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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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Social Media Can Bridge The Gap Of Communication Between The Two Genders

We have small devices hidden in the back pockets of our jeans that give us access to billions of users across the Internet, and all it takes is one post to spark a revolution.

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You spend time at least once a week going through your social feed. You even spend time once a day going through your social feed.

There is a power in the words you speak and post online, and these very words can impact others' lives, negatively or positively. As an example, according to the Huffington Post, women are met with being "…ignored, trivialized, or criticized by men…" online mainly because the rift between the two genders prevents proper communication.

Gender equality can be achieved by online engagement, or posting. In some cases, though, the opposite can be true. I personally love Instagram and will occasionally find myself scrolling through posts recommended by the platform itself simply so I can waste time and complain about that later. A few weeks ago, I happened to be relapsing into my Instagram addiction and found myself particularly drawn to a certain post by Rowan Blanchard, which had a caption reading that "Cis men are violent and dangerous and until numbers prove [her] wrong [she] won't be able to not make statements that can't be read as vague."

Now, MSNBC identifies activism today as "…easier than ever…" thanks to social media, with "…[facilitated] public dialogues and… a platform for awareness…," but the caption of Blanchard's post shown is not activism at its finest. In a brief synopsis, activist Rowan Blanchard, who you may know from the show "Girl Meets World," addresses her distaste for men, going so far as to generalizing them as dangerous. In my opinion, this is one step backward in the fight for equality rather than a step forward.

Men and women alike have our differences that we consistently brush over in angry online comments but never truly sit down and discuss. The presence of a civil conversation between members of opposing sides of the gender argument is astonishing, and I myself have never seen one online. These conversations act like haunting illusions of a future we can only dream of, as if such a situation is purely unattainable otherwise.

We fawn over the thought, calling ourselves servants at the hands of a society where men and women can join each other and claim that there is no reason to feel unequal. The idea is breathtaking, and the friendships between men and women would be endless. Unfortunately, modern-day social media displays misogyny, misandry, animosity and all forms of verbal destruction against both genders that I feel sorry to merely acknowledge.

Before I took a break from being active on social media, I used Instagram to showcase my thoughts on these issues. I found it compelling to have an audience of my close friends and acquaintances listening as I explained and rationalized about online sexism repeatedly.

Occasionally, the topic sparked up friendly conversation about disagreements, and being honest, I felt threatened by how unthreatening the discussion was. It was as if I was asking for a reason to feel angry, to feel offended, but I instead was met with the harsh reality that social media can allow engagement in normal conversation.

The culture that revolves around online discussion is brash and led by emotion rather than by statistics, and while Blanchard may claim that she wants precise statistics before she alters her position against men, many online still fail to recognize the validity of such numbers. Her use of a hasty generalization clearly shows the lack of structure within her argument; I may be solely pointing her out, but her rationale stands as an example of the obstacles we face in the path to gender equality.

MSNBC used Twitter demographics to explain the impact of current events revolving around gender debates on the amount of discussion about sexism, and the results show that social media holds power. It holds hope and determination and serves as a pathway to a society where we may be able to hold hands and know we have no fear of being inferior to one another. Our generation is accustomed to seeing this magnitude of a response online, but when imagining every person who tweeted about this, there is potential change that we can visualize.

We have small devices hidden in the back pockets of our jeans that give us access to billions of users across the Internet, and all it takes is one post online to go viral. Within minutes, we can reach out to hundreds or thousands of people, updating them about our lives. With the ability to contact an enormous number of people, the only question you are left to ask yourself is, "How will you bring about a positive change to social equality?"

Your response to this question is being awaited every moment of your life.

Disclaimer: Please note that this has been a speech previously submitted as an assignment in a class.

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