Artist Alley: Guest Artist
Panelist: Props and Sh*t
Newberry Comics Contest: Judge
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Shiva's Special Activities:
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Sketch (x5), Shiva
PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in southern Maine. The fan-based convention's organizers are committed to maintaining a relaxed, small-convention atmosphere which focuses on promoting socialization among attendees, guests, artists, and performers. In it's eleventh year, PortCon Maine 2012 enjoyed it's second season as a multi-genre convention and chose an apocalyptic theme to reflect on the "2012" End of Days myth. They humorously incorporated this theme with Portal-style warnings and tips on surviving the apocalypse throughout their program guide and around the con. This year, more diverse panel programming covered everything from how to defeat zombies to talks on Joss Wheedon, Adventure Time, Disney, and Doctor Who. However, old anime and video game mainstays remained, including a fantastic panel on the evolution of the Final Fantasy series. Guests included comic magician Brian Brushwood in addition to voice actors Kyle Herbert and Joel McDonald, and events included a cosplay parade, boffing tournament, Anime Unscripted, and Extreme Geek. A completely revamped garage sale setup greatly improved efficiency and sales for con attendees trying to make some extra cash, while a change in setup for the main events tent - having the stage on the long, rather than the short side - made for much better seating and viewing for the crowd. The tent still could have benefited from better ventilation, however; even when it was comfortable outside it was often very hot inside. As always, PortCon does a lot with a little, making it a very enjoyable small-town convention.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
Sketch and I drove up to PortCon Thursday night and Friday morning Sketch got up early to check our stuff into the Garage Sale. I was surprised when he returned to the room only ten minutes later. Unlike last year, where each item had to be checked individually by the staff and then piled onto the table wherever the seller could find space, this time around the staff just took the box of items and took care of it themselves. This was so much easier for everyone and not onis time around the staff just took the box of items and took care of it themselves. This was so much easier for everyone and not only made drop-off quicker, but prevented the sellers from getting in the way of regular dealer’s room patrons. It also allowed the staff in charge of the garage sale to organize and display the items properly, rather than just heaping everything into piles.
That task done, Shiva got into her revamped Lebreau costume from Final Fantasy XIII while Sketch chose remain in regular clothes for the morning. Sketch painted Lebreau's butterfly tattoo on Shiva's shoulder, and we headed downstairs to do a quick shoot of Lebreau in the swimming pool area. The greenhouse-like pool made an awesome backdrop for photos but it was ridiculously hot and humid inside, so we tried to get the pics as quickly as possible but they came out great! We then met up with Ellystar, Steve, and Crazyflower and headed over to Sketch's ever-popular prop-building panel, "Props and Sh*t." The panel was packed, and Sketch got a lot of really good questions. Thankfully this year he was also given a microphone so everyone could hear easily over the background noise from the hall. Ellystar and I tried to stump him by asking how to make Tidus’ sword look like it actually had water inside of it without being too heavy to carry, but of course he had an answer.
After lunch we checked out the dealer's room and found out how they had improved the garage sale setup after we dropped off our things. It was night and day from last year; gone were the random piles being picked over and tossed around by attendees. Instead, all items were organized by genre and displayed in such a way that almost everything was visible and being pushed to sell. We were thrilled that they’d improved it so much and that if there was something we’d put up for sale and someone wanted to buy it, they could find it. That evening Sketch got into his Captain Hammer costume and Shiva changed into her Deanna Troi uniform to be comfy for the night. Steve wanted to match Shiva, so he borrowed a Starfleet shirt from Sketch to wear. Everyone headed to Anime Unscripted in the main events tent, where Sketch, EllyStar, Brian Brushwood, and Jekka all performed ione of the funniest shows in a while. Sketch, while portraying an Apple devotee, accidentally flung his iPhone off the stage, and after he discovered it still worked, he ad-libbed “Praise Jobs!” which the crowd parroted in response and it became the catch phrase of the night. Brian was the last presenter for slideshow roulette, and for his final slide, PatD put up a photo of Brian’s head on a rainbow unicorn and when it showed up on the screen the magician, and the entire audience, just about died in tears of laughter.
We all went back to the room for drinks and partied for a bit before heading back downstairs to attend Brian Brushwood's panel about podcasting. At the end of the discussion, in an exercise about how to tell an engaging, succinct story, the panel asked volunteers from the audience to come forward and tell a story about anything. The panelists started with their thumbs in a "neutral" position, and as the volunteer talked, they moved their thumbs either up or down as they gained or lost engagement with the story. When everyone on the panel's thumbs got to down, the volunteer had lost and had to return to their seat, the story unfinished. Steve and Jeni dared Shiva to go up and tell her version of the infamous party of cosplay friends at Steve's house in 2009. Shiva agreed, and was called up. At first, a few of the thumbs wavered, but as Shiva's story unfolded, the panelists' thumbs all slowly stared moved up. By the end, they were all staring slack-jawed with their thumbs up until she finished. The audience cheered and Shiva won Brian's book as a prize, but our group of friends were mostly dying laughing at how crazy of a party story we all shared that it even impressed total strangers.
Saturday Sketch was up early and threw on his Warbler suit to judge the Newberry Comics cosplay contest across the street at the Maine Mall. The con had organized a parade of cosplayers around the mall which ended in a judged event. Shiva, meanwhile, got into her new Miku kimono and hit up Charles Dunbar’s Final Fantasy panel with Ellystar, aptly titled "Chocobos Ate My Baby." The panel was excellent, and Charles, as an anthropologist, gave wonderful insights on the series and touched upon several things that neither Shiva nor Ellystar, despite being long-time fans of the series, didn't know. After the discussion, Sketch met back up with the girls and took photos of Ellystar and Shiva in their matching Luka and Miku kimonos from Vocaloid: Project DIVA on the red bridge outside the hotel.
That afternoon, Sketch got into his Mal Reynolds costume and the three of us judged the masquerade performances, which turned out to be quite difficult as there were only a handful of skits this year. The vast majority of entrants only did walk-ons and were already pre-judged for craftsmanship, so there was not much for us to pick from and yet we had to find winners for a whole list of performance awards. It was disappointing as it gave the audience so little to be entertained by and us so few entrants to choose from. Next year more of you need to enter skits! That night Shiva put on her new Tomoyo outfit from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and we all attended Brian Brushwood’s magic show in the main events tent. The sky looked like it was ready for a full-blown thunderstorm and the staff was getting nervous they would have to cancel, but luckily the storm held itself at bay long enough for Brian to get in his entire performance and only started booming after he had finished. After dinner we attended Jeni’s annual Rule 34 Panel, which was a hilarious way to end the night.
Sunday Shiva wore her Rise costume from Persona 4 and Sketch wore Richard Castle and we attended Ellystar's "Aging Cosplayers" panel, which was an interesting discussion of cosplay from the view of the 25+ crowd. We also interviewed Reu, AKA Movie Phone Guy, for AnimeCons.TV; Sketch did a great job with the interview and Reu got a kick out of it. Finally, we packed up our unsold stuff from the garage sale and checked out. Everything packed away, we said our goodbyes and headed home, another successful PortCon behind us.