Comix Cafe, located in Tomball, TX, is not your regular comic book store. Sure, selling snacks in a retail store isn’t a new idea necessarily. However, Darrin and Lindsay Stringfield, owners of Comix Cafe, go much farther than the old standard of “here’s a can of soda and a hot pocket, enjoy your Yu-Gi-Oh tournament.” Darrin and Lindsay’s creation is a true hybrid, bringing the comics and coffee cultures together in a way few shops can attempt or emulate.
Comix Cafe, open since August 2019, sells a variety of new release and vintage comic books, manga, card and board games, gaming supplies and memorabilia. They also hold several events, including weekly Dungeons & Dragons sessions, Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon TCG tournaments. Also, they hold monthly Super Smash Bros. contests and plan to do a Pokemon: Sword and Shield competition in the near future.
Where this shop stands out is its cafe. They offer a full slate of coffee drinks; cappuccino, espresso, lattes, drip, and cold brews, along with a wide compliment of pastry pairings. The coffee is locally sourced. Darrin says about their food and drink offerings, “I like to keep the menu pretty fresh, so it changes from time to time. But normally we usually have the usual coffee pairings… we pride ourselves in using locally roasted coffee, it’s roasted right here in Tomball by District Roasters, so it’s what sets us apart from some of the other coffee shops. As far as the food, everything is made fresh in the store, we don’t have anything shipped in.”
“This office job isn’t for me…”
Darrin Stringfield, 36, has always had a love for the comic book medium. Growing up near Madison, Wisconsin, finding a comic book store to indulge in his hobby was not easy. Most often, the easiest comic to find was Archie Digest at the local grocery store. As he became older, he was able to branch out into a multitude of other comics. The Detective Comics series have always been a particular favorite of his. “My favorite, character-wise is Batman. Pretty much all of the Batman books I really enjoy. Besides that, I enjoy most of the independent comics. The storylines tend to be a bit deeper and really well thought out.”
After college, Darrin got his commercial diving license and headed south to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry. He spent 14 years between underwater construction, as well as consulting. Several years ago, he decided that oil and gas isn’t his path in life, and started planning to make a change. “So I had switched from working in the field to an office job about 6 years ago. About a year or two into that, I was like ‘well I don’t want to go back into the field, but this office job isn’t for me,’” he explained. “So I just started making plans at that point to get this going… It’s been a long process to make sure I had everything in line before I exited [the oil and gas industry] completely.”
Making his dream a reality
After years of planning, Darrin was finally able to make his dream business a reality. He discovered that he could marry his love of comics, as well as a passion for baking. He picked up baking as a child, helping his grandmother make homemade desserts in her kitchen. Darrin realizes that the two can work well together and compliment each other. “It’s kind of always been an idea of mine. I’d always wanted to open a comic shop, and then looking into the business model, I quickly realized it was a good combination where they support each other. The comic shop can be difficult with the seasonal stuff, so the cafe side helps even everything out a bit.”
Darrin’s hope is that Comix Cafe can create a new generation of comic book lovers in the Tomball area. He believes that comics take a back seat with the rise of video game culture and the comics’ movie counterparts. “I feel like comics have been swept by the wayside with video games,” he says. “We embrace that stuff also, but I think if there’s enough exposure to kids, I think they can start reading comic books again.”
Also, he wants people to know that Comix Cafe has something for everyone. “I want it to be a pop culture reimagining. But also, one of my main focuses is that, if you’re not into the pop culture scene, our coffee is really good. Our pastries are all fresh. You can just sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, work on homework, business, whatever,” he continues. “I did want to bring that element. Not to exclude the group of people that enjoy going to a Starbucks, but feel it’s a bit crowded there at times. But really I wanted to reinvigorate the pop culture Identity.”