Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse Is First East-Coast Comic Book Shop Owned By Black Woman

By Sameer Rao Jan 04, 2016

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse has finally opened. The Philadelphia store, which is currently trending on social media, holds the distinction of being the only comics shop on the East Coast owned by a Black woman. 

The store’s Facebook and Instagram pages feature photos of the store that offer insight into the kind of community space that it aspires to be—principally, one that reaches out to women and people of color, in part through curated displays that highlight creators not often seen in the largely white- and male-normative geek world:


Colorlines profiled owner Ariell Johnson last summer as part of our recurring "Breaking" series, which focuses on creators of color. When asked about the importance of comics and geek culture to creators of color exploring their own narratives, she had the following to say:

The thing about science fiction, where you’re creating these universes where things can be wherever you want…the majority of science fiction still falls on this Eurocentric representation of how things are. Like, a lot of people would rather see a green person than a brown person. [Laughs]. And I don’t understand that. I think about "Lord of the Rings," where if you want to argue that Middle Earth is based somewhere in Europe, that’s fine. But then you have elves and these other creatures, and are they White too? That is a place where you could’ve introduced people of color—they’re elves! [Laughs] And there definitely is a Black sci-fi movement—Afrofuturism is important to me. I think about this quote from Walidah Imerisha I read in an article once: "For those of us from communities with historic collective trauma, we must understand that each of us is already science fiction walking around on two legs. Our ancestors dreamed us up and then bent reality to create us."

Johnson was additionally featured at number 11 in our year-end roundup, "15 Women Of Color Who Rocked 2015.