If you're going to end, it's best to end on your own terms - and Invader Zim and his creator are about to achieve that lofty goal.
On the 20th anniversary of his debut with a cult-favorite Nickelodeon animated series, Invader Zim's comic book adventures are coming to a close this August with the special one-shot Invader Zim: Dookie Loop Horror from Oni-Lion Forge Publishing Group.
"It's been a crazy 20 years of Zim comics but everything comes to an end, and as far as I know it IS an end but who knows if it's for real the way the things seem to keep coming back now," Vasquez tells Newsarama.
Oni-Lion Forge has confirmed that this is the end for its Invader Zim comic books, which launched back in 2015 with Vasquez.
So what's behind the name of this finale, 'Dookie Loop Horror'? Well, it's because some alien creatures called Chrono-Dumpers love to eat time, and use our dimension as well…. A toilet.
"There is no escape from the time poop loop, forcing Dib and Zim to live the same TERRIBLE day forEVER," reads Oni-Lion Forge's description of the one-shot. "They wake, the tuxedoed pig farts, the world ends. And the key to fixing the loop is Gir. We are all DOOMED."
When this finale of Invader Zim first came up it was assumed Vasquez would be too busy to be involved beyond a cover - but when he was told about the finale, he jumped on to co-write it all.
In the big finale Invader Zim: Dookie Loop Horror, Vasquez teams with co-writer Eric Trueheart and artist Aaron Alexovich. They're joined by colorist Fred C. Stresing and letterer Warren Wucinich.
"I want to really leave fans with something deeper to think about; something that would haunt them for the rest of their lives," Vasquez says. "So in this issue, there's a pig that farts."
Well, you have to be an Invader Zim fan to appreciate the long-held swine humor Vasquez is keying on there.
Here's a preview of Invader Zim: Dookie Loop Horror:
Invader Zim: Dookie Loop Horror preview
When asked if Vasquez approached this finale as trying to make a big, sweeping end to all things Invader Zim, he said yes, but also no.
"Because it's Invader Zim, there's a certain amount of frustration hard-coded into the DNA of the series, and that means an ending nobody asked for," says Vasquez. "We intentionally feel there are no real big questions that need answering when we can go for mind-numbingly stupid stuff instead, so this ending is about as stupid I could come up with. Besides, a thing is never really over if you don't actually end it, I think."
Fans have learned you can't really kill Invader Zim. The original cartoon only lasted for a season-and-a-half before Nickelodeon canceled it, but like some sort of goth Obi-Wan Kenobi it rose to subsequently win an Emmy Award and become a cult favorite - in some ways, partially because of its short life.
That cult status led to a specialized fan convention, continued merchandise, and more. In 2016 Netflix took notice, ordering an animated film that debuted in 2019. That same year, an Invader Zim theme park ride even debuted - visit it anytime you're in East Rutherford, New Jersey at American Dream.
Vasquez says he doesn't have an answer to Invader Zim's longevity for fans, but for himself it's because of its high-minded low-brow nature - "Stupid Done Intelligently" as he calls it.
"I just like things that feel personal, no matter how stupid, no matter how messed up or not quite right, things that feel loved on some level, and I know that we loved making anything to do with Invader Zim," says the writer/artist. "Zim falls into a category I like to think of as Stupid Done Intelligently, and it's the kind of thing I've been drawn to since I was a kid and it's definitely something that creeps into my work and especially work like Zim."
So if Invader Zim can't die and this comic book ending isn't an ending, where does that leave the franchise?
"Zim always enters a sort of stasis when there isn't an actual project for me to tackle, the kind of thing that's always there in my brain, but it's not taking up all my processing power as I'm usually thinking of other ideas, hopefully newer ideas," says Vasquez. "But the moment someone pops up and offers some kind of revival my brain gets going again and dreams up new Zim ideas whether or not I even think I'll do it."
Invader Zim's Gir is on our list of the top 10 sci-fi and fantasy sidekicks.