Creating Community

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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Hot Off the Press Comics and Coffee owners Marty and Jade Burnham want to embrace Austin with their business


An Austin couple’s two loves are coming together to create a new business downtown.

You might even call it a crossover event, a common feature to bring superheroes together on the pages of a comic book.

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Hot Off the Press Comics and Coffee, located at 508 1st Dr NW across from Wells Fargo Bank, will offer both a comics shop and a coffee shop when fully opened.

Currently, only the comic side of the business is open, but next door the coffee shop construction is well underway with a hope it too will be open in the near future.

“We’re hoping maybe by early April,” said Jade Burnham. “Hopefully just a couple more weeks.”

Hot Off the Press is the endeavor of Jade and her husband Marty, who moved to Minnesota 10  years ago and then to Austin two years ago.

Marty has been a life-long comics fan while Jade is a coffee enthusiast. Combining the two loves was a natural fit, especially since moving to Austin.

“We loved the community, it felt like a really good place to set down roots and what better way to set down roots than make yourself part of the community,” Marty said.

The idea for a combined comics and coffee shop has been on the couple’s mind for years.

For the last 20 years, they would use any opportunity afforded to them to visit comics, coffee and gaming shops to get a better understanding of what they wanted in a business.

The entire wall is lined with issues of a large variety of comic books at Hot Off the Report Comics and Coffee, located in downtown Austin. Eric Johnson/

It didn’t take long once in the community to realize Austin was a good place to set up shop.

“About a half a year into living here, we started formulating the plan,” Jade said. “We started online to see if there was interest. We were surprised, there was quite a bit of interest. Let’s build on it.”

“We saw our numbers grow sporadically online,” Marty added. “By last summer, we were like we’re hitting a plateau now. Let’s make a decision here. We really hardcore made a decision to find a place. We just felt like there was opportunity.”

It’s a good time to be opening up a comics-featured business, especially with the success of comic book movies and shows in modern media for a number of years now.

But both Marty and Jade are hoping to establish a more intimate base for their businesses, starting with the shop itself, which is small but cozy and filled with tables and chairs for people to sit and talk comics or read comics. There is also the opportunity to play games at the tables and when the coffee shop is completed, of course, there will be the coffee next door.

But at its core, the couple wants to create a community space.

“I felt like when I was growing up … we had a community. We could talk about stuff,” Marty said. “To dedicate a space to that was kind of the goal. To encourage community.”

That idea of community came out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Marty said only exacerbated the desire to have a spot for people to come together over comics.

“We moved to town, we were getting along just fine, but we needed another challenge and that challenge became building a place we felt we could call home and other people could call home too,” Marty said.

The coffee shop, when completed, will play a major role in that community effort.

“Our plans with that is to grow the community,” Jade said. “Having it as a space where people can grab a beverage or grab a snack from there and sit down with somebody else who is also reading a comic book or comic book that’s very similar to what you’re reading and have those conversations and build that community.”

Hot Off the Press is focusing on community, partially because of their desire to be a part of what  Austin has to offer, which includes collaboration with other businesses, including existing businesses such as Ratatsokr Games and Sweet Reads Books & Candy.

In fact, it was Sweet Reads owner Lisa Deyo who has helped play a role in the Burnham’s efforts.

“She’s been a shoulder to lean on if we’ve needed it,” Marty said. “Somebody to talk to if we needed things in town or how things work in town. She’s been great to collaborate with.”

Along one of the walls are multiple shelves filled with comic books, with more bins of books located near the register.

There is a small assortment of gaming supplies as well as collectibles near a large bureau that came with the site location that Marty is hoping to use as a “cabinet of curiosities.”

Marty envisions that area to have a revolving assortment of items that could change on a daily or weekly basis — something that will help keep people coming in to continue that level of curiosity that coaxes people in again and again.

However, the couple wants people to know that while they may have some of these items available, first and foremost Hot Off the Press is a comics store. That may change slightly over time depending on the evolving nature of the business, but it will always be comics first.

“Our heart in this for this side is a comics shop,” Marty said. “For those people who want to check out comics, talk about comics — we are that hobby.”

At the same time, part of the community effort is to also be a spot of local artists and artisans to have a place to sell their goods as well.

“We do have a lot of talented artists in the food and craft world in Austin and in the community here and we want to work with those individuals to have a space for them to be able to share their wares,” Jade said. “That stuff will change. Every time you come in here you might find something different.”

So far, just six months into the business’ physical location, the couple has been happy with their progress  with even higher hopes for what the business will become once the coffee shop opens.

Even though there are long days and sometimes longer periods in between customers, both are optimistic about the community they are becoming a part of.

“We’re happy to be able to serve this community,” Marty said. “I have caught myself staring at this wall of comics and thinking, ‘this is good.’ I’m happy. I’m getting to do something I’ve wanted to do and people are responding to it.”

Hot Off the Press Comics and Coffee is open noon to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. They are closed Sunday.

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Marty and Jade will also be a part of the YMCA at the Austin Community Recreation Center’s Youth/Teen Center Open House on Wednesday, which will take place from 4:30-7 p.m.

Coming soon: Look for a follow-up story on the coffee shop later this spring.