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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:

Josh Medors is a very talented young artist whose work has been seen in such diverse places as G.I.JOE and 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. His current project, the werewolf horror tale WILLOW CREEK, is shipping from Zenescope, but you've also heard his name in the comics press lately because of his health issues. He recently agreed to sit down with CWR and discuss both of those things with us.

MM: Josh, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. I appreciate it.

First, let’s talk WILLOW CREEK, your new book from Zenescope. You’re a co-creator and the artist on the project. Tell us how the book came together.

JM: Denny Williams the co-writer and I have known each other and have been best friends since High School, Where we met playing football together. I was really into comics Reading and collecting, and I have always wanted to be a comic book artist as long as I can remember, so around my junior year or so I started creating my own comics, printing them up and selling them. I have always been a huge horror buff, especially werewolves, and was really big into Spawn at the time. McFarlane’s art on Amazing Spider-Man is what actually made me decide I wanted to be a comic book artist. I wanted to bring the two genres, super hero, and horror together into one book, so I came up with this idea about a government funded team that’s soul purpose was to wipe out a group of werewolves that were making their way across the United States destroying any humans in their path. Come to find out the pack was bigger more far stretched and smarter than expected, and so on, and so on. Now you can see why I needed help with the writing chores. I found out that Denny was interested in writing so I asked him to help me come up with some thing a bit stronger.

We started and stop numerous times; I actually still have some pages from some of the initial attempts on the book. You know how crazy life is when you’re 17 -18 years old, and eventually the idea got tabled and we moved on went to college, got old, you know. Well I still continued to work at becoming a comic artist and after I got my break, and opportunity came up for me to pitch an original idea. I called Denny up (we still talked about every day) and asked him what he thought about dusting off The “Werewolf” book, giving it a facelift and trying to get it out there. That’s how we got to where we are now.

MM: WILLOW CREEK plays with the idea of Bigfoot on its surface but is really about werewolves and their attack on a small town- a very classic horror set-up. Have you always been a horror fan? What about the genre appeals to you?

JM: Oh, I am a huge horror fan! I loved the old EC Comics, and The Universal classic monster movies (Wolf Man Is my favorite of course) When I was a kid I watched every horror movie I could get my hands on. I loved the 80’s slasher films, the Hammer films, and just about anything that had some sort of monster or demon in it. I have two brothers that refused to share a room with me because my posters and models scared them too much. I got in trouble at school for drawing Freddy and Jason instead of doing my home work, and almost got suspended for drawing pictures in art class that were “Inappropriate for school.” I really think my parents were worried about me for a while. :-)

I love that there are so many directions you can go in horror to draw on a person’s fear and emotions. There are so many ways to get that scare out of someone, you can jump out at them, present a distorted point of view to give a sense of uneasiness, creep them out by just putting a small detail a little out of whack, or you can just gross them out. The possibilities are endless and coming up with new ways to scare people ranks right up there with peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

MM: You’re using a very interesting look for the art on the book. Lots of darks, lots of reds. It’s different than what people have seen from you before, a long way from G.I. JOE, and I think it’s the best work I’ve seen from you by far. What did you do to evolve your style for this project?

JM: Well the comparisons have already been made in every review of the book thus far, so I start off by saying I absolutely love Ben Templesmith’s work! Any one looking at Willow Creek can see the similarities between the style I am using for this book and Ben’s. I think Ben is a master at setting a mood, and Willow Creek is all about mood. So I looked at a lot of Ben’s work to see how he achieved such a creepy isolated feel in it. His colors and use of textures are amazing, so I concentrated on those aspects while doing Willow Creek, instead of worrying about perfect anatomy and perspective. I think the fact that these things aren’t perfect tend to lend a creepiness to the art as well. I think that if I would have drawn the book in my classic comic style it would have been less effective mood-wise, and the overall look of the book would have suffered. So I tried to combine the two. I wanted the mood to be the focus of the art, but I still wanted to keep strong story telling throughout. Not crazy-detailed but still have that old school comic book feel.

MM: How many issues is the book scheduled to run?

JM: I believe it is five issues.

MM: Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: your health. You dealt with a previous bout of cancer and came through it. What was that experience like for you, a young guy, and when it was over, what did they tell you about your percentages of recurrence?

JM: Well the first time I went through this I was told I have a benign tumor about two inches long in my spinal cord, I d say about halfway up my back. I had experienced symptoms such as back aches and loss of feeling in my right leg, and the weirdest symptom was that my right leg would sweat, just my right leg. I wrote it off as a pinched nerve or a slipped disc, and just kept on keeping on with work and such. It wasn’t until I hurt my knee at my son’s basket ball practice did the pain in my back really start. I couldn’t sleep at night because of the pain and eventually the docs just put me on pain meds and told me it was probably a partially slipped disc. Eventually the pain got so bad I had to do something. My doctor ordered an MRI and the next day I was in surgery. What scared me the most was the fact that they were cutting on my spinal cord. One slip and bam, no more basketball, baseball, football, or even walking for me. That scared the hell out of me because I have a nine-year old son who is a tremendous athlete and I have always helped coach his sports teams. I couldn’t imagine not being involved in that aspect of his life. After the surgery the doctors told me that the tumor was benign and that he removed all of it, he said that there was a chance, but a small chance the tumor would return. I started recovering, and learning how to walk again, and was doing great then after about a month and a half my symptoms started returning.

MM: Now that it has recurred, what is your prognosis at the moment?

JM: Well yeah the tumor has returned, but there’s a twist. It’s like the doctors pissed it off when they cut it out, because the tumor I now have is extremely rare and malignant. The type of tumor I am now dealing with typically appears in the brain. It has some long medical name but I think they just call it an XTA or something like that. Well my XTA isn’t in my brain; it’s on my spinal cord in the exact same spot as the previous tumor. After being diagnosed the second time I was referred to a panel of specialists; when meeting with the specialists I asked “so how rare is this” and they told me they have never seen it before or cannot find any literature or documented cases. Hey it’s like hitting the frigging lottery! Actually, I would have better chances of hitting the lottery. My case was reviewed by several top cancer hospitals and they all decided that surgery really wasn’t an option. Due to the fact that the tumor was back in the same spot and bigger, the chances of me ending up paralyzed because of surgery were too risky. I think they said something like a 40 % chance I would be permanently paralyzed from the waist down or something like that. I didn’t fancy those odds. So I asked: what next? After more deliberation by numerous doctors, they decided to try radiation treatment, to be followed by chemotherapy. They would have preferred to do both at the same to for maximum effectiveness, but I guess when dealing with the spinal cord, when you do both chemo and radiation, there is a high possibility that the treatments will kill the spinal tissue and therefore leave me paralyzed or worse. So as of right now I am going through the radiation treatments. I have been going for a few weeks now every day, and I must admit that they are hitting me harder than I expected. I expected the fatigue, and nausea, but it also comes with swelling of the spinal cord which causes great pain, and weakness in my legs. I now have a handy dandy wheelchair that I enjoy popping wheelies in. I don’t need a wheelchair all the time, but the docs say that I will probably be in one for a while. I hate having to use the thing so I am doing my damnedest to stay out of it as much as possible.

Right now it is up in the air as to how this is going to come out. We are waiting to see how the tumor reacts to the radiation; I don’t think that the experts have any idea, seeing as this is new. If it doesn’t react to the radiation I guess we try chemotherapy. If that doesn’t work…. Well I don’t like to think about that.

MM: How do you feel, physically and mentally? Are you able to stay positive?

JM: Each day I wake up I don’t know what to expect. Some days are better than others, but most of them are filled with pain and numbness. Weird combo huh? Some days the radiation kicks my ass, and I don’t feel like working at all, but the work takes my mind off of everything going on. Some days I can’t sit and work, it just hurts too much. Mentally, I am doing pretty good- I really haven’t broke down and lost it yet. I am fortunate enough to have some very special people around me to help me through all of this. They don’t let me feel sorry for myself. And when I start, they give me a boot in the ass, and let me know that the world doesn’t stop just because I am sick. They remind me how fortunate I am to be doing something I love for a living, and some even let me know how fortunate I am to have them around, lol. Seriously, I am very lucky to have the support I have, and it has kept my head up through all of this. I know that this is something I can beat; no scratch that; WILL beat, and I count my blessings each day I wake up and get out of bed able to walk over to my desk and sit down and draw.

MM: The comics community is a tight-knit one, and a number of professionals have come together to put on an auction on your behalf at Emerald City Comic-Con. How do you react to something like that? Is the support something that feels overwhelming to you?

JM: When Jay Fotos called me up and told me that he was organizing a benefit with Jim over at ECCC, I lost it for the first time since I found out about my cancer. I was so touched that Jay, one of the busiest guys I know in the industry, was taking time out of his schedule to help me out. I mean I bawled, sobbed, cried like a baby. Then to see the response pouring in from friends, fellow artists, and fans alike, just totally blew me away. I mean these are people who don’t know me from Adam, who just love comics and want to do anything they can to help out someone involved with something they are passionate about. I have never experienced anything like it. A community of people with a common interest coming together to help out one of their own. I am really in awe. And just think about it makes me tear up because there is no way I could ever say thank you enough or repay the kindness everyone has shown.

MM: Will you be able to make it to the show?

JM: I would love to be able to make the show, but I really don’t think it is a possibility. I went to my first show since my diagnosis last weekend, it was the Pittsburgh comicon. A show I do every year. I was only there for Saturday and Sunday of the show and by Sunday I was wore down. I could hardly walk and felt overall generally crappy! So I will probably sit this one out and concentrate on getting better. I would love to be there, and I hate have to miss the auction after all of Jay and Jim’s hard work. Please everyone, stop and thank those guys for putting this all together, they have done an amazing job and on very short notice.

MM: After WILLOW CREEK finishes, what’s next on your plate? Any projects already in the pipeline, or are you waiting until that book is completed to decide on your next move?

JM: Right now I am finishing up SWAMP DEMON (Jay and the guys at Image have been awesome and very understanding about what I am going through). I will be finishing up Issue #2 of Willow Creek this week (only a week late!) Thanks, Zenescope for being understanding! It is tough enough working on two projects at once while well. I have been working on three throughout this whole ordeal and it has been very tough, but everyone has been very understanding when it comes to deadlines.

After finishing up Swamp Demon I will be starting on a new project I am very excited about. I am doing a new Frazetta book that'll be written by Steve Niles. I am excited as hell to be working with him again.

Thanks to Josh Medors for taking time out of his schedule to talk to us here at CWR. If you’re interested in purchasing something from the auction at ECCC, check out its webpage. If you’d like to make a cash donation, you can use PayPal to do so as well.

Marc Mason


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