The Ultimate Y2K Villain

Come Jan. 1, 2000, the hard drives of all computers that aren’t Y2K-compliant will be stolen by an evil orange bug. And that’s just for starters.

This loathsome villain also plans to suck millions of dollars out of non-compliant ATM machines, make himself the beneficiary of every insurance policy, and have your stocks transferred to his name. The good news? The villain doesn’t plan to physically harm anyone. He is, after all, a character in a children’s comic strip. Debuting recently on the Web and running in installments, the strip features a cuddly yellow fellow named Zeek, the “official Y2K hero”, who seeks to foil the diabolical plans of Y-Rus, the aforementioned scoundrel and “official Y2K villain”.

The strip was created by the New Jersey company Masterminds of Fun and is posted on its HideNZeek Web site. In addition to the traditional multipanel comic strip, the site features an interactive game, a screen saver, and the inevitable shopping opportunity (dubbed the Bouteek, it’s still under construction).

The strip is designed to engage children throughout the world in helping Zeek “in his mission to subdue the villain while having fun and encouraging Y2K awareness and preparedness,” according to Masterminds of Fun. The site and strip also appear to be a low-risk way of cashing in on the Y2K phenomenon: Masterminds of Fun is negotiating to produce video games and animated cartoon episodes featuring its characters. The characters are also available through licensing for merchandise and advertising.

And don’t expect Zeek, Y-Rus, and the gang to disappear after 01-01-00. Masterminds of Fun expects the Y2K problem to be only the beginning of their adventures. Future topics could include environmental or other issues.