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Illustrator given a ray of light - Partnership with Brooklyn writer gives stricken dad hope

Matthew Tomao has never met Josh Medors. The two worked together on a graphic novel this past year, but with Tomao, the writer, living in Brooklyn and Medors, the illustrator, in Ohio, communication was conducted via the Internet or through an editor. Their relative anonymity to each other isn’t stopping Tomao from doing what he can to help Medors, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer late last year.

“He’s technically a stranger [but] it doesn’t take a lot to help people. That’s what I’m really trying to show here,” said Tomao, a Dyker Heights resident who is holding a fundraiser on Oct. 4 at the Bean Post Pub in Bay Ridge. “We really need to start helping people in this country.”

Medors, who is in his early 30s, realized he had a rare form of cancer in his spine late last year. He always had back pain, but it wasn’t until he hurt his back playing basketball with his nine-year-old son that he realized he had more than a slipped disc. An MRI found a benign tumor in the middle of his spine. It was removed, but came back malignant as an incredibly rare form of cancer usually found in the brain. Because of its location, it was too risky to perform surgery on Medors, so he entered chemotherapy treatment last spring.

Like most freelance artists, he doesn’t have health insurance to help pay for his treatments.

“It’s not enough he has cancer, but he also has no health insurance,” said Tomao.

Recently, Tomao said that even Medors’ closest friends have had trouble getting in touch with the artist. “He needs a ray of hope,” said the writer.

For his part, Tomao is holding the Oct. 4 fundraiser in Bay Ridge, in conjunction with the Brooklyn director of special events for the American Cancer Society as well as St. Mark’s Comics. Copies of his new graphic novel, Sabbath: All Your Sins Reborn, which Medors illustrated, will be on sale, with part of the proceeds going to Medors’ cause. Proceeds from the sale of drinks and food will also go towards Medors, St. Mark’s Comics will be holding an auction, and donations will also be accepted.

“Anything we can do, we’re trying to raise money for him,” said Tomao.

Others in the comic book community have united behind Medors’ cause. This past April at the Emerald City Comic Con in Cleveland, a benefit auction raised more than $10,000 for Medors, who has earned many fans through his work on such comics as Frank Frazetta’s Swamp Demon, Runes of Ragnan, Willow Creek, G I Joe, and 30 Days of Night. Proceeds from the comic book Pulp Tales from BOOM! Studios have also been donated to Medors.

“It’s a very close-knit community,” said Tomao. “We try to help one another out.” Jobs through such comic powerhouses as Marvel and DC Comics would come with benefits such as health insurance, but many find that creatively stifling and opt to freelance instead. “You shouldn’t have to choose between your career and your health,” said Tomao, a staunch supporter of universal health care.

In an interview with Comics Waiting Room this past May, Medors said he was touched by the outpouring of support from the comic community.

“[T]o 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,” he said. “And just think [sic] 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.”

Tomao came into contact with Medors July 2007, when he was looking for an artist to illustrate his graphic novel, Sabbath, released this past August through Devil’s Due Publishing. An extremely dark story, Medors wanted the drawings to be equally dark, and Medors already was a fan of horror. When given Medors’ samples, it was exactly what Tomao was looking for. Despite his diagnosis and chemotherapy treatments during the project, Medors worked through the pain and finished the book by deadline.

“Most people would be out of commission,” said Tomao. “He’s amazing. He did a beautiful job on my comic and made my dreams come true. If I could do it for him, I might as well try.”

The fundraiser for Josh Medors is October 4 at the Bean Post Pub (7525 Fifth Avenue) from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, call 718-745-9413. To purchase a copy of Sabbath: All Your Sins Reborn, go to www.hypergraphiacomics.com and www.sabbathcomic.com.

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