PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in South Portland, Maine. PortCon Maine celebrated it's twelfth year in 2014 with the theme "All The Cute!" Guests this year included quite a few video game producers and publishers, such as Christopher Alcott, who has worked on over 100 classic arcade games and was featured in the Space Invaders Arcade documentary, and Dan Brian, Glenn Given, and Meg McGinley-Crowe of the local gaming development company, Games by Play Date. Performers included the comedy troupe Dorks in Dungeons, vaudeville act Dark Follies, dance group Vivid Motion, and musicians Crunk Witch, Mary Bichner & The Planetary Quartet, and Chamber Band. The convention continued its tradition of excellent panel programming, and other events included a cosplay parade, boffing tournament, Anime Unscripted, Extreme Geek, and a garage sale for con attendees trying to make some extra cash. Unfortunately, PortCon continues to run up against issues with limited space in its current location, and the only larger space in the Portland area has refused to host PortCon, making it impossible for the convention to expand into a larger space. Despite this, PortCon manages to do a lot with a little.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
PortCon happened to land on an inconvenient weekend for us this year; after we had made plans to attend, we were invited to a family wedding on the Saturday of the convention. We decided to split the weekend and attend both events, so we knew going in it was going to be somewhat of a hectic weekend and a lot of driving for Sketch. Resolved to make it work, we drove up to Portland on Thursday night and pulled into the Days Inn by 7:30PM. It had been five years since we had stayed at the neighboring hotel rather than the host hotel for PortCon, but the short walk was worth the savings on the room and luckily for us, the weather forecast was free of rain for the weekend. That evening we met up with PatrickD for dinner and Shiva finished sewing her new Nurse Joy costume from Pokémon and painted her Pokéball before bed. For a last minute prop it came out really nicely!
On Friday Sketch drove all of our garage sale items over to the convention center and we checked all of our stuff into the event before returning to the hotel and getting into costume. Sketch got into Steiner from Final Fantasy IX and Shiva got into Nurse Joy before walking a couple of blocks up the street to PortCon. We met up with Ellystar in her matching Officer Jenny outfit, and as a twosome, her and Shiva's old-school Pokémon outfits were really popular! Sketch and Ellystar’s mom got a few shots of them outside which came out cute. That afternoon we performed in Anime Unscripted under the main events tent with Gale and Ellystar while PatrickD hosted. It was Gale's first time as a main cast member and Ellystar's second; Shiva hadn't done the show since 2011. Despite everyone being slightly out of practice, it was one of our funnier outings, helped along by the fact we all knew each other well.
After the show we got drinks at the hotel bar; Ellystar's martini had blue curaçao in it while Shiva's martini was something pink called a Candy Apple, so the drinks matched their Pokémon costumes. All of our drinks were really strong and Shiva hadn't eaten since breakfast, so she was feeling pretty amazing after only one. We were sitting next to a couple who were at the convention with their teenage daughter. The mom was on her third white Russian and both she and the dad were hilarious, so we all started joking up a storm and talking cosplay. That evening we changed into our Castle and Beckett costumes from Castle while Ellystar changed into her League of Legends outfit and PatrickD into his Bioshock costume and we met up behind the convention center with Elizabeth’s Mom’s fancy camera for a small photoshoot. We all went out for dinner, then visited the gaming rooms for a few rounds of board games before partying in the room for the rest of the night.
Saturday we were up bright and early to pack up the car, check out of the hotel, and drive several hours south for a family wedding. We made it in plenty of time for the mid-afternoon ceremony and the weather was beautiful and perfect for the outdoor beach wedding. We stayed late for the reception and crashed at Shiva's parents' house. Sunday morning we ate breakfast and got into costume before getting into the car for the several-hour drive back up to PortCon. We pulled into the Doubletree parking lot just after lunchtime; Shiva was wearing her revamped Ruby from Final Fantasy IX she had helped Scarlett make for Anime Boston earlier this year and we had fun taking photos of her by the bar. We even ran into an attendee who recognized her as Ruby which was very surprising given how random the character is, especially without the context of being seen with the main characters.
We met up with Ellystar and PatrickD and filmed a small segment for AnimeCons.TV before exploring the mall across the street. Shiva had actually never been inside despite attending PortCon for eight years, and we decided a visit was long overdue. Inside we found a full-size lobster boat replica and a carousel, both of which we could use in the future for photos. We also dropped into Newberry Comics, which was offering several excellent discounts for PortCon attendees. Surprisingly, Shiva found hardcover color anthologies of her favorite silver age comics she had been looking for for years; she had bought several volumes at Dragon*Con years ago and hadn’t found them anywhere else since. With the con discount they were too good of a find to pass up.
Back at the convention Shiva changed into Lucy from Peanuts, which was much cooler and more comfortable than Ruby. We hit up a couple of panels until the garage sale closed at 4PM when we could pick up what was left and collect our earnings. We found out we successfully sold three out of the five boxes worth of stuff we had brought, and made about $600. Before we left we chucked some of the stuff that would likely never sell, and left with only one box of crap to bring back next year. The success of the garage sale alone was worth all of the driving back and forth! We finally said our goodbyes and prepared for another long drive home. Hopefully next year will be more relaxing.