The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


The Student News Site of Center Grove High School


Building a brand

Senior makes comic strips, YouTube videos, music and more under “The Hungry Iron Apple” banner
Alston Lin creates the newest character for his comic strips on Instagram
Charlie LaRocca
Alston Lin creates the newest character for his comic strips on Instagram

Inspiration coursed through the sixth-grade mind of Alston Lin as he perused the short runtime of a random Minecraft Youtuber’s latest, “Iron Apple” mod-pack showcase: a little silver subversion of the game’s classic pixelated apple blossomed ideas of innovation for Lin, serving as the impetus for his own path to internet glory. With keyboard in hand, Lin crafted the perfect username that would caricaturize his brand in the years to come. 

Since then, his little drawing of a metal-skinned fruit with black spectacles sitting afront two tiny pebbles for eyes has expanded into a multi-platform portfolio of Lin’s insatiable creativity. 

“At the time I was watching DanTDM,” Lin said. “So I just decided, let’s take DanTDM’s YouTube format name and came up with the username ‘TheHungryIronApple’ for whatever reason. It has just stuck until now.”

Long before Lin entered the realm of YouTube with his early Roblox gameplays and eighth-grade animations, the creative juices of his comic-strip creations were flowing.

“Somewhere in the later half of elementary school I started making these comics,” Lin said. “They were called Sneezing Chicken. It was just a rotisserie chicken, but you put too much pepper on it, and it sneezes. There was a TV show called Garfield and Friends. There is this one episode where John Arbuckle, Garfield’s owner, spreads pepper seasoning everywhere in this butcher house. This guy is about to chop the chicken, but before he can, because the pepper is everywhere, the chicken sneezes and hits the wall. That’s how momentum works.”

Moving to Center Grove in middle school, Lin left behind the friendships he had built with his peers in the Southport school district but carried with him an intense drive for creation. As the typical “new kid” in a massive school full of predetermined friend groups and a strict social ladder, Lin used his silent passions as a means of expression.

“I didn’t really know anybody,” Lin said. “I began to realize I was an introvert. In elementary school, it was always people coming up to me to talk, and in sixth grade, nobody was coming up to me to talk.

Lin took the initiative to do his own thing despite the circumstances of his middle-school life. At first, the views were low for his gameplays, but Lin, being the innovator he is, had more tricks up his sleeve. 

“There was the occasional video where I made some kind of meme,” Lin said. “Normally, I’d get 20 views on average, but the meme videos got upwards of 500 views. In eighth grade, I started making animations, and my average went from 20 views per video to 50 views per video. Sophomore year, I made this viral video based on the ‘Trumpet Boy’ meme. That got like 17,000 views.”

I didn’t really know anybody. I began to realize I was an introvert. In elementary school, it was always people coming up to me to talk, and in sixth grade, nobody was coming up to me to talk.

— Alston Lin

From the inception of his channel to now, Lin’s strategy with his “Hungry Iron Apple” brand has been simple: go wherever his mind full of infinite ideas takes him next. 

“My mind just comes up with these ideas out of nowhere,” Lin said. “To be able to put them down on paper takes longer than expected. By the time I have them halfway done, my mind comes up with something new. A lot of my ideas go down the drain.”

If one were to glance at Lin’s fruit-infested Instagram page, they would find a collage of short stories and scenarios with the titular apple sprites – colored in the corners of Lin’s Notability and given life in the margins of a Google Slides presentation – as pieces of the action. The epicenter of these strips is the dark gray Iron Apple himself – a depiction of Lin’s self in the world of honeycrisps and granny smiths. 

“It’s a common joke that me and the Iron Apple share very, very similar lives,” Lin said. “We might as well be the same person. The audience will treat it as if I was the apple.”

Lin rips his stories off the page of reality and pastes them into his apple world. Most of the strips are retellings of real-life occurrences in Lin’s everyday life. In fact, he has created a whole catalog of characters based on the people he interacts with daily – each taking the form of an apple and each being assigned one of the other 117 elements on the periodic table as a character name. For example, Jacob Han the Lanthanum Apple suffers from a fear of sharp objects, and Brandon Lowden the Boron Apple has a special fleshy skin that makes him bulletproof. 

“I turned one of my friends from the marching band into a Gallium Apple,” Lin said. “Then, people started to request that I draw them as apples. I just started drawing more: iron, gallium, cadmium, vanadium, carbon, magnesium and nitrogen. Those were like the first seven. I happened to get all 118 elements.” 

With his cast of characters, who each have their own description buried in the sea of posts on Lin’s page, he has created four running series on his page. Fairies United follows the spell-binding adventures of witches, warlocks and knights in the skins of apples. Elemental Showdown pits his elemental apple amalgamations in a Hunger Games-esque brawl for supremacy. His Country Apples series portrays the stereotypes and comedic flaws of nations in fruit form. His exploration of the sixteen personality types puts all of these types into one apple house, following the shenanigans and situations that could arise when personalities clash. No matter if it was a spoof on the marching band events of the day or an addition to one of his series – Lin, as a self-described INTP-personality type, finds comfort in using his comics as an indirect way of communication with others. 

“I decided to join the marching band and robotics,” Lin said. “That kind of got me out of my shell. For some reason, I had the impulse to start doing comics again. Some marching band people noticed and said ‘you should do more comics,’ and I did. That’s my way of communicating with the audience. INTPs – one of their stereotypes is that they are not good at speech, and they are socially awkward, but when it comes to writing down stuff, they can write whole essays about meaningless topics.” 

Through the “Hungry Iron Apple” persona, Lin has certainly found his essay. It is not just comics or videos. It is an expression of who Lin is – personifying his interests and capturing his moment-by-moment thoughts. 

“My mind sees something small – something most people would find insignificant,” Lin said. “And it says, what if I just take this and do this with it.” 

At the same time as his work has gained him traction across social media, Lin has turned himself into a jack of all trades: animator, videomaker, cartoonist and comedian. In his creative trials, he has added musician and composionist to that string of self-acquired skills. 

My mind sees something small – something most people would find insignificant, and it says, what if I just take this and do this with it.

— Alston Lin

“During 2020, I was experimenting with music composition because I had a lot of free time,” Lin said. “I made this Cooking Songs playlist based on cooking styles: toasting, baking, roasting, microwaving, frying and electrocuting. I saw this video where they used wires to cook a hot dog, so I put that on there for a Halloween special. Then, I made this EP — Everything Matters — with antimatter and dark-matter and just matter.”

By bringing his peers into the starring roles of his ingenuity, Lin has drawn more attention to all of his escapades. However, a struggle for Lin has been finding the time to pursue all of the goals he has in the digital realm. 

“I have marching band, robotics and library volunteering,” Lin said. “I also have AP classes, so I have a lot of homework. I don’t really have time to do all the stuff I want to.”

Either way the apple is sliced, Lin will not be deterred from his passions; in fact, new ideas for his platforms continue to populate his brain at every second. A revamped version of Fairies United in a sci-fi environment and Cooking Songs 2 with tapes based on cooking methods like broiling — these are just a few of the projects on the way for “The Hungry Iron Apple.” It is safe to say that wherever life takes Lin, his gray ambrosia sketch will surely follow.

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About the Contributor
Charlie LaRocca
Charlie LaRocca, Website Editor
Senior Charlie LaRocca has been a staff member for two years. He started his career in publications writing sports articles and doing work for the Trojaneer Sports instagram. LaRocca is now an editor for the website, focusing on student features, news pieces and sports previews. LaRocca plans to attend the United States Air Force Academy to wrestle Division 1 after he graduates.

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