I did not put a ton of thought into the story in this episode when I created it more than a decade ago, so I have no idea whether I actually meant to copy the plot of The Empire Strikes Back. But really, it was probably inevitable.
For some reason that I never investigated, my family acquired a VHS copy containing the final episodes of the 1940 action serial Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe. Mr. Stick’s adventures share some obvious parallels, like giant plotholes, senseless action and the fact that neither Flash nor Mr. Stick actually saved the universe.
Star Wars, as it happens, was also an obvious homage to the genre, and I’m pretty sure I modeled Mr. Stick’s blaster after Han Solo’s. So when I decided to make another adventure for some reason, introducing a supreme villain and having Mr. Stick get captured just seemed perfectly natural.
This is also when I started to decide that, despite Mr. Stick’s awesome laser-dodging powers, he’s got a lot more hat than cattle. So to speak.
Last week’s episode was an almost line-by-line recreation of the original; I messed with the landscape a bit to fit with the new aspect ratio, and (half-)removed a Matrix reference that was dated even when I made the original, but that was it. This week, I took pretty much the same approach, although I took advantage of iMovie to play around with the timing; the original was my first time putting in a lot of dialogue into an animated GIF, and some of it kind of flashed by. Also, I had to redesign the bridge, because the original wouldn’t have worked in HD. (Half the fun of this project is the fact that I can say that in total sincerity about a stop-motion animation with stick figures.)
Fun fact: You’ll notice that the blaster Mr. Stick uses in the actual episode has completely different dimensions from the one he has in the opening. That’s entirely because the big one didn’t look good when I tried to scale it down. I thought for a moment about fixing it when I made the HD version, but then I ended up making the designs even more different. In the original GIFs, I also redesigned Mr. Stick between the first and second episodes to make his head less octagonal; I fixed that in HD, so his design is now consistent.