Written by Kat Stellato
Photos by Matt McGraw
Ariell Johnson is a new kind of superhero.
The 33 year old owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, located at 2578 Frankford Ave, is leading the way as the first black female comic book shop owner in a culture dominated by white men. Although Johnson doesn’t think of herself as anything but a black woman, she does realize the implication of what she represents.
“I realize for other people, specifically for other little girls for other black little girls for other just children of color to see someone doing something that they are an outlier, you know when you think comic books you think very straight, very white, very male and so for me to exist in that space is strange but despite that I’m still doing it so you know hopefully that is an example to other people who maybe feel out of place in the thing that they enjoy would give them you know, courage and willpower to do it anyway,” said Johnson of her newly acquired position.
Johnson was inspired to create a space after Crimson Moon, a coffee shop that Johnson frequented as college student to read comics, closed its doors.
“I really liked the space she [the owner of Crimson Moon] created. I liked my pattern of getting my comics on Friday and going somewhere and sitting and reading them out in public and not feeling like oh I have to run home into my little nerdhole to enjoy my comic books. It was the wanting of that feeling of community along with the comics that started the process.”