Granite Staters are harnessing the power of their comic book fandom and creative hobbies to start small businesses and side hustles.
Between Free Comic Book Day (Aug. 14) and Granite State Comic Con (Sept. 18-19), Manchester Ink Link will be showcasing these entrepreneurial nerds, who have opened comic and toy shops, started selling aftermarket comic books and collectibles or offering professional photography that specializes in cosplay, to name a few.
DUNBARTON, NH – About eight years ago, Dunbarton resident Matt DiMasi decided, on a lark one day, to create an impromptu mosaic of Captain America on a wall in his mother’s house.
He drew an outline of the character and filled it in with big pieces of tile.
“It was a kind of crude method back then,” DiMasi recalls.
Little did he know then that the diverting project would become an artistic career that would lead him to recreate scores of classic comic book covers in large, mosaic form, and have some of those real-world mosaics converted into printed variant covers on limited-run comic books.
At first, DiMasi started out small. He did some custom backsplashes behind the kitchen sinks of a few homes, depicting things like a dolphin, a bear, a golden retriever and the Old Man of the Mountain.
Somewhere in there, DiMasi made another comic-book-themed mosaic, this time of the X-Men hero Wolverine, on a four-foot-by-three-foot frame built by his brother-in-law. And he brought it into Double Midnight Comics in Manchester to show co-owner Brett Parker.
After that, he was encouraged to do more. He refined his craft, using smaller tile pieces he cuts himself using tile nippers, and focused on replicating classic comic book covers of noteworthy issues. He scans the original art, recreates it as a grid on a large frame, and freehands the linework. After assembling the tile pieces together and filling the gaps with grout, he has the frame professionally painted.
He started the company Shattered Comics LLC, and has been making mosaics ever since.
“I think I’ve now done, I would say, between 25 and 30,” DiMasi said.
The first one he did was a replica of Detective Comics #27, which was Batman’s first appearance. DiMasi said he would post his work on Facebook and started getting attention from folks in the comics industry.
Batman artist Kelly Jones in California reached out to him online and expressed interest in DiMasi’s work, he said. He made Jones a mosaic of Detective Comics #651, and in exchange, Jones gifted him an original drawing of Batman and his nemesis Bane.
Later, he gifted mosaics of Spawn to creator Todd McFarlane and of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns to creator Frank Miller.
He’s also sold a few mosaics for between $10,000 to $20,000 apiece.
“I’ve only sold a handful. I still have most of them,” DiMasi said.