As revealed by ABC News today, Ariell Johnson, founder and president of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc., will appear on one of the variant covers that will be released in November for the upcoming “Invincible Iron Man #1”. The cover features Ariell alongside Riri Williams, the teen genius turned Ironheart who’ll be taking over for Tony Stark’s Iron Man after the events of the Civil War II arc.
Ariell Johnson made history last December when she became the first black, female comic book store owner on the East Coast. Her inclusion on a variant cover breaks ground in the realms of diversity and gender, providing girls of color with more role models to look up to in comics. Her inclusion on the variant cover alongside Riri Williams also serves as a gateway into the geeky comic book world that we’ve all come to know and love. Johnson spoke about how seeing X-Men’s Storm helped to cement her interest in comic books while growing up:
“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].”
via ABC News
We speak often here at Legion of Leia regarding diversity and inclusion in pop culture. I can only speak for myself, but what brought my interest back to comics in my college years was seeing more diversity and better storylines for women in comics. Hearing Ariell’s story about her introduction to Storm definitely hit a note in me. It also further proves the point that if we see people who look like us or behave like us in pop culture, our culture will become more diverse and, ultimately, better for the inclusion of others.
Ariell said she owes the collaboration to her colleague Randy Green. He led the way with the project and conceptualized the cover after finding out stores could have variant covers of their own:
“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,” she 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.”
via ABC News
This cover will be sold exclusively at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Inc, so for any of you guys in the Philadelphia area, make sure you reserve your copy ASAP. Check out their Facebook page here to get more details on how to go about reserving your copy. Also, make sure to include Ariell’s shop on your list of places to hit up whenever you travel to Philadelphia.
What do you think of the cover? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.