On the day before she was to give birth, self-confessed graphic novel nerd Emilie Doerflinger, realised her long-gestating dream, signing a Mietvertrag on a former art gallery in Wedding that she aimed to transform into her own comic book store and café. Three months on, both of Doerflinger’s babies are thriving. As you enter Totem, her quaint shop in the still-ungentrified Kiez behind Silent Green, you’re welcomed by the smell of fresh-baked cookies (€1.50) and brewing French-press coffee from local roasters Coffee Circle (€1.60). Tunes from French radio station FIP play in the background. An infant tries to crawl his way to freedom beneath a basket of plush ManyMornings Polish socks (€6-9) as a bemused Chinese Shar-Pei monitors the situation.
But this is no mere Kindercafé – you might see a visiting Parisian comic book publisher checking out English titles like Guess Who? (€12) and The Lines on Nana’s Face (€15.90). You can flip through acclaimed French releases like any of Penelope Bagieu’s three tomes of Culottées (€24), or German ones like an illustrated version of Karl Marx’s iconic text “Der Gott Des Geldes” (€18). And aside from music classes and free storytime sessions in English, French and German, Doerflinger hosts special events for kids and adults alike – from January 11, expect an exhibition on the parent-child refugee journey by photojournalists Markus Heine and Björn Kietzmann, accompanied by a workshop and debate.