Superheroes among us

Photography: Simon Casson

Mild-mannered dentist by day, Dr Cheryl Koh of The Family Smile in Fulham Gardens, SA, transforms into all manner of superheroes when a Comic-Con is in town. By Frank Leggett

“In 2012, when my twin boys were five, we joined some friends for a Comic-Con in Adelaide. We dressed up as characters from Game of Thrones. We enjoyed it so much that we’ve attended 10 different comic book, anime, gaming and Supanova conventions in costume. We also dress up on Halloween and catch as many Comic Book Days as we can.

“We’ve cosplayed (dressed in costume) as different characters including Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, Catwoman, The Hulk, Pikachu, Darth Vader and Princess Leia. Most of these costumes and accessories are designed by me. I rope in my mum, friends and even my nurse to make them.

“There’s a great sense of community at all the various conventions and it’s a safe place to take kids. My boys play different sports to me, so this has been a wonderful way to bond with them. My husband doesn’t enjoy dressing up—one of the wise men at every Christmas pageant is about as far as he goes—but he photographs us before we head off.

“Recently we met Stan Lee, the father of Marvel Comics, at a convention. We wore Marvel costumes in Stan’s honour: Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain America, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Spiderman, to name a few.

“We’ve made many friends through the conventions and listened to many inspirational speakers and actors. Stan Lee was amazing and so was Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Peter Cullen, who is the voice of Optimus Prime in the Transformers movies, was kind and also an influential speaker.

“Life is so busy that I want to spend time with the boys while they’re still keen. I enjoy going out of my way to have fun with them and it’s been wonderful for me as I love fashion and using my hands creatively—hence the dentistry!

“It’s been excellent for the boys as it’s fun to dress up and role-play. It inspires their imagination and encourages their love of reading. Superheroes are great role models for kids and I think female characters are particularly empowering for girls and women. Dentists have such a stressful career we should endeavour to live a fun life—things shouldn’t be taken seriously all the time.”

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