Twelve years ago, Temple University student Ariell R. Johnson enjoyed picking out newly released comic books at her local comic store, Crimson Moon. Upon getting her books, she often ventured across the street to her favorite coffee shop, where she enjoyed coffee and read until her heart was content. The self-described coffee aficionado spent countless Fridays reading and conversing with others. Unfortunately, the coffee shop closed its doors, devastating Johnson, but sparking a lasting idea

Now, Johnson has launched Philadelphia's first black-owned comic book store. Striving toward her goal, the gamer-turned-business owner has become the first black woman to own a comic book store on the entire east coast. In December 2015, Johnson opened Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, "a place for comic book fans, hardcore gamers, movie addicts, television connoisseurs, and zombie apocalypse survivalists to meet, and with their powers combined, change the world a little bit," as described by her Facebook page. The Philadelphia storefront provides a spacious area to read and engage in conversation

In addition to offering a variety of comics, drinks and pastries, Johnson intends to focus on providing a store with a diverse and encompassing perspective. "We think that comics are for everyone and anyone that loves comics — women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. We will actively look to stock titles that showcase people in these groups, right along with Superman, Batman, Captain America and Thor,” she stated in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News. The storefront hosts events such as book signings and Bring-Your-Own-Game nights Johnson's great accomplishment further proves that 2015 was a great year for the world of comics. Women, especially as main characters, have become commonplace. With the increase in diverse television, books and movie characters, 2016 has already welcomed the reestablished market and showcases a growing industry that all should embrace

Since the initial opening, Johnson has reported "consistent and growing sales." Keep up with Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse on their Instagram account and Facebook page!