Ariell Johnson, the owner of Philadelphia's Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, has been selected by the Knight Foundation from more than 4,500 applicants to receive a grant of $50,000 to support her proposal "Up, Up and Away: Building a Programming Space at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse." The goal is to "expand the shop into 'Amalgam University,' where hopeful writers and illustrators can take classes on drawing, writing, pitching and publishing," Philly.com reported. Johnson made news last year when she was featured on a Marvel comic book cover.
When her business opened in December of 2015, Johnson became "the first African-American woman to own a comic book store on the East Coast. In addition to the largely white-male-authored mainstream staples, Amalgam stocks many works written by people of color, women and members of the LGBT community, as well as those by independent creators," Philly.com wrote, adding that the owner is looking for ways "to equip aspiring comic creators, particularly those from disenfranchised communities without the means to go to art school, with the tools to compete with mainstream comic books."
"We do a lot of these programs in our space," said Johnson. "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."