In times of adversity and uncertainty; Marvel characters have been there for the one man who believes in them the most

Calvin Zayonce, 49, loves Marvel comics. Through his hard times in life, they’ve been the one refuge he could depend on to get him through the day.

Since birth, Zayonce knew he was different from the other kids. He didn’t grow as tall as the other kids, he didn’t walk like other kids and he was bullied nonstop all throughout his childhood until high school.

Calvin Zayonce is a dwarf.

“My [biological] mom and dad were really cousins… actually that’s why I’m a dwarf,” he said during an interview.

“They [Doctors] classified me as not being able to walk, not be able to use my arms — I was supposed to be stuck in a wheelchair and never be able to move, except looking like a carrot in a chair. That’s why my real parents left me. They dumped me off at the hospital and just walked away.”

Zayonce was seven days old when he was given to his foster parents, Peter and Marion Zayonce, who went on to raise him through his childhood.

Growing up was rough on Zayonce as he faced constant bullying from other kids and mean names, such as ‘mental midget’.

Produced by Cheryl Russell

“I would go home and me and my dog would hide under my bed for a few hours,” Zayonce admits.

In 1971, he was introduced to his first Marvel comic book and he was instantly captivated with the characters and the stories.

“The fact that you can open up a comic book and let your mind do the wandering; that’s what got me into it,” he said.

“Every kid in the world dreams about being a super hero one day or another, I can guarantee it. When I first saw a comic book, I thought it was the best thing in the world.”

Ever since then, Zayonce has been collecting not only Marvel merchandise but has gathered an impressive collection of merchandise from other series like Transformers, Star Wars, Star Trek and even Anime.

“Super heroes have a disability too and it improves their life. I have a disability and it improved my life; it made me better.”

Kyle Lemay, who works with Zayonce at Courtesy Chrysler, said Zayonce’s disability can work both ways.

“He can do a lot of things that most people can’t do and struggle with other things that most of us take for granted. You could see it as a blessing or a curse,” Lemay stated in an email interview.

Lemay also feels that Marvel has been helpful with more people than just Zayonce.

“Whether it is Marvel, Star Wars or Anime, they all seem to show people with disabilities and differences that being different isn’t a disadvantage or a hindrance. It shows the smallest people can make the biggest difference.”

Zayonce’s future plans involve moving to Mission, B.C., and opening up his own comic book store — although he has yet to decide whether it’ll be a physical store or an internet store. He says he wants to share his love of Marvel and other merchandise with others and he hopes to improve the lives of children who are having a tough time.

crussell@cjournal.ca