Ariell Johnson is nothing short of supernatural and now she will get the chance to solidify her powers in a major way.
The 33-year-old founder of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc. in Philadelphia gained amazing notoriety for providing a safe space for geeks of color and women. In fact, since last December, Johnson is the first black female comic store owner on the east coast.
It was only a matter of time before the buzz reached colleague Randy Green who selected her to appear alongside Marvel superhero RiRi Williams on a variant cover of “Invincible Iron Man #1!”
“When the email went out about potential variants for stores, he was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the [details]. It was really his hard work,” Johnson told ABC News. “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 hopes to show girls that women have stories to share as well, just as she found in her favorite “X-Men” character Storm.
“To think I made it a decade-plus and I had never seen a black, woman superhero is crazy because little white boys have so many [with whom they identify]: ‘I want to be Iron Man!’ ‘I want to be Batman!’ ‘I want to be Superman.’ ‘I want to be Han Solo!’ 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 explained. “Being introduced to Storm was a pivotal moment for me because had I not come across her, I might have grown out of my love for [comics].”
Well, we’re glad she didn’t, and because of Johnson, geeks on the east coast now have an inclusive space to be themselves no matter the context.
Johnson says, “it’s gaming, it’s sci-fi, it’s horror, whatever you geek about, we want to make room for you!”