The Guesthouse at Graceland, a hotel that opened in October 2016, was the setting for the Memphis Comics and Fantasy Convention (MCFC) Nov. 17 to 19.
The convention has been a staple in Memphis since 2010, originally taking place at the Cook Convention Center, and later moving to the Hilton in Memphis.
Joe Thordarson, the director of MCFC, said he moved the convention to Graceland because he toured the space, was impressed by the facility and loved the theater. Thordason said the convention would use the space again.
“We’ve already got an agreement with them, potentially for many years,” Thordarson said. “We’re very happy. The staff was very nice to us. Overall, Graceland really likes our convention being there, and we like working with them.”
MCFC is a gathering to celebrate comics, fantasy and other pop culture. Attendees hosted and attended panels on various topics within the genre.
Convention attendees had various reactions to the new space. Some people said they liked the upscale venue, but others said they did not like to pay for parking.
“The space was really nice, and the staff was great, but this is the first time people from our convention had to pay for parking,” Thordarson said. “It was a $5 per day charge. Some of them were surprised by that. We’re working on lowering the rate or possibly negotiating a lower rate for that.”
Thordarson said there is slightly less space than the Hilton, but the convention utilized the rooms and space well.
“I felt like it created a better energy,” Thordarson said. “When people are interacting a lot more instead of spread out throughout the hotel, it feels more like a party and just more fun. There’s a lot more people hanging out together that I hadn’t seen before.”
Thordarson plans to promote the venue more next year and to have “bigger productions” in the theater.
“I also plan to have much more going on at the theater, maybe a bigger production,” Thordarson said. “Now we know what their space is like. Their audio-visual people were really good to work with.”
Ryann Mazur, a Memphis cosplayer known as “Angel of Azarath” and U of M nursing and communications double major, said she liked the space but not the location of Graceland.
“It’s a little harder to get to, more out of my way,” Mazur said. “If we could pick it up and put it where the Hilton is, I’d be solid.”
Stephanie Sinclair, a U of M freshman biology major, said the venue was “a little cramped,” but “a decent venue — especially with our costumes — we have limited visibility.”
On the other hand, some convention attendees said they found the venue to be spacious. Catherine Knowles, owner of CMK Creates (a graphic design and crafting business), said the convention space was “much nicer” and “feels spacious.”
This year, MCFC’s special guests included Jeremy Shada, voice actor of Lance from “Voltron” and Finn the Human from “Adventure Time.” Kazha, a three-piece Japanese rock band also performed. The convention held their second “Piranha Room” event, which focused on gothic music and art.
The dealer’s room was full of vendors from stores and small businesses selling crafts and collectibles. The convention had two rooms for games — one dedicated to video games and the other for board and tabletop games. Attendees also had an opportunity to see special events such as a question and answer with special guests and concerts.