JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — The new mural honoring comic book legend and Johnstown native Steve Ditko has been unveiled by Bottle Works.
This is the second of a trio of planned murals, and the organization is once again inviting the community to its location in the Cambria City neighborhood of Johnstown to paint the panels starting Saturday.
“We’re really excited about this,” said Melody Tisinger, Director of Advancement and Operations for Bottle Works.
She noted that involving the community in the creative process means they have ownership and a connection to the murals.
Building that relationship is important to Bottle Works, Tisinger said.
Paint days were also offered for the first and only official Marvel Comics-approved public artwork featuring the characters of Ditko, Spider-Man, and Doctor Strange, which was installed on the Washington Street side of Stone Bridge Brewing Company.
The new installation features Ditko at his drawing desk and thought bubbles reading: “When I do a job, it’s not my personality that I offer readers, but my work. It’s not who I am that matters, it’s what I’ve done and how well it’s been done” and “I produce a product, a comic book story. ‘Steve Ditko’ is the name of the brand.
This second design was created by California comic book creator Javier Hernandez, who is best known for his superhero El Muerto: The Aztec Zombie.
“As an organization, our goal is to showcase artists from different backgrounds,” Tisinger said.
That’s why they chose Hernandez to create the installation.
“I am grateful to Bottle Works and the Ditko Estate for this tremendous honor,” Hernandez said in a statement.
“Being asked to design a mural dedicated to Steve Ditko in his hometown is something I never would have imagined all those years ago when I first discovered his work. I look forward to the opportunity to publicly display a variety of unforgettable characters created by Ditko.
These characters range from DC Comics’ Creeper, Blue Beetle and The Question and Marvel Comics’ Peter Parker and Squirrel Girl.
Several designer-owned creations are also represented, such as Mr. A, Missing Man, The Cape and The Bat, as well as some of his early works, Gorgo and Konga.
“We wanted to make sure this one spoke to his nearly seven-decade career in comics,” said Bottle Works creative director Matthew Lamb.
He joked that when Hernandez turned in the design, he also had to research a few characters, which he noted was good.
As much as Ditko is known for his well-known characters, such as Spider-Man, he has created many other popular figures.
“We want to make people more aware of the other things he’s done over the years,” Lamb said.
The 93ft by 20ft mural is printed on fabric, which will be painted and glued to the back of the Tulip building with acrylic adhesive – the same process used before.
This ensures longevity and durability, Bottle Works officials said.
Lamb says it’s still a bit surreal to be involved in preserving Ditko’s work.
“To be able to play such an important role in his hometown carrying on his legacy is unreal. It’s an honor,” he said.
The Saturday time slot for painting will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each painting session will last 30 minutes and registration is required by calling Bottle Works at 814-535-2020.
The following community days will take place from 3-7 p.m. on Wednesdays; 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday; and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on September 21, 23 and 28.
Each mural is funded by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies.
A third Ditko-inspired mural will be installed in his West End neighborhood, but details are still being finalized regarding this painting.