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First Black Female-Owned Comic Book Store is in Philly

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First Black Female-Owned Comic Book Store is in Philly

Black Girls Rock!
Philly is already one of my other favorite cities for good food and art, now I have another reason to visit!

Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse is the first Black Female-Owned comic book store on the East Coast!

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I can’t think of a better story to end this year with than that ofAriell R. Johnson, reportedly the East coasts first black female comics shop owner.Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse opens in the and coming Kensington part of town and will offer not only comics but a cozy coffeeshop vibe.

This “geeky” hybrid hopes to contribute to the burgeoning Kensington section of Philadelphia. Amalgam hopes to build community around comics, coffee, and relaxing with friends, and also through hosting geeky and diversity-themed workshops, movie/TV screenings, book signings, and BYOB nights.

“I got the idea for the shop about 12 years ago, when I was still attending Temple University,” said Amalgam’s owner, Ariell R. Johnson. “My favorite coffee shop was directly across the street from my comic book store of choice. So, each Friday, I would buy my books at Fat Jack’s, go across the street to Crimson Moon, and read everything I bought.

Johnson hopes to highlight diversity in the shop—along with quality caffeine:
I

t will be a legit store, so expect to see the heavy hitters that we all know and love,” she said. “But in addition to those usual suspects, we want to showcase diverse comics, creators, and characters. We think that comics are for everyone and anyone that loves comics-women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. We will actively look to stock titles that showcase people in these groups, right long with Superman, Batman, Captain America, and Thor.”

This story encapsulates everything that happened in comics in 2015: women in comics as characters, readers and carters were no longer a pleasant surprise but the way things are; diversity was often contentious and controversial, but widening the audience was not only a way to get more readers but in general, the right thing to do. And while we were saddened to see Locust Moon close shop in Philadelphia, hopefully Amalgam will carry the torch for indie comics. Also the coffeehouse/comics shop model is one that I’ve seen a few places. Having a “chill out” area seems to be essential to the community building that has kept local brick and mortar stores alive. It’s also part of the book shop tradition…and in 2016 comics stores are indie book stores not the Android’s Dungeon, something that the entire industry needs to embrace. 

I saw this story posted everywhere on my FB feed over the last day or two, so people are getting the message and supporting it.

Congrats to Ariell R. Johnson and wishing her the best of luck for her store.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Tony Cade

    January 2, 2016 at 7:00 PM

    I give Ariell R. Johnson much love. But her store is not the first black owned comic book shop on the East Coast.

  2. Em

    January 2, 2016 at 7:02 PM

    FJB comics and games is black owned and operated and has been the only comic book shop in jersey city, new jersey for years now. I’m glad to hear about this shop, but it’s not the first

  3. david p

    January 3, 2016 at 9:25 AM

    Great read. I wish Ariell nothing but the best. And for support from the black community in Philadelphia.

  4. Freddie

    January 3, 2016 at 9:38 AM

    Awesome! Rock on bad girl 2016!

  5. diandre

    January 3, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Whats the address? I would come and visit

  6. Mr. Grey

    January 3, 2016 at 4:52 PM

    First black female owned comic book store…

    Dem black fems are movin’ on up in da world!

  7. Teresa Hughes

    January 4, 2016 at 2:56 AM

    I believe Lana Phifer’s Pwn’d comics abd games in Snellville GA actually qualifies for this title. While a more diverse geek experience is always lovely, and more female store owners are important, please give credit where credit is due

  8. Pwnd Gaming

    January 4, 2016 at 12:28 PM

    Congratulations, that’s great news & wish her every success! I opened mine just 2 months ago and I love the community????

  9. david s

    January 4, 2016 at 3:27 PM

    awesome! good luck

  10. Pingback: ShutUp Podcast | 110: Obsessed With Race

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