINKING about what they’ve seen and read when looking at my work, mainly because seeing criticism that shows there was some thought put into it is so rare on the internet.
Weird thing about SQUEE! though, is that I never felt the ending was rushed because it didn’t end any kind of narrative structure. The SQUEE! comics were just little snippets of that kid’s life, but nothing that was building toward some bigger purpose other than to show what kind of horrible shit he dealt with. After JTHM I just wanted to fuck around in an even LESS structured way, which is saying a whole lot considering JTHM is a straight narrative in only the most mad sense.
So really, you didn’t criticize anything that actually existed, man. That’s right, I just criticized YOU! Take that, bitch!
I've heard that you were working on David Fincher's Heavy Metal film before it got the plug pulled on it (which is an outrage in my opinion, it sounds like it would have been amazing). Did you contact the producers to get involved on that project or did they contact you? Would you say that certain elements of the magazine/80's film influenced your work in comics at all?
You heard correctly sir and or madam. This was around 2008 and would have been a pretty great thing to see to completion, but yeah, the project never found traction even with some big names behind it. I had written two segments and was set to direct them.
The producers contacted me, the head of the animation studio being a fan of some of my previous work.
No, Heavy Metal wasn’t really a big part of my life growing up, and pretty much existed as just that first movie from the 80’s. The magazine wasn’t something I even picked up until way later in my life.
Long time ago, i may be wrong but i saw a picture that you uploaded of a bookshelf full of dreamcast stuff, what are your favorite games from that console?, (high five for Jet Grind Radio or Space channel 5)
Dreamcast games, ehh? Well, I have pretty fond memories of playing the fuck out of Soul Calibur, Jet Set Radio, Crazy Taxi, Code Veronica, Chu Chu Rocket, Shenmue, MDK 2, Power Stone, Sonic Adventure, Tech Romancer, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Rayman the Great Escape, Toy Commander, Typing of the Dead, Space Channel 5 and… probably a mess more that don’t stick out as much right now.
Hey, I’m sorry about that. Just have stuff on my mind and you just make me so…SO GODDAMNED ANGRY. CHRIST!
But yeah, yeah I’ve thought about it. Who HASN’T thought about it? I love writing and it’s what I do most of the time now, but I’ve never sat down to try and tackle the prose, ya know? Most of my writing’s been for comics and animation work, but there’s still plenty of time to give novels a try because I’m going to live forever.
That science debate with billy and the creationists made me think. What if some people came to you and told you you're guilty of murdering people in your comics. And you say "They are not real." and they say "Prove it."
Yes I have. It’s a great game, even if it’s just fucking infuriating.
Ya know, I actually visited Edmund McMillen recently, and he was showing me around his house, and at one point he was there PLAYING The Binding of Isaac, an updated version of it he was working on, and as I watched him play, I thought of all the times the game had fucked me over unfairly, all those times I found myself red with anger at dying over some little detail I didn’t watch, and I thought…
"I could kill him right now."
I mean, there he was, his back to me, explaining some bit of behavior in the game, and I realized I could just break his neck as payback for all those times I failed to beat the game, which was like…every time I played it.
I only thought it, though, because he’s a nice, talented guy, and I like games, so killing him would just make for less games and that’s not what I want at all.
When you see a pack of 12-year-Olds walking out of Hot Topic covered with Invader Zim merch, do you feel all warm inside, or do you want to burn them with a flamethrower and nuke the entire site from orbit? (hey, it's the only way to be sure)
Excellent ALIENS reference!
As for the matter of how I feel seeing the what you described, I don’t think anyone with a decent sense of perspective gives a shit what some kids are wearing. There’s a particular time in your life, usually your teens, where certain people just have to act angry about the stupidest, most weightless things, so that’s understandable and not exactly shocking to see people going on about things that I just shrug at, but you kinda hope that, after a bit of growing up, they move on and use their processing power on bigger deals, like whether Coke commercials are the gateway to white genocide.
Also, I can’t recall ever being near a Hot Topic and seeing kids walk out wearing my stuff for me to react to because A. I don’t hang out near Hot Topics, and B. Kids are invisible to me.
I think a good way to approach questions like these is, before asking, to ask yourself “Is Jhonen a grown man?” If you answer “YES.” then there’s a good chance stuff like kids wearing ZIM shirts probably doesn’t register too high on my list of things I want to change about the universe.