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A webcomic about mythology, monsters, and assorted madness was just never going to fly, let’s admit it. Happle Tea is now about video games and video game related news. Time to sit back and watch the cash flow in!

Oh wait, I’m half a month early for April Fool’s day…damn.

For those of you that don’t follow games or gaming culture, please accept my apologies if these jokes don’t make any sense to you. Normal comics resume on Friday. These three should cover you guys for last Friday, today, and you’ve even got a bonus comic for me missing that Friday strip!

This weekend was the second annual Penny-Arcade Expo East here in Boston, Massachusetts. While I may not talk about it much, I’m a fan of games and gamers even though I am not (surprisingly enough) a fan of conventions. However, Penny-Arcade is a big deal to me as those two guys inspired me to do what I do today. The fact that they put together their own convention for gamers was something I couldn’t pass up for a second year in a row. Despite battling a pretty horrible sinus infection (hence the missing comic and the convention on Friday) I managed to make it to the convention on Saturday and had a great time with my girl Lizgigg and my great friend, Cellie. This being the first convention I’d ever been to where I wasn’t selling things or displaying artwork, I was kind of amazed and confused about what to do with myself. Eventually, I got into the swing of things and had fun trying out games on the show floor and watching people dance to songs on a stage devoted purely to Dance Central. The whole show was a madhouse and I didn’t get to do half of what I wanted to, but it was still a good time. Lizgigg and I wrote these comics while we were there and I felt like some people would probably get a kick out of them.

This has been a pretty closely guarded secret for some time but I figure I should probably let you in on it. Long before there was Happle Tea there was a silly comic I did in freshman year of high school called Free Parking. It was a comic I tried to write with friends of mine (who rarely did anything they were supposed to) about video games. I’d been so inspired by Penny-Arcade in 8th grade that I tried to capture some of what they did. Unfortunately, it just ended up being kind of a rip off of their comic and an excuse for me to use pretty filthy language. The comic was online for a little while but I didn’t stick it out for very long when I ended up writing, drawing, and writing blog posts by myself (too much work, back then) but it was still a good experience. It only took something like 6 years to get back into doing comics when I started working on what would become Happle Tea.

As for games, they’ve always been a part of my life and will probably always be a part of my life. I started playing games at a very young age and I’ve learned a lot from them. I feel like they can be a very legitimate form of storytelling and a great way for people to let off some steam and enjoy a competitive experience without violence. About half of the most important lessons I’ve learned in life have come from games like Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, and other games. I learned early on that female characters can be totally awesome from Super Metroid. I also learned that games are something fun and exciting to do with friends and family when you’re not terribly interested in sports. My girlfriend and I spend a lot of our time together playing games like League of Legends and the new Donkey Kong Country.

I understand, more than most, that video games aren’t for everyone. Some people see them as a waste of time or as things that get kids thinking violently about other people, but I know that there is a lot of value in the experience of letting go and engaging in interactive storytelling and I’ve enjoyed it a lot over the years. Penny-Arcade has helped make games more popular and to provide a place of humor for the huge number of gamers out there in there world and they’ve helped inspire a generation of artists to take up webcomics despite overwhelming odds of ever being recognized or making a job out of it. For me, it was a really cool experience to be there, to see this melding of two spheres in one giant convention.

It’s nice to know that a couple of really normal guys before me could be so successful and bring so much to people in the form of humor, charity, and camaraderie with a simple webcomic. I’ve always thought to myself that if they could do it, maybe I could too. HT is a weird thing and I’m still practicing at what I do, but to know that the guys from PA touched my life the way they did makes me hope that I can do that for other people someday.

Maybe in the future we’ll run a giant mythology convention and you can all dress up as monsters, gods, and goddesses.

That would be hilarious.

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