Darrin Stringfield opened Comix Cafe on Business 249 in Tomball in August 2019. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
However, with the coronavirus pandemic making it difficult for friends to gather in person these days, Stringfield said he hopes to offer an environment where people can feel safe to continue doing what they love.
“A big part of comic book and nerd culture stores is the community sense, like being able to talk to people about what you enjoy, so that community was actually hit pretty hard when they couldn’t get together and talk about the things that they really love,” Stringfield said.
Located on Business 249 in Tomball, the comic book store offers a variety of merchandise such as game dice, tabletop gaming and playing cards, while also operating as a specialty coffee shop serving locally roasted coffee and pastries.
While Comix Cafe customers can eat, drink and shop, the store also offers space for people to play their favorite games, such as fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons and collectible card game Magic: The Gathering in response to demand from the local community.
“My original concept was more of a coffee shop with the … merchandise part, [but] when we opened the doors, we saw that there was a community that was really looking for play space for gaming,” Stringfield said.
After experiencing a shutdown in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, Stringfield said the store went online to foster a digital space replicating the shop’s atmosphere through web communication platform Discord. Now that the store has reopened and customers are beginning to feel safe visiting the store in person, Stringfield said he still maintains the Discord platform to make sure everyone feels included.
“What some of our [Dungeons & Dragons] tables have been doing is they’ll have a webcam set up so people who don’t want to get out can play over webcam, and then the people that are here, we have them spaced out, everybody with masks,” Stringfield said. “They can play in person, and then we also have the option for online play as well.”
In addition to hosting weekly gaming events, Comix Cafe also holds larger events such as the annual Tomball Toy Fest vintage toy market. Although the market was canceled this year, Stringfield said he hopes to bring it back as a semi-annual event in 2021.
Additionally, Stringfield said he hopes to grow the comic book community by hosting events and reaching out to local schools.
“I do plan to host some more comic book events to gain that readership back or get that crowd that maybe overlooked the medium as a source of literature,” Stringfield said. “The long-term plan is to get those readers back to comic books.”
27620 Business 249, Ste. A6, Tomball
Hours: Tue., Thu. noon-8 p.m.; Wed., Fri.-Sat. noon-10 p.m.; Sun. 2-8 p.m.; closed Mon.