Tucson is ripe with stories. Important ones, happy ones, sad ones, funny ones and pissed off ones. With a population heavy with creative, humorous types, we are lucky to have skilled hands to take on every one of these tales. For the last 10 years, some of us here in Tucson have looked not to a person, but to a panda. A pissed off one.
Pissed OFF Panda, the brainchild of Tucson transplant Frank Powers, is a comic book character with a big chip on his shoulder. An outlet for his creator to speak on Tucson and life, the character's 13 years in existence have led into the development of a dedicated fan base, merchandise, Comic-Con appearances and now an upcoming, on-going comic series.
Powers says his character wasn’t so much a creation as it was a meeting of two like minds.
“He lets me vent about everything that I find mind-numbing and hate,” he says. “I didn’t just invent him though, I actually met Pissed OFF when I impulsively flew across the country because I was in love with a girl, wound up in San Diego and went to the San Diego Zoo. Their big thing is pandas so when I was in the gift shop, there was one doll that was sitting on the shelf and sticking out like a sore thumb. He looked mis-stitched and I said, 'Look at him! He looks Pissed OFF!'”
After coming to Tucson, Powers dug into the source material of the city, made up of eccentric characters and the strange, beloved places they inhabit. Pissed OFF’s world is one many of us were part of, the late hours and cups of coffee at the now closed Grill, formerly located at 100 E Congress St.
“I’d always wanted to make a book about Grill to capture all the insanity that the place offered," says Powers. "I have many creative projects, comics and characters and I realized I’d use all the projects as ingredients in one giant, Tucson-centric project. I merged my cartoon characters, life stories, Grill adventures, podcasting and everything into one succinct parody of Tucson. It’s all seen through the eyes of my angry little jerk of a cartoon character, Pissed OFF Panda- whose job is exactly what mine was- working the graveyard shift at Grill, which is alive and thrives in my cartoony-verse.”