We first profiled Ariell Johnson as part of our "Breaking" series in 2015. The businesswoman and geek culture aficionado became the first and only Black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast when she opened Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse to tremendous fanfare in January. Now, her important contributions to geek culture and entrepreneurship for women of color has been immortalized in the most appropriate way possible.
And now life is complete! Thank you #Marvel & cover artist #ElizabethTorque ! And a big shout out to Randy aka @rsonthevoice for working so hard to make this happen! Available exclusively at Amalgam, email Randy at email@example.com to reserve your copy today. Photo Credit: @slingfilms #invincibleironman #blackgirlmagic
A photo posted by Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse (@amalgamphilly) on Oct 25, 2016 at 10:51am PDT
Johnson appears on a store-specific variant cover for Marvel's "Invincible Iron Man #1," enjoying a meal with another Black woman trailblazer: RiRi Williams, the new Iron Man. The comic goes on sale next month, with this alternate cover being available only at Amalgam.
Johnson told ABC News that her colleague Randy Green spearheaded the project. "When the email went out about potential variants for stores, he was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the [details]," she said. "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."
As she did in our "Breaking" profile, Johnson commented on the importance of women and people of color as comic heroes. "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 said to ABC News. Had she not been introduced to X-Men character Storm, she said, "I might have grown out of my love for [comics]."
A variant cover for New York's Midtown Comics was pulled amid controversy thanks to criticism that the cover over-sexualized the teenage Williams.