Jim in his super suit.


Original Medium: Video game
Produced by: Shiny Entertainment
First Appeared: 1994
Creator: Douglas TenNapel
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Earthworm Jim is far from the first funny animal superhero. That cross-genre phenomenon goes all the way back to the 1940s, when Terrytoons' Mighty Mouse and Standard Comics' Supermouse vied …

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… for the position. He's not the first to make his debut in video games, either. Sonic the Hedgehog beat him out by almost three years. In fact, he's not even the first from his phylum, Annelida. That honor, such as it is, goes to L.B. Cole's Wiggles the Wonderworm. If he's racked up any firsts at all, it's in providing a quasi-reasonable explanation of how he, almost uniquely among worms, came to be blessed with appendages. Other cartoon worms, such as Wiggles and Fawcett's Willie the Worm, had them but never bothered to explain.

Jim was minding his own wormy little business when an ultra high tech indestructible super space cyber suit (with arms and legs) happened to fall on him. As luck would have it, the suit fell neck first, covering him in such a way that he was sort of inside it, sort of wearing it. He was instantly transformed into a giant among worms, both physically and intellectually. Of course, being an intellectual giant among worms didn't necessarily mean he was very bright by vertebrate standards.

The cause of the mishap was a battle overhead, in space, between the evil Psy-Crow and a thief who was trying to get away with the suit, which had been built by Professor Monkey-for-a-head at the behest of Queen Bloated Festering Sweaty Pus-filled Malformed Slug-for-a-butt. The queen was hoping the suit would make her as beautiful as her sister, Princess What's-her-name (no relation). As a result of his encounter with the suit, Jim became embroiled in their affairs, as well as those of Evil the Cat (Dark Lord of the planet Heck), Bob the Killer Goldfish, and various other weirdos who populated the game.

Earthworm Jim was released April 26, 1994, by Shiny Entertainment, which also did games based on the movie Matrix. It ran on several platforms, including Sega Genesis, Sony Playstation and Game Boy Advance. The designer, who is credited with inventing the character, was Douglas TenNapel, whose other games include Mothman, Boombots and Skullmonkeys. Three sequels were made, Earthworm Jim 2 (1995), Earthworm Jim 3D (1999) and Earthworm Jim Menace 2 the Galaxy (also 1999).

Jim became a TV star on September 9, 1995, when the WB Network (Freakazoid!, Taz-Mania) began airing his adventures on Saturday morning. There, his voice was provided by Dan Castellaneta, who also played Thing One and Thing Two in the 2003 production of The Cat in the Hat, Grandpa in Hey Arnold! and the Genie in several of the sequels to Disney's Aladdin, but is best known for the role of Homer Simpson. Queen Slug-for-a-butt was played by Andrea Martin (Mrs. Fowl in Jimmy Neutron, Miss Carbuncle in Frosty Returns). Other voices include Kath Soucie (Angela in Butt-Ugly Martians), Charles Adler (Buster Bunny) and Jim Cummings (Darkwing Duck). It ran two seasons, totaling 23 episodes.

The comic book version, which Marvel published for three issues in 1995-96, was based on the video game, not the TV show. But there was also a British comic, unrelated, that was based on the TV cartoon.

Also, there were toys and various other paraphernalia. Jim may not have been the first annelid superhero, but he's certainly the most heavily merchandised.


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Text ©2005-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Shiny Entertainment.