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Drawn to Cons

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BANGOR Comic and pop-culture has exploded over the past few years. It used to be, if you were from Maine, you'd have to travel to southern New England at the very least to attend a convention. But now there are several to choose from right in our own backyard.

That list includes the return of the Bangor Comic and Toy Convention that will be back at the Cross Insurance Center on April 8, 9, and 10, bringing fantasy, science fiction, and comic book enthusiasts together for a weekend of meeting celebrities, dressing up as favorite characters and getting to meet the minds and artists behind some of the coolest content out there.

Christopher Macmillan is the driving force behind the convention; he has wanted this con in Bangor from the beginning, though the personal challenges that come with planning a con in Maine when he lives out of state were significant.

'I think for me, after having so many personal failures in Maine, it is important to keep swinging, [to] keep striving for that success,' he said. 'Because it is a tough place to get all lined up and have it at a level which you can maintain. So, the challenge is internal as well as external, and that fuels me to be there, to be a part of the crowd when things are better.'

Part of the struggle is getting people who aren't from the Bangor area to go the distance.

'Convincing people from away that Bangor will support their efforts. Being relevant in fans' newsfeeds in September when your con is in April; there is a way to build all year, for what is, essentially, a three-day event,' he said. 'Your posts in September are just as important as the ones during crunch time.' Those are a couple of the challenges we accept.'

MacMillan grew up on a wave of late-70s super heroes and is happy to see the new up-surge in comic popularity.

'There was a time in the late 70s when, very much like today, the country was into comic book/geek culture. The Hulk, Wonder Woman, Steve Austin - 6M Dollar Man, Spider-Man, Superfriends, Star WarsI couldn't get enough. My mother was very religious and didn't like any of it, she'd call the Hulk, the Hawk and make a face. I would cringe. I think it's every child's struggle to try and convince their parents how important one thing is,' he said. 'I liked geek culture and I liked reptiles and amphibians. And I've been true to myself since I was a child. I didn't have a dad around, so it was a natural kids interests vs a single moms interest. There were a lot of toys, books hidden under the bed.'

The event kicks off with Friday Night Live at the Down Under Club at Seasons starting at 7 p.m. on April 8. Enjoy live music from punk and alternative live bands, including The Banner Year, Under Fire, The Walking Life, Summit, Glass Canyon, Caster, The Royal Bones, Dear Father and Fading Dawn. For more information, find the event on Facebook.

'This year I have a great staff of geeks who want to be a part of it, who want to see it run smoothly, so that will be fun for me. I think that having Nichelle [Nichols] come to Bangor, that's really cool. She's a very, very sweet individual who has seen a few things and lived through a few things, so, that is cool to see fans be able to chat with her,' said MacMillan. 'On a personal note, I look forward to the live music and the drink & draw with the artists. I love live music and I REALLY like local bands that write their own material. Takes some guts to play something unfamiliar in front of a new crowd. And that same idea can be said about the artists we haveaway from the comforts of their studios, just sketching out in front of people or inking on our skateboard decks. Not everyone can do it!'

There will be vendors on hand to sell everything from comic books to fantasy and science fiction novels. Artists include Bob Wiacek, Paris Cullins, Chris Sprouse, Ronald Leary Jr., Anna Salvo, Rich Woodall, Amanda Kahl, Joseph Schalke, Michael Mitchell, Christopher Mills, Ben Bishop, Ryan Wing, Sal Otero, Brenda Hickey, Jeremy Treech, Bob Raymon, Bob Tkacik, Juli Mayers, Kendra Lee Saunders, Jason Casey and Dennis Burke. For their full bios, visit the BCTC website.

Fans will be able to meet Nichelle Nichols, who famously portrayed Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek series and the movies that followed. Nichols was the first black woman on mainstream television that was not playing the part of a serving woman, and when she thought about leaving the show to pursue a Broadway career, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged her to stay, as the role was a powerful role model in the lives of African American children and young girls.

Attendees will be able to meet Colin Baker, who was the sixth incarnation of the infamous Doctor in the BBC's original 'Doctor Who.' He was the first of only two Doctors to appear on the show in another role before assuming the mantle of The Doctor (The second was Peter Capaldi, who is currently filling the role).

Don't worry, it's not a trap you can also meet Tim Rose, who portrayed Admiral Ackbar, the commander of the space forces of the Rebel Alliance in 'Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi,' and he reprised his role in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens.' His resume also includes puppeteer work on Sy Snooker and Salacious Crumb, as well as work on 'The Dark Crystal' and 'Howard the Duck.'

There is also a chance for fans to meet the voices behind some of their favorite animated characters, including Tom Kane who has brought to life the likes of Jedi Master Yoda from the animated series 'Star Wars: the Clone Wars;' Magneto in 'Wolverine' and 'The X-Men and Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds;' Ultron in 'The Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow' and 'The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes;' and many more.

Mini-master criminal Verne Troyer will meet with fans. Renowned for his role alongside Michael Myers in the hit comedy 'Austin Powers' as Dr. Evil's smaller, evil counterpart Mini-Me, Troyer also had roles in 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' with Jim Carrey and 'Bubble Boy' with Jake Gyllenhaal. He famously portrayed the goblin banker Griphook in the blockbuster 'Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone.'

And other bad guys will also be in attendance in the form of Paul Schier and Jason Narvy who played Bulk and Skull in the Power Rangers universe. Their antics were more comical than villainous, and they were staple characters in the MMPR universe for many seasons.

BCTC recently announced the addition of Denise Crosby, who has been seen on AMC's hit show 'The Walking Dead,' but many fans still remember her fondly as Lt. Tasha Yar, head of security on the Star Ship Enterprise, from 'Star Trek: The Next Generation.'

Also new to the roster is Kel Mitchell, who appeared on Nickelodeon's 'All That' and 'Keenan and Kel' and is now making rounds doing stand-comedy and gearing up for a one-hour special. He is also no stranger to voice-acting, giving life to characters including Jay Jay on 'Wild Grinders' and Tiny Pea in 'VeggieTales.'

And with all the fun planned for this year, Macmillan already has his sights set on 2017.

'If we can get through this year, we will have a lot of fun next year. We've already got a great line-up of guests planned, several surprises and it should be a fun March 31st, April 1st & 2nd 2017,' he said. 'Plus we are almost finished with BANGOREFEST which is Oct 28th - 30th this fall. A certain red car with a lot of 'spirit' will be returning to what she calls her hometown and she said she wasn't very pleased. Horror icons, artists, a lot of independent films, writerssounds like a hell of a good time!'

VIP weekend passes cost $58.85, a two-day pass is $37.45, and a single day pass is $26.75. You can order them online at


Not just a little evil: A word with Verne Troyer

One of this year's headliners at BCTC is Verne Troyer, who is famed for his work on the Austin Powers movie series, as well as appearing in 'Harry Potter' and more recently in an episode of the Trailer Park Boys, where he was verbally abused by and in turn verbally abused Billy Bob Thornton. If you have time, and won't get fired for listening to some high-level cussing, the clip, which includes Cabinet Ninjas, is worth a gander.

Troyer was kind enough to answer our questions via email.

The Maine Edge (TME): How was swearing at (and being sworn at by) Billy Bob Thornton for Trailer Park Boys?

Verne Troyer (VT): It's not often that you get to swear at an Oscar winner, so it was pretty surreal.

TME: I'm trying to think of a question about Austin Powers that hasn't been asked a million times, and I can't think of one. What is something no one thinks to ask you about your work on that series of movies?

VT: It's funny how no one knows that my role as Mini-Me was set to be a very small part in the beginning. As we kept filming, Mike Myers and Jay Roach, the director, added so many new scenes for my character so it was awesome.

TME: Who's on your list of people you would really enjoy working with and why?

VT: Clint Eastwood. He's such a legend in the film community, both as a director, and actor. I'd love to film a western someday.

TME: What brought you to comedy? What keeps you in comedy?

VT: Comedy's something I've always felt comfortable with; it comes naturally so it's hard to leave. However, I would like to explore more dramatic roles, sort of like my character Percy in 'The Imaginarium Of Dr. Parnassus.'

TME: Have you been to Maine before? Are you going to have a chance to see the sights?

VT: This will be my first time in Maine. I won't have too much free time because I'll be at the con mostly. I may have a good dinner at one of Maine's nice restaurants, any suggestions?

TME: When you aren't acting, what is your favorite chill-out pastime?

VT: I love watching sports and playing video games. I really like the Assassin's Creed series.

TME: Can you shed any light on some of your in-progress/future projects?

VT: I have a children's film that just came out called 'Bandit Hound.'

I'm starting to focus on my YouTube channel more. I have a lot of original content with a show called 'One Size Fits All' where I show everyone that I can do all the things average sized people can do. I also have a series called 'PWND' where I play video games against celebrities and sports stars. I recently played Super Bowl MVP Von Miller in a game of NBA2K16. He beat me.

Last modified on Wednesday, 06 April 2016 15:02


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