Torsobear. A gritty noir…with toys.

Some of our good friends are working on a collection of strips entitled “Torsobear – Yarns from Toyburg” at the moment and since it looks like a lot of fun, I thought I’d throw up a link to the project so that you can check it out for yourselves.

Some Assembly Required 01

The book is a collection of grim crime stories set in a world filled with action figures and soft toys and as you can probably see from the above page, it’s wonderfully silly. The book features work from our fellow Unseen Shadows creators, Cy Dethan, Nic Wilkinson & Pete Mason all of whom are brutally talented, as well as a bevy of other UK comic stars.

The book still needs a bit of help to reach the point of publication (or at least to do so in a way that the fine creators behind it get paid) so if you have a spare few quid and fancy checking out some fuzzy noir, pop over to their Kickstarter page and order yourself a copy.

On a more general note, I’m hoping to drop in to London Film and Comic Con, if only to catch the rebirth of the Eagle Awards, so perhaps I shall see some of you in a couple of weeks. It’ll likely only be a flying visit and it’s still dependent on sorting out a few other commitments but it would be nice to catch some of you fine people if the chance arises. Either way I’m pretty sure Steve’s there for the duration so you won’t go totally Moonless. If I don’t make it then I wish you all a splendid show and if I do, see you there!

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An Alternative World Cup Anthem by The Free Kicks

I’d be lying if I said that football was exactly my sport, none of the participants have wheels and there’s nary a V6 in sight. However, once every 4 years I join thousands of others just like me by watching a couple of preview shows, pretending I now understand every aspect of the game and picking a team to support post quarter finals (a decision usually based largely on shirt colour).

One thing that I remain an unabashed fan of is a good world cup anthem and Cambridge band The Free Kicks have put together a cracker that I thought I’d share here. The Free Kicks are made up of members of several Cambridge artists including our old friends Fred’s House and Josh Broadstone, star of some of Jim and I’s short films. As you might imagine with that combo it’s very silly and stupidly catchy. Enjoy!

Thanks to everyone who has bought Moon in recent weeks. Stay tuned for updates on Moon 3.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 15 Second Teaser is here!!

If there’s one thing both me and Dan agree on is that Peter Quill’s progression from 8os sci-fi Starlord to commander during the Annihalation crossover, leader of the cobbled together strike force against the Phalanx invasion and, finally, wise-cracking protagonist of Abnett and Lanning’s fully formed Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty much the best character development Marvel’s ever pulled off. He came from the edge of Marvel, teamed up with a Racoon and a Tree and put on a cool looking helmet.

Chris Pratt looking a little ill at ease at the helm as team leader Peter Quill

Chris Pratt looking a little ill at ease at the helm as team leader Peter Quill

5 years later Marvel’s lack of choices in it’s next movie franchise led them to a popular fringe title named Guardians of the Galaxy and here we are now. In the unlikely situation in which one of the silliest titles Marvel has ever put out is on it’s way to the big screen. Great times!!

So it’s with some excitement that we present the best news we’ve had in a while!! Guardians of the Galaxy first 15 second shot-fest trailer is here and it looks like fun. Visibly sticking to Abnett and Lanning’s zany run in the Guardians (Gamora, Starlord, Groot, Drax all present and correct) instead of the unecesarily retrofitted Bendis run. Director James Gunn insisted that he was resolutely sticking to Abnett and Lanning’s version of the team for the big screen release. Abnett himself told us that he’d been to the set and was really happy with how it was all shaping up.

There’s one character conspicuously missing though between the bomb bursts, aliens and beasties…..

Zoe Saldana as Gamora, the world's most dangerous woman

Zoe Saldana as Gamora, the world’s most dangerous woman

'I AM GROOT!': Not seeing the wood for the gunfire

‘I AM GROOT!’: Not seeing the wood for the gunfire

Screenshot from new 15 second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy

Screenshot from new 15 second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy

NZs Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer looking for his next victim

NZs Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer looking for his next victim

Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer asks the question many non-readers are probably asking

Djimon Hounsou as Korath the Pursuer asks the question many non-readers are probably asking

A Christmas message from Dan and…erm…Santa

We’re really excited about some of the things Beyond the Bunker are doing in 2014 so Dan decided to go enlist the help of the only man jolly enough to convey how awesome it’s going to be. This is the absolute truth and we most definitely did not sneak into a grotto after closing time and sit in the chair.

Thanks to everyone who bought the book over the last year, we hope you dig some of the stuff that we’ll be brining out in 2014.

Have a great Christmas and New Year everyone!

Dan & Steve
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Thor: The Dark World: A Beyond the Bunker review

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BTB Reviews Movie

Marvel’s got a hell of a challenge ahead of it, particularly with Thor. With Robert Downey Jr hanging up his french waiter moustache and goatee until Avengers: Age of Ultron, the weight of convincing crowds that Marvel has what it takes to make us deal out the dosh to see Captain America: Winter Soldier, Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy before the next team building exercise and universe bending threat to humanity falls on the not insignificany shoulders of the God of Thunder himself, this time directed by Game of Thrones' and first time blockbuster movie director; Alan Taylor.

Of the three (four) big hitters in the Avengers, Thor's films are by far the broadest in setting and effectively most responsible for setting the outer limits of the Marvel Universe, presenting a massive challenge. It was the villain of Thor (Tom Hiddleston's Loki) that represented the threat in the showcase movie Avengers (we don't call it Avengers Assemble here) after all – so while Thor is the least profitable (by a small margin) and arguably the slightest of the original three movie franchises that lead to Avengers in spite of capable direction from Shakespearite Kenneth Branagh – it carries with it the burden of being potentially the most influential. This film is no different, with Iron Man 3 resolving Tony Stark's story arc until the new Avengers film and the trailer for Captain America making it clear that it's focus is one of internal conflict and very human warfare, the onus is on Thor to kick the excitement for Avengers: Age of Ultron up a notch. This it does with absolute aplomb, a wry sense of humour and a sense of it’s audience rarely seen in an established franchise.

We find a cast very much changed by the events of Avengers, some of which finally have the opportunity to be developed more effectively with a plot that deals much more with the nine realms of which Earth (Midgard) and Thor's home (Asgard) are only two. Most improved are the formerly peripheral and comic book mainstays otherwise known as the Warriors Three (Hogun, Fandral and a slightly less voluminous Volstagg) and Thor's female interest in Asgard, Sif. Though Tadanobu Asano's Hogun is out pretty early on. The film pauses deliberately to present these characters a little better, Volstagg now better realised by the brilliant Ray Stevenson (Rome, Punisher: War Zone) and Zachary Levi as dashing Fandral stirs memories of old Robin Hood movies. Sif's clear love for Thor as a subplot is an interesting and welcome development in Sif's character, though she is used sparingly in action sequences and the first to be removed from the equation when the action begins to heat up, something regrettable as Jaimie Alexander is such a capable actress, Sif an interesting character and both are such bona fide hotties.

Rene Russo's Frigga, as Thor's mother takes a more prominent role in proceedings as well, as the influence she has over her husband Odin (Anthony Hopkins), her real son, Thor and step son, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is the linking subplot that allows three warring characters to find any common ground.

But, hilariously, it's the master stroke of Stellan Skarsgård's Dr. Erik Selvig and his burgeoning mental illness that wins the film over. Rather than sideline him as a result of him being driven mad because he 'had a god in my head', Selvig becomes welcome relief from earnest and worthy moments threatening to become too overbearing and tipping the plot into farce by taking itself too seriously. Kat Dennings' assistant Darcy Lewis and her 'interns intern Ian Boothby played by Jonathan Howard create very neat comic moments and IT Crowd's Chris O' Dowd as Dr Jane Foster's (still ably played by Natalie Portman) doomed alternative love interest rounds out a very well used set of side characters.

Playing Doctors and Norses: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet up in a pub car park....

Playing Doctors and Norses: Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meet up in a pub car park….

If I haven’t mentioned the primary cast of Hemsworth, Portman, Hiddleston and Hopkins (and Idris Elba as all-seeing Heimdall) it is because there is little change amongst any of them. They are uniformly great, with only Hopkins seemingly phoning it in a little at the very beginning. They occupy the centre of the plot brilliantly, each fulfilling the potential of the characters well. Hemsworth himself proves himself a generous and humble actor in scenes with others, giving a the god of thunder the depth of storm clouds in quieter moments and allowing other characters to share the limelight in one on one scenes.

It is perhaps the familiarity of the archetypes that causes the film to slightly dip in the centre however. Away from the cast of unusual and offbeat side characters the course the characters take is almost unavoidably predictable. Not boring at any point, and peppered with nice moments which will make you laugh unexpectedly. However, the main tract of the tale take second place to the decidedly enjoyable character moments. When the main plot takes over, it can’t help but become a slightly predictable, if exceptionally well paced and directed, fantasy fare.

Aside from occasional hiccups in the edit the film is littered with curiousities and odd decisions that are later satisfactorily resolved, which highlights how this film isn’t being written by template. It can be argued it under utilises a cast capable of greater emotional depth but it does so in order to remind itself that it is a superhero yarn and one that demands a heavy dose of fun and would suffer from too much hand-wringing. Never the less the relationship between Odin and Thor at loggerheads in the first film as a loving father and son incapable of agreeing on anything is satisfyingly realised here. The writing of a character as unpredictable as Loki leaves you guessing how many bluffs and double bluffs you’re seeing with red herrings subtle and layered as the God of Mischief tries to justify his actions enough to disappoint everyone all over again – a highly enjoyable tight rope walk for a sympathetic character – and one that pays off nicely.

Portman’s involvement draws parallels with the Star Wars franchise and there are touches of Padme Amidala in her appearance, but it is the blend between mythology and science fiction, well realised in this case, that makes Thor: The Dark World the film the Phantom Menace and Clone Wars should have been. The idea that technological advancement creates worlds reminiscent of fantasy epics works because secretly it’s an ideal existence, a comfortable blend between nature, control of physics (advanced science giving rise to magic that utilises great power) and balance. Here, the Marvel universe draws together the ideas that the Star Wars saga failed to and it’s exciting and impressive to behold.

Perhaps most notably for a resident of the denizens of London, it looked (with only one exception) like the city we know well, a refreshing change from interesting global landmarks used as interchangable backdrops for unintelligible action sequences or the foppish, lamp lit London of Richard Curtis romantic comedies. Neither does it rely on overly recognisable landmarks, this film is brave enough to put the action away from the obvious tourist track and for that it deserves credit – though recognisable landmarks to Londoners are used briefly and effectively to raise a smile. Having said that, those with a clear knowledge of the underground will definitely take umbridge with one otherwise well placed London Transport gag. Put simply, without showing the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s, the O2, The London Eye or Trafalgar Square this film manages to depict a city both recognisable to Londoners and attractive to tourists. Something it’d be good to see in other films.

Enormous ideas are realised with effective visual shorthand and a recurring light touch. Happily, having watched a film that involved alien starships, multiple dimensions and gods the thing I admire most about it, particularly after the seemingly pointless carnage of Star Trek: Into Darkness and Man of Steel, is it’s self control. Thor maintains the Marvel tradition of understanding that devastation doesn’t have to be global, total or even city wide. With effective set pieces the final battle, while grand, is geographically contained (at least while limited to this dimension) but is more engaging as a result.

This an incredibly assured debut to mainstream film making, with the risks that Marvel are taking paying off film after film. If any of you are waiting for Marvel to falter, this film most certainly isn’t it. Based on the trailer of Captain America: Winter Soldier and the now traditional title sequence clips, Marvel isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Unexpectedly, perhaps, the concern over the end of Downey Jr’s run as Iron Man as a franchise in it’s own right was misplaced, his absence now allowing focus to fall on extremely worthy elements of the Marvel Universe. We say more of this and Marvel will secure its place with one of the finest legacies in movie history.

Wolverine: The Musical

If there’s a greater joy than musicals about borderline psychotic canadian mutants then it’s an Australian voiced puppet supported by an incredibly well selected batch of Marvel miscreants singing a medley of altered musical classics.

This video gives it all, as well as the best use for Multiple Man since X-Factor 92 where he multiplied himself inside and exploded a member of the Acolytes.

Personal favourite moment: A silent Wolverine just wandering over a host of singing Multiple Men and revenge at Spider-man.

Anyone who knows us or attended Moon Launch 2 knows that we love a show with a puppet in it. Moon Launch featured Laura Bacon in duet with a human with her hand up a puppets butt!! Now that’s showbiz and this has been our favourite interpretation of the ol’ canuckle head.

New Moon Prints by Grant Perkins

Moon by Grant Perkins

At Supercomicon it was decided that we’d like to see some alternative views of Moon from other artists with styles vastly different to what we’ve already seen. These are going to be available as prints at MCM, along with some new artwork completed by myself and Ivanna Matilla. It’s always best to keep things fresh.

This is the first example of these alternatives from the irrepressible Grant Perkins. No one lays down an alternative view of a character better than Grant Perkins. It gives you lines and framing you never imagined from your own work and gives you new ideas for all the Moons still to come.

We’re also expecting work from Boom’s Steed and Mrs Peel’s Yasmin Liang. For now that’s your lot but based on the response to those there’s a very real chance that we may well recruit more of the best from the small press – maybe one or two of the big guns to bring you new and alternative versions of our favourite law enforcing satellite.

There’s far more news on it’s way – it’s our feeling that everything needs a complete refresh every 2 years and we’re moving very quickly towards that point so expect news regarding exactly that in the next few months.

Practitioners 57: Robert Kirkman

It’s back!! Practitioners, our article featuring the people who made the comics industry is updated occasionally between issues of Moon. Practitioners Reloaded present the previous 1 – 53 (Simon BisleyChris Bachalo) for those who want to read more.

Born November 30th 1978 in Richmond, Kentucky, Robert Kirkman would be the only non-founding member of the third largest comic book company in the US and the creator of a black and white Zombie-fest that would be hailed as the ultimate in ‘independent’ comic books. The Walking Dead picked up on the global enthusiasm for Zombie stories and made it accessible in a way that saw it developed into a mainstream TV series.

Kirkman’s sense of identifying attention grabbing ideas is complemented by his capacity to carefully and enjoyably develop them, walking the line between enjoyment and engagement for the reader.

Kirkman’s first comic book work was the 2000 superhero parody Battle Pope, co-created with artist Tony Moore, and self published under their Funk-o-Tron label. This, perhaps, is the nature of indy publishing. A well presented, deliberately fringe creation never intended to find a place in the mainstream, that engages readers in a way the mainstream can’t and creates a viable alternative. The perfect synthesis between high (and funny) concept and professional execution (something now only too visible in British indy titles such as Lou Scannon, Stiffs and ahem… Moon).

Kirkman Battle Pope 03 - page 03-04

Later, while pitching a new series, Science Dog, Kirkman and artist Cory Walker, were hired to do a Super Patriot (of Savage Dragon fame) mini series for Image Comics. Not content simply on that, Kirkman developed the 2002 Image Series Tech Jacket, which ran for six issues, with E.J. Su. In 2003, Kirkman and Walker created Invincible for Image’s new superhero line. Again, the story lines were acutely mirroring the work being produced on Marvel’s Ultimate line. Invincible, following the adolescent son of a superhero, who develops his own powers and attempts to start his own superhero career. Kirkman’s genius is an extension of Stan Lee’s some 50 years previous. It hinges on the normalisation of the super, bringing it down to the earth without an overly revealing bump.

Kirkman Invincable

Invincible was one of the titles that made the US comic industry a 3 company, rather than a 2 company one. In 2005, Paramount Pictures announced it had bought the rights to produce an Invincible feature film, and hired Kirkman to write the screenplay. Still nowhere to be seen, most likely the success of Walking Dead has put this particular project on the back seat for the time being.

Walking Dead Kirkman

In 2003, Kirkman began his most well-known and mainstream title, The Walking Dead. It represented an unusual change in the already popular gamut of zombie material that has dominated popular culture for the last ten years. Whereas all previous appearances of the Undead had been one-offs (aside from occasional cameos in George A. Romero’s increasingly marginal series of zombie films) this was an ongoing series, with an ongoing cast and an ongoing threat. The expected result of any Zombie film is that all parties will be decimated by the final reel, the relevance of the plot being the journey those characters took in the face of an unending threat, but Kirkman’s series would cause the threat to be unending. There is no indication as to how the series might end as there is no intention for it to, only that, by Kirkman’s own volition, any character is fair game and can be killed at any time. Even the central character, County Sheriff Rick Grimes, has been given a mortality extending only as far as the reader’s interest. It’s ongoing nature has allowed ideas to be developed in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. The depiction of a ‘herd’, a force of nature generated by a world populated by Zombies, in which wandering Undead intersect their ongoing paths, the rudimentary stimulus of the physical world causing them to travel in large groups, like a tide being forced through a river. Add this to the effect of a gun shot or explosion to draw the undead from a wide area and the actions of civilians in future Zombie stories will have been changed by this series.

The format also allowed the events taking place to breathe in a way that other Zombie stories couldn’t allow. Whereas convenient environments are found near-fully formed in films such as Dawn of the Dead, with access to food, water, protection, power – in Kirkman’s world, every viable haven is deficient, solutions having to be found in order to make it safe or sustainable. There is interest in this angle and Kirkman’s new format gives this subject room to be investigated. The flaw in the format however, becomes increasingly clear the longer the series runs. Kirkman has applied the rules of the Undead pretty strictly, although augmented. Those being the discovery of a world in which the Undead have taken over, the discovery of the hopelessness of the situation, the loss of society and resources, the loss of family and friends, the discovery of an enclosed haven, the failure of humanity to maintain it, the realisation that humans are the deadliest species. The difficulty with this is that the same plot has effectively been repeated several times, the inevitable breakdown of the walls around the main characters through their own actions becoming obvious and the threat of the Undead increasingly diminished as the characters and societies have to be more established in order to have survived this long. The title has slowly become a doctrine of post apocalyptic politics as the human race gains a grip on a dead world. Whether this was Kirkman’s intention is uncertain but the title remains engaging, even beyond it’s original remit and has always been written by Kirkman.

Kirkman Walking Dead Headless Dead

This, accompanied with a number of other projects in the same period, hired by Marvel Comics to reintroduce it’s ’90s series, Sleepwalker, sadly cancelled before being published and the contents of issue 1 included in Epic Anthology No.1 in 2004. As the Avengers became increasingly ‘Disassembled’, in Marvel’s dismantling and reboot of the central title, Kirkman was given control of Captain America (vol 4), Marvel Knight’s 2099 one-shots event, Jubilee #1–6 and Fantastic Four: Foes #1–6, a two-year run on Ultimate X-Men and the entire Marvel Team-Up vol. 3 and the Irredeemable Ant-Man miniseries.

At Image, Kirkman and artist Jason Howard created the ongoing series The Astounding Wolf-Man, launching it on May 5, 2007, as part of Free Comic Book Day. Kirkman edited the monthly series Brit, based on the character he created for the series of one-shots, illustrated by Moore and Cliff Rathburn. It ran 12 issues.

Kirkman announced in 2007 that he and artist Rob Liefeld would team on a revival of Killraven for Marvel Comics. Kirkman that year also said he and Todd McFarlane would collaborate on Haunt for Image Comics.

In late July 2008, Kirkman was made a partner at Image Comics, thereby ending his freelance association with Marvel. Nonetheless, later in 2009, he and Walker produced the five-issue miniseries The Destroyer vol. 4 for Marvel’s MAX imprint. It’s unsurprising that Kirkman wanted to continue his association with Marvel, given that he named his son Peter Parker Kirkman, after one of Marvel’s most central heroes.

Walking Dead TV

In 2010, in a fanfare to the success of Walking Dead as a comic book series, AMC began it’s production of the still-ongoing Walking Dead TV Series which has become a mainstay of Sunday night viewing and has brought the original story of Rick Grimes, Lori and his son to a new and much wider audience. This has revealed the capacity for even relatively new books and concepts to find their place in wider media in an industry dominated by titles developed in some case, for more than half a century.

A surprising number of artists have failed to remain working alongside Kirkman, Cory Walker being replaced by Ryan Ottley on Invincible and Tony Moore replaced by Charlie Adlard after 6 issues of Walking Dead. While there is an innate tolerance in modern comic books on precise deadlines (mostly driven by Image and Dark Horse’s independent beginnings) this stands out with Kirkman’s almost solitary retention on the Walking Dead TV series senior team, with some extremely noteworthy walk outs (Frank Darabont the most noteworthy perhaps). These things are always subject to more politics than is publicly visible and are no doubt subject to a great many different pressures, however Kirkman is often the last man standing. This durability and sustainability perhaps the reason he has found himself in such a senior position in Image itself. However, this is open to a great deal of rumour and conjecture and is inevitable when someone such as Kirkman has risen alongside such long standing names of comic, film and TV.

Regardless of what the future holds for Robert Kirkman, he is made an indelible mark on the face of modern comics. He has moved the focus away from super hero comics, even challenging longer established characters and titles in wider fields. He has taken his place among comic book legends to run the third largest comic book company in the world, while still maintaining his own titles. Kirkman should be an inspirational figure to those in independent comics below him and an example of what careful and considered ideas, well developed can achieve.

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Star Wars

I still remain utterly confused on how to work this website since Dan updated it. The fact that I agreed to it had nothing to do with it, there are now a sequence of buttons I have to hit and avoid otherwise I might break the website. Might take me a minute to get the hang of it.

Anyway, this is how I wish me and Dan were when no one was watching. Secretly we bicker like children (well I do, Dan remains stoical and sensible most of the time). In an astonishing lack of awareness of their new status, Frost and Pegg used the production of their first major feature film produced outside of the UK to tit about in the desert in almost the most cobbled together outfits you’ve ever seen.

I love this. It’s just the sort of thing I hope to do if we ever get to San Diego Comicon with Moon. Only Pegg and Frost’ve done it now so now we’ll just hunt Pegg and Frost.

Pegg and Frost Star Wars

Dan’s Blog: London Super Comic Con Debrief (Photos)

Well the convention season is back on with a vengeance and the second London Super Comic Con more than lived up to expectations. After two months off, it was great to get back into the game and put some copies of Moon #2 in people’s hands.

012Even without the draw of Stan Lee the Excel had a great buzz about it for the event and while it’s still not MCM, LSCC is more than managing to pull in the crowds. We met plenty of new fans as well as some familiar faces and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was especially good to catch up with other creators and see some of the awesome work they’ve been putting out since we last crossed paths (read Lightning Strike yet? You should). The impromptu pub trip on Saturday night added a nice social element to the event but it was a bit of a shame that there wasn’t an official after party like at Thought Bubble. It would be cruel to hammer this point too much in the cons second year, but with plenty of hotels and bars next to the convention hall it’s certainly something for the organisers to think about in the future.

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There’s no rest for the wicked however. As we’re off on the road again this coming weekend (I say “we”) to attend the Cardiff International Comic Expo. Following a last minute booking, Steve will be grabbing a couple of boxes of Moons and heading to Wales in order to bring you more comics and more cool sketches like this:

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After that we’ve only got one weekend off before we’re off to Demoncon 5 in Maidstone (f you’ve not checked out the wonderful posters for the event then have a look now)! It’s not all good news however. In something of a shocker, Thought Bubble sold out in under two hours this year, leaving us somewhat out in the cold. It’s a big disappointment for us as we were hoping to launch some new material and maybe even get in on a panel or two at the event but TB is the best con in the country so you can’t blame them for being popular. We’re working on solutions at the moment and hopefully we can still find a way for Moon to head north in 2013.

019On a final note, Barry Nugent showed me some new artwork from Peter Mason and I’s upcoming comic “Ashfall” during a quiet moment at the event and good lord this is going to be a great book. I swear Peter’s work gets better with every stroke of the pen.

Thought Bubble or not, 2013 is going to be a busy year and I for one cannot wait.

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