Oscar Wilde once wrote that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life."
But for once, it seems that art is finally imitating life for one comic book store owner.
Ariell Johnson is the proud owner of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc. in Philadelphia, making her the first and only Black woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast.
Marvel is helping immortalize Johnson in the comics she loves by featuring the store owner in a variant cover of Invincible Iron Man #1 beside the new hero RiRi Williams.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your copy today. Photo Credit: @slingfilms #invincibleironman #blackgirlmagic
Randy Green was the force behind the significance of Johnson in geek culture to help her get immortalized by Marvel.
"When the email went out about potential variants for stores, he was really excited and took it upon himself to work out the details," said Johnson. "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."
The superhero that helped begin Johnson's appreciation for comics was Storm, whom she credits to being "the bridge that got me into this world."
"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," said Johnson. "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. 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."
Johnson's comic book appearance next to RiRi Williams shows how much diversity the world of comics is finally beginning to delve into. RiRi is not only a female person of color but she is also going to be the new Iron Man in the comic book universe.
The potential for more diverse representation in comics is only the beginning for comic book fans. Johnson's shop aims to make every fan of comics, games, sci-fi, etc., feel included by being "an inclusive geek space."
"Women exist in this space," said Johnson. "We've always been reading comic books, we just may not have been as open about it. I definitely get very positive feedback from not just little girls, but grown women too."