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Black Comic Store Owner Is On a Marvel Cover

By Victor Trammell

A young black woman named Ariell Johnson (pictured right) with a passion for having her own business in a Marvel Comics marketplace has broken barriers in the comic store industry.

According to, Johnson, the founder of Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse is the only black person to own a comics shop on the East Coast of the United States. Her ingenuity and engaging ideas for business to inspire the youth have made her a national news story.

“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 [Comics & Coffeehouse],” wrote  Sameer Rao, a Color Lines contributor.

Johnson also told ABC News that she had a lot of help from her creative partner Randy Green.

“When the email went out about potential variants for stores, [Green] was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the [details]. 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,” Johnson told ABC News.

Johnson knew that having a passion for the white male-dominated world of Marvel comics would have some challenges. However, she had a game plan and a team on her side that would help her get through whatever obstacles she might face on her trailblazing vision.

“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. Had she not been introduced to X-Men character Storm, I might have grown out of my love for [comics],” Johnson added.

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