MASSENA — Created from “a pure place,” and with five years and six events under his belt, Elijah Winfrey said his comic book convention, Upstate Comic Con, continues to excite and raise money for charity.
UCC A Comic Book Convention is the longest running event of its kind in the north country and it returns for its seventh event on Sept. 28 and 29 in the St. Lawrence Centre Mall, in the space previously occupied by T.J. Maxx. The event will include more than 30 vendors and attractions, including celebrity actors, vehicles, panels, and, of course, comics.
Mr. Winfrey, 25, and his wife, Casondra Arquitte-Winfrey, 30, have been putting on the Upstate Comic Con since August 2014 and for the second year in a row, a portion of proceeds will benefit the Massena Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The VIP passes, of which there were 40, have already sold out but $15 general admission tickets are still available at http://wdt.me/SZa9L7 with children 10 years and younger getting in free.
The event kicks off at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 with the VIP Hour, when VIP ticket holders can come in early, browse the vendors and more, with the doors opening to the public from 3 to 7 p.m. On Sept. 29, VIP Hour is from 1 to 2 p.m. The event concludes at 7 p.m. and customers are encouraged to bring cash, Mr. Winfrey said.
Anyone who buys a ticket is eligible for the hourly “Pop Prize,” named after the action bubbles that used to pop up on the television screen during fight scenes in the 1960s Batman series.
There is also a Chimera Cosplay Contest for those 16 years and older where, on day one, first place gets $600 cash and advances on to the finals. Second through fifth place also advances. On day two, the top five from day one competes against the top five from Malone Comic Con to win $1,000.
Each day will host a series of 15-minute, “UCC Live!” panels with the actors, cosplayers and others on the main stage for everyone in attendance to see.
There will also be the largest virtual reality gaming section set up by Rainy Toad Gaming, with 10 booths offering all-day game play.
With the appearance of the Brampton, Ontario Batmobile from the 1989 Batman film with Michael Keaton, Mr. Winfrey called it the biggest attraction for the event this year.
“This is the first time it’s ever been to New York state,” Mr. Winfrey said. “It’s screen accurate, meaning it has been in the film.”
Event-goers can take photos with the car as well as other film-famous vehicles that will be in attendance like the Ghostbusters Ecto-1 that was featured in the 2016 movie.
Other film inspired vehicles will be Jurassic Jeeps, Toronto Dadpool — a Deadpool inspired vehicle, and the Impala from the television series, Supernatural.
Mr. Winfrey said having all these vehicles under one roof at the same time is reason enough to attend.
“The Batmobile is in such high demand, I had to reach out in January,” he said. “I don’t know when it will be here again.”
Additionally, celebrity actresses Noelle Hannibal of Star Trek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Jayne Heitmeyer of Earth: Final Conflict and Degrassi The Next Generation will be available for photo opportunities as will a variety of charitably cosplay groups like Montreal’s X-Men and North Country Crusaders.
Vendors include Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey, selling licensed Doctor Who merchandise, and Kyoto Anime, selling a variety of anime goods. The vendors are a major grab for the event, Mr. Winfrey said, as they travel to shows around the country.
“It’s been fantastic, but it’s also been a bit of a struggle because of where we are,” he said. “Getting these folks to come all the way up from where they are to vend and to be a guest, it’s been difficult, because folks go, ‘where is Massena?’”
But one of the reasons the couple continue to put on the event is for their love of comics and to give people who can make it to the major New York and San Diego comic cons the opportunity to attend one of their own.
“So this is our comic con, which is really emotional for us because we started it out of a pure place. We’re not doing this to make money,” Mr. Winfrey said. “As long as we can make back what we put into it and give some money to charity, that’s all we really care about.”
If you go
For a full list of vendors, events and the times visit http://wdt.me/dHemQq