I can't really explain why, but I really love xXSharknado98Xx. Johnny? Devi? Squee? Zim? Forget about them! xXSharknado98Xx is the best! We must always remember that she's real and that she's always right.
Hey, thanks! She just started life as a joke, a gag on that one page of all of Fillerbunny’s offspring, and that was gonna be the end of it, but she ended up being one of my favorite things about the story.
I always believed Squee is actually Johnny because of that comic in which Squee is visited by his future self. It makes sense that somewhere in imprecise science of time travel, Squee ends up stranded in the past and winds up inadvertently inflicting the psychological trauma upon his childhood self that would lead him to become a deranged serial killer. Or have I got this wrong?
Yeah, that’s pretty wrong. Don’t feel bad though, as it’s a thing I’ve heard people say pretty much from the day I started drawing Squee. I get where that comes from, but it’s not where my brain goes with the character. Squee’s just a good kid, wants to be comfortable and happy, but awful shit just goes down around him in the name of cheap laughs.
His story is entirely different from Johnny’s, however. Johnny’s always been a patsy to me, and someone who would only really be admirable on the most shallow level until you get a better sense of what he’s about. He’s sympathetic to a very short point and then the rest of him is not much better than the nonsense he obsesses over and judges with impunity.
Squee’s just a kid who has the shit luck of having him for a neighbor.
Squee’s also got a bear that absorbs every bad effect those horrible experiences would leave in him. It’s partly why Johnny has an instant dislike of Shmee. Broken folks hate being called out on their shit.
So recently I’ve been looking into getting a dog, and put in an application to meet a few. Got a call back from a woman from a shelter who, without even letting me say more than oh hello, launched into a personal attack on my character because of how unprofessional and disrespectful my voicemail message was.
I explained to her that she was maybe thinking she was in a dimension where a dog who needs a home gives a shit about answering machines, but to no avail. Immediately received a call back from the shelter apologizing for the insane monster woman they were apparently fostering.
Here’s the voice message that drove her to madness.
I've seen you mention working on a JtHM Animated project a few times, and it's gotten me wondering. Is that your new 'pet project', or is there something else you're working on that you're more excited about?
The JTHM feature is a waiting for us to reach it at this moment, what with the things that have to happen before it, like the completion of the SQUEE! animated short.
I’m excited about all these things, and each of them for slightly different reasons. SQUEE! and Johnny, those are all pretty much in our hands, myself and the people making it possible, so that’s great, but we all have to find the time to work on them in between other projects.
There’s another thing going on, bigger in scale but constrained by a more traditional/glacial animation setup. Can’t say much about it, but I’m looking at a character that’s been mostly in my head for the past two years taking her first animated test steps and it’s one of the best feelings of late.
It’s possible you’ll see more in the future, but for now, just be happy I’m seeing some really cool stuff while not telling you what that stuff is!
I notice that the characters Johnny and Squee have names that could be seen as derivations of portions of your own name. Is there some symbolic meaning there or is it just coincidence?
I’m not gonna lie, man: I am shocked. Johnny’s name, yeah, pretty obvious, but I had never, not once ever even connected Squee’s nickname with my own last name. Not kidding. I know people will read this and think I’m being sarcastic, but seriously, what the fuck?!
I know you probably get asked this a lot, but how do you pronounce your name?
Phonetically, the closest approximation would be : SHHREEEEEEEKROOOOOOZzzzzzzz555SKREEEEEEEEZwwoowWW(dub step sounds)MWEEEEEEEZzzhhhchroooooogggg(sound of thumb pressing through fontanelle)SKWAAAASKWAAAA†œ∑´shmeeeeeweeeeeep.
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.