Comic Book Publishing Alive And Well In Philadelphia

It's a rare thing to here in the last couple of decades… someone opening a new comic book store.

In Auckland, before the twentieth century rolled over, we used to have at least one store per point on the compass and several in the CBD… and the greater city population was less than 1.2 million. Now as we slide toward the end of the second decade in the twenty first century, the city is now pushed past 1.4 million citizens and we have two dedicated comic book stores across the greater city… and that's just fuckin' sad.

It's a sign that comic books, as we have known them have declined, that 30 to 40 odd page comic is just not popular to purchase anymore.

But it's not all doom and gloom, the number of people interested in graphic art has increased. The big changes have been in channels or purchase, product type and a growth in libraries stocking more graphic novels, collected editions and of course, self-publishing in digital forms.

Which brings us to celebrating and acknowledging the efforts of Ariell Johnson, the owner and operator of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, Kensington, Philadelphia, USA, who made history when she opened her store. She was the first black women to open a comic book store on the East Coast in 2015.

Ariell is now taking another big step, having secured a $50,000 (USD) grant from the Knight Foundation, with her winning proposal  - "Up, Up and Away: Building a Programming Space at Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse,” she  laid out her vision for Amalgam’s future as a place where creators interested in breaking into the comics industry could hone their craft.

Amalgam is already stocking self-published comics and Ariell explains that she sees lots of owner-creator titles that are not quite ready to be sold commercially, and the funding will enable her to create and run, Amalgam University, a program that  will focus on helping new creators take their work to the next level.

"Often, the ideas are there, but they haven’t studied the craft,” Johnson explained. “It’s a comic book, but it’s also literature. Just like there are good writers of literature, there are good writers and illustrators of comic books.” As part of her new initiative, Johnson also plans to expand Amalgam’s physical space to better accommodate events and workshops within the store.

So despite the decline in comic book retail spaces in my city, it's heartening to see new things happening in other parts of the world.

Text: Blurred and source from and

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