Uticon Brings Fans and Comic Creators Together: What You Need to Know

Bob Elinskas may not wear tights or a cape, but some might consider him a superhero.

Elinskas is the founder, organizer, and mastermind of Uticon, a comic book and pop culture show that’s been on for nearly two decades and returns Sunday, October 2.

He founded it while still in college in the early 1990s, ran it for 10 years, then took a decade off before bringing it back a few years ago at the request of local fans, comic book writers and illustrators.

Elinskas started Uticon as a fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association, in honor of her brother who has diabetes. Uticon would later become a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society when Elinskas took a job with the organization.

Over the years, Uticon has helped raise many thousands of dollars for the cancer society.

“I was the one who coordinated the show for the 17 years it ran,” Elinskas said. “The show is a fun way for people to enjoy their hobby or the pop culture they love while contributing to the fight against cancer.”

“Guests are always generous with their time to attend and help us raise as much as possible to advance the American Cancer Society’s research, education, advocacy and patient service programs. We are grateful to everyone who attends, whether wearing a cape or not, for helping us make a difference in this important fight.

A photo from Uticon's Observer-Dispatch file in 2019.

Uticon guests include Larry Hama, Michael Kelleher

Uticon — Utica’s oldest and longest-running comic book benefit show — will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 2 at the Jorgensen Athletic Center at Mohawk Valley Community College.

This year’s guests include Larry Hama, writer, artist, editor and actor, best known as the author of Marvel’s “GI Joe” and “Wolverine” in the 80s and 90s; Michael Kelleher, illustrator, digital colorist and screenwriter who has worked on numerous books, including “Star Trek”, “Spider-Man”, “Vampirella” and “Sgt. Fury”; and Bob Rozakis, who worked as DC Comics’ “Answer Man” to answer trivial questions from readers of the Daily Planet’s promo page in many late ’70s comics.

Along with having the chance to speak with these creators, Elinskas said attendees will meet many new creators working on indie titles, as well as authors who have new sci-fi and fantasy novels.

“They also have the ability to browse and purchase thousands of new and old comic books, vintage toys, original art, Funko figures, role-playing games and more,” he said. he declares. “We will also have a group of Star Wars costumes to take pictures with.

A full list of guests and activities is available on Uticon’s website, uticoncomicshow.com.

How Volunteers Help Organize the Uticon Show

Elinskas said Uticon is an entirely volunteer-run event.

He attends other comic-related shows in the Northeast and chats with professional guests about attending Uticon. Some guests return year after year, and others tell their colleagues about the show, helping to spread the news.

Most guests come to Uticon at their own expense because they love the show and want to support the cause, Elinskas said.

Elinskas started collecting comics in his early teens and said it was great to see so many kids discovering the medium.

“I think comics have become a big part of pop culture over the last decade, especially with the huge success of various comic book-inspired movies,” Elinskas said. “So many people have grown up reading comics and enjoying these characters, it’s a great way for people to share something in common and have fun, even across generations. Having the chance to meet some of the people who were involved in writing or drawing these characters is also a real treat.

Lisa M. Horner