As many of you already know, I often attend conventions. These can be any sort of conventions, really. Facial hair, comic book, pop culture, anime – whatever. I love conventions, I love cosplaying (or costuming, for you semantics-oriented people out there) and I love the atmosphere.
My comic convention of choice since around 2011 was Coast City Comicon. I started going there the year I became separated from my now ex-wife. I went there because, at the time, I didn’t have much else to look forward to or do. If I didn’t occupy myself in some way, I was going to go crazy. My response to that was dressing up like David Bowie’s character from the movie Labyrinth and going to my first ever comic convention. I had so much fun, and I made so many friends, that it took some of the bite out of my relationship problems at the time. Why be myself when I could be someone else?
I went to Coast City Comicon almost exclusively for a couple of years. I was able to meet a lot of cool people, including my good friend and artist Rick Parker and another friend Jason Casey. I also met a lot of cosplayers and became friends with them, including the Maine Ghostbusters, the Mandalorian Mercs, and a few others – and I see them at almost every convention I go to.
But, Coast City Comicon went under for a variety of reasons and they may not ever do another. This left me to seek alternate conventions around the New England area. I attended PortCon, and while I met many cool people there – it seemed to be a sort of in-person Tinder where young guys and young girls were just trying to get it on with each other. Nothing wrong with that, but I happen to be thirty-three years old, with a girlfriend, so I wasn’t exactly fitting in with that crowd as much as some others. Plus, they didn’t really focus as much on an “artist alley” so there weren’t a ton of artists there, or merchandise. It was strictly videogames and mostly-anime cosplay. It’s fun, and local, but it just couldn’t live up to the expectations that Coast City Comicon had set for me. So, I went to Super Megafest. Now that’s a convention. So far, I’ve gone to both the spring and fall conventions of the same name, and I’ve had a blast each time. However, it’s way down in Massachusetts, and while I have no problem traveling – I wished I could experience the same level of nerdy fanboyishness I’d felt at Coast City Comicon in my own state. At C4 (C
oast C ity C omic C onvention….get it?) I’d met artists like Rick Parker and Lee Weeks and Bob Camp. I’d met the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’d met my hero, Todd Dezago. I met JK Woodward. Hacksaw Jim Duggan. These were pieces of my childhood, my adolescence, in human form. I craved that once more.
Then, I saw that Billy Dee Williams and Peter Mayhew were going to be making an appearance at the Bangor Toy And Comic Con in Bangor, Maine. I was sold. I’m a pretty faithful Star Wars fan and the prospect of getting to meet Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca was exciting to my core. My girlfriend has family sort of up in that area, so we took almost the entire week off and decided to turn it into a mini vacation. I wasn’t sure how the convention would turn out, but when I arrived – I was immediately impressed. There was such a great turnout, and even though (sadly) Peter Mayhew/Chewie couldn’t make it…good old Lando still showed up and commanded a massive line for autographs.
When I first showed up, I ended up being in a LOCAL PAPER (You can see me in a photo as Obi-Wan with my girlfriend, who is dressed as “Darthberry Sithcake”) and also on the WICKED NERDY PODCAST hosted by my friend, and Maine Ghostbuster, Cory Nicholson. That’s not all. In addition to that, a local reporter got me WAITING IN LINE to meet Billy Dee Williams. And….on top of that? I was also asked to be a part of a convention music video, which you can see my two second bit in here as Obi-Wan:
As you can see, I had a lot of fun. The two days I was there, I got to see a lot of old friends and cosplayers, and I even made a couple of new friends. The staff was glorious – I had even lost my keys on the convention floor and they were so organized that they had been picked up, and within minutes they found them for me so I was able to make the drive home. I bought a couple of cool things like board games and art prints. Took lots of photos, and had many great conversations.
I got to meet some of my heroes like the Black Ranger from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I got to meet Billy Dee Williams, of course. I got to meet one of my sci-fi crushes, Gigi Edgley, who played Chiana on the show Farscape. I even got to say hello to Ernie Hudson again (I’d already met him at Super Megafest back in 2013).
I’m so glad the organizers managed to pull off this convention so smoothly. Now, there is hope that a Maine convention that draws large crowds and decent guests can exist within the borders of our state. While I still hope that Coast City Comicon makes a return someday, I look forward to next year’s Bangor Comicon.
Here are some photos from the Bangor Toy and Comic Con: