Arielle-Johnson

Groundbreaking Female Comic Book Store Owner Now Appears on a Marvel Cover

Ariell Johnson has been collecting comic books for more than a decade, but she’ll soon add a very personal one to her collection.

The 33-year-old founder and president of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc. in Philadelphia will appear on a variant cover of “Invincible Iron Man #1.”

The first image of the book, which goes on sale next month and features Johnson having a meal with new Marvel superhero RiRi Williams, is below.

Johnson said she owes the collaboration to her colleague Randy Green, whom she said spearheaded the project and conceptualized the cover.

“When the email went out about potential variants for stores, he was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the [details]. It was really his hard work,” she told ABC News. “I knew what it was supposed to look like, but having the actual art in front of you is so much different. It’s really exciting.”

Not that she hasn’t earned it. Johnson opened Amalgym last December, becoming the first black, female comic book store owner on the East Coast. However, her obsession of all things geek really began around age 10 or 11, when she discovered “X-Men” character Storm. Johnson credits the character, one of the first black, female superheroes, with being “the bridge that got me into this world.”

“To think I made it a decade-plus and I had never seen a black, woman superhero is crazy because little white boys have so many [with whom they identify]: ‘I want to be Iron Man!’ 'I want to be Batman!’ 'I want to be Superman.’ 'I want to be Han Solo!’ When you are a person of color, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to find someone you can identify with. I always felt like I was watching other people’s adventures,” she explained. “Being introduced to Storm was a pivotal moment for me because had I not come across her, I might have grown out of my love for [comics].”

After graduating from cartoons to comics in high school, Johnson began buying her own books in college. Her Friday routine was comforting: She’d go to the comic book store to get her weekly stash, and then take the books across the street to her favorite coffee shop, where she’d read them over a hot chocolate and piece of cake. When the coffee shop was forced to close some 10 years ago, Johnson decided it was up to her to create a space that gave her the same feeling of warmth.

“The goal is to be an inclusive geek space,” she said. “So it’s not just comics; it’s gaming, it’s sci-fi, it’s horror, whatever you geek about, we want to make room for you!”

She’s also proven to be a role model for girls and women. Johnson, who points to Marvel’s diverse cast of characters and story lines as proof that the industry is evolving in a positive way, said that she’s worked hard to make sure that everybody feels welcome at Amalgam.

“I had a girl tell me I had an excellent book selection and she was 7 or 8. I don’t know how welcome she might feel in some other spaces,” she said. “Women exist in this space! We’ve always been reading comic books, we just may not have been as open about it. I definitely get very positive feedback from not just little girls, but grown women too.”

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Ariell Johnson has been collecting comic books for more than a decade, but she’ll soon add a very personal one to her collection.

The 33-year-old founder and president of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc. in Philadelphia will appear on a variant cover of “Invincible Iron Man #1.”

The first image of the book, which goes on sale next month and features Johnson having a meal with new Marvel superhero RiRi Williams, is below. (source)

I’m not crying I just have dirt in my eye

Originally posted by begavet

When entrepreneur Ariell Johnson opened her comic book store and coffee shop in Kensington, Pennsylvania back in December 2015, it became an instant hit both locally and nationally. 

Being hailed as the first African American woman to open a comic book store on the east coast

she immediately caught the attention of ABC News, CNN Money, MSNBC, and tons of other web sites and blogs.

“When young girls come in here and know that a woman owns the shop, a black woman owns the shop, and they can see titles where girls are the heroes and not just the love interests or the sidekick… when they see women and girls taking the lead in things, that’s really powerful.”

She’s The Boss

#BlackGirlMagic #BlackExcellence 

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Ariell Johnson, the first black woman to own a comic store on the East Coast, is on a new Marvel cover

In December 2015, 33-year-old Ariell Johnson took two of her passions — reading comic books and drinking coffee — and joined them into one business: Amalgam Comics & Coffeeshop. When Johnson opened the doors to the Philadelphia fixture, she became the first black female comic book store owner not just in the city, but on the entire East Coast.

Now, that world is giving her props in the most fitting way it can: by drawing her into it. In November, one of the variant covers of Invincible Iron Man #1 will feature Johnson laughing over coffee with Riri Williams, the new black teen heroine at the center of the series. Johnson recalled the one super hero that inspired her love of comics.

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Year-old Kensington comic book store and coffeehouse getting attention

Since Ariell Johnson opened her comic book store and coffee shop in Kensington in December 2015, she has taken the world by Storm.

In fact, her childhood fascination with Storm, the X-Men superheroine, led her to comic book and sci-fi fantasy geek fandom in the first place, she said.

She has been profiled on ABC News, CNN Money, and MSNBC, not to mention various nerd and geek websites, as the first African American woman to open a comic book store on the East Coast.

And in November, she was depicted on a variant cover of the Invincible Iron Man No. 1 comic book, along with Riri Williams, the 15-year-old African American superhero character known as Ironheart.

Storm “was the first black woman superhero I ever saw,” Johnson, 33, said at her shop, Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, 2578 Frankford Ave.

“In addition, she was a powerhouse; she was one of the most powerful mutants in the X-Men universe. She controlled the very elements. She wasn’t a sidekick. She was the main event, which was exciting.”

Johnson said all the attention has been good for business.

“I think we’re doing well. We’ve had a very strong first year, and an untraditional first year, with all the hubbub around the shop,” she said.

Diversity in comic books has been met with some backlash from mostly male fans who assert on YouTube videos that characters should not be suddenly changed to black or gay. Some have called it pandering to attract more women and people of color to comics.

Johnson has not hesitated to speak out about the importance of the comic book world becoming more inclusive.

That means having characters who represent everyone - black, white, Latino, Asian, and people of all religions and sexual identities.

She makes sure to carry books written by and for women and people of color.

Johnson said people like them as heroes in fantasy and science fiction can empower young readers.

“When young girls come in here and know that a woman owns the shop, a black woman owns the shop, and they can see titles where girls are the heroes and not just the love interests or the sidekick … when they see women and girls taking the lead in things, that’s really powerful,” she said.

Since word of Johnson’s success got around, celebrity comic book writers have visited Amalgam.

The store was packed a couple of months ago when Ta-Nehisi Coates came for a book signing to accompany the release of a new comic in his Marvel series Black Panther.

She has also welcomed Greg Pak, author of X-Treme X-Men and other titles, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon who coauthored a graphic novel, March.

Amalgam is spacious and colorful, with a red couch at the front window and blue and yellow armchairs nearby. In fact, it’s like entering a live comic strip tableau.

Small round tables have comic book logos: symbols for ThunderCat, Captain America, and Spider-Man.

Johnson said she became enamored of superheroes while watching television cartoon shows as a child.

“I’ve always liked shows about super powers,” she said. “I grew up watching ThunderCats, He-Man and She-Ra. But none of those shows had any black characters featured.”

When she was about 11, she saw herself in the character Storm in X-Men cartoons.

“In addition to being black and a woman, she had dark skin. The only thing that didn’t look like me was that she had white hair and blue eyes.”

A Baltimore native, Johnson came to Philadelphia to attend Temple University and earned an accounting degree there in 2005.

It took a decade of working for other people, first in retail and later as an accountant, before she decided to fulfill her dream.

Inside Amalgam the other day, Sam Woods Thomas, the commercial corridor coordinator for New Kensington Community Development Corp., said the coffee shop was the only one in the neighborhood.

Still, he said, things are looking up, with a new apartment development in the next block that people are comparing to the Piazza in Northern Liberties.

But he said it’s small businesses like Johnson’s that are key.

“They bring life back to the block,” Thomas said.

NWSL Draft 2017

Boston Breakers - 6

  • Rose Lavelle (1)
  • Morgan Andrews (3)
  • Ifeoma Onumonu (8)
  • Midge Purce (9)
  • Sammy Jo Prudhomme (31)
  • Hayley Dowd (38)

Sky Blue FC - 6

  • Kayla Mills (4)
  • Mandy Freeman (10)
  • Kailen Sheridan (23)
  • Madison Tiernan (24)
  • Catrina Atanda (30)
  • McKenzie Meehan (34)

FC Kansas City - 5

  • Christina Gibbons (5)
  • Toni Payne (13)
  • Stephanie Ribeiro (17)
  • Alexis Shaffer (25)
  • Rashida Beal (35)

Seattle Reign FC - 4

  • Maddie Bauer (6)
  • Katie Johnson (16)
  • Arielle Ship (26)
  • Kristen McNabb (37)

Portland Thorns FC - 4

  • Rachel Hill (14)
  • Savannah Jordan (18)
  • Tyler Lussi (21)
  • Caroline Flynn (40)

North Carolina Courage - 4

  • Ashley Hatch (2)
  • Darian Jenkins (7)
  • Clare Wagner (20)
  • Jaycie Johnson (27)

Chicago Red Stars - 3

  • Michele Vasconcelos (11)
  • Morgan Proffitt (12)
  • Lauren Kaskie (39)

Houston Dash - 3

  • Jane Campbell (15)
  • Nichelle Prince (28)
  • Erin Smith (33)

Washington Spirit - 3

  • Lindsay Agnew (19)
  • Meggie Doughtery Howard (29)
  • Cameron Castleberry (36)

Orlando Pride - 2

  • Danica Evans (22)
  • Nickolette Driesse (32)
Recommended Books

I thought I’d make a list of all the astrology books I’ve read, in case anyone wants to do a little reading of their own :)

  • Chart Interpretation Handbook by Stephen Arroyo (the basics)
  • Astrology, Karma and Transformation: Inner Dimensions of the Birth Chart by Stephen Arroyo
  • An Astrological Guide to Self-Awareness by Donna Cunningham
  • The Twelve Houses by Howard Sasportas
  • Soul Centered Astrology by Alan Oken (esoteric astrology)
  • Cosmic Navigator by Gahl Sasson (Kabbalah + astrology)
  • Mythic Astrology: Archetypal Powers in the Horoscope by Ariel Guttman & Kenneth Johnson (the mythology behind the signs and planets)
  • Relating: An Astrological Guide to Living With Others On a Small Planet by Liz Greene
  • The Luminaries by Liz Greene & Howard Sasportas (Sun and Moon)
  • The Inner Planets by Liz Greene & Howard Sasportas (Mercury/Venus/Mars)
  • The Jupiter/Saturn Conference Lectures by Liz Greene
  • Exploring Jupiter: Astrological Key to Progress, Prosperity & Potential
  • Saturn: A New Look at an Old Devil by Liz Greene
  • Uranus: The Constant of Change by Eric Meyers
  • The Book of Neptune by Marilyn Waram
  • The Astrological Neptune and the Quest For Redemption by Liz Greene
  • The Outer Planets and Their Cycles by Liz Greene (Uranus/Neptune/Pluto)
  • The Gods of Change by Howard Sasportas (Uranus/Neptune/Pluto transits)
  • Astrology, Nutrition & Health by Robert Carl Jansky
  • The Encyclopaedia of Medical Astrology by HL Cornell
  • Linda Goodman’s Love Signs by Linda Goodman (compatibility)
  • Dark of the Soul: Psychopathology in the Horoscope by Liz Greene

(Updated 11/4/16)