Interview with Power Plant Animations Creators of “That Stick Figure Isekai” and “Burds!” – All Ages of Geek Tapas Reviews
Welcome everyone to another exciting episode of All Ages of Geek Tapas Reviews! Since the launch of “I Married a Monster on a Hill” on WEBTOON All Ages of Geek has started an initiative to support comic creators on Tapas, WEBTOON and Wattpad. Today, we have a fantastic interview lined up with the talented duo behind Power Plant Animations. They’re the creative minds behind “That Stick Figure Isekai” and “Burds!” – Christopher Carrasco, AKA That Mexican Stick Figure, and Andrea Phillips, AKA Burd_Lady. Get ready to dive into their journey, the inspirations behind their work, and how their passion for comics and storytelling has evolved over time. Let’s dive in!
A note from Power Plant Animations creator of “That Stick Figure Isekai” and “Burds!”
CC: Hello! My name is Christopher Carrasco, also known as That Mexican Stick Figure! I’m the writer of That Stick Figure Isekai!
AP: And I’m Andrea Phillips! AKA Burd_Lady!!! I’m the artist of That Stick Figure Isekai and the creator of Burds!
CC: Together, we make Power Plant Animations!!!! Buckle up for the greatest interview of your life!
What initially sparked your passion for creating comics, and how did that desire evolve into the work you produce today?
- CC: I have this thing in my body where whenever I get into a piece of media, I force myself to create something that could stand side-by-side with it. Maybe this has to do with my fanfictions and how I’ve never been satisfied with them? For example; I remember making a LEGO Star Wars comic and saying to myself “Y’know, it sucks that this will NEVER be official”. Looking back, I believe it’s fitting that I’m working on a story like That Stick Figure Isekai. The Isekaiers are from worlds that take heavy inspiration from all sorts of anime. We try to do our best not to be derivative despite it being a satire of sorts.
- AP: I guess it all started when I was into Angry Birds -and I mean really into it- that kind of “into” that makes it occupy your brain 24/7. I was making up stories with the characters in it in my head, I even made my own fan made characters that would interact with said characters. But I did not dabble much with making those stories into comics, until I got into the EDM (electronic dance music) fandom. I made a 200+ page action-adventure story starring Daft Punk, Deadmau5 and Skrillex while I was in school. This was my biggest project at the time, with it having an overarching plot, rather than it being episodic. Eventually I left both fandoms; during all of these, the AB stories slowly, but surely turned into their own thing, to the point where I dropped the AB theme almost entirely, save for the main characters being birds. And on December 7, 2017, I posted the very first page of BURDS! to Tapas, and that’s what I’ve been working on for 5 years now.
Can you walk us through your journey as a comic creator, starting from the moment you first decided to explore this medium?
- CC: My writing journey began in Elementary. I was so addicted to my Gameboy, that my parents were forced to do the unthinkable. That’s right. They put it on top of the refrigerator for a week. No need to call child services, the damage has already been done. *Ahem* Anywho, since my small chubby arms couldn’t reach the top, I decided to kill time by writing comics. And… I was hooked!!! Other than blowing up evil volcanos and evil bees, I was mostly writing fanfiction. I started branching out a bit after buying my first dog: Yoshi. She became the star of my stories. I wanna call this the Diary of the Wimpy Kid/Peanuts age? Because I was fascinated by short and simple comics around this time. I stopped deep within Middle School when I decided that I wanted to develop games. But… surprise! Surprise! Game development was difficult. So I decided to pick up the pencil again. When I entered High School, I started experimenting with superhero comics. Specifically Marvel. I’m a DC guy now, but I wanted to be caught up with the MCU hype. After being infected with an autoimmune called PANDAS, I had to be homeschooled. This was my first real introduction to the world of writing since I had nothing better to do. I learned what I needed online and became the man I am today. That Stick Figure Isekai was released right around the time I started getting treatment. It was a rocky road, but I’m glad everything smoothed out.
- AP: I’m not sure, it just sort of “happened”, the first ever comic that I have ever made was a two page short Angry Birds story on a small notebook page.
Your work touches on various themes and subjects. How do you choose which stories to tell, and what do you hope your readers take away from them?
- CC: That Stick Figure Isekai was going to be a COMPLETELY different story when we began. It was your standard self-discovery schtick. Things changed when The Dodgeball Arc came along. That’s when I was like “You know what? I wanna do more with the isekai concept”. Why limit myself with romance characters? Why not, say, superhero characters? Stuff like that. That’s when the comic went from Diary of the Wimpy Kid to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Monster of the week stuff. As for choosing which stories to tell, I’ve also been a big fan of Batman and how each villain challenges a small aspect of him (Scarecrow = Fear, The Penguin = The System, The Riddler = Intelligence, Poison Ivy = Lust, etc.). When coming up with Isekaiers, we first take a look at our main cast and figure out what flaw should be addressed. We then pick the Isekaier’s genre so the themes can line-up. If there’s one thing I hope readers take from our arcs, it’s the importance of individuality. Gonna say this up front, each Isekaier has main character syndrome. It makes sense. They believed they were the center of their universes before being whisked away. I thought it was a neat opportunity to explore this concept through stick figures. We did a poll on the most popular character and we were happy to find out that D, a stick figure, was number one. We also wanna show that the multiverse concept doesn’t have to be nihilistic in any way.
What led you to choose Tapas as the platform for sharing your comics, and what aspects of the site do you find most appealing for your work?
- CC: That Stick Figure Isekai was originally on Tapas and Webtoons; but after getting WAY more attention on the former we decided that the former should be our platform of choice. The Forum has to be the best feature. Unlike Webtoons, Tapas allows you to get in touch with your audience a little more.
- AP: That was the only option that I knew of back then, that centered around sharing your own comics. And I guess more comic book styled webcomics do look better on Tapas.
Tapas has its own unique features and community. Are there any aspects of the platform that you feel could be improved, or perhaps have been challenging to navigate?
- CC: I would LOVE to see a review feature like on IMDB. Also more anti-sub 4 sub features.
- AP: A dark mode for the whole site.
In your opinion, what distinguishes independent comics from mainstream comics, and why do you think the indie scene is important for the overall comic industry?
- CC: Cape stuff. Mainstream comics (especially in the west) is mostly superhero content (as much as I love it, I will admit that). Meanwhile, in independent comics, you can get away with just about anything!
- AP: I think the indie scene is important for the whole entertainment industry -movies, music, video games, you name it.- It’s that variety that makes things fresh. It’s those fresh ideas that lead to innovation. It’s that innovation that makes the world go around.
As a comic creator, what are some unique storytelling techniques you’ve developed to set your work apart from others in the genre?
- CC: That Stick Figure Isekai allows us to swap artstyles not just to save time but to make scenes more effective. The story has also helped me with tone? I HAD to make sure people would take stick figures seriously. It was a little weird that out of all my stories… the one with the stick figures helped me make characters more human-like. Burd’s art also takes things to a whole other level.
- AP: Honestly, I haven’t got much to “brag” about -mostly because I don’t like to brag at all- I’m just trying to make non-human characters and settings feel familiar and down to earth, so when something’s out of the ordinary, it can really hit the reader.
Apart from your comics, what other avenues do you explore to engage with your audience, such as social media, live events, or merchandise?
- CC: We have a dub currently on YouTube. But uh… we’re in talks about something that I can’t go into specifics. I will say that once it DOES go through, then it should mean great things for the webcomic and… maybe the world. :0
- AP: Not gonna lie, I’m shy as all hell. I rather let my art do the talking for myself, that includes both comics that I work on, and the stuff that I post on Twitter/Tumblr.
Creating comics can be both rewarding and challenging. Can you share some of the struggles you’ve faced along the way, and how you’ve overcome them?
- CC: Scheduling is a huge issue. PANDAS makes me SUPER active. It doesn’t help that writing takes hours. I had to get creative with scheduling. Another thing is that I have to keep track of plot-holes. The difficult thing about this is I had to scrap hours of work before handing it off to Burd. I remember changing this one arc last minute. It was going to be this long car chase between Naota and Nikado. Nikado was going to reveal to the girls that Naota’s been spying on them. I was five scripts in. The arc was cut short because I had a better idea. I think that’s something I’ll have to get used to. Dialogue is a big one. Sometimes jokes don’t translate, or Burd catches details that don’t add up… so I have to try to figure out how to make things flow together. Detail means so much to me. Finally, there’s juggling advertising and Radiology. Hopefully, I can find help for that. I dunno if I can do that bit alone.
- AP: I suck at perspectives and backgrounds. And detailed backgrounds, -like a room, or the outside- are the death of me sometimes. How I manage it in BURDS! -if I can bring it up here as an example- is that I only use detailed backgrounds for establishing shots only, and for panels that don’t necessarily need one, I try simplifying it as much as humanly possible, even using nothing, but one color, to put more emphasis on the emotions that are being expressed on a page.
Are there any comic creators, artists, or writers who have been particularly influential or inspiring to you? How have they shaped your creative journey?
- CC: Archbishop Fulton Sheen/The Bible/Saints (writing philosophy), Suda51 (implementing themes), Hirohiko Araki (villains, character deaths, his monster of the week formula, battle systems,character interactions), Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Prince (love how he implements his beliefs into his songs), Aaron McGruder, James Gunn, Zach Hadel (lifelike interactions with goofy creatures :B). 90 Day Fiance and Impractical Jokers also helped out with creating absurd behavior.
- AP: Hirohiko Araki (and the way that he implemented his inspirations and especially his music taste into his works), Scott McCloud (and his books about understanding and making comics)
For aspiring comic creators, what are some practical tips and advice you would give to help them find their own voice and style?
- CC: Try to keep yourself in the dark regarding story formulas (Hero’s Journeys or Harmon Circles). Other people’s structures will only hold you back. It’s great that you’re inspired by someone else’s work… but you have to keep in mind that you run the risk of being derivative when you take too much. That’s why I encourage people to pick out specific elements. The best way to find your voice is to dismantle everything you enjoy and analyze, analyze, ANALYZE!!! Not just books! Not just movies! But music as well. Exercise your brain whenever you hear a song on the radio. What is it trying to say? Make playlists out of songs that sound similar to one another. When you do though, stay away from the following; orchestra, musicals, game osts, anime songs… please. Nothing against them, but I believe you’ll get more out of something that isn’t premade for a narrative.
- AP: USE REFERENCES. Read up on stuff, take pictures, all that stuff.
Can you tell us about your creative process, from brainstorming ideas to the final execution of your comics? How do you stay motivated and consistent throughout?
- CC: I use the playlist tactic as I mentioned before. Not just to motivate me, but to help me come up with ideas. I then make an outline for the entire arc. After that, I split everything into different episodes. Next, I do the dialogue until, finally, I do four drafts. Three for the dialogue and one for the panels. I re-read the dialogue for fourty minutes.
- AP: I write the script in my head, which, yes, it sounds weird and inefficient, but if you jot down stuff along the way and refine it, then it works. Then I use Paint Tool Sai in conjunction with Clip Studio Paint, and then I just draw. The only thing that keeps me motivated is the sheer commitment to finish ‘BURDS!’ in my lifetime. And as for ‘That Stickfigure Isekai’, I just follow the script that the main honcho (as I like to call him) gives me to my best abilities.
How do you balance the creative and business aspects of being an independent comic creator, such as promoting your work and managing finances?
- CC: Thanks to the ink feature, we’ve been getting donations… the thing is… well… you have to reach $25.00 to withdraw money. I thought it would be best if Burd keeps everything in the end. Same goes for merch. That said, Burd and I are in talks about something involving TSFI that’ll… hopefully… get us both paid. I just can’t talk about it. It should also save me the hassle of advertisement as well. Until then, I’m sticking with the forums and the Discord… and maybe YouTube since that’s been doing so well for the comic. I had to hold that off at the moment because of school (and the top secret project).
- AP: So far I haven’t made any money from any of the comics that I’ve worked on, so I don’t have to worry much about the business aspect of it. Personally, I don’t like doing art solely for profit or clout, because that’s an easy way to suck the soul out of something that is meant to express yourself with. Any money that I DO make from art is from all the lovely people who have commissioned me, because I think that they think my art has some real worth (even when I feel like it does).
Funding creative projects can be challenging for many artists. What strategies have you employed to fund your comics, and are there any resources you’d recommend to other creators?
- CC: The ink function on Tapas. Also social media like YouTube Shorts.
- AP: Ko-fi and commissions.
How do you stay updated on the latest trends and developments in the comic industry, and how do you integrate this knowledge into your work?
- CC: The Forums. I just see what’s in at the moment and try to see how I can apply that to my future stories.
- AP: I don’t usually follow trends.
In what ways do you believe the comic industry is evolving, and what opportunities do you see for independent creators in the future?
- CC: Webcomics are the future. I think if independent creators want to get in, they should hop on that front. Make sure you use Discord to build connections! Especially if you’re a writer. I’m shocked by how many animators are having a difficult time looking for screenwriters.
Collaboration can be an essential part of the creative process. Have you worked with other creators or artists on projects, and if so, how have those experiences shaped your work?
- CC: I’m still working on a one-shot with an artist named lomcia_princess while doing English translations for her Hok comic, I animated scripts for YouTube Channels like ZCore and Studio Veax, I helped out with animator Dominick Green on his various projects (we made a short together), and I’m working with a start-up commercial company that focuses on animation. I have to get very creative with scheduling in order to keep-up.
- AP: I’ve worked on two fanzines, done linework on a yet-to-be-released sonic fancomic, and of course there’s ‘That Stickfigure Isekai’. Those taught me a lot about using Clip Studio Paint.
What are some personal or professional goals you have for your comic career, and how do you plan to achieve them in the coming years?
- CC: I want to make a YouTube series out of one of my comics. Also, I wanna get into the industry. I’ve always wanted to write for DC and animated shows. I’ve made some significant progress so far. SOME plans are going through… although… I’m not allowed to talk about it.
- AP: I don’t have a lot of plans yet, but one thing is sure: I want to finish ‘BURDS!’ in my lifetime.
As a creator, how do you measure success, and what achievements are you most proud of so far?
- CC: Tapas has a handy-dandy Dashboard. I can see the amount of likes, subs, and views I get. I try to keep things in the thousands. The achievement I’m most proud of so far is TSFI. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for this comic.
- AP: Considering how I don’t advertise myself a lot, I’m so happy to see that my comic has managed to make it to 100 subscribers. Sure, it took me 5 years to get there, but that just means that some of those 100 people really do care about it.
Lastly, could you share an anecdote or experience from your comic-creating journey that has had a profound impact on you, and what did you learn from it?
- CC: Believe in the incredible, do the impossible. I think that small quote alone did wonders for me.
- AP: I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now, if it weren’t for me drawing anthropomorphic birds.
That’s a wrap on this incredible interview with Christopher Carrasco and Andrea Phillips, the talented creators behind Power Plant Animations, “That Stick Figure Isekai,” and “Burds!” We hope you’ve enjoyed this deep dive into their creative process and the passion that drives their work. Don’t forget to check out their amazing comics on Tapas and follow them for more awesome content. Thank you for joining us on All Ages of Geek Tapas Reviews, and stay tuned for more exciting interviews with your favorite creators!
About Stec Studio, All Ages of Geek and “I Married a Monster on a Hill”
Stec Studio is a New Jersey-based company founded and run by by the Stec Sisters. We specialize in producing interactive comics and novels based on All Ages of Geek media, as well as creating a fully open world Boys Love Universe called BLU Media. This universe is being built from various media forms, including readable media, games, and animations.
Our main series, I Married a Monster on a Hill, is a WEBTOON that tells the story of a retired knight who falls in love with a half-monster. We are also developing an in-production visual novel called I Married a Monster on a Hill: Dates, along with an upcoming Wattpad Exclusive set in the same Universe. At Stec Studio, our goal is to create content that gives people hope and light, and we hope our stories can provide joy and entertainment to all who experience them.