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Cover Photo: Rowan Lehr Cover Design: Louis Dixon Regular attendees at the Fanboys events John “Batman” Miller, Rich “The Other Jack Sparrow” Rousseau, Scott “The Red Hood” Smith, Amanda Reaves, who dresses as characters of her own creation, and Elizabeth Roberts, a.k.a. Gwen Stacy Carnage, strike a hero pose in front of a life-sized Bumble Bee statue from the Transformers movie franchise at La Gran Plaza Mall.

Almost every month, a few men and women get dressed up as their favorite superheroes and meet at local malls to spread a little love and good vibes. It’s called Fanboys Comic-Con, and it’s essentially a much smaller version of the much larger annual Comic-Con that travels from city to city and attracts thousands. Among the regular attendees at the Fanboys events are John “Batman” Miller, Rich “The Other Jack Sparrow” Rousseau, Scott “The Red Hood” Smith, Amanda Reaves, who dresses as characters of her own creation, and Elizabeth Roberts, a.k.a. Gwen Stacy Carnage.

Miller, 57, has been dressing exclusively as the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman since 2014 because it’s his favorite popular version of the character. Miller says that when he dons the cowl for an appearance, he’s every bit as popular as Santa Claus. “Kids today really don’t have role models, and I wanted to give back to the children,” Miller said. “With the way this world is going, maybe I can make a difference.”

Smith, 47, met Miller two years ago at a Fanboys event in Fort Worth and has been with the group ever since. The Red Hood is a DC Comics anti-hero, though Smith also cosplays as Col. Nick Fury. “I guess I do what I do because I see the happiness we bring to children and adults alike when they see a superhero in real life,” Smith told me. 

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Rousseau has spent 14 years cultivating his piratical alter-ego. He loves the reaction from fans, especially from younger fans who believe he is the real Jack Sparrow and “proceed to tell me their favorite parts of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise.” Rousseau said. 

Roberts, 25, has been cosplaying since around 2015 and dresses as a few different characters, including Star Wars’ Princess Leia and Marvel Comics’ the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. “I love the faces and excitement it gives other people,” Roberts said.

Reaves, 36, got connected with Fanboys last year as an independent comic book artist and vendor and has been cosplaying since 2013. “I enjoy being an original-character cosplayer because it helps me spread the message of positivity, empowerment, and encouragement that encompasses the story of my original comic, Dawn of Unity,” Reaves said.

Fanboys Comic-Con’s next appearance, dubbed Meet your Favorite Superhero Day, will be at 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at La Gran Plaza (4200 S. Fwy., Ste. 2500, 817-922-8888) on Saturday, June 15. Visit Fanboyscomiccon.com or on Instagram @fanboyscomiccon.

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