Another two-day Online Commentary & Diversions (running a little off schedule, sorry):
• Review: "Hollywood is probably the most likely to misrepresent any culture, but their casting of punks as Neolithic, abusive, drug addicts with candy-colored hair and an inexplicable amount of chains is far too amusing to turn away from. [Destroy All Movies!!!] editors Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly seem to have noticed this trend, and their commentary about each of these films borders on hilarious at several points. [...] In the end, you get both a compendium of thoughtful ruminations on punk culture and a hilarious collection of movie missteps..." – Thorin Klosowski, Denver Westword
• Review: "[Jason] is without immediate peer, and perhaps the closest I can get to him is Jim Jarmusch, the indie film director... Werewolves of Montpellier is less about the grand sweep of its pseudo-horror set-up (which is utterly demolished by a delicious final page denouement), and more about its mundane aspects, which resonate further than the book's forty-odd pages. ★★★★ [out of 5]" – Michael Leader, Den of Geek
• Review: "...Blake Bell has crafted an excellent look at one of comics' most underappreciated creators: compelling, well paced and entertaining. [...] Bell kept Fire & Water moving at an excellent pace, never dwelling too long on any details but giving us Everett's life in relation to his comic career. And that's the key: Bell is a comic fan and knows his audience is as well so that's the focus. [...] While the tale of Everett's life held my attention the art is the real star. Covering everything from early doodles to his last published page we get to see thirty plus years of material. [...] The fit and finish for Fire & Water is exceptional. A heavy matt paper is used that really shows off the material and gives it an almost period feel. The size is perfect for admiring the art and is easy to read; a new perfect package. I can't get enough of the dust jacket image and its design is stunning: a real eye catcher. At $40 it's a great value." – Scott VanderPloeg, Comic Book Daily
• Review: Sean T. Collins's "Love and Rocktober" review series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly moves on to Gilbert Hernandez's oeuvre, starting with Heartbreak Soup: "Whether in terms of family, sexuality, physicality, or deformity, biology is destiny for the people of Palomar... And although biology is obviously among Beto's primary concerns, destiny is the operative word. I don't think the Palomarians have the ability to escape the way the Locas do. Not all of them need to escape, mind you — there's a lot of really warm and adorable and hilarious and awesome stuff going down in Palomar — but whatever walks alongside them in their lives is gonna walk alongside them till the very end."
• List: At Robot 6, guest contributor Van Jensen names Josh Simmons's House as one of his "six favorite horror comics & movies" (and, by reduction, one of his three favorite horror comics): "Simmons uses no words through the entire story, but his real accomplishment is utilizing the design of the pages to deliver an increasingly claustrophobic, disorienting and terrifying story."
• Plug: At Robot 6, Sean T. Collins highlights our duo of creepy all-ages releases, David B.'s The Littlest Pirate King and Stéphane Blanquet's Toys in the Basement
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater concludes his 3-part chat with Drew Weing: "What’s funny is, I’ve got Google Alerts for my name, so if somebody says it on the Internet, I show up like Beetlejuice. I click on it, like, 'ooh, this guy just dissed me.'" [Hi, Drew.]
Online Commentary & Diversions returns from a sick day:
• Review: "With elegant simplicity, this comic-book fable [Set to Sea] unfurls the tale of a life cast on an unexpected course and the melancholy wisdom accrued upon the waves. First-time graphic-novelist Weing has produced a beautiful gem here, with minimal dialogue, one jolting battle scene, and each small page owned by a single panel filled with art whose figures have a comfortable roundness dredged up from the cartoon landscapes of our childhood unconscious, even as the intensely crosshatched shadings suggest the darkness that sometimes traces the edges of our lives. [...] Weing’s debut is playful, atmospheric, dark, wistful, and wise." – Jesse Karp, Booklist (Starred Review)
• Review: "...[A]n absolutely stunning [book], collecting some of the best and most trenchantly funny illustrations by a contender for the title of America’s Greatest Living Caricaturist in a lavish, full-colour hardback. [...] Friedman is a master craftsman who can draw and paint with breathtaking power, and his work is intrinsically funny. [...] His caricatures are powerful, resonant and joyful, but without ever really descending to the level of graphic malice preferred by such luminaries as Ralph Steadman or Gerald Scarfe. Too Soon? is a book for art lovers, celebrity stalkers and anyone who enjoys a pretty, good laugh." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "...A Drunken Dream showcases the full range of Hagio’s short stories, while also granting readers insight into the themes of lost innocence, family dysfunction and perseverance in the face of abuse that underscore much of her work. [...] With distinct character designs, detailed backgrounds and emotive character acting, Hagio’s artwork conveys the full emotional range of her stories, with dollops of humor mixed into sagas of sadness, survival and hard-won contentment. [...] A Drunken Dream and Other Stories finds another important voice in Japanese comics history washing up on American shores. One hopes that Hagio, whose work manages to be both stark and beautiful, finds a welcoming and receptive audience." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: Sean T. Collins looks at "La Maggie La Loca" and "Gold Diggers of 1969" from Love and Rockets Vol. II #20 as part of his "Love and Rocktober" series at Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "Maggie may just be an apartment manager anymore, she may now get in way over her head (literally) when she attempts to have a fun island adventure like she used to, but the way Rena sneaks into her room at night just to watch her sleep reveals that the aging heroine could use a dose of the community and camaraderie that's part and parcel of Maggie's dayjob."
• List: Sam Costello of iFanboy names House by Josh Simmons as one of "13 Great Horror Comics for Halloween": "Josh Simmons is some kind of horror savant. There are few really, truly, deeply disturbing comics out there. If you’re willing to take the risk of reading a comic that you’ll literally want to cover your eyes while you read, Simmons’ work is for you. House, his nearly wordless tale of a trio of friends exploring a dilapidated, cavernous mansion, is less explicit, but worth a look. Its suffocating, despairing loneliness is affecting." (Via Robot 6)
• Commentary: "It was like the sky: pleasant, visually appealing, reliable. Peanuts had a Picture of Dorian Gray quality; you kept getting older and more decrepit and more cynical, but it didn't. By the time you started reading it, you were already older than the characters in the strip, so it immediately made you nostalgic for childhood. Not necessarily for your childhood, but for the childhood Lucy and Charlie and Linus were having." – Joe Queenan, The Guardian
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Johnny Ryan about Prison Pit: "I think in a strange way the book(s) are very revealing about myself. I felt as if I was really exposing myself here. I was very anxious about that."
Online Commentary & Diversions returns after a post-APE hiatus and subsequent sick day:
• Review: "Good Jaime Hernandez comics are always just about the most satisfying books that money can buy, and I was so impressed with how the pleasure of seeing contemporary Maggie again for the first time in far too long [in Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] gave way to the satisfaction of seeing another building block in her curious history, and then everything turned unpleasant in a way that was equally bleak and fascinating. Watching Jaime fit everything together the way he does is breathtaking. Recommended for adult readers." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf
• Review: It's still "Love and Rocktober" at Sean T. Collins's Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "If Ghost of Hoppers was Maggie's confrontation with adulthood, The Education of Hopey Glass serves up the equivalent for Hopey and Ray. It's fascinating to me to see where their lives have taken them versus where they were — and more importantly, what they represented to Maggie — when they were first juxtaposed. [...] What makes these two stories compelling and connects them to one another beyond the basic idea of the characters coming to terms with their age is how much the stories rely on the kinds of things only an artist of Jaime's caliber can pull off for their telling."
• Review: "Man’s oldest gynophobic horrors and most simplistic delight in sheer physical dominance are savagely delineated in this primitive, appalling, cathartic and blackly funny campaign of cartoon horror. Resplendent, triumphant juvenilia is adroitly shoved beyond all ethical limits into the darkest depths of absurdist comedy. Not for children, the faint-hearted or weak-stomached, [Prison Pit Book 2] is another non-stop rollercoaster of extreme violence, profanity and cartoon shock and awe at its most visceral and compelling. ...[T]his book is all-out over the top and flat out hilarious. Buy and see if you’re broad-minded, fundamentally honest and purely in need of ultra-adult silliness." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Bitter, haunting stories [by Zak Sally] like 'The Man Who Killed Wally Wood' and 'The War Back Home' show a striking willingness to ask uncomfortable questions about himself and the world around him. His account of Dostoyevsky’s time in prison is a real highlight and I think marks a turning point in his storytelling ability. And the fearless, self-lacerating essay he provides at the end brings the book to a near-perfect close. Really, [Like a Dog] is a tight little collection." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "There’s fourteen stories in all in this anthology, beautifully scanned, restored, and reproduced in all their four-color glory. [...] There’s a lot of fun to be had in these pages. [...] Boody properly showcases a sizeable enough collection of complete comics stories by the wildman inkslinger from Texas, finally elevating Rogers into the pantheon he’s always been part of — if only enough folks had been able to access his work. At last, they can!" – Steve Bissette, The Schulz Library Blog
• Review: "The publication of Rebel Visions was a vital riposte to [a] tide of apathy, a vast and authoritative work built for the clear purpose of documenting the entire history of the US underground revolution in a definitive fashion: a not inconsiderable task given the various tributaries that have spewed forth since the early 1960s. [...] Rosenkranz diligently weaves a number of divergent themes using the oral histories of most of the major participants." – Kevin McCaighy, Exquisite Things (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: Kat Engh of Geek Girl on the Street chatted with Megan Kelso at APE over the weekend: "I like writing and movies and music and art forms that are about more than one thing. I’m really fascinated by that, and I think that comics really lend themselves to that kind of layering and layers in conflict, because you’ve literally got two tracks of information with pictures and words, and because they’re so separate from each other, they lend themselves to doing different things at the same time. I’ve always thought that if a comic’s not doing more than one thing, it’s not taking advantage of what is, so yeah, I’d say I actively strive for that."
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Fire & Water author Blake Bell at length about Bill Everett — "I think Everett is as unique a stylist as Ditko is. When you see Everett's work, you automatically know who it is if you have any inkling about any of the Silver or Golden Age artists. Secondly, in his own way he's as influential as Ditko. Without question, Everett created the antihero in superhero comics back in 1939 when he introduced the Sub-Mariner. There was no other comic book character like him." — and upcoming volumes of The Steve Ditko Archives.
• Interview: It's the second part of Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Weing at The Daily Cross Hatch: "It’s such a weird time where so much stuff is available online, though I went out of my way to make the book a nice little object. And I feel like it does read better in book form, because it’s a format that you can more lovingly pore over the detail."
• Interview: At Gapers Block, Rose Lannin talks to Jeremy Tinder, who makes his Fantagraphics debut in Mome Vol. 20. This quote is relevant to the Mome story: "I grew up reading newspaper strips, like Garfield. I think it was around age 5 when I really started getting into Garfield and tracing it out of the paper every day. [...] Garfield was my focus in life for six years, I was so into it."
• Coming Attractions:Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston reports here that "...[I]t seems that Fantagraphics, as part of their current attemp to to translate every French comic book in existence, has seized upon [David B.'s] book, Le Jardin armé et autres histoires or The Armed Garden and are to publish it in August next year," and here about our translation of Tardi & Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, "...planned for August next year. Which, in terms of European-to-American translation is light speed."
• Review: "Emotionally uncompromising and graphically challenging, You’ll Never Know v.2: Collateral Damage stands out as one of the best comics of the year. Tyler reaches deep into herself, showing the unending dominoes of influence that compose a family. Do yourself a favor and check it out." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "But as powerful as this strain of valorization has been, there have been powerful statements of dissent along the way. The Americanization of Emily, for example, or Catch-22. Lucky in Love: Book 1 (by George Cheiffet, with art by Stephen DeStefano) follows their path, though it takes a much more personal, less grandiose tone than those two examples. It’s drawn in a style reminiscent of Disney WWII propaganda cartoons, though DeStefano arranges the backgrounds and perspectives with far greater sophistication." – Joshua Malbin
• Review: "Ryan takes puerile humor to unimagined heights (or depths)... Prison Pit Book Two isn't as much about punchlines and shock tactics. Here, the humor comes via ridiculously long and surreal battles between intergalactic monsters (think bizarre mutations and mass bloodshed). It's sort of a spoof on sci-fi comics, He-Man cartoons, and the over the top male bravado of WWE Wrestling...Prison Pit contains Ryan's signature WTF flourishes, like ass licking creatures, thorny alien vaginas, ghetto slang and Nazi insignia emblazoned 'death hösen' trousers. See you on the playground." – Wilfred Brandt, TwoThousand
• Review: "But the way you're just dropped into Maggie & Hopey, Already In Progress, is pretty much why I continue to recommend this volume [Maggie the Mechanic], rather than its relatively sci-fi-free successors, as the place to start if you're interested in Jaime's work. I understand why that doesn't work for everyone — and it's true, the earliest comics are relatively talky and old-fashioned-looking as befits their influences. But if you start late in the game, you're not just missing dinosaurs and rocketships and robots and superheroes and such — you're missing what really feels like a couple years in the life. Even by page one, we've already missed so much!" – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater talked to Drew Weing at SPX. Part 1 gets into the creation of Set to Sea: "The intention was to draw a panel every day and post it. It was supposed to be fun, quick side project, 'it’s the end of the day. I just draw this one, quick, small panel.' And every day it got more and more detailed and complex. By panel two it was too complex to knock off in an hour or two."
• Plug: "Four-Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950s... [is a] collection of pre-Code, non-EC horror comics that are every bit as good as the famed EC comics themselves. Here in all its shocking, creepy and gory glory you can see work from Jack Cole, Reed Crandall, Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Basil Wolverton, Wally Wood, and more! This one is a must!" – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy
• Coming Attractions:Bleeding Cool 's Rich Johnston continues noticing our 2011 Eurocomics reprints, now reporting on our June edition of R. Macherot's Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus: "Am I the only one that’s seeing a bit of a trend? The trade dress appears similar… is Fantagraphics on a major spreee to translate and publish as many quality French comics as they can? [Yes. – Ed.] In a new imprint or line perhaps? [I'm not sure whether we're considering this a "line" or not, but it's not an imprint. – Ed.]"
Periodic clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing and possible artist commentary at the sources:
• Jason presents two cover illustrations: one for a biography of Henrik Ibsen, the other for a 1989 issue of a Norwegian fanzine (oh yeah, and the cover for his next Fanta collection What I Did is in there too)
"Greetings, stranger of the future. If you are reading this, it means the written word has survived, that the world of tomorrow still exists, and that for some reason my ramblings are still considered worth reading. My name is Mark Twain, and I write these words to you in the good old days of August 2010."
• Richard Sala presents a whole bunch of production, concept, and storyboard art from his animated serial "Invisible Hands" from MTV's Liquid Television, in 4 installments (so far) hereherehere and here, with commentary
• Review: "We are witness to a man's life unfolding, unraveling, before us in a series of postcards that leave nothing — or is it everything? — to the imagination. I don't know Drew Weing, or whether he's lucky or good, but in Set to Sea , he has reminded me once again just how much story you can share in a brief flurry of comic panels, so long as you know how to trim the sails and catch the wind." – Steve Duin, The Oregonian
• Review: "...Set to Sea... is so much more than a hauntingly inspiring story about a poet who ends up on a sea vessel. It is so much more than page after page of highly-detailed illustrations. It feels like a small precious art book full of engravings or paintings on each page or an old illustrated maritime novel. [...] Weing’s art is mesmerizing. You could stare at one page for hours. Each page is carefully planned and crafted to maximize its storytelling ability and it is easy to see the love and effort that went into each line and crosshatch." – Shawn Daughhetee, The HeroesOnline Blog
• Review: "The pages [of Set to Sea] are incredibly expressive, able to convey longing, panic, rage, camaraderie, mourning, and ultimately peace. Weing manipulates whole compositions to achieve these effects, not merely the expressions on characters’ faces." – Joshua Malbin
• Review: "Drew [Weing] uses the possibilities of the medium to perfection [in Set to Sea], telling the life story of the guy page by page, somehow pulling the impression of a richly lived life through scattered moments." – Kevin Bramer, Optical Sloth
• Review: "Imagine Sad Sack stepping out of his cartoon world and into ours — warts and all — and that’s what Lucky in Love almost feels like. [...] The real star of the show here is artist DeStefano, who mixes up this 1940s world as one-part humor strip outrageousness, and one-part gorgeous Will Eisner-style dramatic noir — a real visual tour de force." – John Seven, Worcester Magazine
• Review: "Revealed in these pages [of A Drunken Dream and Other Stories] are gentle but dark stories that are preoccupied with the loss and alienation that their intended audiences no doubt feel, often without any tangible reasons beyond the purely psychological. Several stories stand out for cherry pickers, but you’ll be rewarded by each entry." – John Mitchell, North Adams Transcript
• Review: "...The Artist Himself... present[s] a compellingly fresh... approach to the history of the medium... What makes The Artist Himself unique is in the title itself — Rosenkranz has constructed a sprawling portrait of Rand Holmes as a man in conflict with the 'the artist himself' — a man trying to carve out a way to live that allowed for art (never an easy feat) and an art that somehow made sense in his life. ...[A]side from the obvious benefits of learning about Holmes, I found myself selfishly drawing tremendous inspiration from Rosenkranz as he demonstrated the richness possible in writing the history of comics. He draws the curtain back as if to say, 'see, here’s someone you hardly think of, who lived an extraordinary life, and it’s a life that must be reckoned within the history.' It radically broadens what we think of as a cartoonist’s life, and in that Rosenkranz has given us a great gift." – Dan Nadel, Comics Comics
• Review: "If Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 only contained Gilbert Hernandez’s 36-page 'Scarlet By Starlight,' it would still be one of the most significant new comics of the year. [...Jaime's] 'The Love Bunglers' and 'Browntown' offer the kind of rich, intricate stories — packed with sharp observations about human desire and self-justification — that only an author with 30 years of experience with these characters could write. But readers don’t need to have read all the previous Maggie tales to follow them. Everything a newcomer needs to know is woven neatly into the stories themselves... There are acclaimed filmmakers and novelists who can’t do what Jaime Hernandez does — or Gilbert, for that matter. When the two of them are at their most inspired, as they are here, they make almost every other comics creator today look like a fumbling hack. [Grade] A" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "I won't pretend to have a clue as to what Beto's trying to do with this stuff; sometimes he seems to be paying tribute of sorts to junk cinema and/or comment on the current state of the movies, and sometimes it seems like he just wants to draw to naked dudes beating a cop to death with a rock. ...Jaime is note-perfect throughout, using every nuance and trick at his command to engage and move the reader. It's a masterwork, and I'll be damned if I can tell what he'll do for an encore. ...[T]his one brings the goods. If you care at all about this series and those characters, you'll want to get this [issue of Love and Rockets: New Stories]..." – Johnny Bacardi, Popdose
• Review: "...[T]his one is really damn good, with a typically surreal and horrifying story from Gilbert and an excellent bit of character work from Jaime. Isn't it awesome that stuff on this level is what we've come to expect? [...] Yes, it's another great issue of one of the best comics series of all time; what else is new? Jaime and Gilbert are rightfully revered as all-time great creators, but the fact that they are still pumping out incredible work and bettering themselves, sure to keep doing it for as long as possible, should make readers celebrate their wealth and fortune. Even if everybody else quit, we would still be pretty lucky. Long live Love and Rockets!" – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Review: "You open a Xaime story, you know what you’re gonna get. He’s a known quantity/quality on the richest level... With Xaime, you’re going to get a perfectly-told Locas story: clean... and humanistic and relatable, funny, sad, the whole package. Beto, on the other hand …. His shit is scary creative, and sometimes just scary. Gilbert is the higher mathematics, you know what I’m saying? Ever since 'Human Diastrophism' I haven’t felt safe in his company, haven’t trusted that crazy bastard. Because he will do some fucked-up shit when you least expect it. [...] So, boom, right on Jump Street of Love and Rockets: New Stories #3 there’s a Gilbert story. Deep breath. Okay. In we go with gun and flashlight." – Rob Gonsalves, Rob's Comics Zone
• Review: "The colors are garish, the stories grotesque, and the art much freakier than the norm. Where EC’s comics are more akin to the drive-in fodder of American International Pictures, the comics in Four Color Fear are the equivalent of a David F. Friedman grindhouse roughie: lurid, exploitative, and just plain wrong. In short, this book is awesome. Making it even more awesome is Sadowski’s annotation: ...the layer of scholarship is enough to make reading about decaying zombies and devil-worshippers seem almost ennobling. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Caricature is a bit of a dying art, but there’s still a place for it, especially in a celebrity-obsessed culture like ours that goes out of its way to make its idols look even better than they already do. That’s why we need Drew Friedman, whose precise, pointillist style has been putting the rich and famous to the sword for decades. His new collection, Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010, features another round of his inimitable caricatures, which manage to make everyone from venal creeps to well-meaning politicians look alternately hideous and noble. Friedman is still at the top of his game... [Grade] B+" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "One of the lesser-known lights of the Golden Age, illustrator Mort Meskin was a prolific workhorse whose angular, action-packed style and use of deep shadow effects would prove a huge influence on Steve Ditko. From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin, a new biography of Meskin compiling exhaustive interviews with his peers and extensive cooperation from his sons, doesn’t lack for material. It also has plenty of great anecdotes, and through quality reproductions, it skillfully makes its case that its subject was a very talented artist. [Grade] B-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The 1930 DeMoulin Bros. catalog, or Catalog No. 439: Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, ...reached the jester of a more or less pronounced sadistic orientation, and offered them the tools and effects that made it possible to fool friends (?) to put their heart in their throat and give them pain here and there. Fantagraphics Books has recently reprinted the directory again (along with several essays that comment on product selection in a cultural perspective)... Although one might prefer to avoid being exposed to the tricks that comprise the DeMoulin catalog, I must admit that I laughed both three and five times when I looked through the offerings. Most of us probably have a little sadist in us, I guess." – Kjetil Johansen, Nekropolis – Den Historiske Bloggen (translated from Norwegian)
• Plugs: "Well, in our rambunctious endeavour to keep up with the literary radness of the Northwest, we... want to point you toward [Jim] Woodring’s newest graphic novel, Weathercraft, which is out now from Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphic Books. In addition to Weathercraft, we personally recommend their series Love and Rockets, from Los Bros Hernandez. If you’re looking for some reading that really is graphic, like super sexy female bodies comin at ya with homoerotic undertones that are never unleashed but still drive you crazy, you’ll want to pick up Love and Rockets. This series is an endlessly delicious ride through the relationships of men and women in crappy southern California neighborhoods." – Lori Huskey, Dark Sky Magazine
• Profile:Robot 6 presents a "Comics College" introductory guide to the work of Kim Deitch, written by Deitch Universe expert Bill Kartalopoulos: "Kim Deitch is an enormously vital and prolific cartoonist who was also one of the charter members of the underground comix scene that changed comics in the 1960s and 70s. [...] More than forty years later, Deitch stands as one of the few underground cartoonists who has steadily and consistently produced a large body of important work, spanning every available format from the alternative weekly comic strip to the graphic novel."
• Interview:Al Jaffee touches briefly on his Humbug days in this extensive Q&A with Mother Jones's Michael Mechanic: "I loved Harvey [Kurtzman] and I miss him to this day. He was a very, very inspiring guy. He was inventive and inspiring and he also was just a scrupulous editor. He could catch things that most people would just say, 'Let it go through, it really doesn't matter; who's going to know?' But once Harvey pointed it out, I would change it even if it took me the whole day. Harvey knew how to make things work because he wasn't greedy, he wasn't successful." (Via ¡Journalista!)
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