What are some of the things that make Philadelphia great other than the Super Bowl? It is the largest city in Pennsylvania; it is the home to the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence. It houses 1 of the 12 federal reserves, has the Philadelphia Mint, its passionate sports fans, and of course, its cheesesteaks. Then there is Ariell Johnson and the bright colors in her hair.
Being one of the first black women on the East Coast to own a major comic book store is no easy. Well, Arielle Johnson managed to do that in December 2015 when she opened Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse. Ever since the opening of the Philadelphia comic book joint and coffee house, she has been creating waves not only on the East Coast but all over the United States with her story.
In a recent interview with Bizz Philly, Johnson shares her passion for opening the store. “I opened the store to create a community bookstore and a community geek space.” Rightfully so, with a recent feature on the cover of Marvel’s “Invincible Iron Man #1,” and a $50,000 grant courtesy of the Knight Foundation for expansion. The Baltimore native and Temple University graduates are committed to helping comic book creators perfect their craft and partnering with artists, editors, and writers in helping them figure out what can make their art stand out. She also plans to create a space for a new multipurpose room that will serve as a space for a creator college. After all, she strongly believes that one must be knowledgeable if they are pitching comics to people.
Image Courtesy of Ariell Johnson.
But when did this all started? Johnson’s passion for comics started when she was exposed to the action comics that came out in the ’90s. She told the New York Times, “When I saw Storm, I was completely smitten. I had a desire to know more about her.” She also added that even though the comic book world has revolutionized, there is still more to be done. She states the comic book world needs to be more diverse when it comes to writing, drawing, and starring in the creations.
Consequently, Johnson is adding to the revolution, and she makes no apology for it. As the founder and president of her brand, she decides what comic books are featured in the store. What helps filters this decision? “We keep our ear to the ground and build relationships with independents and creators to know when projects are completed. Also, orders are made from our main supplier Diamond, based on subscriptions and what’s buzzing at the time.” as told to Bizz Philly.
Image courtesy of Ariell Johnson
When it comes to activities happening at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, the list of monthly activities includes events like Anime Wednesdays, film screenings, book signings, movie and T.V. show roundtables, trivia and open mic nights, and regular appearances from special guests.
Ariell Johnson, Harvest salutes you! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.
“Young black people should not allow others to tell them who they are. They should take the time to understand themselves, and once they do, they should be unyielding in who they are. Don’t let people talk you out of your interests. You can do whatever it is you want to do. It’s okay if you don’t fit the mold or if you’re outside of the box.” Ariell Johnson
Additional information courtesy of Bizz Philly – www.phillymag.com and the New York Times