June 21st - 24th, 2007
South Portland, Maine

Convention Stats:
Location: Sheraton Portland Hotel
Event Year: Sixth
Reported Attendance: 1,663
Theme: "For the Love of Death"
Sketch's Costumes Worn:
Van Hohenheim, Full Metal Alchamist
Shiva's Costumes Worn:
Super Chibimoon, Sailor Moon
Tifa Lockheart, Advent Children
Ruby of Tantalus, Final Fantasy IX
Sketch's Performances:
Anime Unscripted: Cast
Extreme Geek: Cast
Shiva's Performances:
Masquerade: "Extreme Makeover"
Shiva's Awards:
Judge's Award, Masquerade
Sketch's Special Activities:
Artist Alley: Guest Artist
Masquerade: Performance Judge
Convention Photos:

Photo Credits:
Damon Loucks, Sketch, Shiva (x2), Crazyflower, Shiva, Damon Loucks, Shiva, Sketch, 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. For its sixth year, PortCon returned to the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center in South Portland, Maine. The layout worked well, with a round open foyer in the middle of the convention space with offshoots of hallways and rooms filled with panels and events. Attendees found space to hang out between the comfy hotel lobby and a small garden area outside. For cosplayers, the convention improved its sophistication by including craftsmanship judging as part of its masquerade criteria for the first time. However, despite the best efforts of the congenial staff, the narrow halls were crowded and the dealer's room and artists' alley were crammed full of people. Popular panels, including J-Pop Idol and the AMV contest became downright claustrophobic as standing-room-only crowds squeezed into the tiny conference rooms. Events held in the main ballroom were more comfortable, but the green room packed full of masquerade participants was stifling. If current trends continue, hopefully PortCon will be able to expand to comfortably accommodate its growth in attendance.

Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
We were both excited to attend our first PortCon Maine this year; Shiva was looking forward to adding a third convention to her annual schedule and Sketch had been invited as a guest to a convention for the first time by PatrickD. We headed up to Portland Thursday afternoon; Sketch had offered to drive Shiva but she had declined, a decision she was very much regretting as she dragged a life-sized plush unicorn onto the commuter rail and onto a bus to get to Maine. As a result, Sketch managed to get settled in and relax at the Sheraton with Jeni, Jekka, and PatrickD while Shiva arrived late and frazzled at the Days Inn down the street from the convention center. Eventually Shiva and Crazyflower walked over to the Sheraton to pick up their badges and grab cocktails with Sketch and his crew.

Friday morning Sketch set up his table in artist alley while Shiva got into her Super Sailor Chibimoon costume, complete with her unicorn plush. She had had the unicorn since she was a kid, but had added her Amano Rinoa wings and a few other details to transform it into Pegasus. PortCon was a good venue to drag it around as a giant prop; there was enough room to maneuver it and yet the place was small enough there was not a lot of walking involved. The weather was excellent, so Shiva and Crazyflower had no issue walking up the street to the convention, although they, along with other attendees staying at the Days Inn, got their fair share of honks and shouts from the cars passing by. At the convention center Shiva explored the dealer's room and artist's alley where she hung out with Sketch for a while. At one of the booths, a Wicked Lady cosplayer was selling adorable chibified pins; they asked Sketch to take a photo of them together and the Wicked Lady gifted Shiva a Chibiusa pin as a gift. She was surprised and so delighted she permanently added it to her convention purse.

That afternoon Sketch was busy with his table and Patrick was working on events, so Shiva explored the con on her own. She attended the J-Idol Contest, which was basically a karaoke competition mixed with a bit of cosplay and trivia. There were some pretty decent singers, although it ran very long so she didn't stay for the whole thing. She then headed to the AMV contest screening; the competition was mediocre with only a handful of entries, many of which had flaws like watermarks which would have disqualified them from a larger contest. After the AMVs, however, there was a showing of a hilarious 40-minute Final Fantasy spoof filmed at Babson College. Not only was it really well shot and edited, but the script was entertaining enough to make going to the AMVs worth it. A copy of the film can be found on YouTube HERE. That evening Shiva was introduced to Ginger and Steve by Crazyflower, and after an enjoyable dinner out we all went to the main ballroom to watch Sketch, Jeni, and voice actor Mike McFarland perform in Anime Unscripted. It was Sketch's first time doing the improv comedy show, and he was nervous but held his own.That evening, Sketch, Shiva, and the rest of the crew settled into the comfy couches at the hotel bar and we spent the rest of the evening chatting and sipping some very real and very delicious Long Island iced teas.

Saturday morning Sketch was back at his table and Shiva walked up Maine Mall Road in her Tifa costume. It was her first time walking the route in costume alone, and she didn't care for the honking and catcalling from the cars stopped in traffic; in a group it was easy to laugh it off, but by herself it made her slightly nervous. Safely at the convention center, Shiva met up with Sketch and we both hung out for a while before watching some Sailor Moon Stars and parting ways before the masquerade. Sketch went to get into his Hohenheim costume to judge the performances while Shiva and Crazyflower returned to their hotel to get into their Ruby and Queen Brahne costumes for their Final Fantasy IX skit. While Sketch, Jeni, and Jekka set up in main events for the show, Shiva mingled with several awesome cosplayers also competing in the show, including a beautiful Sakura and Li from Card Captor Sakura. Soon, however, Shiva and the rest of the masquerade contestants were stuffed into a tiny green room which had no windows, no air, and which stunk to high heaven. They were trapped in the room for over an hour just waiting for the show to start, and once it did, they couldn't even be distracted by the performances as the video feed being projected into the room had no audio and the image kept fading in and out. Thankfully Shiva's group was scheduled to perform early on in the lineup and they were able to escape a lot sooner than their fellow contestants.

PortCon's masquerade was small relative to the major cons Sketch and Shiva were both familiar with, so many of the rules we had become accustomed to didn't apply, such as it being a requirement to pre-record the audio for the performance. Sketch, who was judging his first masquerade, had to recalibrate his expectations, while Shiva and Crazyflower chose to follow the rules of a larger convention regardless, using pre-recorded audio, respecting the time limit, and rehearsing ahead of time. Several of the other more experienced competitors did the same, and as a result there was a wide gap between skits performed by attendees who have been to larger cons and those who had no prior masquerade exposure. Many of the inexperienced acts forgot lines, ran over time, or were hard to hear and understand. Highlights, however, included a parody of Charlie the Unicorn in which L from Death Note goes to Candy Mountain, and a group of cosplayers who replicated the entire "Men In Tights" dance from Mel Brooks' version of Robin Hood, including a successful full CanCan flip which had the audience cheering. Shiva's performance went well, and she and Crazyflower were mostly relieved to be able to sit in the audience once it was over instead of returning to that horrible green room.

At the end of the show, most of the experienced competitors received recognition; Shiva's group received a Judge's Award for their performance, while Steve, Michela, Ginger, the Card Captor Sakura and the Robin Hood: Men In Tights groups all took the top awards. Crazyflower also received a much-deserved craftsmanship nod for her excellent Queen Brahne costume. After taking photos after the show, we all changed into regular clothes, grabbed dinner, and headed back to main events to hit up the rave. We danced with each other for a bit before Sketch headed to Sebego's bar across the street with the other artists and Shiva was challenged to - and won - a whole string of dance-offs. Danced out, the rest of the crew turned in while Shiva, Jeni, and Crazyflower walked over to Sebego's and met up with Sketch and the other webcomic artists for a fun evening of cocktails and conversation. Nobody remembers what happned after that but Shiva ended the night in a shopping cart because there is a picture of it. We assume we had a great time. The next morning Shiva was up and out early to catch the bus home while Sketch finished up his table before heading out. For a small con, we both had a great time and made some fun new friends!