Trigger warning: Domestic violence

 

“I found a way to cope inside stories, inside fantasy realms,” says Duf Franco, owner of Earth 383 Comics and Games. The downtown Elizabeth City store serves as a clubhouse for the local gaming community. With his open-door policy and friendly demeanor, Franco has created a sort of refuge for gamers, strays, and outcasts.

“This has got to be an escape. They come in here and they can just leave everything else behind because they’re not judged here; they’re not picked on,” Franco says.

Ingrained with a desire to help people, in part due to tragedies in his youth, it is not uncommon for Franco to give people a place to stay, food, or a job at his store.

“I just want to help everybody,” he says. “I want to be a superhero.”