Opus 121: CONNED (August 17, 2003). Two down, more to go. Two of the summer's biggest comic conventions are now history. More, however, loom on the near as well as distant horizons. In Toronto (August 22-24), Atlanta (Dragon-Con, August 29-September 1), New York (September 5-6), Baltimore (September 20-21), not to mention Motor City's "fall edition" in Detroit (October 18-19) and Mid-Ohio-Con (November 29-30). But Sandy Eggo's mid-July extravaganza is over; ditto Wizard World in Chicago (August 8-10).
I missed San Diego's big show this year. I usually go, but this year, I was, instead, tracking flora in the rugged mountains of Colorado at the Wild Flower Festival in Crested Butte. From personal experience, I can tell you there's nothing quite as terrifying as your wild bull shrubby cinquefoil (potentilla fruticosa): when roused, it goes right for the throat. I escaped, luckily, with my life, not a scathe on me. Meanwhile, my spies tell me that Comic Con International was, as usual, huge -huger, even, than last year, which was pretty huge. Rumors claim attendance of over 100,000. I put little faith in rumors, particularly such self-serving ones as those that rack up big numbers for attendance at such events. Moreover, I don't know how they calculate out there in Southern California: years ago, they determined attendance by counting the number of souvenir programs they'd issued (that is, subtracting the left-overs from the press run). And since, one year, I picked up five programs myself (for friends and indisposed dignitaries), I suspected the tally was exaggerated on the generous side. Maybe now they do it differently. What they persist in doing the same, year after year -displaying a dedicated inability to learn from experience -is fail, abysmally, conspicuously, to manage the movement of the masses of attendees. As in previous years, the Con's management demonstrated impressively that it has mastered security but hasn't, even yet, acquired a modicum of skill at crowd control. Vast quantities of people -paying attendees, mind you -stood in preposterously long lines every day under a hot sun, waiting for the doors of the Convention Center to open. The lines snaked all around the giant edifice and down the waterfront to a nearby shopping resort (and perhaps out into the cooling waters of San Diego Bay itself, for all I know). On one morning, according to report, the uniformed gestapo guarding the building opened only one door at the appointed hour, expecting, I assume, that the thousands of persons in line would access the Con through that single portal. Fortunately, some attendees, once they'd gained entrance to the building, opened doors for others. To give the convention management the benefit of dubiousness, I suppose that San Diego's city fathers, fearing this annual onslaught of strangely garbed citizenry, requires the Con to exercise an iron hand in controlling the crowd, which the management dutifully does, interpreting the dictum to prescribe leak-proof security, uniformed guards at every turn, scowling menacingly at all comers. And then there are the exhibitors whose investments must be protected, too -particularly the awe-inspiring Hollywood types, who grow more numerous every year and whose every whim must, perforce, be obeyed (including, I imagine, a requirement that visiting celebrities not be subjected to mob adoration in any physical way). The result is that the con satraps hire more and more guards but continue to neglect the rudiments of mob management.
At Wizard World in Chicago, the crowd isn't as gargantuan (they expected about 35,000-40,000), so the lines are shorter. But what lines there are disappear almost at once when the show opens. Somehow, perhaps without intending to, the Wizard folk have managed to do with aplomb something the Sandy Eggo gang hasn't, apparently, even begun to consider. Complaints continue to lurk in San Diego among Golden Age comic book dealers, who feel that the Hollywood interlopers have elbowed the original inhabitants of the Con into the remote reaches of the cavernous exhibit hall, far from wherever the attending multitudes might roam. Rumor (again) was that the Golden Age dealers fully expect that next year the Con management will decline their applications to exhibit and tell them to go start their own convention. Well, that's a little extreme. Although the Wizard exhibit is much, much smaller than the Sandy Eggo show, the percentage of Golden Age dealers is, I suspect, higher. There may not be quite as many of them as exhibit in San Diego, but they represent a larger portion of the total number of exhibit booths. Or so it seems to me.
Sandy Eggo is about celluloid pop culture with a little sf thrown in, a helping or two of toys, and a smattering of comic books. It used to be about comic strips in newspapers, too, but it isn't anymore. This year, only one of the more than three dozen guests is associated mostly with newspaper strips-Frank Bolle. And even he began his career by drawing comic books. He now draws Apartment 3-G, which he inherited after the departure 3-4 year s ago of the talented Brian Kotsky, whose drawings were perfect evocations of those of his masterful father, Alex. Before that, Bolle had been the final artist on The Heart of Juliet Jones; and before that, the last one to draw Winnie Winkle. (He's apparently made a third career of finishing off old soapers.)
The Wizard World con is about toys and comic books, mostly, with only a patina of celluloid pop. I enjoy looking at the toys and ogling the wannabe Playmates with plunging necklines and push-up bras that decorate Artists Alley at both cons. And I usually buy a toy or two. (This year, Grafitti figurines of Silent Bob and Jay -appealing creations in the cartoony abstraction of their construction; ditto, the Mattel's Animated Batman with a rubbery- flexible!- cape.) But I spend most of my time in Artists Alley and at the dealers booths offering Golden Age funnybooks, submerging myself in the eddying multitude with its gentle din. (In Chicago, Artists Alley is accompanied every year by day-long wrestling matches conducted at a ring less than a hundred yards from the Alley's borders. Why a wrestling match belongs at a toy show and comic con is a mystery, but we all know it's there: every time an overthrown body hits the mat-a frequent occurrence-a resounding thump reverberates through the hall.)
Among my acquisitions this year are three copies of Magic Comics, one of the last of the imitators of the pioneering Famous Funnies that secured a place for this new breed of periodical on the newsstand by reprinting newspaper strips. Famous Funnies, which was launched as a premium give-away in late 1933, mutated into Famous Funnies "Series One," then into the Famous Funnies of history with No. 1 (cover-dated July 1934), was followed by a stampede of reprint titles, most of which offered the strips of a single syndicate. Popular Comics, beginning in February 1936, reprinted comic strips from the roster of McClure Syndicate (for which M.C. Gaines, one of comics godfathers, worked, rounding up printing jobs for two two-color presses); Tip Top Comics followed in April (United Feature Syndicate) and King Comics (for King Features) the same month. In October, Gaines landed again with The Funnies, which used NEA strips mostly. In 1937, the field continued to expand with the advent, in the spring, of Ace Comics, another vehicle for King Features; The Comics, another from Gaines, this time with samples from several syndicates, in March; and late in the year, Feature Funnies with strips from the Register Tribune and McNaught syndicates. In 1938, Comics on Parade appeared with more from United Feature, and then, in August of 1939, came Magic Comics, more King Features material, notably (given the title) Mandrake the Magician. Sparkler Comics, the last of the pioneering titles, didn't appear until 1941 with reprints from United Feature.
I picked up Nos. 29, 32, and 39 of Magic. I have other titles and issues from this genre, most of which I acquired years ago because, then, these reprint titles were the only means of sampling the newspaper strips of the 1930s and 1940s. Since then, most of the notable comic strips have been reprinted in better venues than in the reprint titles. These titles characteristically mutilated the strips in preparing them for reprinting. Some strips were reduced so small they can scarcely be read; in others, the panels were severely cropped in order to keep the reduction to a minimum-with the result that most of the artwork disappeared because the speech balloons carried so much of the story. Or additional artwork was added to some panels, stretching them to make them fit the page format. In short, the reprint titles were not the best way to view old time comic strips. As the more notable strips became available in the other reprint formats of recent times, I lost interest in acquiring the old titles. But when, on an impulse, seeing three nearly consecutive issues in the same bin, I looked at one of the Magic issues, I saw several strips the reproduction of which was pretty good-notably, Blondie, Tippie and Cap Stubbs, Henry, Barney Baxter, and the irrepressible Bunky by Billy DeBeck. For the sake of the latter two, particularly, I bought all three issues.
Other strips in each issue include Mandrake, The Lone Ranger (by Charles Flanders, who, as Ron Goulart wryly quipped, filled his panels mostly with pictures of the backs of his characters' heads), Popeye, Dinglehoofer und his Dog (like Bunky, the top portion of a Sunday funnies page otherwise devoted to the main feature, Fred Knerr's Katzenjammer Kids, and, for Bunky, Barney Google), and Secret Agent X-9 (credited to "Robert Storm" but drawn by, and later written by, Mel Graff, coming off his AP strip, The Adventures of Patsy). Each strip gets about four pages, and in between are a few one- and two-page features created expressly for the comic book-a sports cartoon, a movie star spread, the obligatory two pages of text (satisfying postal regulations)-here, on stamp collecting-and a biography, text and drawing, of some famous personage, and a startlingly well-drawn strip about Native Americans, Indian Lore, by Jimmy Thompson, in a style akin to Alex Raymond's best fineline work in Flash Gordon. The reprint strips appeared initially in the newspapers of 1939, 1940, and 1941, and their vintage often provides an insight into these antiques that we can't get except by direct observation.
In Blondie, for example, Dagwood is somewhat more addled than he is today-more obviously baffled by the doings of daily life. (Perhaps because, until he married Blondie in 1933, he was the playboy scion of tycoon millions, and the idle rich know nothing of daily life.) The comedy is more whimsical than boffo. Barney Baxter is comparatively fresh on the national syndicate scene: Frank Miller began the strip for a newspaper in Denver in late 1935 and wasn't distributed nationally until King picked it up in December of the following year. And here, in strips from 1939 and 1940, aviator Barney and his grizzled old-timer side-kick Gofer Gus are running the air force and army in a Graustarkian kingdom, each of them fully decked out with typical light opera uniforms (jodhpur and epaulets galore). Miller's characteristic embellishment is often ruined in adapting the artwork to the page format, but enough survives to satisfy. We have none of Miller's spectacularly delicate cloud formations, sculpted in the sky with his hachuring pen, but we get a glimpse of Gus in a heroic mode: a highly comic character (his chinless face is a doodle of the first order), he establishes his authority over the army with a single blow, clouting into unconsciousness the brute who scoffs at him.
And DeBeck's Bunky is a delight, through and through. DeBeck's hayey style with its lively line survives in reprint, and the melodrama parody soars. Bunky (or, to use his given name, Bunker Hill, Junior) is a pint-size waif, habitually attired in the baby clothes and lacy bonnet of his infancy in the crib. But his nose is not at all diminutive: it is a thing of grandeur, and his speech, likewise. Separated from his ne'er-do-well parents, Bunky is often in the clutches of a scruffy, whiskery hoodlum named Fagin, an evil schemer so devoid of redeeming qualities as to make him, as Goulart opines, "one of the great unrepentant villains of the funnies. He dresses like a bum, robs widows and orphans, kicks stray dogs, beats children, and is not above stealing pennies from a blind man's cup. He is a total lowlife ... and yet, somehow, an attractive character." His appeal arises from the comedy he embodies, the hilarity of unabashed evil-doing. And Bunky enhances the comedic effects with an exaggerative manner all his own. In one sequence reprinted herein, Bunky, watching Fagin depart to cheat a neighboring farmer, tells Mrs. Fagin: "We must hurry if we wish to warn old Silas of Fagin's nefarious scheme to pauperize him." (Bunky talks like that-lofty stuff, replete with numerous syllables and freshly coined argot.) But Mrs. Fagin is bent on another errand- arranging for the murder of her husband. "Oh, such a creature!" Bunky moans. "She's worse than Fagin. I must warn the viper about her diabolical plot." Bunky's favorite term for Fagin is embedded in the phrase that became the strip's chorus: "Youse is a viper, Fagin!" Bunky is in dire need of extensive reprinting, I ween. But until some appreciative soul springs for it, we have only the fragments of Magic.
I also picked up a couple early issues of Animal Comics, ostensibly because of its carrying the early incarnation of Walt Kelly's Pogo, but Kelly is manifest on other, non-swamp pages of the comic book-with such one-shot gems as Goozy (the title character is a jungle-dwelling monkey whose side-kick is a parrot) and Nibble (a derbied mouse). And Kelly often drew the back cover as a 6-panel pantomime gag with Uncle Wiggly in the starring role. The fabled kindly old gentleman rabbit with his barber-pole striped crutch and his housekeeper, Miss Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy, the muskrat lady, is another regular in the book, drawn always in the same manner but by whom, I dunno. (Not Lansing Campbell, who illustrated many of Howard R. Garis' syndicated stories through the years. Those years, incidentally, began in 1910 with the creation of Uncle Wiggly, and continued until Garis died in 1962 at the age of 89. A newspaperman by profession, Garis wrote the Uncle Wiggly stories on an almost daily basis for syndication, producing, finally, over 15,000 of them. Garis also wrote many of the Tom Swift books and other series in the Edward Stratemeyer list-Baseball Joe, the Motor Boys, Dick Hamilton, and the like. A formidable achievement.)
And I increased my holdings of Jingle Jangle Comics by one, the attraction being George Carlson's "Jingle Jangle Tales" and his stories of Dimwitri, the Piefaced Prince of old Pretzleburg, and his inamorata, the Princes Panetella Murphy-tales fraught with such richly incongruous lingo as: "Once not so very long ago, by a very salty ocean, there lived an extra salty sailor who kept a small but slightly flat-footed dragon, who often had parsley fever, so the sailor thought it best to get some freshly frozen coal. .. 'Make it the kind with nice black fringes,'" he says in placing his order. And I chanced upon a few reasonably priced issues of DC's The Fox and The Crow, that long-running one-plot extravaganza by Jim Davis. And-the find of this summer-a couple issues of Silvertip, the Four-Color title about the Max Brand range-rider, illustrated by Everett Raymond Kinstler, later known for his portraiture. He began his career drawing comic books in 1942. In these pages (1955), his drawings are often slapdash, and his visages are sometimes appropriated from Joe Kubert , but he displays an inventive manner, varying page layouts and panel compositions with elan. In action sequences, his figures sometimes overlap panel borders, and he constantly changes point-of-view. He occasionally chooses the wrong angle for depicting an action, but, over-all, the books are a lively visual treat, and one I hadn't expected. Finally, I found an inexpensive copy of an issue of Police Comics (I try to get one every convention), which, in addition to the usual antic work of Jack Cole, features an Al Stahl version of "Flatfoot Burns," the bulb-nosed, pint-sized comic detective who dashes around on a unicycle, all elbows and knees (the mark of Stahl).
Artists Alley is always fun to wander through, and it seems to me that the calibre of work on display gets better year-by-year. While there are always a few rank amateurs in the ranks, more and more, I see beautiful drawings that display a keen sense of design and an impressive command of color and line, texture and form. Comics are no longer, decidedly, the refuge of the artist either on his way up or on his way down-as they were in the thirties when they were born and subsequently fostered by "comic art shops" populated by both worn-out has-beens and yet-to-be-discovered beginners. Now those who labor in comics are artists in every sense. And the covers of many titles these days display the sort of art that, two generations ago, laminated the covers of paperback books-lively, story-telling (or story-hinting) illustrations, the sort that I'd thought had disappeared forever. But now, they're back.
Speaking of disappearances, one of the most commented upon is Marvel's. The House of Ideas isn't taking an exhibit booth at comicons lately. Can't say that I fault them for that: they're making plenty of money without the advertising. For the second quarter in 2003, Marvel posted a spectacular profit: $32.8 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with $4.4 million, or 8 cents a share, at the same time last year. In short, an increase of more than five times its previous year's standing, due, in large measure, to the box office success of its character-based movies. Said CEO Allen Lipson: "We haven't even begun to scratch the surface on developing a broad range of opportunities to repackage and repurpose our characters." Wheeooo! If Marvel's exhibition strategy catches on and becomes a trend, what'll happen to those huge crowds in Sandy Eggo?
CIVILIZATION'S LAST OUTPOST. The so-called heightened Airport Security is laughable on at least two counts. Did you watch any of the episodes of "24"on Fox last winter? Did you see the one in which bad girl Nina breaks a plastic credit card in two, creating a jagged edge that she subsequently uses as a knife to slit the throat of her captor? Think this is a bit of fantasy? Well, I tried it out, in a manner of speaking, the other day. I broke a credit card in half. The edges weren't quite as jagged as the tv version, but they were saw-toothed enough that I could easily slice through a piece of chicken breast on my plate. And I suspect if I were a highly motivated religious zealot, bent on killing a stewardess, I could apply the same jagged edge to the soft throat of a flight attendant with sufficient force to cut deeply. So plastic credit cards are potential weapons.
Do you think Airport Security will now begin confiscating everyone's credit cards? Not in consumer haven America they won't. Fingernail clippers and pen knives, yes; but not credit cards. To confiscate credit cards would be to sabotage the American Way of Life. So every airline passenger is probably going to be permitted to board their planes, armed with plastic.
But any alarm about this is silly, my niece pointed out the other day. "What will the terrorist do once he's slit the throat of the stewardess? Now he has the attention of the rest of the passengers, so he's going to say, 'Nobody move or I'll slit your throats?' The circumstance is impossible and laughable."
True. But what's true of a jagged-edged credit card fragment is also true of fingernail clippers. And of knives in general. Assuming the terrorist so armed would be successful in killing, say, one stewardess, how, then, is he going to control the rest of the passengers on the flight? No one's going to move for fear he'll slit their throats, too? Doubtful.
Box cutters were successful on 9/11 because the flying public had been "trained" to be submissive to hijackers. The general philosophy was: do what they say, and eventually you'll all be safe. But that was when all hijackers wanted was to get to some destination or another -or to blackmail money out of rich airlines. Now that we know hijackers might be bent on killing themselves and all the rest of the passengers on a flight, superior numbers of non-combatant civilians are likely to doom any knife-wielding (or fingernail clipper wielding -or credit-card wielding) terrorist.
Give us back our nail clippers!
Not likely to happen. For reasons I'll get to in a trice. First, though, the second reason that Airport Security is laughable. The next terrorist assault on America is not likely to repeat the airplane hijacking dodge. The events of 9/11 demonstrate with awful persuasiveness how imaginative our foe can be. Think they'll have recourse to the same-old-same-old next time? Nope. They'll try something new. My guess? The Golden Gate Bridge will be blown up by a ship passing beneath it, laden with explosives. We have scarcely any way of preventing that -short of stopping at sea any ship headed for San Francisco Bay.
We're notoriously weak in our seaport security. It's entirely possible that Osama bin Laden and his entire extended family are safely living within one of those huge containerized freight shells, ensconced as comfortably as anyone in any other sort of mobile home -probably in some cargo holding area in one American port or another.
But, to return to Airport Security and nail clippers. We aren't likely to get our nail clippers back. The whole idea of Airport Security is to keep the American voter as fearful as possible. Fearing the worst, he and she will doubtless vote for George WMD Bush in the 2004 election: we are notoriously reluctant to change horses in midstream, particularly when the stream is full of alligators. So the scheme is to keep us fearful. As long as Airport Security remains on "high alert," we'll stay fearful. Relaxing Airport Security would result in the reverse: we'd feel somewhat more secure. And we probably wouldn't vote for George WMD Bush then.
Never, I would venture to guess, has an intelligent people been so thoroughly snookered as we have been on this issue. That the most advanced nation in Western Civilization has permitted its leaders to successfully commit this act of deception and mass hypnosis is an astoundingly revealing fact about us -about how naive and gullible we've become -or, perhaps, about how individually self-centered and therefore a-political we are, how entirely apathetic. And therefore pathetic.
No wonder we turn to the funnies: we need to escape ourselves.
GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEWS. In The Last of the Independents, Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer have produced a perfect evocation of those gritty caper movies where everything goes wrong and gets bloody. We meet Cole, an older sort of hardcase with a middle-age spread, his paramour, a younger woman pilot named Justine, and their handyman of all work, Billy, a strong and slightly retarded giant of a man, whose loyalty to Cole is based largely upon Cole's having treated him like a human being. They rob a bank and take a huge bundle of boodle which is being laundered through the bank by the Las Vegas mob. The mob then comes to get its money back, and Cole and Justine and Billy do heroic battle with them. And things go pretty rapidly from bad to catastrophic. How it all comes out, you'll have to read this book (Ait/PlanetLar, $12.95) to find out. There are delicious little touches -Billy is the only one who knows where the money is buried because Cole and Justine know he'll never talk, no matter what the inducement, but each of them might; and when Cole tells Justine, kneeling before him to console him, that she's kneeling in barf. The artwork is nifty -a bold and crudely expressive flexible line, not much feathering but fineline nicks and tucks for modeling. Printed in sepia ink on sepia-mottled paper, the book's other innovation is that it's bound on the short side of its 6.5x10-inch format, but the dust jacket turns the book the other way so that on the shelf it looks as if the spine is on the long side. This book is an expertly done graphic novel, deploying to dramatic effect all the tics and tropes of comics art -narrative breakdowns, page layout, visual storytelling. A genuinely rousing treat.
Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood is another sort of thing altogether. Written and drawn by Marjane Satrapi, the book tells her own story about growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution that deposed the Shah in the late 1970s. In the New York Times, reporter Tara Bahrampour relates a telling incident from Satrapi's life that is not in the present volume: In a life drawing course at Tehran University, Satrapi and other art students drew from a female model draped in a chador. "Their sketches of black formless figures must have been instructive in cultivating an appreciation of the absurd, at least," writes Bahrampour. "When the class finally insisted on a male model, clothed but at least in possession of visible limbs, an Islamic morals policeman showed up." Satrapi recalled that he asked her if she was "looking at" this guy. Realizing that she was doing a forbidden thing, she asked, "Should I look at the door and draw him?" The morals cop said, "Yes."
Persepolis deals with the other, everyday indignities, mostly minor but insulting, belittling, and dehumanizing, of growing up in theocratic Iran, all from the perspective of the young girl who is the protagonist, Satrapi herself. Producing the book was a labor of love and patriotism. In the introduction, Satrapi relates the history of her native Persia. And then: "This old and great civilization has been discussed mostly in connection with fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism. As an Iranian who has lived more than half of my life in Iran, I know that this image is far from the truth. This is why writing Persepolis was so important to me. I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists. I also don't want those Iranians who lost their lives in prisons defending freedom, who died in the war against Iraq, who suffered under various repressive regimes, or who were forced to leave their families and flee their homeland to be forgotten. One can forgive but one should never forget."
Satrapi's drawing style is of the "clear line" (Tintin) variety, and she uses solid black in this black-and-white production with great effect, shrouding her tale with a somber aura. Much of the story is told with captions that are poised in dramatic tension over the pictures, which, in their turn, sometimes provide a contrasting comment on the prose. Satrapi's prose itself is terse, colorless, the perfect unemotional posture to assume for relating indignities in an almost ironic manner. She uses the medium expertly, varying layout for emotional impact and often resorting to symbolism to emphasize a narrative point. But she infuses her story with humor, too.
She and her father are out in the city when Iraqi aircraft drop bombs, so they hurry home to comfort the mother. Dashing desperately across town and then upstairs to their apartment, expecting to find the mother distraught, they find, instead, that she's just emerging from the shower, wrapped in a towel. The father hugs his wife.
"The Iraqis bombed us!" he exclaims.
"Really?" she says. "When?"
"Well," she says, "I guess I should dry off."
Satrapi's caption under this picture: "War always takes you by surprise."
The war with Iraq permitted the theocratic regime to become more repressive, Satrapi observes. "They eventually admitted that the survival of the regime depended upon the war. ... In the name of that war, they exterminated the enemy within. Those who opposed the regime were systematically arrested and executed together. As for me," she continues, "I sealed my act of rebellion against my mother's dictatorship by smoking the cigarette I'd stolen from my uncle two weeks earlier."
The pictures show her lighting up and then, promptly, coughing. "It was awful," she says in the accompanying caption, "but this was not the moment to give in." Then in a speech balloon in the next panel, she says: "With this first cigarette, I kissed childhood goodbye. Now I was a grown-up."
Comedic touches like these enhance the profound humanity of the work. And Satrapi's narrative itself, surprisingly, reveals an unexpected Iranian life. Despite repression in 1980-84, there was a certain freedom of movement. As a teenager, Satrapi was able to obtain on the black market audiotapes of her favorite Western music and various articles of fashionable clothing, too. Still, at nearly every venture away from the home, she was menaced by the possibility that the morality police would apprehend her and punish her with a whipping or imprisonment -"anything might happen," she says.
Satrapi now lives in Paris, where she smokes and wears miniskirts. Her book has sold more than 120,000 copies in France and has been translated into six languages. The American edition, from Pantheon (156 6x9-inch pages in hardback, $17.95), offers but the first two of the story's four parts; the others, we assume, are forthcoming. The Iranian government will doubtless not permit the book to be sold there, but Satrapi says she might translate it into Farsi and put it on the Web, which is widely used by young Iranians. In the West, the book, she hopes, will help unhorse myths about Iran and Islam life. I'd say she's well on her way to doing exactly that.
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