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Cartoon Friday Watercooler: Xemoland


It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Psychedelic mushrooms growing in the forest

Two tickets to Xemoland, please.

Tonight’s selection is Xemoland, a short film by animator Daniel Katz and shared through Vice’s Shorts series.

Jeffrey Bowers introduces the film:

For his 2011 short, Xemoland. Daniel paints a portrait of a young boy who just wants to be as cool as his older brother, but whose older brother’s sole goal is to not give a shit about him. The older bro and his best friend spin tales to the seven-year-old Corey about Xemoland, a magical place where parties can be ‘cut short by an angry mob of gaylord Einsteins chasing David Hasselhoff on a hoverboard.’ As much as the young boy tries to fit in, his brother’s desire to torture rather than nurture him keeps getting the better of him.

Katz’s cartoon-style animation is simple but expressive. The characters live in a nostalgic paradise filled with real-life posters and scenes from Terminator 2, the Doors, Sonic Youth, and Back to the Future.

This movie, if anything, proves that the main thing about being a younger brother is that you’re never going to be the older one. You’ve got to realize that he treats you like his little brother because you are, and will always be, behind him. He’s going to try drugs, see R-rated movies, and watch porn before you, and that’s cool. But you still really need to pretend there are places like Xemoland out there, where every wish you have can come true. That’s what being seven is all about, and being seven is kind of badass.

Xemoland reminded me of “The Guy I Almost Was,” a classic from Electronic Sheep Comix. In addition to the obvious 1990’s nostalgia, despite the gap in ages of the protagonists, both yearn for a better world that seemed right around the corner in that pre-millennial moment. This slice-of-life style seems more commonplace in independent comics than in animation, for whatever reason.

Update: Vice credits the cartoon to Daniel Katz, but other sources say the correct name is Daniel Cardenas. I’m unsure at this time!

Bonus: Human Music,” a Rick and Morty remix by Chetreo.


Previously, I wrote:

While hilarious and improvisational, Rick and Morty maintains an internal consistency and even a continuity from episode to episode that makes it seem meticulously plotted compared to Adult Swim’s stoner alumni like Children’s Hospital or Aqua Teen Hunger Force — with a few exceptions, the humor comes primarily from carrying a premise through to its extreme, yet somehow almost logical conclusions.

The final two episodes of Season 1, “Close Rick-Counters of the Rick Kind,” and “Ricksy Business,” are beautiful examples of that of that principle of taking hilarious concepts and following them through to their utter extremes. Having cleverly established the multiverse in which the show exists, it unveils a bizarre “Council of Ricks” from alternate dimensions in episode 10.

The final episode throws an incredible party with cameos from the entire season and a few unforgettable additions like Bird Person and Abradolph Lincler. And then ends as only Rick and Morty can: with a giant, wonderful, “fuck you!” (link contains spoilers for final moments of the final episode). The episode also highlights the importance of big sister Summer’s familial relationship with Rick, which became more important as her character gained depth in season 1.

With a consistently funny and clever first season completed and season 2 in our future, you’ve got every reason to seek out this cartoon if my first recommendation wasn’t enough. I hope all the characters continue to gain depth in season 2, particularly Jerry the dad. Right now he’s mostly the butt of jokes, though I enjoyed his relationship with the stupid Rick in episode 10. Much like Archer’s Cyril Figgis, also played by voice actor Chris Parnell, I hope he becomes more complex with time.

Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching these days?

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Photo by János Csongor Kerekes released under a Creative Commons No Derivatives license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and