Jhonen Vasquez, comic artist and author of SQUEE! and Johnny, The Homicidal Maniac, has created a new animation series for the Nickelodeon Network.  Invader ZIM will premiere on Friday, March 30 at 9pm (ET/PT).  Vasquez will serve as executive producer as well as head writer for the series.   Johnny, The Homicidal Maniac has been a breakout hit for publisher Slave Labor, which has placed JTHM collections in several mall chains where they demonstrated considerable appeal to the alternative teen audience.  Look for Invader ZIM to skew a little younger, but retain Vasquez's wonderfully quirky sense of humor.  The new series focuses on a paranoid alien named ZIM from planet Irk, who believes he is at the forefront of a sinister plan of galactic conquest. 

A hopeless failure on his home planet, Invader ZIM (voiced by Richard Horvitz) is ordered to Earth by his superiors, The Almighty Tallest, who hope to get rid of him once and for all.  To better study the planet's weaknesses he goes undercover and enrolls in an elementary school.  Though his disguise consists only of a pair of contact lenses and a bad wig, almost nobody seems to notice anything wrong with this green-skinned new kid.  Out to stop ZIM's plan of conquest is Dib (voiced by Andy Berman), a paranormal kid investigator who is the only one who spots ZIM as an alien threat to humanity.

Nickelodeon praise was effusive.  'Invader ZIM has a look and feel that is completely unique, with a kid-like, yet sophisticated sense of humor that will appeal to kids across all age groups,' said Cyma Zargami, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Nickelodeon.  'Jhonen Vasquez is a fresh new talent who has used an innovative animation style to create a fantastic and hilarious sci-fi world rich with imaginative characters and situations.'

Presumably Nickelodeon will control licensing, and it's unlikely that there will be any products released before there's a read on the show's ratings.  Retailers will have an opportunity to capitalize on the increased audience for Vasquez's comic work and merchandise, though.  Let's hope that Slave Labor gets their Vasquez books and merchandise back in production to take advantage of it.