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Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention will feature art, costumes and celebrities

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If original comic artwork, Hollywood actors and animators, sweet LEGO exhibits, Harry Potter fandom and an eye-popping costume contest interest you, you’re in luck. The sixth annual Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention (MCFC) is coming to the Mid-South Nov. 20-22.
Joe Thordarson, the founder and main organizer, said there’s something for everyone and it’s not just an event for super-fans. Newbies will have plenty to do during this family-friendly weekend.
“I think our appeal is to reach people that are interested in geekdom but are probably very new to conventions,” he said. “… It’s the perfect jumping-off convention.”
This year’s guest of honor is John de Lancie, known as the iconic and all-powerful Q on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the voice of Discord in “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.” Another guest of honor is Chance Raspberry, an animator for “The Simpsons.”
Compared to some conventions (“cons”), the MCFC schedule leans more toward hands-on activities rather than lectures and panels, Thordarson said. Popular attractions include:
• The MCFC 2015 Live Cartoon at 8 p.m. Nov. 20,with De Lancie performing onstage with voice actors, sound effects and a storyboard to follow the action. Themes are selected from students’ suggestions, and they collaborate with the pros to develop a cartoon. This year’s idea from a 12-year-old: “The World Wide Interport,” about a future where teleporting is common and aliens try to disrupt that.
• Saturday Night Costume Contest with cash prizes. Costumes range from pro versions costing thousands of dollars to homemade ones stitched up just for the fun of it. To win first place, contestants must have made at least part of their costumes.
• Bricks and Heroes, a mini-LEGO convention within the MCFC, including exhibits, vendors, animated movies, swap meets, discussions and more
• The sale and trading of collectible and hard-to-find comics and graphic novels
• Original, personalized art from pro artists who will draw attendees as super-heroes or characters from popular cartoons
• In-depth discussions of the Harry Potter universe
• Screening of “Geekland,” a short documentary about being a geek/nerd/fan in the Mid-South
• The Celebrity Meet and Q&A
• Panels on Harry Potter, Star Wars, Batman, the Hunger Games (one of the bigger panels), Dr. Who, Star Trek and more
Watch for programming details to be published soon on the event’s website at memphiscfc.com.
“Ours is very conscientiously the most affordable convention,” Thordarson said, referring to the three-day pass costing $35. “Because we’re family friendly, we want it to be affordable to people.”
The con is a volunteer-run event and has been growing steadily over the years, Thordarson said. The first year drew about 500 people to the Memphis Cook Convention Center. This year, the con is expected to attract about 3,000 to 4,000 people, not counting another 1,000 youths attending the one-day Geek 101 (programming designed for school field trips).
‘Geek 101’
for students
Geek 101 is exclusively for students and will be 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20. Students will learn about comic book design, animation, film and TV production, Japanese anime, space science, robotics, medieval technology, video game design, LEGO design and more.
Thordarson gets very animated when talking about the student education programming. “I’m a big supporter of the arts,” he said. “It occurred to me that conventions are filled with really talented artists and writers and filmmakers, and I thought, ‘This is a great vehicle for getting students interested in art and writing and even maybe science or things like that.'”
The students are just excited about anything to do with Batman, Harry Potter and Star Wars, he said, and teachers love Geek 101 because their classes learn about things like visual storytelling. MCFC organizers also partnered with the Tennessee Arts Commission and now provide in-school workshops across the state about “Storytelling in Comics & Film.”
Other media
Thordarson also spreads the word about the geek universe via a weekly hour-long radio broadcast, Geek Tank Radio, which delivers weekly adventures and discussions of super heroes, science fiction and gaming. Podcast fans can also find it on iHeart radio.
“It’s a really fun show,” he said.
• Memphis Comic and Fantasy Convention
Date: Nov. 20-22
Location: Hilton Memphis, 39 Ridge Lake Blvd., Memphis
Tickets: $35, all three days; $25, Friday and Saturday only; $20, Saturday only, and $15 for either Friday or Sunday only. Group rates available for school field trips; email memphiscfc@gmail.com or call the event’s founder, Joe Thordarson at (901) 921-7105.
Hours: Beginning at 2:30 p.m. Friday and continuing with video games overnight; 10 a.m. until past midnight Saturday; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
• Social Media
Website: memphiscfc.com
Facebook: facebook.com/memcomicfantasy
Twitter: @memcomicfantasy
Instagram: instagram.com/memcomicfantasy
YouTube: youtube.com/user/memcomicfantasy
Radio: 1 p.m. Saturdays on 600 WREC AM in Memphis and 600wrec.com. The accompanying blog is online at geektankradio.com.

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