Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Drawing for the DCU

Twenty years ago I did some art for the DCU! No, not the DC Universe, but Digital Camera User, a magazine published by Future. 

The editor was Richard Burton, a name many of you will know from his fanzine days on Comic Media News, or his editorship of 2000AD and Sonic the Comic. By the year 2000 he'd left comics for pastures new and with his interest in technology had found himself as editor of Digital Camera User for its launch issue.
Digital cameras were relatively new back then so a magazine like this was a great read to learn more about them and to find out about Photoshop etc. Anyway, Richard was running a fun article entitled 'What Type of Digital Camera User Are You?' and commissioned me to illustrate four various types: The Volume User, The Family Album User, The Enthusiastic User, and The Die-Hard User. 
It made a nice change to draw some one-off cartoons instead of comic strips. I drew them traditionally in pen and ink and scanned them into my Mac to colour. I didn't own a computer until 1999 so these illustrations from 2000 would be some of the first digital colouring I ever did. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. I prefer using Photoshop for colouring far more than I ever did using a brush. 

I'm guessing that most of you will have never seen these illustrations before so I thought I'd show them here, twenty years later! They appeared in Digital Camera User No.2, dated Aug/Sept 2000.

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Sunday, 26 January 2020

Support The 77!


The 77 is a brand new retro-style comics anthology coming in May and there's a Kickstarter page where you can pledge to help fund it here:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/the77comic/the77

Creators involved include newcomers as well as established professionals such as Ian Gibson, Phil Elliot and Steve MacManus! I've come up with a new strip called Sgt.Shouty of the Moon Force which will be a single pager as light relief. 

The project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by March 1st, so don't delay if you're interested! More info on it as it nears completion!

Saturday, 25 January 2020

In the BEANO next week...

Here's a quick preview of what I have coming up in the Beano on Wednesday. There's a How to Draw Plug activity page, and another Pup Parade strip from me, plus loads of strips by others such as Nigel Aucterlounie, Nigel Parkinson. David Sutherland, Steve Beckett, Barrie Appleby and more! 

Here's the cover to look out for, by Laura Howell and the Beano design team. Beano No.4020, in shops on 29th January!

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Friday, 24 January 2020

Meet the Artist (1991)

Thanks to John Freeman for this reminder! Back in 1991 the editor of Buster commissioned all the artists to answer a brief questionnaire accompanied with a self-portrait for a new feature to run occasionally in the comic. Here's mine. Half a lifetime ago! I still use that lamp! In the background is a drawing of my pet dog at the time who lived to be 18. 

It was interesting that Buster should run such a feature considering that, up to a few decades earlier, artists of most British comics were forbidden from signing their work. Meet the Artists was a reflection of how times had changed! 


Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Cor!! Buster sneak peek

As other artists are showing glimpses of their art for the Rebellion specials I guess that it's ok if I do the same. This is only a tiny fraction of a large panel though, and larger than printed size, so you'll still have to wait a few months to see the full picture. 

I had great fun working from John Freeman's script to draw the new Buster and Dilbert three pager for The Cor!! Buster Easter Special.  It's out in April from W.H. Smith and comic shops, so pre-order it from your local comic shop so you don't miss out! Let's support these specials and get comics moving again! 

Below: The image shown above but at the pencil stage...

...and at the initial inked stage...

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

More news about stuff I can't show yet

I sent off my three pages for the Cor!! Buster Easter Special today, bang on deadline. I can't show any panels from it yet but I can tell you there are a lot of old characters making cameo appearances in it and it took me a week of long hours and little sleep to draw and colour it. John Freeman puts a lot into his scripts!

Some characters you'll remember, some will be from before your time, but if you know your comics history I hope you'll have fun spotting who's who. If you don't know your comics history it doesn't matter as they're incidental characters and knowledge of their past isn't important to your appreciation of the story, in the most part. 

Anyway, I'm sure it's frustrating and probably a bit pointless for me to talk about a strip without being able to show anything but hopefully those crumbs of background info will suffice until April when the comic comes out. If you want to pre-order it, Rebellion have a special offer for all their specials as a package (sent individually as they come out):
https://treasuryofbritishcomics.com/catalogue//B0015


Monday, 20 January 2020

No news is good news

I sent off the first episode of my new Beano strip last night. I can't tell you what it is yet, but it's a Beano character I hadn't drawn before. The half page strip will replace the Pup Parade mini-strip in the Beano that comes out on Wednesday 4th March. 

So there you are. A news item that doesn't give too much away but still gives you a little info! I'll reveal more later next month! Never Be Without A Beano! 

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Saturday, 18 January 2020

It's Super-Manfrid!

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the smallest member of Pup Parade wearing a cape. Manfrid becomes SuperManfrid in next week's Beano (No.4019), on sale Wednesday 22nd January! 

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Thursday, 16 January 2020

Specky Hector, Comics Collector

As well as doing the regular Tom Thug and The Vampire Brats strips for Buster in the 1990s I also did a few extras. One of them was the 10 part Specky Hector's History of Comics that ran occasionally from 1990 to 1991. 

Specky Hector, Comics Collector had been a character I'd created for one or two issues of Oink! so I thought I'd revive him for Buster. I suggested the idea of a History of Comics feature to the editor Allen Cummings and he approved it. Basically I wanted to give the young Buster readers some awareness of the rich history of British comics, presented in a fun way. I hope it worked. 

As Buster was a Fleetway comic, the series focused heavily on the comics the company owned of course, but I was still allowed to briefly mention some of the rival comics, such as Warlord, for their importance in comics history.

I wrote, drew, designed, lettered, sourced all the reference material, and even coloured all the History of Comics pages. This was back in the pre-Photoshop days when flat colouring like this was physically done on acetate overlays; one overlay each for Cyan, Yellow, and Magenta, with the original art being the Black "layer". Plus all the panels from old comics had to be photocopied and literally cut and pasted onto the page... and if by magic, Tom Thug met Hookjaw in an official Fleetway comic! 

I'm just showing one of the chapters here today, in case Rebellion (hopefully) reprint the whole series one day. Specky Hector will in fact return, in a colourised remastered reprint of one of his mini-strips, in one of the specials from Rebellion this year! 

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Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Busy week!

I'm pleased to say that I have a lot of work on this week! There's the new Buster strip to draw for the Cor!! Buster Easter Special, another Daft Dimension to do for Doctor Who Magazine.... and the first of my brand new strips for the Beano

I can't really show much this far in advance, but above is a tiny fragment of the Buster strip before colouring it. There's a lot going on in this story, and loads of characters, some of whom haven't been seen in print for a very long time, but the script by John Freeman is fun to draw! I'm really enjoying this. 

Anyway, it's 1.47 A.M. and I need to get some rest before embarking on more of it in the morning! 

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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Something new is coming!

Quoted from Tim Quinn on Facebook...

"DID YOU KNOW THAT ONE OF THE LIVER BIRDS WAS ONCE A BEATLE?
Keeping watch over the city for over a century, Liverpool's most famous landmarks will be appearing in a fabulous brand new strip from comic book legend Lew Stringer (Combat Colin, Brickman, Keyhole Kate, Bash Street Pups, Korky the Cat, Daft Dimension, PLUS billions of others).

The Liver Birds strip will be featured in LIVERPOOL HEARTBEAT MAGAZINE, alongside the work of other comic book professionals Russ Leach, Nigel Parkinson, Dicky Howett, and children's book illustrator Holly Bushnell! All this and Eddie Izzard and the astonishing creative work of students from schools across Merseyside!
Find out more in the first issue out early March!!"

Bird's Eye View starring Askey and Dodd the Liver Birds is written by Tim Quinn and drawn by me. I'll post more news about this brand new Liverpool Heartbeat magazine soon! 

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Sunday, 12 January 2020

Tom's punishment

Years ago, humour strips featuring mischievous kids often ended with them receiving "six of the best" in the form of a caning from teacher or a spanking by slipper from their dads. Depending on who did the story it could be amusing but eventually became a repetitive lazy way to end a story. Thankfully such scenes vanished from comics over 30 years ago because it was considered a somewhat barbaric punishment for teachers and parents to inflict on children. This wasn't the comics becoming "politically correct" as such. They were simply reflecting the changes in society, not instigating it. The changes had to be made in the comics because a seven year old reader today would be just as confused to see a strip showing a teacher whacking a kid with a cane as he would to see a horse-drawn milk float in the Beano.

I'm pleased that my career in comics started after this practice had disappeared from the pages so I've never been required to draw "a damn good thrashing" as Basil Fawlty would put it. When I was doing my Tom Thug strip for Oink! and Buster I decided on different punishments for the Brainless Bully. He'd receive self-inflicted wounds as the result of his bullying backfiring, be shown running from the threat of violence, or he'd be seen with a HUGE pile of extra homework, as shown in the strip above from Buster dated 13th July 1991. (Often the pile of homework would be even bigger.) Whatever the outcome, Tom Thug would lose, as the moral of the strip was always that bullying / bad behaviour shouldn't succeed. 

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Saturday, 11 January 2020

Snowdog!

Here's a quick glimpse of a panel from my next Pup Parade strip. You can see the full mini-strip in the Beano No.4018 on Wednesday 15th January. 

I drew the strip back in mid-November, expecting that we might have snow by now, but thankfully we haven't yet. Let's hope we have a mild winter!

Tomorrow I'm drawing the final Pup Parade in this series, which will appear in print at the end of February... but I have something new to replace it the week after! Will tell you more in a few weeks. 

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Friday, 10 January 2020

Something from the past for the future

Once upon a time, long long ago, in 1991 to be precise, there was going to be a brand new Fleetway humour comic called Oh No!! A trial issue was printed, not for general release but for a select audience of kids. It tested very well with the target group, and it was all systems go for contributors to start work on the regular issue. Oh No!! was fresh, different, and funny, and we were sure it'd work.

Then things went wrong. Badly wrong. Like a divergence in the timeline type of wrong. Egmont took over the company and put a sudden halt to it. They preferred licenced titles connected to toys and TV shows, not all-new originated comics. 

Those of us who were geared up to work on Oh No!! felt crushed. However, one of the important things about Oh No!! is that the strips would be creator-owned, not owned by the publisher. 

Guess what I found amongst my old artwork recently? Two uncompleted pages of the strip I was going to do for Oh No!! No.1. Lance Boyle, Secret Agent! 

The story is all pencilled and lettered. I just need to ink it. One of these days I'll find the time to do that, and this strip from 1992 will finally see print. Perhaps I'll use it as a back up in Combat Colin or in another self-published venture. 
I did do a Lance Boyle strip for the back page of the Oh No!! trial issue (and you can see that here) but I felt that this two-pager was a better depiction of the character. I might actually change his name, as Lance Boyle sounds more like a doctor than a secret agent. We'll see. Interested in seeing the finished result one day? Let me know! 

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Thursday, 9 January 2020

It's Daft Day!

Today's the day the first Doctor Who Magazine of 2020 hits the shops and it's a cracker! There's a new Daft Dimension strip from me, and I can't show any more than the fraction of a panel above or it'll spoil the gag. 

The rest of the magazine is of course packed with news, interviews, reviews, and exclusive advance previews of the next four episodes of the new series of Doctor Who. Plus the regular Doctor Who comic strip. 

You have a choice of formats for this issue. You can buy the regular 84 page magazine on its own for £5.99...
...or you can buy the exclusive Deluxe Edition pack from WH Smith that includes the magazine in a bag with an exclusive 76 minute CD, an extra 32 page bonus comic, a double-sided poster, an art card, and stickers for £9.99. 
Incidentally, the bonus comic reprints classic Dr.Who stories from TV Action and other sources. Art by Gerry Haylock, Frank Langford, and others. All good stuff!
Doctor Who Magazine No.547, out now! 

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Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Weird inspirations

A panel from COMBAT COLIN No.4, out now.
When I was doing Combat Colin for Marvel UK I wanted to take it beyond the usual type of humour strip you'd see in British comics. I saw no reason in doing yet another type of strip that mimicked the Whizzer and Chips style formula. Thankfully, Richard Starkings and other editors at Marvel were quite accommodating.

Combat Colin started out as a gag-a-week half pager with Colin as a bumbling wannabe soldier, which was sort of traditional fare, but I gradually evolved the strip. First by running occasional serials, bringing in weird villains, and then developing the supporting characters. The old 1960s strip The Cloak (from Pow! comic), by Mike Higgs, was my biggest influence, and I was also inspired by Jack Kirby (hence the collage above). However I was also inspired by other stuff such as cult TV shows. 

You no doubt know that The Prisoner is referenced a few times in Combat Colin. Most blatantly when he and Steve (and other heroes) become Prisoners of the Place of No Return in a village looking very much like Portmeirion (where The Prisoner was filmed). 

However, another influence towards the end of the strip's run was Twin Peaks, David Lynch's surreal TV show that aired in 1990. Obviously some aspects of that show were too adult to put into Combat Colin but there were little touches such as mysterious symbols, sinister owls, the fish in the perculator, and The Giggly Sisters owning a pair of pet dogs... Twin Pekes! 

There are some other bits inspired by Twin Peaks too and you'll see those reprinted in Combat Colin Nos. 5 and 6 this year. I recently re-watched the 1990 series (still brilliant, apart from the middle episodes that sag) and bought the new series on DVD. Fantastically bizarre, thought-provoking stuff. Curiously, one of the new aspects of the new series... portals to elsewhere... is something I put into my Combat Colin strips long ago, so there's a nice synchronicity there. 

Of course, most young readers of Combat Colin back in 1990 wouldn't have been up late watching Twin Peaks, so I had to make sure that any such references worked on two levels so they wouldn't alienate anyone. They had to make sense within the context of the strip, but were a nod to the TV show for older readers in the know. No doubt some still found the whole thing a bit strange though... in fact I hope they did! Weird comics are the best comics.

You'll be able to revisit those stories in Combat Colin Nos. 5 and 6 when I publish them sometime this year. 
http://www.lewstringer.com/page7.htm

Maddest TV show you'll ever see. Unmissable!
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Monday, 6 January 2020

Combat preview

I'm intending to get Combat Colin No.5 out before the Spring but for now here's a preview of the first page. It reprints the story that first appeared in The Transformers No.284, 25th August 1990. 

Combat Colin No.5 will be the penultimate issue, and I hope to get issue 6 out before the end of the year. It all depends on finances at the moment. Yep, I know I could use Kickstarter but I'd prefer to avoid that. It's too complicated adding stretch goals etc. Besides, I've backed some crowdfunders and the project never happened so I'm not jinxing it. 

So... expect to see Combat Colin No.5 in a few months hopefully. I'll keep you all updated on this blog of course. 

Meanwhile, my previous issues are still available, although issue 1 is now in short supply:
http://www.lewstringer.com/page7.htm

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Sunday, 5 January 2020

Pencils and Inks: IVY THE TERRIBLE (Beano, 2008)

Click on the image to see it larger.
I drew a new series of Ivy the Terrible in 2014 for The Beano, and another one a few years later, but before that the Beano tested me with a one-off Ivy strip in 2008. 

I had to email in pencils for approval first so as I had it on file I thought I'd show you the page here, compared to my finished inked version. (Lettering and colouring was added by the Beano staff. These days we colour our own strips.)

Can't remember which issue it was published in but it was sometime in 2008. Anyway, it eventually led to me being commissioned to draw the strip on a regular basis, even though it took a few years!

I don't recall who wrote the script. Possibly Iain McCloughlin, or maybe even editor Alan Digby himself. (Iain was the writer on the series I did.) The plot is basically about Ivy learning to dress herself for nursery school. 

Ivy the Terrible was originally created by Alan Digby and Robert Nixon in 1985, based on Alan's young daughter. She was a great character to draw and I hope the Beano revives her again one day. 

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Saturday, 4 January 2020

New readers start here

A big welcome and thank you to those of you who have hopped over here since I ended my Blimey! blog on New Year's Eve. I appreciate your interest and I hope you'll stick around.

This blog focuses solely on my own work. It's my "business" blog if you like, for potential clients to check out my artwork but also for readers to see what I've got coming up as well as revisit some pages of the past.

I've been freelancing in comics since 1983 when I sold my first cartoons to The Daredevils. That led to lots more work for Marvel UK including strips such as Captain Wally, Robo-Capers, Macho Man, and Combat Colin! As I own the rights to Combat Colin I'm now reprinting his adventures in a series of comics you can buy from me here:
http://www.lewstringer.com/page7.htm

Other strips of mine you may be familiar with include Tom Thug for Oink! and Buster, Brickman for Elephantmen (an American comic), Suburban Satanists for Herman Hedning (a Swedish / Norwegian comic) and Team Toxic for Toxic magazine. 

I've also been a scriptwriter on Sonic the Comic, Lego Adventures, and CiTV Tellytots magazines and have written/drawn various strips for Dandy and Beano including Postman Prat, Keyhole Kate, Pup Parade, Lord Snooty, Ivy the Terrible, Joe King, Rasher and others. 

I've also contributed a lot of material to adult comics such as Felix and his Amazing Underpants and The Pathetic Sharks for Viz and various strips for Spit

Other titles I've worked for include Triffik, Jokes and Magic, Epic, Lucky Bag Comic and more.

At the moment I'm doing Pup Parade for Beano, The Daft Dimension for Doctor Who Magazine, a new Buster strip for the upcoming Cor!! Buster Easter Special and I recently did several Postman Prat pages and Keyhole Kate strips for The Dandy Annual 2021 (out in August). I also write the occasional article on old UK comics for Comic Scene magazine. There'll also be a couple of other things I'll talk about in due course. 

So... a lot of material from over the past 37 years that we can talk about on this blog, and I'll also be talking about the comics industry itself at times, as well as posting convention reports and photos etc. If there's any questions you have about my work, post a comment below. Likewise if there's any of my old strips you'd like to see. (Although bear in mind that most are subject to copyright by the publishers so I'll only show a few examples of each, not an entire series.) 

Welcome aboard and hope you'll enjoy the blog!

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Did you miss TV21 No.243?

Back in 2014, Network issued a Supermarionation box set that included DVDs, Blu-Rays, cards... and a special issue of TV21 continuing from where the first series left off in 1969. A full tabloid-sized 24 page edition designed by editor Martin Cater to look like the TV21 comics of the period.

It was an expensive box set, and you couldn't buy the comic separately, but now you can! Priced at just £1.25, copies are available from The Official Gerry Anderson Store at this link:
https://shop.gerryanderson.co.uk/collections/clearance/products/tv21-special-edition-universe-edition-243

Admittedly if you want the "free gift" you have to buy that separately but at least you have that choice:
https://shop.gerryanderson.co.uk/collections/clearance/products/copy-of-tv21-special-edition-universe-edition-243

I was one of the contributing artists/writers, producing a brand new Zoony the Lazoon strip for the comic. Other contributors included John Freeman, Mike Collins, John Burns, Brian Williamson. Paul McCaffrey, Gerry Embleton, Martin Asbury and more! 

I'm sure this offer won't run forever so rush over to the Gerry Anderson Store to grab your edition now!

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Friday, 3 January 2020

Next week's PUP PARADE preview

Today, a preview of my next Pup Parade strip. This is just the first panel as I don't want to give away the gag! This time the spotlight is on Peeps, who's won the Best Dog Contest in Beanotown. 

Here's a scan of that same panel from my original artwork before I'd used Photoshop to tidy it up and add colour...
See the full version in Beano No.4017, on sale Wednesday 8th January, priced £2.75. Here's the cover to look out for, by Nigel Parkinson and the Beano design team..

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Retro Kate!


It's always a pleasure to do new Keyhole Kate strips for The Dandy Annual and one of the most enjoyable ones was this page I did a few years ago for The Dandy Annual 2015

In a three-part story spread throughout the book, Kate embarks on journeys through time, thanks to a time machine built by her inventor uncle Black-Hole Bert. In this second episode she travels back to 1937 to meet her ancestor, the original Keyhole Kate, who appeared in The Dandy in its early days. 

As a homage to the past I used the original 1930s Keyhole Kate logo that I scanned from a vintage Dandy. (The particular shade of blue is also close to that used in comics of the past.) I also tried to "ghost" the style of Allan Morley (the original Keyhole Kate artist) as best I could for Kate of 1937, whilst keeping my own style for Kate of 2015. 

Note also the grey sky, thick with smoke from the chimneys, and the folded up comics clipped to the entrance of the newsagent, as comics were displayed back then. 

For 1937 Kate's speech balloon, I used more of a flourish for the tail, ending in a single line, as speech balloons were back then. The only drawback is that in 2015 The Dandy Annual wanted lower case lettering on all their strips, so I couldn't mimic the stylised upper case lettering of the 1930s. Still, a minor point and not important.

Admittedly most of the young readers wouldn't know of these little homages to the past. Most adult readers wouldn't know either, really, but it was just an indulgence I wanted for the strip for the benefit of the few who would appreciate it. 

Thursday, 2 January 2020

I'm going LAWLESS!

A brand new convention for me but a familiar city. I have great memories of the old Bristol Comic Expos so I'm looking forward to returning to Bristol on Saturday 16th May for the Lawless comic con. (My paternal grandmother was from Bristol so it's in me blood.)

This event has been running for a few years and I've heard good things about it so I'm very happy to be invited to this year's show. See you there! 

More info:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/LawlessComicCon

http://lawlesscomiccon.co.uk

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Team Toxic does Star Wars (Toxic magazine, 2005)


As most of you know, I did Team Toxic in Toxic magazine for 16 years until it went reprint a year ago. The characters embarked on bizarre adventures every issue and there was no limit to the scope, so the Team could face bizarre villains on Earth, in space, under the sea, or in other dimensions.
In issue 42, way back in 2005, I had them visit an alien planet for a Star Wars spoof... or at least as much as a Star Wars spoof I could fit into 11 panels! I'll show the coloured and lettered finished version one day (when I dig that issue out of whichever box it's residing in) but for now here's the black and white art I drew. You can probably follow the plot without the script, but basically the princess is upset 'cos her boyfriend has turned to the dark side. However, in the end it's revealed he only wore the helmet and turned stroppy because he'd developed spots and was unhappy. But his beloved doesn't mind so it's happy ever after. 

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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Doctor Who is back today

Doctor Who is back on BBC One tonight for the start of a new 10 part series. I'll be watching intently, not only to to enjoy the show but also hopefully to gain some inspiration for my Daft Dimension gag strip in Doctor Who Magazine

I've been writing/drawing that strip since August 2014 and it's an honour to be part of the mag. Above is one I did for issue 117 a few years ago, referring to some of the sexist attitudes towards the casting of Jodie Whittaker. 

The next issue of Doctor Who Magazine (No.547) will be out in a couple of weeks. I'll preview my next strip around that time. (That one is already drawn. It's the one for the February issue that I have to do next.)

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