Looking to check out an epic comic shop? This Philly comic shop, known as Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse is more than just your typical comic shop. Its roomy, well lit, has plenty of comfy seating, and it’s also a full service coffee shop. If you visit, you may never want to leave.
The brainchild and owner behind Amalgam is Philly resident Ariell Johnson. When she opened her store in December of 2015, she became the first African American woman to own a comic book shop on the east coast. Now, Ariell has an opportunity to use her shop as a way to give back to the community.
The Knight Foundation selected Ariell, out of more than 4,500 applicants, to receive a grant of $50,000 for her comic shop. This was based on her proposal titled, “Up, Up and Away: Building a Programming Space at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse” Ariell has some big ideas for her shop.
According to Philly.com, Ariell’s winning proposal includes plans to, “expand the shop into “Amalgam University,” where hopeful writers and illustrators can take classes on drawing, writing, pitching and publishing.” Ariell was inspired to help after receiving many submissions from amateur creators. She could see the need to help these creators produce works that would meet the standards of retail.
“Often, the ideas are there, but they haven’t studied the craft,” Ariell says. “It’s a comic book, but it’s also literature. Just like there are good writers of literature, there good writers and illustrators of comic books.”
Ariell is passionate about finding a way to help aspiring comic writers and artists, especially those who come from disenfranchised communities who may not be able to afford to go to art school.
Before receiving the grant, Ariell has already began running children’s workshops. “We do a lot of these programs in our space, but the building is actually much bigger. There are rooms behind the bathroom, which we haven’t renovated. This grant will allow us to open up those rooms to the public and create a permanent programming space. We’ll use it to its full potential.”
Amaglam will expand to twice it’s size when renovations are done sometime next year. Stay tuned as there will be more updates on this awesome comic shop.
What do you guys think? Will those of you on the East Coast make a special trip to check it out? Sound off in the comments below.