Maine's Comic Con: A Weekend in Bangor

Maine's Comic Con: A Weekend in Bangor

The third Bangor Comic and Toy Con was held over Memorial Day weekend - and here's my short but sweet rundown.
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The third annual Bangor Comic and Toy Con was held over Memorial Day weekend, after months of build-up and changing of dates due to issues involving scheduling at two venues. Having attended the last two, I once again made the trek upstate to go to the convention. It was smaller in scope but larger in terms of attendance, and proved to be yet another great time. With the show being a lesser-known con and an evolving event, travel log type discussion seems in order. It was a much smaller event than Boston Comic Con, an event I have previously discussed – but still, it's worth it to talk about.

The first night, Friday, was primarily for us to pick up our VIP passes and get a feel for what the con would be set up like – the convention is held in a ballroom just down the hall from the main auditorium at the Cross Insurance Arena. While it would have been nice to be in the larger venue, the smaller room made conversations much more common and possible to see everything without getting overwhelmed. For the first time at this show, there were people selling Lego minifigures, a top selling item at Boston Comic Con (see my previous article on that convention). We stayed for about an hour, walking around and figuring out what the plan would be for the next two days. Not too many purchases were made, but we were given random free mini-poster sized prints, among other items. Free art is always great to have, especially art that fits perfectly with my other nerdy posters. We left, had dinner, wandered the Bangor Mall – where we discovered that Hot Topic put Twilight Funko Pops on clearance, a fitting end for the almost-forgotten series. After that, we settled back into the hotel to relax, play some Cards Against Humanity, and get some rest.


Saturday was practically an all-day affair. Cosplays were worn – myself as the original 1991 animated Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, and my sister as Barb from Stranger Things. Upon getting in half an hour early due to VIP badges, we went back to the con floor. Outside the main ballroom, several artists, dealers, and costuming groups –one, the Maine Ghostbusters, brought a fully-street legal Ecto-1 car. The crowds were larger, and oftentimes we had to use an alternate route to avoid the people that were filling the thin aisles between the tables in the dealer's room/artist alley. There was a good balance between comics and toys, with many dealers selling both while specializing in one or the other. There, I met two actors from my childhood – Steve Cardenas and Johnny Yong Bosch, the second Red and Black Rangers in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. Also, I met comic writer Larry Hama and Jeff Kline, the showrunner of Transformers: Prime, one of the more recent Transformers cartoons. All the celebrities were incredibly nice, and it seemed like they were having just as much fun at the con as the attendees were. The other celebrity guests included Kel Mitchell (my sister asked “why did they get the guy from Game Shakers, and yes I was disappointed that was all she knew him from) and voice actor Jim Cummings, best known for voicing Winnie the Pooh. Artists were doing commissions, people were talking about their interests and coming together in the name of a comic convention. Overall, it was a pretty average Saturday for a convention.

Arriving on Sunday, the plan was to hit up as many deals as we could – word of advice, if you go to a convention, save the most of your money for Sunday, as you'll get more for less because nobody wants to bring home all their merchandise. Anyway, we walked around, I bought more comics (I may or may not be a comic addict), including some from local indie writers and artists. This was a much slower day, leading to more conversations with the vendors – I spoke with several artists and the costuming groups. After looking through a selection of comics, I stumbled across the table for professional cosplayer Ani-Mia, and we had a great conversation about the Maine weather and how the seasons don't exactly line up with the conditions. Throughout the rest of the day, we were picking up more items and no dollar comic bin was left unchecked. One toy dealer said all prices were negotiable, though with the Sunday deals he was making, negotiations were barely needed. When all was said and done, we took a final walk around the con floor, and my final purchase of the day was Amanda Kahl's adaptation of The Raven. I highly recommend Cornerstone Creative Studios, Escape From Jesus Island and The Infernal Pact – all local comics that are on par with mainstream publications. Indie artists were very common at this convention, and they really do need all the support they can get – because you never know who might get a job at one of the big publishers.

This was yet another great year at Bangor Comic and Toy Con. From the usual celebrity autographs to the conversations with vendors and artists, there's always something interesting going on at a convention. Of course, not everybody is up for dealing with massive crowds and spending more money than they planned on spending, but for those that do, it's a great experience. Maine isn't really well known for their nerdy culture, but for one weekend a year, we get to see that subculture come together in Bangor, just miles from Stephen King's house. In August, I'll be attending Boston Comic Con, and I'll have more stories to tell of that weekend. For now, it's back to working on costumes and planning out the trip – then it all cycles back around, getting ready for the next show.

Cover Image Credit: Jack R. Herard

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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This One’s For Africa

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Read through to the end for an amazing Toto reference.

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It's now been a week since I stepped foot on the African continent for the first time in my life. I first visited Johannesburg, where my dad and I spent a day on an 'apartheid tour.'

This tour consisted of visiting Shanty Town, one of the poorest communities in South Africa. The living conditions were indeed different. They had to steal electricity through homemade wires connected to the telephone poles. They had only a few porta potties for ten families to share. They had several spickets to obtain fresh water from. There was no heating in the houses, which were made from pieces of painted aluminum.

Such inconvenient circumstances have come from years of oppression towards black people in South Africa. It was incredibly sad to know that these problems still exist and that apartheid only ended so recently.

On the other hand, the people showed very little anger. Despite their living situations, the people of Shanty Town were so kind and welcoming. Everyone we passed smiled and waved, often even saying hello or asking about our wellbeing.

It brought some serious warmth to our hearts to see their sense of community. Everyone was in it together, and no man was left behind. They created jobs and opportunities for one another. They supported each other.

The next part of the day included a tour of Nelson Mandela's old house. We then made a trip to the Apartheid Museum.

Overall, Johannesburg did not disappoint. The city contains a rich history that human beings as a whole can learn a lot from. Johannesburg is a melting pot that still contains a multitude of issues concerning racism and oppression of certain cultures.

After two days in Johannesburg, my family made our way to Madikwe game reserve, where we stayed at Jaci's Lodge.

The safari experience was absolutely incredible. Quite cold (it's winter in Africa right now), but amazing enough to make up for the shivering. We saw all my favorite animals: giraffes galore, elephants, zebras, impalas, lions, hyenas, wildebeests, rhinos, you name it. While my favorite animal will always be the giraffe, I don't think any sighting could beat when two different herds of elephants passed through a watering hole to fuel up on a drink.

Finally on June 1st, I flew to George to start my program with Africa Media in Mossel Bay. On Sunday, we went on an 'elephant walk.'

The safari was certainly cool, but that makes the elephant walk ice cold. We got to walk alongside two male elephants - one was 25, the other 18. They were so cute!! We got to stroke their skin, trunk, and tusks. They had their own little personalities and were so excited to receive treats (fruits and vegetables) at the end of the journey.

My heart couldn't be more full. Africa, you have become my favorite continent. And it sure is going to take a lot to drag me away from you.

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