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Comics and Women in the City of Brotherly Love

My home city, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has a very unique, charming comic scene, from shops, to creators.

The selection of comic shops include:

Brave New Worlds, located in Old City

Atomic City, located on South Street,

Fat Jack’s Comicrypt, located a few blocks southwest of City Hall

These are just a few of the shops located in the heart of the city, however, there are a few more store in the northern part of town and along the Delaware River.

I’m writing about the comic shops, because for all comic creators, it’s important to start your journey by reading! I’m sure most people interested in writing a comic book has read a fair share in their lifetime, but for those who haven’t, find your local comic shop and pick up a few different books! I like to read a range and variety of styles as a way of studying how other artists depict emotion, movement, and time.

My new favorite spot to hit up is Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, located just north of Fishtown, in West Kensington. This shop that celebrates diversity, acceptance, and awesomeness, is owned by a black woman, Ariell Johnson, who graduated from Temple University. Not to mention there’s coffee and comfy couches! If you want to spend your day lounging and sipping a latte, like me, for example, this is the shop for you.

Another woman involved with comics is Jessica Abel, who teaches at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She is a cartoonist who has created works including Life Sucks, Growing Gills, and La Perdida among many others. She also sends out a weekly newsletter about taking control of your creative life, that discusses motivation, time management and other helpful career-based information for any artist trying to stay on track in their creative career.

Why Comics?

Comic books are not just picture books, nor are they just for high schoolers, or adults. The comic book medium is essentially for every reader, and studies have shown that they are very beneficial to young and old readers alike.

Firstly, the level of engagement involved in reading a comic book is very high. The reader focuses on the language, images depicting character’s emotions and movement through space, all while moving from panel to panel across, diagonal, and down the page. Overall, the comic book provides a very unique reading experience, in which readers have to process different components–textual, visual, and spatial.

Secondly, using characters and images to illustrate a complex story helps people improve their reading skills, particular in comics with a higher level of difficulty. This is because the reader is given more than the context clues to decipher unknown words or complex phrases.

Thirdly, the complex character development, as well as being able to see the character’s emotion, leads to stronger relationships between the reader and the character. It’s easier to relate to a character with visible emotions, like characters in a movie. The comic does just that, with the added component of reading. Reading a comic is a lot like watching an animated movie, it’s just up to the reader to envision the movement between the panels.