Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse in Philadelphia is a cozy neighborhood comic book store but will soon carry a rather familiar face on its shelves.
Ariell Johnson, the founder of Amalgam Comics and the first African-American woman to open up a comic book store on the east coast will appear on a variant cover of the "Invincible Iron Man #1" next month.
Johnson says she owes this achievement to her colleague Randy Green who headed the project and was the creative mind behind the cover design — drawn by Elizabeth Torque — which features Johnson and RiRi Williams enjoying a cup of coffee.
"It wasn't a process I was involved in and then to see the final result, it kind of blew me away and he [Green] also was very excited."
Met with an array of positive reactions and feedback on social media, Johnson could only speak on how happy and proud she was about the impact she is making in the community.
One thing that doesn't phase Johnson is stereotypes.
"We can exist in these spaces that stereotypically we are not thought to be in or thought to be consumers of," says Johnson. "We can be who we are completely and we don't have to sit in anybody's box and if we don't feel like there is a place for us then we can make one."
Johnson began being immersed in cartoons around the age of 10 after watching her favorite character Storm on Fox's X-man.
"It all came out of an interest of learning about Storm because she is the first black woman superhero that I have ever come across," "I was really intrigued by her and I really just wanted to know more. I knew X-Men was a comic book and if I wanted to know about her I should read comics."
Johnson began collecting her own comic books in college and this passion ultimately evolved into the founding of Amalgam Comics.
Her progression in the community has gotten a tremendous amount of attention and the only thing Johnson is afraid of is running out of copies.
"Everybody knows about it now and we might not even have enough copies for everyone," Johnson says.