Frank Powers is the founder of the downtown cooperative Comic-Con inspired store, Constant Con. The new business houses cartoon and comic arts of all genres for all ages, as well as classes and events for the geek-inclined public. Check out the "immersive Comic Con experience," as Powers refers to it, at 117 N. 6th Ave., currently, open weekends. Visit the Facebook page for more information.
Give me a virtual tour of the Constant Con space.
It's over 2,000-square feet of fun. You're going to walk in and the first thing you're going to see is Mr. Walker Mangold, the boss of Constant Con. He's a goldfish that we keep on this buff body. If you line up Mangold with his mustache you win a prize. You walk around and see various booths and sections for the various artists. The next room you'll see is our multimedia room where we do podcasts and classes ... The entire store is kid-friendly. Everything is 100 percent age appropriate, there is just one adult room because sometimes some comics are more mature. We also have the piano from Big! It's turning more into a fun house every day.
What is Constant Con?
We are a cartoon and comic art gallery. We are kind of a fun house and we are, like a party every weekend. The way it works is people rent tables ... and they become a part of Constant Con. I promote the heck out of them ... I keep telling people that you have a downtown office space by renting that table for less than a couple hundred bucks ... It lets you get your skills out there.
We are an event-based business with self-published comics, which is a big thing. I'm trying to connect with the community with lots of fun events every weekend, whether it's cosplay, podcasting, classes to teach you how to podcast or do other things. People from the community come and teach classes. We have someone that's going to do voice over, we have someone to do an animation class.
How did you get the idea for Constant Con?
My two friends started having an art night and it actually worked. It didn't fall short and it was picking up steam and we were just getting together and making art. There is a difference between drinking a beer with a friend and working your ass off with a friend. That's where I got the idea. We are all businessmen but we only do this twice a year at Comic Con ... but the rest of the time our art and our talent sits in a tub.
Why do you do Constant Con?
There is nothing I love seeing more than when a family comes in and a young kid is enamored watching an adult draw a cartoon. It makes him realize that a grown up can grow up to do this. I remember when that happened to me. If I can make that moment for a kid that would be great to watch people be creative and, in a way, be successful at it. My ultimate goal for Constant Con is for it to become sort of a nonprofit to teach kids how to write and draw comics. Arizona is one of the worst states for education. There is this mathematical figure of, if a kid gets 40 hours of personal attention ... after school of reading and writing, he will advance a grade level. That is what we are shooting for. It's kind of about tricking kids into teaching them something.
You self publish your own comic. Tell me about Pissed Off Panda.
It's almost a guide on how to move to Tucson. I'll do little comic strips where it is him at the gift shop on Roller Coaster Road or he is the one doing "Happiness is submission to Godzilla." I'm doing the full comic now where we move here and we're staying at a hotel. It's the Hotel Congress. Then we have to find a place to live so I'll parody what it is like to look at the tiny houses and the lofty houses. Then he had to get a job ... He works the graveyard shift at Grill. I have a million stories and I want to tell them through Pissed Off Panda.