Advertisement

Artist transforms comic book store's ceiling into work of art

Artist Ken Farnsworth recently transformed the ceiling at Cosmic Comix in Catonsville, covering it with a painting that tells the history of comic books, modeled after the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

The drab ceiling of a Catonsville comic store has been transformed into a work of art by artist Ken Farnsworth, who modeled his work, which depicts the history of comic books, after Renaissance artist Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

The 44 scenes of important events in comic book history, was unveiled by the artist at a Nov. 22 party in Cosmic Comix & Toys, located in The Shops at Mellor on Mellor Avenue, near Catonsville Firehouse and the intersection with Frederick Road.

Advertisement

The work includes the first superhero comic published by Timely Comics, a company that became the legendary Marvel Comics, and ends with a scene from the modern comic "The Walking Dead."

Farnsworth, 49, said he developed an interest in comic books when he was 12 and has been a customer of the store for 20 years.

"This is a clean, big, bare, commercial building," Farnsworth said looking around the 1,300 square foot space, filled with neatly organized comic books and posters, "[The owner Rusty Simonetta] asked if anyone was interested in helping decorate...to get this place livened up."

Farnsworth began painting murals, signs and characters in the shop, which he saw as a blank canvas.

"When we finished, I thought 'Oh, that's it,'" Farnsworth said. "Then I looked up and said, 'We could do the ceiling.' kind of joking."

But what seemed like a joke 10 years ago became a challenge that Farnsworth decided to tackle seven months ago, with the help of his wife, Melinda.

When imagining what he could paint on the individual tiles of the blank, dropped ceiling, Farnsworth said Michelangelo's masterpiece, which tells the story of the Bible, immediately came to mind.

"I took Michelangelo's work...and sketched it out on what his ceiling was...and laid it all out and came up with a template that I thought was really cool," Farnsworth said, sitting in the shop as customers browsed the store's selection.

Because Marvel turns 75 this year and DC Comics celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010, Farnsworth said it seemed like perfect timing to outline the history of comic books for the past 75 years.

The paintings take viewers through the various phases of comic books from the Golden Age to Modern Age.

Farnsworth, a multimedia producer for the U.S. Department of Defense, said the portability of the ceiling tiles made it possible to work on the painting at home.

He and his wife turned their Savage residence into an art studio, where they painted the tiles, then placed them in the ceiling once complete.

"I would take the scenes and lay them out on my floor and put in what I would call the architecture — what I'm mimicking in Michelangelo's work is all the arches and the beams," Farnsworth said, looking up at the colorful ceiling.

The couple primed the ceiling tiles with two coats of paint, drew the outlines on the panels then painted them with acrylic paint, he said.

Advertisement

"It makes me think Michelangelo may have been the first comic book artist, because if you look at the Sistine Chapel, there are borders and panels, and that's all comic book language — that is sequential art," Farnsworth said.

Farnsworth said that although he considers himself a creative person, he never considered himself a true artist until he completed this work.

"I come in and look up and I can't believe that this is something I created," Farnsworth said.

"When you're doing the individual panels, you just don't have the picture of what it looks like when it comes together," Melinda Farnsworth said, adding that the couple wanted to instill wonder in those viewing the work of art.

Advertisement
Advertisement