Although not everyone may realize it, Tucson has a lot of creative talent. For example, if you happen to take to take a stroll down Sixth Avenue downtown, you might come across Constant Con, the place where it’s Comic-Con year-round, a prime example of the artistic creativity that makes Tucson tick.
Constant Con began in December 2015. It is a collective art gallery/comic book store/fun house and gives local creative minds a chance to display their work. The work ranges from digital art to pop art to concept art to comic books and everything in between, often pertaining to films, cartoons or video games.
“I noticed there was a lot of us in the Comic-Con community here,” said Frank Powers, founder of Constant Con. “We all know each other in one way or another, and the community is pretty tight-knit.”
The different artists with work on display at Constant Con split the rent of the downtown property, providing an opportunity for up-and-coming artists or anyone else with creative tendencies to have their work on display.
About seven artists originally displayed their creations at the store and now many have come and gone, which is all part of the process.
“Your stuff is always for sale and there is always someone here to sell it for you,” Powers said. “Comics are considered low art by some, so for us to have this in a gallery setting really makes a difference.”
Some of the artists visit every single weekend, while others only come in to pay the rent once a month. Some of them use the space as their downtown office, while others just want to display their work. Either way, Constant Con gives them the tools they need to get their work noticed.
“You have your buddies that you get to see at the different cons throughout the year, but this place keeps that community going year-round,” said Edward Marrano, a digital artist with work currently on display at Constant Con.
Marrano’s art can also be found at cyberviking.artstation.com.
“I fell in love with the design process even more than the end product,” Marrano said. “I have really fallen in love with the art behind it. I do characters, environments, landscapes and I focus a lot on sci-fi.”
Powers created the character Pissed OFF Panda, a character with comics and merchandise available for sale at Constant Con.
“I was at the San Diego Zoo and I basically met Pissed OFF Panda,” Powers said. “I go to the gift shop and see all these goofy-looking toy pandas. I see one and it looks pissed off, and I’m like, ‘it’s Pissed OFF Panda.’”
The character will be featured in an ongoing independent comic book, according to the Pissed OFF Panda Facebook page.
“I’m a super positive guy, so he is my outlet to get my frustrations out without having to post it on Facebook,” Powers said with a smile.
Most people involved in the Comic-Con world can only show their work at a few conventions each year, so for the rest of the time, the work is just sitting there, an idea that Powers finds ridiculous.
“I don’t believe in the idea of the starving artist,” he said.
Constant Con has even more to offer than just an art cooperative. The business also offers classes, birthday parties and events around town. Of course, these events do require money. People can help financially support Constant Con at patreon.com/frankpowers.
Constant Con will host the Animated Arizona Film Festival March 31 and April 1 at the Screening Room, and they host F!ed Up every Wednesday at R Bar. Powers has a radio show every Saturday night on 99.1 FM from 11 p.m.-1 a.m., and he does the show live once a month at the Screening Room.
‘We have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the public, so I just want more people to know about us,” Powers said.
He also has plenty of ideas for expanding Constant Con and knows what he wants it to achieve in the future. A brand-new Constant Con website will launch within a few months, and the business can be found as ConstantConHQ on Twitter and Instagram.
The business even has a pet goldfish named Mr. Mangold, who Powers refers to as the boss of Constant Con.
“I don’t want to be the boss,” Powers said. “We’re a partnership. Mangold is the boss.”
Whether you love comics or just want to see something cool, make sure to stop by Constant Con on your next downtown stroll.
“It might sound crazy, but there is almost a mini version of Hollywood that I can see here in Tucson,” Powers said.
Follow Alec Kuehnle on Twitter.