LEWISTON — “Batman” villain Harley Quinn swayed, jumped and danced to victory as she faced off against the likes of Batman, Spider-Man, Storm, Star-Lord and Deadpool in a full-blown costumed play competition.

The 2018 Great Falls Comic Expo boasted a full floor or vendors at the Lewiston Armory, but the main attraction Saturday afternoon was the cosplay contest.

Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game, and there were plenty of reference materials shown Saturday.

Marvel and DC comic book heroes and villains were the most popular genre, with cosplayers dressed as characters from Batman, the Green Arrow, Deadpool and Deadshot.

Outside of the comic book genre, participants took on the likenesses of “Star Wars” Stormtroopers, Doctor Who and Judy Neutron from the Nickelodeon show Jimmy Neutron.

Beth Bernard of Orono was this year’s cosplay champion, dressed at the original iteration of Harley Quinn, with a red-and-black-checked bodysuit, a joker-style cowl and white face paint.

“I’ve done this a few times, always as Harley Quinn,” she said. “There are so many renditions of her, but I’m a fan of the classic, the original look.”

She said she got into cosplaying partially because of her history of theater work in high school and college and partially because “it’s a family thing.”

Michelle Bernard, Beth’s mother, is a theater teacher and was cosplaying as Storm from “X-Men” at Saturday’s expo.

Beth’s brother was Deadshot from “Suicide Squad” and her father was Old Man Logan from “Wolverine.”

They belong to a group called Pine State Heroes, a collection of cosplayers from across the state who go to conventions and charity events.

“It’s fun for us, and it’s an opportunity to do something great,” Beth Bernard said. “The best part is when a little girl comes up to me and says, ‘Hi, Harley Quinn!’ because she sees the character, not a girl in a costume.”

“We visit children’s wards, baseball games, fundraisers,” Michelle Bernard said. “I enjoy doing it because it brings fun and love to people.”

She said as the oldest member of the group, she wants to show people that it doesn’t matter how old you are. “If you like it, do it,” she said.

She said she used to get beaten up as a kid for doing the things she liked.

“Showing kids now that they can do it, it’s just nice to be a superhero to someone else,” she said.

The expo included vendors selling vintage toys and collectibles, games, comic books both new and old, and original artwork in the forms of painting, drawing and sculpting.

My Best Fiendz Studio owner Danny Fusello of Rockland was selling his hand-crafted dolls that were made to look like characters from mostly horror and cult movies.

Included on his table were several variations of Pennywise the Dancing Clown from “It,” the Bride of Frankenstein, Michael Myers from “Halloween” and Divine and Edith Massey from the cult film “Pink Flamingos.”

A fan or horror films and bizarre cult movies, Fusello said he started as a sculptor and made things for himself. He recently branched out to selling his creations, and Saturday was only his second convention.

“A lot of people think I just paint the faces, but it starts with clay-sculpting, which I cast in resin,” he said. The cast allows him to make multiples without having to re-sculpt each head.

His current project is the character Winifred Sanderson from the ’90s Halloween flick “Hocus Pocus” just in time for his next show in Salem, Massachusetts.


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