Invader Zim Creator Jhonen Vasquez on Intentionally Avoiding Nostalgia

If you've already seen Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus on Netflix, then you know that the special largely avoids referencing previous characters or events in addition to having just about no extraneous cameos. While some continuations or revivals would pack their time with nostalgia callbacks, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus basically ignores this route -- and it's totally intentional.

While speaking with ahead of the release of Enter the Florpus, creator Jhonen Vasquez explained that the choice to avoid cameos and the like was a deliberate one, seemingly influenced in part by his hatred for specific sequences in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, of all things.

Keep reading to learn why exactly Vasquez went with a different method, which parts of Rogue One he actually loved, and what it is about nostalgia that irks him so much.

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(Photo: Netflix/Nickelodeon) The special actually features a number of classic characters, but it actually feels rather conservative with cameos and such. Was this a deliberate choice? Was there anything, any sequence, or any character you really wanted to fit in there, but couldn't make work?

Jhonen Vasquez: It was very deliberate, real deliberate, just because it comes from my disdain of that sort of thing in playing on people's sense of nostalgia. I talk about this a lot. One of the reasons that I held off on doing any more Zim stuff again was because people were like, "It's a great time. Everyone is really excited about their old properties coming back." And I'm just like, "I don't give a shit. I'd rather it exist because it's coming from something other than trying to fill a space."

I mean, nostalgia is responsible for some of the worst shit out there, and it's responsible for taking me out of the moment in nostalgic properties that I've enjoyed. Like, I dunno, nostalgia is just [...] there's just continuations of things that started a long time ago, but they're just as relevant now.

I bring up Rogue One ... I bring up Star Wars a lot, that sort of thing. I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan, but I'm a big fan of movies, and I grew up with Star Wars. And I fucking loved Rogue One. I thought Rogue One was one of my favorite Star Wars movies, but the worst shit in that movie was all those little reminders of like, "Hey, hey, guys, this is from Star Wars. Remember this, remember these guys in the alley? They're from the cantina in A New Hope. Isn't that great? Are you not entertained?"

And I'm just like, "No, I'm really distracted. I don't need this. You're telling me an OK story. This is cool. Shut the fuck with all these references."

So, the last thing that I want is to fill the movie with things that aren't the story. It's a cheap ... I don't know, I feel like it's cheap. There's no work put into it, because you're just hoping that someone recognizes something [...] So yeah, there really aren't a lot of things that are in there just to make fans go, "Hey, I recognize that."

Sort of anti-nostalgia?

Yeah, you know? I mean, you can't really avoid that there's a certain element of nostalgia that will bring people in. You can help it, we're human. We remember when things were from another time, and things were better, and we dressed even worse than we do now. You know? That's going to bring a lot of people in. But hopefully, when they're sitting there, they don't forgive the flaws just because it's a thing that they liked before.

I hope they like it because it's a good thing that stands on its own.


What do you think of Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus? Have you watched the Netflix special already, or are you saving it for a special occasion? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things animation!


Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus is now available to stream on Netflix. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the title right here. If you're still on the fence, here is a brief excerpt of our official review:

"Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus should really set the parameters for all returning Nickelodeon shows going forward. It’s almost entirely self-contained, with little to no prior knowledge required, and manages to invoke what was amazing about the original show without kneeling at the altar of nostalgia. It’s just a new, good Zim story that happened to release on Netflix rather than Nickelodeon itself."