From Batman and Batgirl to Dr. Doom and The Joker, superheroes and villains descended on Portland this weekend — complete with elaborate props — for the Maine Cosplay Extravaganza at Thompson’s Point.
Cosplay is the practice of dressing up and playing fantasy characters, which has grown in popularity since the 1990s. Participants often become heroes or villains to bring smiles and support charities.
Event organizers husband and wife Keith and Mollie Dinsmore from Limerick played Batman and Batgirl. Their costumes looked straight out of a Hollywood set.
The Dinsmores said they were drawn to the strength of Batgirl and the character of Batman, who was orphaned as a child and suffered from pain growing up.
“I had a pretty rough childhood (too),” Keith Dinsmore said.
He started by getting “a very, very good suit” and played Batman walking around the Old Port as the bars closed. “We thought we would get the most reaction there,” he said. “We were right.”
The couple have appeared regularly at birthday parties and charity events since 2013, but have also donned costumes to support causes such as “Aiming for Zero”, which aims to prevent suicide among military veterans.
The growing popularity of cosplay prompted the Dinsmores to organize the event. They were delighted with the attendance, estimated at 1,000 participants and spectators over two days.
Among them was Jeno Bianchi from South Berwick, a Ghostbuster. He wore Ghostbuster’s familiar beige uniform with gadgets, like a “neutron wand” that Bianchi designed with a 3D printer. “Ghostbusters is one of the first big things I grew up with, Ghostbusters and Ninja Turtles. It just stayed with me,” he said. a ghostbuster, and here I am.”
When Bianchi isn’t a Ghostbuster, “I’m a teacher. I teach science. Very fitting, okay,” he said with a laugh.
With him was Dr. Doom, a villain from the world of Spider-Man, played by Lisa Speropolous from Lee, NH
“Dr. Doom is a man, but I put my own twist on it,” said Speropolous, a professor at Southern New Hampshire University. “I teach justice studies,” she said, smiling at the makes her play a villain.
South Paris’ Amanda Walker came as Wonder Woman, complete with the costume, arm warmers, tiara, and boots.
His brother, Dustin Holmes of South Paris, was Spider-Man. He settled into the convention hall with his Honda sedan decked out in flashy Spider-Man red and blue colors with a black spider on the hood and “SPID3Y” on the license plate. “Spiderman is one of my favorite superheroes,” Holmes said. “It’s my everyday vehicle”, except for the winter.
When asked for a photo, Holmes crouched down, as did Spider-Man.
Walker and Holmes are part of HONOR, Heroes of Norway/Oxford Regions, whose members help raise money for charity with their hero appearances.
Chris Robley of Lewiston, a marketer for a music distributor, was in attendance with his 9-year-old daughter, Esme. He was the Joker, she was Harley Quinn, the Joker’s sidekick. “It’s fun to dress up,” the fourth-grader said.
Nearby was a group of Dr. Who fans from the Lewiston-Auburn area.
Dr. Who was Bud Santos, who ran a toy store in the Auburn mall. Santos showed off what looks like a blue British police station, a little bigger than a telephone booth.
“I built it,” Santos said. “It’s the only TARDIS equipped for the disabled,” he said, pointing to a ramp behind the box allowing wheelchairs to enter. “The TARDIS stands for Time And Relative Dimensions in Space,” he said, explaining how Dr Who travels through time.
The event also attracted a group of professional cosplay actors from Quebec, aged 9 to 69. They said they had fun and that by dressing up, they became a bit like the characters. An introvert can become more lively, slouching people stand up like a superhero.
For Dinsmore, the event organizer, putting on his Batman costume means “my voice automatically drops an octave,” he said. But it does not capture all behaviors.
Batman ruminates and never smiles. Dinsmore said he’s a smiling Batman.
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