By Jen Vaughn – The Maine Comics Arts Festival is in its third year of providing Portland, Maine –  Yes, the other Portland – with a wide array of comics by East Coast cartoonists. Sitting on the beautiful waterfront, attendees and exhibitors will be graced by a fantastic view of the water and the perpetual fog that sleeps atop Portland.

This year’s poster and T-shirt were designed by the ineffable Zack Giallongo.

Preceding the convention is a reading of Andy Runton’s Owly published by Top Shelf and a lesson in comics around the world by Marek Bennett, known for his cross-cultural comic project: Henniker San Ramon (all captured in the comic Nicaragua). You can find those events at the Portland Public Library at 5 Monument Square.

But Sunday from 10-5 at the Ocean Gateway is where the real fun begins! With over 100 cartoonists, readers and parents will be sure to find comics for any reader. Special guests will include Colleen AF Venable, author of the Guinea Pig Pet Shop Private Eye series, who is running a fun kid-centric comic workshop reading extravaganza! And the Rick Parker, of Tales from the Crypt and Beavis and Butthead fame, will be running a 1 hour crash course in cartooning.

My eyes almost POPPED out of my head when I saw that the Last Unicorn artists, Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon, are also special guests at MeCAF. Their work on the IDW series just glows and still manages to remain true to the memory of the book and animated film.

Attendees can always expect the contingent of artists who have matriculated through comics schools such at the Center for Cartoon Studies and the School of the Visual Arts. CCS is running their own One-Sheet Magic Workshop as well as reviewing portfolios of any eager artists.

While in town, keep your eyes peeled for Capt’n Eli’s soda. As one of the show sponsors, Capt’n Eli paired with up with artist Jay Piscopo to create undersea adventures comic. So with local brew-local comics and Piscopo’s comic workshops held at local schools, MeCAF pulls in the largest crowd of minors I’ve ever seen at a con that was not focused on Pokemon. My advice for when you see some Capt’n Eli in town: go for the blueberry or orange soda!

Casablanca Comics, only a hop-skip-and-a-Superman-style-jump away

That’s not to say that your adult-themed comics won’t be on display for the more mature reader, I did mention Rick Parker would be a guest, didn’t I? The owner of Portland’s Casablanca Comics and founder of MeCAF, Rick Lowell, really did some great outreach this week leading up to the con with some radio spots to pull in those precious twenty-thirty-forty-somethings who would abso-positively-lutely love a comic about a twisting kiss or depressed manatee.

Speaking of which, here are some new comic book releases for this show include:

Cara Bean‘s How My Self Esteem was Drama Clubbed:

The fourth and final Werewolf! anthology is debuting featuring Boston-local, Jesse Lonergan as well as the usual suspects like Betsey Swardlick and Penina Gal.

There is also a bonus kids werewolf comic worth mentioning for the horrifying cover (Nick Patten). Recent Xeric Award-winner, Melissa Mendes, opens this mini-comic for kids.

And if teens and cryptids aren’t your thing, maybe dystopian futures or should I say pigtopian futures will be available in comic format. Kevin Uehlein presents a comics anthology, Visions of the Aporkalypse. What would happen if the world was overthrown by our precious piggies? These 36 pages will tell you. Hide your bacon.

See you there!

Jen Vaughn is a multi-dimensional being who thrives on DUCKFAT. Thank god for that restaurant in Portland, Maine.