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Jhonen Vasquez
Jhonen vasquez.jpg
Vasquez in 2007.
Born September 1, 1974
San Jose, California
Positions Creator
Character Designer
Voice Actor
Voice of Computer
Websites Main Site

Jhonen C. Vasquez is the creator of Invader Zim.


Jhonen Vasquez was born and raised in East San Jose. He attended Mount Pleasant High School, where he often spent much of his class time drawing in sketchbooks.

Taking part in a contest to design a new look for his school's mascot, the Cardinal, he submitted an entry that the judges rejected. On the back of a preliminary drawing for the contest, he drew his first sketch of the character who would later become Johnny C.

His high school's student newspaper published a number of his comic strips titled Johnny the Little Homicidal Maniac. Vasquez created Happy Noodle Boy while attending Mount Pleasant.

According to Vasquez, "So many years ago, [my little romantical friend in high school] was the unwitting reason Happy Noodle Boy was created. [She] always asked me for comics. But I couldn't draw as fast as she requested. Thus, I tried to create the worst abomination of a comic that I could, so as to make her not want comics anymore. That abomination, my friends, was Happy Noodle Boy".

While Vasquez read his older brother's superhero comics as a child, he first became interested in the medium through the original independent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.

Quoted by Jhonen's Older Brother: "It wasn't until he started collecting "Ninja Turtles" comics that something switched over in my head. To me, there was something just so different about those books that I DID start to obsess over them – the way the books felt dirtier in my hands, the filthy artwork and hero characters that never seemed healed over from their last battles. There was a sense of person just behind the printed page that I had never felt before, a thinner separation from production to my hands and eyes that just fired hooks out into me. It felt unsafe, ya know? It's like, the book itself was less removed from the initial moment a creator is excited about having just come up with some great idea to when they finally finish a thing, nice and polished and just a little dulled from before the thing was just another book. To me, anyhow. It's just what I interpreted the experience like, and I'm sure to a lot of people it was just a book about big mutant turtles.

After graduating in 1992, Vasquez went on to become a film student at De Anza College in Cupertino, California. Though he had little formal artistic training, he soon dropped out of De Anza to pursue a career as a professional cartoonist. He met Roman Dirge, Rosearik Rikki Simons, and Tavisha Wolfgarth-Simons at Alternative Press Expo in 1995.

Dirge later became a writer on Vasquez's Invader Zim, while Rikki Simons became the voice of the show's crazed robot GIR, as well as a member of the show's coloring team. Rikki Simons also worked with Vasquez on the coloring seen in his two-issue comic "I Feel Sick: A book about a girl."

His JTHM series was first published in Carpe Noctem, an underground Goth magazine out of Mount Pleasant in 1995. Vasquez was soon picked up by Slave Labor Graphics, which is still his current publisher.

By September 1996, Vasquez announced in his introductory text to the sixth issue of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, he had reached sufficient success in his artistic career to be able to quit his day-job and devote himself full-time to his art.

His JTHM series was first published in Carpe Noctem, an underground Goth magazine out of Mount Pleasant in 1995. Vasquez was soon picked up by Slave Labor Graphics, which is still his current publisher.

Fans wishing to contact Vasquez should now send correspondence to him care of SLG Publishing, P.O. Box 26427, San Jose, CA 95159-6427. (Letters only, no packages, please.) The email address he made available to his fans has been put to rest, presumably so he could get some rest himself.


Jhonen Vasquez in JTHM.

Many of the characters in Vasquez's cartoons are highly geometric and thin nearly to the point of being stick figures. The protagonists in his comics are typically insane characters who live in dysfunctional societies, and whose manias are able to speak through other objects (as with Johnny and the Doughboys, or Devi D and Sickness.)

His storylines tend to follow the basic black comedy formula. Smiley faces are often found in his artwork, trying to evoke an ironic sense of happiness in a world of chaos and darkness

His comic works often feature an outside narrative in the form of notes and comments left in the corners of his strips. This can be found in the vast majority of Vasquez's comics, such as in issue #5 of JTHM: A large monster is shown bursting through a wall, arms and hands flailing, tentacles sweeping through the air. It is a scene that surely conveys a sense of violence and danger, yet in the corner of the panel, a small box contains the text "Kids - Don't be scared! He don't bite!" These small touches help with emotional connection to Vasquez's work, and are likely one of the factors in his cult following.

Carpe Noctem magazine published early one-page strips featuring Johnny in the early 1990s. In 1995, Slave Labor Graphics began publishing a series of Johnny comics after Vasquez submitted samples of his artwork to them. Vasquez's first comic, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, ran for seven issues and was collected as a hardcover and a trade paperback book, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Director's Cut. The cover features the logo "Z?", meaning "question sleep", which appears frequently throughout Vasquez's work and relates to his characters 'insomnia and his own hypnophobia.

The series follows Johnny as he searches for meaning in his life, a quest that frequently leads to the violent deaths of those around him as well as, briefly, his own. A photograph of one of Vasquez's friends, Leah England, serves as the middle of a portrait collection on the cover for the second issue of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. England also gave Vasquez the inspiration for a filler strip about a child who was dangerously afraid of losing sight of his mother, as well as the notorious "Meanwhile" filler piece in the second issue of JTHM.

Vasquez's next project was The Bad Art Collection, a 16-page one-shot comic. Vasquez stated that he did the book's art while he was in high school to discourage classmates from asking him to draw for them.

In 1997, Vasquez gave Squee, a supporting character from JTHM, his own four-issue series. It chronicles Squee's encounters with aliens,Satan's son, and eventually Satan himself. The trade version (which features a cover image of Squee with the words "Buy me or I'll die!") contains, in addition to the actual Squee comics, the Meanwhiles that were left out of the Director's Cut of JTHM, as well as comics of Vasquez's "real life" and Wobbly-Headed Bob.

Vasquez's next project was I Feel Sick, colored by Rikki Simons. I Feel Sick follows a tortured artist named Devi (another character introduced in JTHM) as she tries to maintain her sanity in an insane vision of society, despite conversing with Sickness, one of her own paintings.

Slave Labor has published three Fillerbunny mini comics, the third having been released in March 2005. The mini comic was a spin-off of a filler comic designed to replace a vacant page usually reserved for advertising space in the Squee! comics. Vasquez said at the 2007 New York ComicCon that the original Fillerbunny comics would be done in a single night and he would rush through and do whatever he could in a small amount of time.

The third issue, however, broke this mold. According to the introduction, it took over nine months to complete, and he feels it is of much higher quality than the first two.At Comic-Con 2005, Vasquez mentioned that his next comic was a love story. Since this, however, he attended an event in early 2007 and stated he was not working on his 'own' comics - he was collaborating on two comics in the style of Everything Can Be Beaten, acting only as author. The first, titled Jellyfist was intended for release on July 25, 2007. However, the initial print run of Jellyfist was incredibly poor, and so it was re-released in October 2007.

On February 13th, 2015, Oni Press, an American independent comic book publisher, posted an image to their Tumblr and Twitter with the cryptic message "Doom is Coming", followed by the message "Stay tuned for more — 2/20/15".[1] It was in the familiar font and was reblogged by Jhonen Vasquez himself.

It was later announced on February 20th, 2015 that Oni Press had decided to partner with Nickelodeon and Jhonen Vasquez to bring Zim back to life in the form of an Invader Zim comic series. This monthly series ended in March of 2020 with Issue 50, to be replaced with a new quarterly series later in the year, which paralleling the show's short run only had a few issues.

Invader Zim

Vasquez pitched the idea of Invader Zim when contacted by (future executive producer of the show) Mary Harrington. According to an interview, Jhonen comments on the show:

Vasquez in disguise.

"The idea of doing a show for Nickelodeon, there's just something so twisted about that," he says. "I'm not out to make some nasty, heinous show that will completely destroy the network or anything like that. But just the idea, just the thing that I had a show on Nickelodeon, people go, 'YOU? My gawd, what are they trying to do to the children?' And I usually throw my head back and laugh for 10 minutes. And then when I'm done, I say, 'Well, I thought it would be interesting... and it has been interesting -- if not joyous.'"[Citation Needed]

Vasquez has gone on the record saying he had become uncomfortable with younger fans of Zim reading Johnny, because of the violence depicted. [1] In this same interview, he also mentions the attacks made on him by Christian parents and parent groups.

Contrary to popular belief, Jhonen loves the idea of working on new Zim stuff and initially agreed to do just that when Nickelodeon contacted him about bringing back the show in 2010. When it looked like Zim coming back wasn't going to happen, Jhonen wrote, "Honestly, I’d love working on newer ideas for different shows, but that place in my head that wants to take those old characters to new places and torture the hell out of them just a bit more can’t help be a bit sad to see the lights dim on that world just a bit."[2]

Meet the Creator: Jhonen Vasquez/ Nick Animation/ 2018

It has been stated that Nickelodeon has had issues working with Jhonen in the past, but Vasquez has recently been seen at Nickelodeon, implying that lines of communication are open for more future projects.[3]

In 2018 Jhonen Vasquez sat down in an interview with Nick Animation and discussed how his upbringing inspired Zim, his beginnings at Nick and his latest project, Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, which premiered on Netflix on August 16 2019, after its distribution rights were sold to the streaming service by Nickelodeon

Facts of Doom

In the Invader Zim Season 1 DVD, you can hear Jhonen's (and other cast members') comments on production, direction, ideas, concepts plus other interesting tidbits (like the cast eating Wheat Thins) throughout various episodes. There is also a split second of Mr. Vasquez (armed with a puppet of himself!) in the Voice Cast Interview extra. However, he himself has no interview.

Vasquez's cameo appearance in "The Wettening".

In various season 1 episodes, Jhonen Vasquez made several cartoon cameos, distinguished by his trademark trench-coat, black boots, glasses and short, spiky red hair. So far he has been in the following episodes:

He, Roman Dirge, Steve Ressel, and various other crew members appeared in several other episodes. He commented that the cameos were getting a bit out of hand, and that there probably would not be any more. Thus, after around "Career Day", Jhonen and Steve Ressel stopped making cameos, while the other cameos diminished in frequency.[4]

Interesting to note, in the DVD animatics, Vasquez still keeps making cameos and in the commentary for "Attack of the Saucer Morons", Jhonen states he has, as he put it, "a thing about bees".

During the course of the series, Vazquez has had the habit of voicing some of Zim's minions and/or experiments, such as Zim's Computer, Minimoose, Clembrane and Nick. For his voice roles, he is credited under the name "Mr. Scolex", his pen name.

Other Works

Comic Books

  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (7 books, 1995-1997).
  • The Bad Art Collection (1996).
  • Squee! (4 books, 1997-1998).
  • I Feel Sick (2 books, 1999-2000).
  • Fillerbunny (3 books, 1999-2005).
  • Everything Can Be Beaten (2002 with Crab Scrambly).
  • Jellyfist (2007 with Jennifer Goldberg).
  • Marvel Comics' Strange Tales (2009).
  • Marvel Comics' Strange Tales II (2010).
  • Invader Zim (50 issues, 2015-2020).
  • Invader Zim Quarterly (5 issues, 2020-2021).

TV Filmography

  • Pilot (Created in 1999) Aired in December 24, 2011.
  • Invader Zim (27 episode series, 2001-2006).
  • "Shut Me Up" (music video for Mindless Self Indulgence, air date unknown).
  • "White" (music video for the Left Rights, 2011).
  • Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus - Airdate, August 16, 2019.

Awards and Nominations

  • Squee! was nominated for 1998 Eisner Awards for Best New Series and Best Humor Publication.
  • I Feel Sick won an international Horror Guild Award in 2000 for Best Illustrated Narrative.
  • Invader Zim won an Emmy, an Annie and the award for Best Title Sequence at the 2001 World Animation Celebration awards.
  • Vasquez and his work were honored in the National Design Triennial: Inside Design Now, a 2003 exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

See Also


  1. Interview with Jhonen Vasquez
  2. Don’t cry for ZIM, he was already dead.
  3. Eric Trueheart at InvaderCON III: Final Doom
  4. From DVD Commentary