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Make the Words Flesh: Lance Henriksen Writes To Hell You Ride

December 27th, 2012 Comments off

Lance Henriksen To Hell You RideDuring his 50-plus-year career, actor Lance Henriksen has run the full gamut of characters and genres, from a stint on the daytime soap Ryan’s Hope, to one of his most beloved roles as the android Bishop in Aliens, to countless movies, television shows, and even videogames. Now he’s bringing his unique perspective to comics with Dark Horse Comics’ To Hell You Ride, a five-issue supernatural horror story focusing on a mysterious Native American curse that comes alive in the Colorado mountains.

We were able to chat with Lance, his co-writer, Joseph Maddrey, and artist Tom Mandrake (Batman, Night Force) about the seeds of To Hell You Ride, their unusual style of collaboration, and what comes next — read our interview, below. Also, make sure to check out our three-page preview of To Hell You Ride #1, available now!

TFAW.com: Good morning! How are you doing?

Lance Henriksen: I’m good, I’m good. We were all Skyping this morning about issue #4. We Skype at great length with this material and all the subtle and written changes. It’s really an exciting process.

TFAW.com: Is that how you and co-writer Joseph Maddrey tend to collaborate?

LH: Well, Joe and I and Tom (Mandrake, To Hell You Ride’s artist), we all collaborate together.

TFAW.com: That’s really interesting, bringing the artist into it. How does that work?

LH: First we do a script, and then we discuss it and potential issues that are going to make it better. And then Tom does pencils, and we all share the pencils and talk about them and what’s missing, what could be added to it. It’s all about details, the point of focus in the story. And then by the time the finished inks are done, we’re good.

It’s a great way of working, because normally, in comics, a writer will write the whole script, and then hand it off to the artist, and then they don’t speak again, which is a terrible mistake, especially for the story we’re doing. This has great demands on it, so that’s how we’ve been working from the beginning. That’s how we set it up, we wanted to work that way. It’s unusual.

TFAW.com: Can you tell us about the genesis of To Hell You Ride?

To Hell You RideLH: Almost 30 years ago, I had written a movie. I was hitchhiking all over the country and needed a break from movies — I was on an adventure, really. And I got to Telluride and saw this little town there, and so I tried to dig into the history of the town with the locals, ask them about everything. I realized it was a strange phenomenon, a box canyon town, with a road that leads nowhere else. It turned out it had been a mining town, and they used to keep slave miners by having guys with guns up on the ridges so no one could escape. It would only take four or five riflemen to do that.

I thought, that is horrible! And I suddenly thought, “These people don’t know why they’re here–they’re back, like they’re reincarnated to finish unfinished business, whatever it is.” And then I remembered a poem from Dylan Thomas, and it read:

I have heard many years of telling,
And many years should see some change.
The ball I threw while playing in the park
Has not yet reached the ground.

And it gave me the image of a curse on this place that came to fruition in its own time–it didn’t happen overnight, it happened over a hundred years.

When I got home I wrote the whole script, probably in a week. I was very lit up about it, and I had gotten exactly what I wanted by getting on the road like that. But it went fallow, because I was a young actor, and nobody was was going to make a movie that I wrote. I think in the movie world, an actor with a script under his arm is the most terrifying thing a producer can see.

Then over the years the script was lost. But I never forgot it, it was always in the back of my mind. And when I met Mike Richardson, and he said, “Lance, do you want to do a comic?” that came right to the forefront of my mind, and I said, “Yeah, I’ll do one!” It was a handshake deal, and here we are, a year and a half later! It’s the most phenomenal process I’ve ever been involved with. I really enjoyed it, especially because of the way we’re working. The story has gotten richer and richer, and by the time you get to the last comic, you’re going to be absolutely blown away. It’s building into something, each comic is getting better and better.

To Hell You Ride #1 Preview Page 1TFAW.com: I’ve heard from a lot of people who originally came from writing TV or movies that it was an easier transition to writing comics. Is that how it was for you?

LH: No, no. The last comics I read, I was probably seven or eight years old, and it was old Tales From the Crypt, with all the wonderful artists of that time. I wasn’t into superheroes. Except for the Sub-Mariner, I liked that one. It was very edgy. But I think the thing that lends me to comics is that I think in pictures, I don’t think in words so much, although I have a skill with dialogue. I really think in pictures, and of course that’s what comics are.

One of the most amazing aspects of comics is that you have to be really specific and selective about the visual. You don’t have sounds or movement, not even limited animation. It has so much restraint in it, but the best kind. I think without restraint, there’s no art. It becomes jazz, and that’s something else. So in the case of this comic, we’re walking on the edge of razor blades, because we really want to tell this story in a precise way, and comics lend themselves to that, if you have a vision about it.

TFAW.com: It’s very lyrical and spiritual thus far. Is any of the Native American lore based in reality?

LH: No, we came up with that. We created our own mythology, but the truth of it all was based in fact — the nature of the spirit world with Native Americans. But we’re being upfront: the first issue is “White Man’s Guilt.” We’re trying to say right off the top that we are not Native Americans writing about it. What we’re doing is something much different. We’re trying to do it out of respect and admiration.

The climate of the world right now is so violent and so crazed with fear, and we’re all living with it. We’re trying to ignore it as much as we can, but we can’t. So this story is trying to give an answer to what that’s all about. To Hell You Ride is current, but it’s about something very real and old. Really, in the Native American world, what happened yesterday is the same as what is happening today. There’s no break, there’s no past. We’re all part of everything that’s ever gone on, and it’s still here, it’s still alive.

To Hell You Ride #1 Preview Page 2TFAW.com: When we first meet Seven George, also known as Two-Dogs, he’s pretty down and out. What has brought him to this state?

LH: Despair. When you think of the history of Native Americans, they’ve been very attacked. And when you get into the modern age, everybody’s still not come to terms with what’s gone on in the past, and we’re trying to bring it to the present. We’re saying, it didn’t end, and it’s still not over. When you think of the idea that people went and shot the buffalo for their skins, but they were also shooting them to take the food away from the tribes, who lived on them, it’s horrible.

But we’re not trying to preach, or anything like that. We’re here to entertain, but to enlighten.

TFAW.com: Why is Jim Shipps so invested in Seven George? What’s their relationship like?

LH: Well, in the next comic, you see that Shipps was in Vietman with Seven George’s father. They fought together in Vietman, and Seven George’s father ended up killing himself, so Shipps took Seven George on as his protector, and to help him. When you go to war, the people you fight beside become closer to you than anyone on the planet, because of the high stakes involved and the experiences they had. Really, we will never know what that is, because we’ve never done it, and never been there.

And so what we’re creating is, what are all the bonds that draw people together, that hold them in each others’ lives? I think in the world we’re living in, what’s being lost is real connection, because the material world is so enticing and so comforting. You can lie back forever and be surrounded by material things, but in reality, the only thing of any value is connection. The rest is sold or auctioned off the minute you’re gone.

TFAW.com: I heard that in the original script, Jim Shipps was the main character. Why the change?

LH: Well, after 30 years of thinking about it, I realized really where the story was. Shipps is an instrument now, and a good one. Because of the symbol of war. One of the lines in an upcoming issue is, “You can’t catch rain with a fist.” And I’ll show that there’s a feeling that sacrifice is the mother of sacred things.

To Hell You Ride #1 Preview Page 3TFAW.com: Speaking of sacrifice, the first issue opens with these braves sacrificing themselves during a ritual that becomes a curse. Did they intend to create a curse?

LH: No, no, not at all. What went wrong is that the whites started killing them. It was capricious shooting, because the ritual was to ask forgiveness for not protecting the sacred ground, their burial ground. So when the whites stopped it by shooting these guys, what ended up happening was it turned into a curse, the curse of the white man, really. If you meddle in certain things, you’re changing their outcome.

TFAW.com: During your career, you’ve worked in pretty much every genre: you’ve done action-adventure, sci-fi, horror, videogames . . .

LH: And Westerns — I’ve done about six Westerns. My intention is to live a thousand lifetimes, so I want to play all these characters, doctors — you name it!

I’m not done yet, I’m far from done. I just got back from Detroit playing a surgeon searching for immortal life, it’s incredible. It’s a movie called Needlestick. I always dig into the background of things, and I found that 800,000 people on the planet get accidentally stuck by needles in the course of one year. And when they do that — we’re talking about caretakers, we’re talking about nurses, doctors, police, firemen — they know the danger of getting HIV, or Hepatitis A and C, which is deadly. There’s so many outcomes to whatever you choose to do in your life.

TFAW.com: How do comics fans compare to the other types of fans you usually run into?

LH: You know, I’ve always called them the tribe, I don’t call them fans. I think we’re all involved in a search. When you think about why there are vampire films and superhero comics, all of these things that are an aspect of our own considerations. It’s the American pastime, to dabble in all of the aspects of creation. It’s like we created ourselves, in a way. But we were something already before we created all of these different reflections.

TFAW.com: Do you plan on writing more comics after To Hell You Ride?

LH: Oh man, by the time we get to the end of the series, it will be two years that we’ve been working on this. So I want to share a bottle of champagne with Joe Maddrey and Tom Mandrake. And then take a nice nap.

To Hell You RideTFAW.com: So Joseph, what’s it like working with Lance?

Joseph Maddrey: It’s great, because Lance is a natural storyteller. A few days ago, he said to me, “I’m not a writer. I’m more of a lawyer plant. Things that happen around me get stuck in my quills.” That spontaneous metaphor just goes to show what a great storyteller he is!

He’s a keen observer and a very thoughtful person . . . and he genuinely believes in the power of story to change people’s lives. We both share that belief, and I think it’s why we work so well together.

TFAW.com: Lance mentioned that you, he, and Tom Mandrake work together via Skype–what are the advantages of that approach, as a writer?

JM: The main advantage is that we’re producing a much more detailed and nuanced story! If a writer (or an actor, or an illustrator . . .) works in isolation on a story for only a few days or weeks, there is a very limited number of thoughts and influences you can bring to that world. You’ll end up with whatever thoughts and ideas you can summon on cue.

We’ve been working on this story now for over a year. A lot of the detail and nuance has come out of living with it for so long, allowing the characters to evolve in our minds, and being completely open to each others’ ideas. When you allow a story to exist in your life over a long period of time, it becomes something else . . . it sort of takes on a life of its own.

TFAW.com: What makes Seven George a compelling character?

JM: I think what makes him compelling initially is his vulnerability. He’s vulnerable in a way that’s easy to understand: He knows he’s not being the best version of himself. He knows it, but he doesn’t know how to change. Over the course of the miniseries, I think he becomes a compelling character for different reasons. He becomes more enigmatic, and I think more inspiring. This story is basically his journey out of that place of vulnerability, so he’s going to change a lot.

TFAW.com: We’ve seen a little of Five George’s story — Seven George’s grandfather. Will we be learning more about the others?

JM: Six George is a big part of issue two . . . and we’re definitely not done with Five George yet.

To Hell You RideTFAW.com: So the Native Americans’ original ritual was transformed into a curse by the white men–why is it revisiting the land now?

JM: Lance says that one of his original inspirations for the story was a poem called “Should Lanterns Shine” by Dylan Thomas [referenced above]. The last two lines are:

The ball I threw while playing in the park
Has not yet reached the ground.

He was fascinated by that phrase and it gave him the idea that the ritual/curse plays out “in its own time.” I can’t give you a better answer than that, except to say that this mystery is right at the core of the story we’re telling.

We’re all wired with this instinct to try and explain things rationally. If we can explain something rationally, then we’ll accept it. If we can’t explain it, often we reject it . . . or we call it “super-natural,” which might or might not be a dismissal. But I think the “super-natural” is usually just a label for things that we can’t explain yet. That’s what’s going on in this story . . . the characters don’t understand it yet.

TFAW.com: What’s your favorite part of working on this comic?

JM: Every time Tom sends new pages, I just sit and stare at them in awe. The same is true when Cris (Peter, To Hell You Ride‘s colorist) adds the colors. Being aware of all of the choices that go into every step of this creative process has dramatically changed the way I read comics. A while back, Lance — who is a compulsive potter — said that when he looks at a piece of pottery, he doesn’t see a finished piece, he sees the process that went into making it. That’s how I feel now about comics, and I’m really grateful for that.

TFAW.com: What do you think readers will be most affected or excited by?

JM: Honestly, I hope that readers are affected and excited by different elements of the story. We have tried to tell a story that will resonate on many different levels . . . a story that people can keep coming back to and always see something new. If it works out that way, we’ll know we did our jobs right.

To Hell You RideTFAW.com: Tom, how did you become involved with To Hell You Ride?

Tom Mandrake: Steve Niles contacted me and offered me a chance to do an illustration for Lance’s autobiography, Not Bad For A Human. I jumped on that, as I’ve been a fan of Lance’s work for years. After the book was published Joe contacted me and invited me to a horror con in Cherry Hill, NJ to sit with him and Lance, sign some books, hang out a bit. I jumped on that too! I felt immediately comfortable with Joe and Lance and had a great day, ready to go home happy, but later that night they started talking about this idea Lance had years ago. They wanted to develop it into a comic book series. I somewhat cautiously said I’d like to be involved and they both gave me a, “We were hoping you would say that!” look, and we were off and running!

TFAW.com: What has been the biggest challenge for you, bringing this world to life?

TM: Our story moves from one time period to another, sometimes three eras in one issue. It’s important to keep the storytelling clear and not lose the reader in the time changes. There is also a wide range of types of characters, some visually very broad, others more refined. I’m trying to be aware of the presentation of each character as they relate to the story.

TFAW.com: What are your influences, artistically?

TM: If we’re speaking specifically about comic book artists, my first introduction to the field were the 1960s Marvel artists. My attention quickly broadened out to the DC, Gold Key and Charlton books and artists of the same era. Simultaneously I was discovering the Warren books, those artists expanded my thinking to include a fascination with black and white work and following their careers back into the ’50s helped me discover EC Comics.

My dad was always a comic book and strip fan. He was constantly feeding me new information, new artists to look at, Foster, Raymond, Eisner, his favorites. Dad was an artist and my first real art teacher, the first person to show me how to pull a good line. I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of styles, and if there is any one element that is most important to me, it’s storytelling. I love good storytelling, regardless of style! My experience going to the Joe Kubert School, learning from Joe and the other instructors was a peak experience. Joe and dad are the biggest influences on me as an artist.

Beyond the comic book field I’m a fan of the Brandywine school of painters and other great illustrators like Gordon Grant, Gibson, Parrish. I guess I could go on at length, there have been so many great artists to draw inspiration from in many different areas of illustration, painting, and graphic storytelling.

TFAW.com: As an artist, what’s it been like to directly collaborate with the writers throughout the process?

TM: It is the best kind of collaboration, one that is always focused on being true to the story and the storytelling. A rare opportunity for an organic back and forth flow among the creators that creates tremendous energy and opens the project to moments of true inspiration. We have long conversations that add new dimensions to the story at almost all stages of the process. Lance and Joe are supportive, enthusiastic collaborators always open to trying new things. I feel lucky to be part of To Hell You Ride!

Our sincere thanks to Lance, Joseph, and Tom for taking the time to talk with us. Make sure to pick up your copy of To Hell You Ride #1, and pre-order the rest of the series to save 20%!

SEE ALL OF LANCE HENRIKSEN’S TO HELL YOU RIDE COMICS

Have you read To Hell You Ride? Are you excited to discover the rest of the story? Post your comments below!

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The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis at the Portland TFAW January 6

December 18th, 2012 Comments off

The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis at the Portland TFAWWhat: The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis 2013 West Coast Portland Kickoff
Where: Portland TFAW, 2916 NE Broadway, Portland, OR 97214
When: January 6 at 7:30 p.m.
RSVP on Facebook: Facebook.com/events/464432506936527

Fans of Geek Folk unite! Things From Another World is a proud sponsor of The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis 2013 West Coast Tour and will host a hometown kickoff at our Portland store January 6 at 7:30 p.m. at 2916 NE Broadway, Portland, Oregon. Join us for some amazing music and send them off in style!

NOTE: Seating will be limited, and attendance will be based on a first-come, first-served basis with no holds (or saved seats). Don’t miss out!

Nerd-folk duo The Doubleclicks — also known as Angela and Aubrey Webber — perform delightfully geeky songs using their cello, ukulele and sweet harmonies. Singer-songwriter Molly Lewis is an accomplished ukulele and accordion player who has charmed thousands of fans with her original songs and inventive covers. Both have headlined from Portland to Seattle and beyond, performing at w00tstock and entertaining audiences at pop culture, gaming, and sci-fi conventions.

Come to the Portland TFAW January 6 for a fantastic show with the leading ladies of Geek Folk. The Doubleclicks & Molly Lewis 2013 West Coast Tour will continue down the West Coast through January 16. For more details, visit TheDoubleclicks.com/Tour.

RSVP TO THE DOUBLECLICKS & MOLLY LEWIS AT THE PORTLAND TFAW

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Mike Mignola Displays Original Comic Art + Purchase the First Appearance of Hellboy

December 12th, 2012 Comments off

Mike Mignola Hellboy in Hell #1 Variant Cover
Our Hellboy in Hell Signing and Gallery Show is getting closer — meet one of the masters of horror and see his original comic art in person! Join us at the Portland Things From Another World at 2916 NE Broadway from 7 to 10 p.m. to enjoy free beer from Columbia River Brewing Company (21+ with ID for beer) and food, and pick up a copy of Hellboy in Hell #1 (as well as nearly anything else Mignola has worked on) to get signed!

Plus: not only will Mignola be bringing 10 pieces of original Hellboy in Hell art to display in the store, but we’ve got a sneak peek of some of the pieces! Check out the variant cover to Hellboy in Hell #1 (pictured right), as well as the standard cover and two interior pages (below)!

One of the most exciting things about Hellboy in Hell is it marks Mignola’s return to full interior art on an ongoing series after more than a decade. It is fascinating to see his original art up close and in person–a unique opportunity you won’t want to miss out on.


 

Mike Mignola Original Comic ArtMike Mignola Original Comic ArtMike Mignola Original Comic Art

 


 

But wait! There’s more! In the TFAW archives, we’ve stumbled upon a limited quantity of San Diego Comic Con Comics #2 — the very first appearance of Hellboy! We’ll be offering this classic gem — which also features the work of comics greats like Geof Darrow, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Paul Chadwick, Matt Wagner, Mike Allred, and so many more — for $40 during our signing.

San Diego Comic Con Comics #2Plus, don’t forget about the following:

  • Free 11″ x 17″ Hellboy in Hell poster with purchase (while supplies last)
  • Get an extra 10% off (or more, if you’re a box customer) everything in the store during our Hell-a-Day Sale
  • We’ll be throwing a raffle with some excellent prizes from Dark Horse Comics

SIGNING POLICY: Get anything purchased at TFAW (with receipt) signed! Outside items (not purchased at TFAW) limited to three per customer. Sorry, no sketches.

This is bound to be one of the most exciting signings we’ve ever thrown! Space will be tight, so please make sure to RSVP on Facebook now.

RSVP TO OUR MIKE MIGNOLA SIGNING AND GALLERY

ORDER HELLBOY IN HELL

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November Product Review Contest Winners Announced

December 7th, 2012 Comments off

Boba Fett is Dead review at TFAW.comHundreds of great product reviews come in every month, and it’s our duty to pour through them and pick three winners as part of our monthly Product Review Contest. Below, you’ll see who won from November’s Product Reviews. We’ll be sending $25 gift certificates to the people who posted them.

Magnus from Sundsvall, Sweden is the first of this month’s winners. Here’s what he had to say about Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett is Dead:

I’ve only just recently discovered comics as a way of “expanding the universe”, and I’m glad I did. As a fan of Star Wars and the era of The Original Trilogy in particular, I find these well-written stories a great way to revisit my favourite characters, have them live on and be thrown into new adventures.

This one was a great read and a promising start about one of Star Wars’s most popular characters. Definitely recommended to SW-fans everywhere! TFAW’s customer service has so far proven to be excellent, and the ability to add “Bag & Board” to each individual comic is a good way to ensure my copies arrive in mint condition.

Batman and Robin review at TFAW.comToby from Eustis, FL wrote several reviews last month. His review of Batman & Robin #10 caught our eye.

This issue was awesome… It was cool to see Damians emotions come out, and show others that he can fight like the big dogs too. It was also nice to see all the past robins in one issue, although I don’t fully understand why the Red Hood suddenly has a new-found relationship with the bat family (In other runs, he hasn’t). It was a very good read, and if you’re a fan of Damian Wayne, you’ll enjoy it.

Play Arts Kai Ashley Williams Figure review at TFAW.comLast but not least, there’s James from Spanaway, WA, who’s review for the Mass Effect 3 Play Arts Kai Ashley Williams really spoke to us.

Unlike so many other characters (with the exception of Liara) there wasn’t a more affordable, or any really, Ash figures availabe to own. While this figure is a very nice sculpt with some decent articulation there are a couple of problems with it.

1. It doesn’t like to stand, there’s no stand included (let’s face it for north of $60 a stand isn’t unreasonable…)

2. Her paint job. She has this darkend paint around her eyes making her look like a cross between the boy wonder and a racoon. I dont’ remember Ash every wearing so much make up and from an asthetic point of view (shadowing) it’s just too much.

Otherwise I love it! I’m a huge Mass Effect fan and Ash has THE emblematic weapon of the series, adding to her must-have factor. I think what we’re paying for most is the import cost from Japan….frankly I think they could’ve done a lot better across the board for this price-point.

Thanks so much to everyone who wrote reviews last month. You’re helping people decide what to get (or what to avoid) next.

So submit your reviews and help your fellow collectors, and us, sort out the “HOT” from the “NOT”! Who knows, you may be one of next month’s winners.

HOW TO SUBMIT A PRODUCT REVIEW:
It’s simple! Just visit any product page and look for this:

Click on it and our product review form will appear in a popup. Just fill out the pertinent information and submit your review, and you’re done! We’ll take a look at your review and get it up on the product page soon thereafter!

There’s also a really easy way for you to call up everything you’ve ever ordered from us and review it. Simply log in to your account and go into the Order History Section. Next to each item, you’ll see a “Review it!” link.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below!

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Mike Mignola Hellboy in Hell Signing + Special Sale

December 5th, 2012 Comments off

Mike Mignola Hellboy in Hell Signing Portland OR
Don’t miss your chance to meet Hellboy creator Mike Mignola! Come to the Portland TFAW at 2916 NE Broadway on December 15 from 7 to 10 p.m. for our Hellboy in Hell Signing and Gallery Show celebrating Hellboy’s return to comics–and Mignola’s return to full interior art. The Eisner Award-winning artist and writer will also be displaying his original art in the store! This is an all-ages event; free food and beer (for those 21+) will be provided. Space will be limited, so make sure to RSVP on Facebook now!

Hellboy in Hell #1 is out today! Not only is it our first glimpse of Hellboy since his untimely death in the summer of 2011, but it’s Mike Mignola’s return to full interior art on an ongoing series since Conqueror Worm in 2001. Don’t miss out: pick Hellboy in Hell and get it signed!

SIGNING POLICY: Get anything purchased at TFAW (with receipt) signed! Outside items (not purchased at TFAW) limited to three per customer. Sorry, no sketches.

Free Hellboy in Hell PosterPlus: get a full-color, double-sided 11″ x 17″ Hellboy in Hell poster from Dark Horse Comics free with any purchase during our signing, while supplies last! Dark Horse is also donating some incredible items for a raffle, so make sure to get a ticket during the signing.

The new Portland TFAW store has enjoyed unprecedented sales, thanks to our incredible customers, making 2012 our best year on record! As a special thank you, we’re holding a two-day Hell-a-Day Sale at our NE Broadway TFAW location only December 15 and 16.

Box customers: get an extra 5% savings added to your box discount!
Non-box customers: get an extra 10% off everything in the store!

While this sale is at our brick-and-mortar Portland TFAW store only, box customers from ALL of the TFAW stores will enjoy the extra discount, so make sure to visit our NE Broadway location and take advantage of this special event!

This is a great opportunity to complete your holiday shopping and stock up on Hellboy, B.P.R.D., and more. See you December 15!

RSVP TO OUR MIKE MIGNOLA SIGNING AND GALLERY

ORDER HELLBOY IN HELL

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