SOUTH PORTLAND – Christian Matzke wants us all to be ready the next time the Martians attack.

Matzke believes the first time the Martians attacked — as depicted in H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” — won’t be the last. The Martians, who hid from the rovers we sent up to their planet, are anxious for another crack at Earth.

So at PortConMaine 2010, the annual gathering of anime, sci-fi and gaming fans, Matzke was selling his depiction of what the recruiting posters from the interplanetary battle more than a century ago must have been like.

“All proceeds go to defense against the Martians,” Matzke, from Brunswick, cheerfully told browsers in the room set aside for vendors at the Wyndham hotel.

Matzke is aware that Martians aren’t the only threat to humanity. He was also selling “Beware of Zombies” posters and “zombie-pops” on a stick for good measure.

PortConMaine is in its ninth year and Ryan York of Westbrook, the assistant co-chair of the event, said he expected a sellout crowd of 2,000 self-described geeks for Saturday, the peak day of the four-day gathering.

“We have every kind of hobby you’d want, if you’re a geek,” York said proudly.

Somewhere along the line, “geek” went from being a pejorative to a badge of honor and York said those attending PortConMaine embrace the name.

“There are so many successful, rich, geeky people,” he said, that organizers of PortConMaine and similar gatherings around the country use promises of high levels of geekiness as a drawing card.

“We even have a bunch of geeky dances, where we play geeky music,” York said.

The Wyndham was taken over by hordes of people decked out in Star Wars and Star Trek outfits and an odd assortment of other costumes, apparently covering every genre and sub-genre of the anime and sci-fi worlds.

York said Cosplay, taking place late Saturday afternoon, was a highlight of the gathering, with attendees showing off their costumes and putting on skits, in character, to walk away with prizes.

In a nearby room, about a dozen people were battling with Pokemon cards, while another room drew those interested in video games, swapping tips on racking up a better score in “Rock Band.”

It cost $25 at the door to get in Saturday and the badge for attendees thoughtfully included a space for “real name” — but it was on the back for those who wished to be addressed by a character’s name.

Vendors turned out in force, including Matzke, who is also working on a book written from the perspective of a veteran in the first Martian war.

Near his booth, Alexandra Preston and Stephanie Hoode of Medway, Mass., were taking a less militaristic approach to the proceedings, hawking their hand-sewn plush toys based on characters from “Star Trek” and “Avatar.” No, not that “Avatar” — “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the anime television show.

Preston said the two liked making the plush toys and decided to see if there was a market for them. Sales were encouraging Saturday, she said.

Anime is what drew Alison Renaud of Lakeville, Mass., to PortConMaine. She said she’s attended the gatherings in Maine and elsewhere around New England for about seven years, and while she’s interested in some of the other goings-on, it all comes down to anime for her.

“I like the variety,” she said. “It could be serious, funny, horror — you see things in anime that you don’t see in live-action movies.” 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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