At the Family Comic Con, you dress up as the character you most want to be

Ezra Brown, 8, of Portland, dressed as Captain America and posed as a superhero in a workshop hosted by celebrities including Spider-Man, Prospect, Batman, Deadpool and more, while Reid Kehoe, 6, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, watched Get up. The event was part of Saturday’s Kids Con New England at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland. Ben McCana/Staff Photographer

SOUTH PORTLAND — Yarmouth’s Kelly Donovan walked into the Double Tree Hotel Saturday in a striking bright red gown. She wore a scarlet wig on her head. Her lips, of course, were a matching red.

Like hundreds of other children and parents, the 13-year-old is attending Kids Con New England, a family-friendly comic book convention. Kelly’s outfit is the Queen of Hearts.

“I’ve never been a villain,” she said.

“She had a great time,” said her mother, Lori Donovan. “You can’t suppress this.”

Kyley Donovan, 13, of Yarmouth, dressed as the Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland”, met Disney Princesses Bell (left) and Alice during New England Children’s Day on Saturday Elsa. Ben McCana/Staff Photographer

For the third year in South Portland, Kids Con New England is a dazzling collection of kids and adults dressed up as fairytale characters, superheroes, Star Wars characters and more.

There’s 3-foot Wonder Woman, Little Belle from Beauty and the Beast, adult Captain Jack Sparrow, Power Rangers, Ibrahimovic and Yoshi of Pokémon fame. A mother in a Mad Hatter costume.

Saturday’s event was similar to other comics’ shortcomings, but this one was rated G.

“Everything here is family friendly, and a lot of comics are not,” said Emily Drouin, organizer of the New England Children’s Show. Duroane dressed as Merida, the hero of Disney’s Brave, in a green robe, curly red wig, and bow and arrow.

With the continued popularity of Marvel movies, there is a high demand for comic book cons, she said.

Lisbon’s Keira Carr, 10, dressed as the Pokemon character Pikachu on Saturday at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel’s Kids Con New England with Disney The princess dances together. Ben McCana/Staff Photographer

As a cartoonist and children’s book illustrator, Drouin said she is passionate about getting kids excited about reading comics. “It’s very intuitive.”

Drouin said the goal of Comic Con is to have fun while also promoting arts education and literacy through comics and children’s books. She expects 1,200 or more people to attend.

There are workshops on drawing, playing, reading, coloring, creating character art, and co-writing a horror story.

“We have a lot of independent publishers,” Drouin said. “We have books that you won’t find anywhere else.” Some of the writers and illustrators are young, she said.

Arlo Taylor, 8, of Portland dressed as Spider-Man at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland on Saturday for cartoonist Leona Hossa Posing in a painting by Leona Hosackn. Ben McCana/Staff Photographer

Like 11-year-old Makana Wallenta selling books with her father.

Connecticut’s Adam Wallenta and his son are working at a desk with a hardcover comic book they’ve written: “Punk Tacos.” Punk tacos are “space tacos,” Makana said. “He’s a musician. He’s traveled across the galaxy.”

Nearby is a table with a book called “Little Tap Shoes” by Aaron Tolson of Manchester, New Hampshire. Tolson teaches at the Boston Conservatory in Berkeley, is a professional tap dancer, has danced on Broadway, and has written children’s books. When asked about his story, Tolson jumped out of his chair and began dancing in his golden tap shoes.

“The book is about ‘practice makes perfect’ and a visiting fairy (named Steve) helps them practice,” he said. He said the book grew out of stories Tolson told his children during the COVID shutdown.

Maxwell Pisco, 8, of Nashua, New Hampshire, dressed as DJ Marshmello Vampire during New England Children’s Day at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in South Portland on Saturday. Ben McCana/Staff Photographer

In addition to workshops on music, mask making, superheroes, and Jedi training, Dave Roman in New York City hosts a painting workshop. Roman is the author and illustrator of the “Astronaut Academy” children’s book series.

The room was packed with children and parents, and Roman asked them what they liked to draw. Answers include humans, dogs, and imaginary tree houses. His studio hosted a friendly drawing competition. Roman said he wanted to “motivate them to enjoy drawing and show them that they can draw and share drawings with others.”

Lisbon’s Matthew and Stephanie Boucher arrive at Comic-Con in Star Wars costumes. “I dressed up as Boba Fett to match my son,” Matthew said.

Harrison Boucher, 3, of Lisbon dressed as Boba Fett and played with a remote-controlled BB-8 during New England Children’s Day Saturday. Ben McCana/Staff Photographer

Their 3-year-old son Harrison is making superhero masks. Stephanie Boucher says she loves that Kids Con promotes literacy. And, she said, “It’s around Halloween time and the kids love to dress up in costumes. It’s his first big event since COVID. We’re excited to have him exposed to this and see a lot of interesting people. “

While speaking, the husband’s shoulder puppet started laughing. He said the puppet was a monkey lizard from Star Wars.

Jackie and Jen Parker of Portland brought their two children, one of them dressed as a “Hocus Pocus” witch.

“It was a fun experience,” Jackie said. “All the characters they love are in one place. Plus, there’s a whole bunch of new games that people are creating.” Jen says the family comic brings the characters to life in a way you can’t experience playing video games.

Jason Hopkins, a truck driver in Ball, New Hampshire, said he volunteered to host and welcome attendees. It’s interesting, Hopkins said. “And I love art. Anything can be done to make art more accessible to everyone.”

Coraline Mercier, 2, Gorham high-fives Mango, a character in the children’s book series InvestiGators, while her mother, Kaela Mercier, watches. Ben McCana/Staff photographer

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