mike sterling's progressive ruin

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Friday, February 25, 2005

Pete Von Sholly's Here Doesn't Come The Flying F---! is rude, crass, vulgar, and actually pretty amusing if you're in the mood for that sort of thing. Your mom would disapprove, but you dad would probably get a kick out of it. The eponymous hero is a slovenly sort, fighting for truth, justice...well, actually, just fighting for his right to watch television uninterrupted, mostly.

Two of the stories are done Photoshop/fumetti-style, with FF taking on his power company (which cut his service), and brawling in the streets of Burbank with an arch-nemesis. A third story, in which FF catches up on his comic book adventures, is not quite as successful, as it's more traditional painted comic art, and lacks the novelty of the other fumetti-style stories. Not to say that this story badly illustrated...it's colorful and appealing, but part of the humor of this book stems from the fact that Von Sholly actually got someone to dress up in the FF costume, a joke lost when you're not actually looking at photos of the character. The book wraps up with a supposed catalogue of FF merchandise, which brings a smile or two, while nicely satirizing some of the goofy items you actually can get on store shelves. The page of "PVC figurines" is particularly well-done.

Your tolerance for profanity will most certainly be tested by this comic, and there is absolutely no subtlety to any of the humor...but then, it is called Here Doesn't Come The Flying F---, so what were you expecting? You'll get some good lowbrow laughs out of it, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that.

You can find a link to the first six-page story from the comic
here, and you can order a copy of the comic signed by Von Sholly as well.

I've been meaning to link to this site, but I keep forgetting, and I'm sure most of you have seen it by now anyway. At any rate, Neilalien posted a link to the latest installment of Comic Book Breaking News, an Onion-style (well, maybe more Ironic Times-style) online "news"-zine with satirical stories and headlines. Good for some laughs.

Speaking of Neilalien...happy 5th anniversary!

Another reason why we have weblogs: seems to me I recall a certain member of the ACAPCWOVCCAOE* writing a critical letter to a comic from a major publisher, and having it re-edited into a positive letter and printed.

* Associated blah blah Ventura County blah blah Environs.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Some brief notes:

Tony Isabella suggests the mind-numbing idea of a Simpsons/Archie comics crossover. (I mean, aside from the one in this episode.) The more I think about it, the more I want to see it. No...need to see it.

2. Added a few more links to the sidebar, including Sean Collins' new weblog The Outbreak, and that new one that's all the rage, the nicely-done Suspension of Disbelief, discussing factual errors in the funnies. (Of course, Polite Dissent remains your go-to weblog for your medical comic fact-checking needs.)

3. In case you were wondering...yes, I own this shirt.

This isn't the brightest thing I've ever done... 

...and that's including my seeing both Mannequin and Mannequin 2: On The Move in the theatres. I thought I'd do a brief comment or two on every comic book that we got in on Wednesday. Some caveats: first, as a full-line comic shop, that means we carry purt'near every comic book that comes down the Diamond pike...though, due to the vagaries of distribution, some titles that arrived elsewhere may not be here. Second, it's just plain ol' comics I'm looking at...digests, magazines, graphic novels, and the manga are left off the list to keep me from going insane. Well, more insane, at any rate. Also, I just cut 'n' pasted the list from our invoice...I'm mostly not bothering with the [cite] tags.

So, here we go:

AFTERMATH BREAKDOWN #4 - I swear, they had better start 1) putting "AFTERMATH" in big letters on the cover, or 2) just calling it "BREAKDOWN." Not a big deal, I know, but it's really beginning to grate on me.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #517 - We lost a couple subscribers at the store once John Romita Jr. was off the book. Hmmm.

AVENGERS EARTHS MIGHTIEST HEROES #8 - Actually sold fairly well for us, overall. Probably could have sold more if reorders were available on earlier issues. You know, the same old Marvel story.

BART SIMPSON COMICS #22 - A long time ago, prior to their existence, we were asked every day for Simpsons comics. Day in, day out, "please, sir, can we have some Simpsons comics?" And then the requests faded away...and that's when the Simpsons line was announced. We all thought, "oh, great, wonderful timing," figuring the line would crash and burn right away. Well, I am very happy to say that it's still around, and still doing just dandy for us. Well played, sirs.

BATGIRL #61 - I haven't actually looked inside an issue of this for several months now. Is she still in that creepy costume that turns off every parent looking for Batgirl comics for the young'uns?

BATMAN #637 - ...versus Amazo in this issue. It's always interesting to see Batman square off against someone not in his regular rogues gallery in his own book. That sort of behavior is usually reserved for JLA.

BATTLE HYMN #1 - Flip cover...the "Nazi villain threatening the pretty girl" cover is the best, reminding me of an old pulp magazine.

BETTY & VERONICA SPECTACULAR #69 - New format...now a "girl's interest magazine!" Still looks like a comic to me. Check it out.

BIGFOOT #1 - You had me at the Richard Corben, lost me at the Rob Zombie. Sorry, man.

BLACK WIDOW #6 - Bill Sienkiewicz on inks. That weirds me out.

BPRD THE DEAD #4 - I like this comic an' all, but I hope to see some actual Hellboy some time soon.

BURGLAR BILL #2 - I really should pick this up, since I got the first issue from its original Trident Comics release and liked it. But then, it's probably been well over a decade since I've read it....

CARTOON NETWORK BLOCK PARTY #6 - we're not going to see any more Cartoon Network Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast comics, are we?

CONAN #13 - It still stuns me that Dark Horse not only managed to get a Conan comic out in this day and age, but was able to achieve some success with it. Amazing.

CSI SECRET IDENTITY #1 - This comic attracts the attention of non-comics readers who wander into our store, but it's an uphill battle to get them to buy it. Go figure.

DEAD AT 17 REVOLUTION #3 - Always nice art on the Dead at 17 books. Viper Comics does quality work.

DESPERADOES BANNERS OF GOLD #3 - We really need more Western titles. Who doesn't like cowboys?

DR BLINK SUPERHERO SHRINK #1 - A long time ago, Rob Liefeld had some kind of "superhero psychologist" thing going as a potential movie project, didn't he? And then there was Supertalk...there was some kind of minor trend regarding this topic going around, wasn't there?

ELVIRA #142 - I wonder if, 15 or 20 years ago, Cassandra Peterson holed up in a studio somewhere and took thousands upon thousands of photos of her dressed up as Elvira, and is now slowly doling them out in advertising, calendars, covers for the comics, and so on. Then again, maybe not, since I'm sure we've seen some of these photos more than a few times....

ENNIS & MCCREA'S DICKS WINTER FUN SP #1 - I like Ennis. I like McCrea. Never warmed to this comic. No idea why.

ERIC RED'S CONTAINMENT #2 - First issue actually sold okay on this.

EXCALIBUR #10 - How many of you dumped this book after the Magneto reveal?

FANTASTIC FOUR #523 - I've noticed a decline in our sales on all FF-related books following the widespread release of the FF movie trailer. Coincidence?

FLARE #4 - Of all the '80s comics I did not expect to come back....

FLASH #219 - Hey, who got Wonder Woman subplots in my Flash comic?

FOLLOWING CEREBUS #3 - "Dave Sim Interviews Harvey Kurtzman:" "Hey, Harv, you hate feminists too, right?" "Um, what?" In fairness, this issue does have a killer foldout cover. The countdown continues to Cerebus: The Untold Adventures....

GI JOE #40 - Dear God, number 40???

GRIMJACK KILLER INSTINCT #2 - I sold this comic to someone on Wednesday with two words: "Ostrander. Truman."

HELLBLAZER #205 - Hey, this looks nothing like Keanu! Seriously, though, I'm wondering if Hellblazer TPB demand will drop now that the movie's finally out. No one asked for any on Wednesday....

HUNTER KILLER #1 - Too bad the artist is leaving with issue #...I'm kidding, I'm kidding!

INVINCIBLE #20 - I'm only reading this in trade form (I like the look of the trades, and they come with lots of extra goodies), so looking at the monthlies is like looking...into the future! "Hey, who's that guy? What's he doing there...hey, what?"

JINGLE BELLE #3 - It's a hard sell outside of Christmas-time.

LADY DEATH 10TH ANNIV ED QUEEN OF DEAD #1 - I have no idea if this is actually new, or a variant cover on a previously released comic, or a replacement on something that was shorted...Avatar can really try my patience, sometimes.

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES #3 - I've always loved the Legion, so I'm hoping this series will grab at least a few new readers and keep it alive. I liked the first issue, and the second really didn't do anything for me (though, oddly, most everyone else really dug it). The new issue was an improvement, with a nice reimagining of Triplicate Girl.

LOSERS #21 - I probably should have been reading this comic. Ah, well, can't read everything. Sorry.

MANGA CALIENTE #4 - Your choice porn selection of the week.

MICHAEL CHABON PRESENTS ADV O/T ESCAPIST #5 - The first issue of this series sold incredibly well, given the price point. Later issues have been harder sells, probably because they're all waiting for the collections.

MYSTIQUE #24 - Sells okay for us...if you want to save it from cancellation, why, here's an online petition you can sign. Online petitions always work!

NIGHTCRAWLER #6 - Isn't Nightcrawler supposed to be fuzzy? That's awfully smooth skin I see on the cover, there.

NIGHTWING #104 - I have a few people picking this up just for the Year One storyline.

NINJA HIGH SCHOOL #124 - A long time ago, I was chatting with an editorial higher-up at a former publisher of this comic, and I mentioned to this person that every time I looked at NHS, I couldn't make heads or tails of what the heck is going on. That person's reply? "Neither can I."

OUTSIDERS #21 - Batman and Nightwing yell at each other for several pages. References to Identity Crisis are made. Hijinks ensue.

POWERS #9 - You know, I'm always this close to thinking that this is a comic I would really like. But every time I pick it up...I don't know. It's not the art...it's always nicely illustrated. It's not the writing, as such, I guess. Perhaps it's that it suffers in comparison to the similarly-themed Top Ten, which I adored. Wheras Top Ten is about exploring the reaches of its particular milieu, Powers seems to be more about shock value. There's nothing wrong with shock value, of course, but I guess I want something with a little more meat on its bones. Unfair? Probably. I'm glad other people really like it, though.

RICHARD DRAGON #10 - I still can't believe, of all characters, DC revived this one. I mean, that's fine and all, I guess. But where's my Rima the Jungle Girl revival?

RIDE FOREIGN PARTS ONE SHOT - This was the series that, in the first issue, had a woman shooting a big gun at a bus while, er, touching herself, right? Well, you do have to admire a certain clarity of vision. This new issue features no women touching themselves, as far as I can tell, but it does have Ron Marz and Chuck Dixon. Whether that's a warning or a promise is up to you.

ROGUE #8 - Does Rogue still look like the actress from the X-Men movies? I forgot to check.

RUULE KISS & TELL #8 - Well, give Beckett points for keeping the price points down.

SAVAGE DRAGON #120 - Little late for election humor, isn't it? Ah, well, that's okay, it's still stuffed with Larsen nuttiness.

SEVEN SOLDIERS #0 - The first person I hear at the store say "I don't get it" is going to get a sound thrashing. It's Grant Morrison...just grab a hold and hang on, baby.

SILENT HILL PAINT IT BLACK - Dear God: Please, no more comics based on video games. Well, maybe Sonic, but that's it.

SLEEPER SEASON TWO #9 - You know, almost two years in, I have no idea what this comic is about. None. Not a sausage. I know it sells well. I stock the trades. Couldn't tell you a thing about it. Just one of those things, I guess.

SMALL GODS #7 - Sells well via mail order.

SOLO #3 - Full of Paul Pope goodness! I really like this man's work.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #146 - I wonder how many kids that buy this are even aware that this was a video game character?

SPAWN #143 - Remember when this comic used to outsell X-Men books? How the mighty have...well, you know.

SPIDER MAN HUMAN TORCH #2 - "Finally, a Spider-Man comic I can sell to kids!" ("But, Mike, what about the Marvel Age Spider-Man?") "Finally, a Spider-Man comic I can sell to kids that kids will actually want!"

SPIDER-MAN INDIA #4 - The only customers at our store who bought all four issues? Two comic savers: one who gets all Spider-Man, and another who gets all Marvel mini-series. No one...and I mean no one...looked at this comic and said, "hey, what a great idea! I can't wait to read the continuing adventure of Spider-Man: India!" As far as I can tell, the express purpose of this series was to piss off actual Indian people.

STAR WARS EMPIRE #29 - Dark Horse tries to tie in the original Star Wars trilogy with the current movie series by having Luke encounter people who react negatively to his Skywalker family name. Not a bad idea, I guess. Like pal Corey has said in the past, Luke's dad was "Space Hitler" -- that's not something people are going to forget too quickly.

STAR WARS TALES #22 - We were drastically shorted on our order of this issue. Poop. Though people are beginning to lose interest in this title anyway. I don't understand why there had to be a format change, anyway...people liked the less-serious Star Wars stories. I'm sure, though, there were some exceedingly vocal fans who didn't care for the non-reverential treatment occasionally given the saga who just couldn't stop complaining about it. Ah, well.

STARGATE SG1 FALL OF ROME DRAKE PAINTED CVR #2 - Like Lady Death, above...no idea if this is new, restock, or what. Sigh...I guess I'll check the paperwork today.

STRANGE #4 - Is anyone out there liking this series? Everybody seems to just grumble about it. Oh, and this is another series that has suffered because first issues aren't available. If I could get more #1s, maybe I can move some of the #2s and #3s that are gathering dust.


TEEN TITANS GO #16 - Still sells great for us.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #20 - Completely shorted on our order for this title. Not that we're really selling all that many of them.

ULTIMATE NIGHTMARE #5 - Glad to see Marvel has stopped being coy and called the trade paperback for this series Ultimate Galactus. Nobody was fooled, were they? Good stuff, though...Ellis' tough guy dialogue for Nick Fury is a hoot.

UNCANNY X-MEN #456 - Alan Davis on art was almost enough to get me to buy it. Almost.

UNCLE SCROOGE #339 - New Don Rosa!

WALT DISNEYS COMICS & STORIES #654 - New William Van Horn!

WITCHBLADE #83 - If nobody likes this comic, why is it at issue #83? Goodness.

WITCHING #9 - Has a small following among our customers, but it never really grabbed me, I'm afraid.

WONDER WOMAN #213 - Why is Wonder Woman still blind? Is there no post-Crisis Purple Ray on the Amazon island? Is that previous sentence something I ever imagined myself writing?

X FORCE SHATTERSTAR #1 - God bless Rob Liefeld for, you know, just being Rob Liefeld.

X-23 #1 LTD ED VARIANT COVER - I.E. "Reprint." Just say "reprint," Marvel, we won't laugh.

X-23 #3 - There's nothing I can say about this comic that can beat pal Dorian's review (under Jan. 31st).

X-MEN #167 - Even with Peter Milligan on the book, it has a long way to go to recover from the post-Morrison plummet.

X-MEN PHOENIX ENDSONG #2 LTD ED VARIANT COVER - For all the grief I give Marvel, at least they've finally seen the light and are offering reprints on in-demand books. They still do the Marvel Must-Haves, which nobody likes, but they're trying, anyway.

X-MEN PHOENIX ENDSONG #3 - I wonder if it's selling so well because it's explicitly picking up from Morrison's X-Men plotlines? Or are people just that enamored with the Phoenix character?

Y THE LAST MAN #31 - this comic is the perfect marriage of trades and monthlies. The trades support sales on the monthly book, rather than people waiting for the monthlies to get collected. They buy the first book or three, then buy back issues from after the end of the last book to the current issue. And Y monthly sales haven't taken a hit. Well done.


Whew. I'm never doing that again.

Well, maybe.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Quickie linkies:

1. If you haven't gone to see pal Dorian's
list of 100 things that annoy him about comics...well, go look already. I didn't want to encourage a "Top 100 Things I Hate" trend, but if anyone had to do that sort of list, who better than the birthday boy?

1a. Yeah, that's right, it's Dorian's birthday today. I'm sure he didn't want me to say anything, but then, according to #44 on his list, I'm not a nice guy and thus he should have expected me to do something evil, like, say, reveal his darkest secrets. (insert maniacal laughter here)

2. Also on the ACAPCWOVCCAOE* front, pal Sean has put up the latest installment of "Surviving Geek Heaven," his guide to the San Diego Comic Con. Check it out, kids.

3. A big congrats to pal Ian, for somehow blackmailing the staff of The Comics Journal into running a couple of his reviews in the newest issue!

* The Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA And Outlying Environs. Hey, I haven't explained the abbreviation in a while, so cut me some slack.

Wait just a gosh-darned second...please tell me I didn't just see Green Arrow using Elongated Man as a bow in order to shoot Red Tornado at the nefarious Merlyn the Archer:

Oh, dear, it appears that I did.

Anyway, in this same story ("At Last...Clark Kent, Super-Hero!" from Action Comics #443, Jan. 1975), sportcaster Steve Lombard has been, as usual, acting like a complete prick to Clark.* Clark, with the help of his Justice League buddies, decides to get even.

The Justice Leaguers, dressed in their civvies, show up at the WGBS building** for a tour and, in full view of Steve, go nuts when they see Clark. They rush up to him, asking for his autograph, making Steve jealous of the attention. He moves in on the scene, exclaiming "you folks probably know who I am...the ace sportscaster and all-star quarterback--!"

Black Canary (in her secret identity of Dinah Lance) interrupts: "Why, certainly! You're Steve Lombard..."

Okay, I can buy Oliver "Green Arrow" Queen giving a raspberry. But, my friends, that's Bruce "Batman" Wayne dealing out a hearty, Snoopy-style "BLEAHH!" Add that to your list of
things Batman doesn't do anymore.

Also, apparently all crime everywhere in the world has been taken care of, if the JLA has time to screw with one of Clark's coworkers.

* Well, normally, he's a jerk to Clark. In this specific story, Superman is the object of his abuse...long story.

** There are times I miss the "Clark Kent as WGBS TV reporter" variation on the Superman legend. That went on for almost 15 years, didn't it?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

From a few months ago. 

Customer: "Do you have Flash Gordon? With Buster Crabbe?"

Me: "Um...you mean the comic strips?" (seeing as how we're a comic store and all)

Customer: "No, do you have Flash Gordon on video or DVD?"

Me: "No, I'm sorry, we don't."

Customer: "Oh, okay. Do you have The Lone Ranger?"

Me: "No, I'm sorry, we don't have any of The Lone Ranger serials on video."

Customer: "No, I meant the comic books. Do you have any Lone Ranger comics?"

Me: "Sure..." (I pull down a box) "...here you go."

Customer: "Great...do you have any westerns?"

Me: "Yes, there are more western comics in that box there with The Lone Ranger."

Customer: "No, I meant the movie serials."


(Well, okay, I really didn't say that last bit.)

The mighty
Jog the Blog discusses inadvertently spoiling future issues of Concrete: The Human Dilemma for himself over on Dark Horse Comics' publication database. I couldn't resist looking to see if I was right about a certain forthcoming event in the book (and as it turns out, I was), so, yeah, there's a danger of spoiling things for yourself. But I'm with Mr. Jog in his appreciation of Dark Horse's cataloging efforts.

Wow, here's a page belonging to a Swedish pin collector, with a special focus on cartoon and comic character pins. Here's a page full o'Batman pins, for example...or how about some Andy Capp pins? I'm totally jealous...I'm a minor collector of pins and buttons as well (I'm not cataloging them or anything, I'm just kinda accumulating them), and thus I'll probably be spending a lot of time looking at the images on this site and drooling.

My conversation with pal Dorian the other day:

Dor: "Hey, did Skywald ever publish any good comics?"

Me: "Nope."

Okay, okay, save the angry e-mails, I was only being half-facetious when I said that. Here's a checklist of story credits for Skywald's publications, and there were quite a few talented people working on their magazines. Pablo Marcos, Chic Stone, Ricardo Villamonte, Doug Wildey, Gene Day, Bernie Wrightson, Gray Morrow, so on, so forth...poke through the checklist and see for yourself. Of course, there is a lot of filler material to slog through in any given Skywald publication, but there are a few gems to be found.

Found via Memepool, a randomly-generating comic strip comprised of images from LiveJournal accounts. Strangely compelling.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Took in Constantine last night, and it was...well, it was okay, I suppose. A bit drab and dreary and lacking in energy, even during the film's infrequent action scenes. It only picked up when Gabriel (played by Tilda Swinton) and the extremely quirky Satan (played by Peter Stormare) showed up on screen. My girlfriend noted that it reminded her of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only without the humor. It wasn't bad, as such, just vaguely disappointing. Occasionally a reference to a specific story element from Hellblazer would pop up in the film, which would just remind me of how said element was handled better in the comics. And as
pal Dorian notes, the character of John Constantine is fundamentally different, beyond the cosmetic changes.

I'm also very tired of movies with mumbled dialogue. Speak up, for God's sake!

Speaking of Constantine, my scan from this post (regarding the pronunciation of Constantine's name) is popping up here and there, and I hope everyone realizes that I don't really think it makes any difference how they say his name. As I said, it just amused me. However, even though this wasn't what I intended to do, when I bought the tickets at the box office last night, I didn't use the "-teen" pronunciation. The other pronunciation just kinda popped out, I swear.

The only comic book related trailer I saw last night was Batman Begins, and the audience seemed somewhat interested in the goings-on up until the reveal of the Batman mask. At that point, you could hear a very soft wave of groans throughout the theatre.

I didn't think it looked that bad, but maybe the general movie-going audience isn't ready for a Bat-flick so soon after this disaster.

I also saw the trailer for Stealth, which pal Dorian also saw and made what is probably a true statement about it. However, Kid Chris saw the trailer during one of the three(!) times (in three different theatres, no less) he saw Constantine on Friday and he was telling me about it on Saturday. A robot plane that's turned evil by a lightning strike? Fantastic. It can't possibly be any good, but it looks fun in an entirely trashy sort of way. This trailer also got a more positive reaction from our audience than the Batman Begins one did.

So, in Captain America #172 (April 1974), Cap and the Falcon, shortly after a battle with Moonstone, make this insightful deduction:

And, since at this point in time, they're fugitives from the law and lacking in resources, they decide to hitch a ride to Nashville:

...where they're picked up by a very open-minded truck driver who's willing to give a ride to the nice interracial gay couple (observation courtesy the ubiquitous pal Dorian, natch):

But upon arriving in Nashville, Cap and the Falcon encounter the Banshee, in what must be the character's most unflattering portrayal ever:

And that's pretty much all I have to say about this comic. I mostly just wanted to show you that last panel. Holy cow.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Just a couple random notes about last night's
Justice League Unlimited episode:

1. I'm not sure I like the talking Doomsday. The more animalistic Doomsday from the original "Death of Superman" comics was much more menacing. However, it was nice to see a full-out battle between Superman and a foe as strong, if not stronger, than he is. We don't get enough of that...we barely got it in the Superman cartoon itself.

2. Best part of the episode: everyone groaning in dismay when Batman mentions that he has the Question working on their project. It's good to know that not everyone in the Justice League is palsy-walsies with everyone else.

3. I did appreciate that the episode built on incidents from previous installments (centering around Amanda Waller and her efforts to "protect the world" from superheroes) without feeling crowded with excessive subplottery or without excluding people who may not have seen the eariler episodes in question. Plus, having Waller not simply be the "evil menace trying to stop our Super Friends" brings about an interesting conflict, as by the end of the episode Batman is very clearly considering her position.

I was doing some random searching with the Google (oh, okay, I was Googling my own name) when I found this Yahoo directory for comic book weblogs. I know some of the descriptions come from the webloggers themselves, but others (including the one for my own site) are from some anonymous Yahoo-ite, I'm presuming. Interesting. Not that I'm complaining about my description...it's accurate enough. Hopefully they'll get around to correcting the spelling on pal Dorian's name someday, though.

How to make Mike feel old, Part 1: I was helping a customer (hi, Mark!) out yesterday with Nexus back-issues, trying to figure out at what particular issue his collection leaves off. In the process, I pull up #8, at which point I immediately have two thoughts:

1. "Wow, I remember anxiously waiting for this issue to come out!"

2. "Oh, God, this comic is twenty years old!"

You young'uns out there, you mark my words...once you start measuring chunks of your life in 20-year spans, there's no going back.

In response to this gentleman's request for Paul Lynde comics (and following up on this good person's detective work), here is a page with an image showing all of the Dell Bewitched covers...none of which have any Paul Lynde goodness, I'm afraid. Now if only there were Hollywood Squares comics....

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