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So I made good on my promise…well, my passing whim, at any rate…and dug deep into the back issue bins at the store to pull out a set of the 1970s Charlton run of E-Man. Most of it, at any rate. We had several copies of some issues, in a wide range of conditions, but alas, issues 8 and 10 were not to be found. Sure, I could have settled for the reprints of those original issues First published later, but given the choice, I’m going for the older books, what with the swell covers and the tanned pages and the terrible ads and what have you.
I’m not much of a stickler for condition; so long as they don’t fall apart in my hands or smell like gasoline I’m okay. Most of these were in the Very Good to Fine range, and the worst condition copy was #2, which was in Good (i.e. “the eBay ‘Fine Plus'”):
Speaking of the eBay, it’s probably to the Internet auctionings I go to fill out the run, unless I’ve got #8 and #10 hiding in the backroom of the shop somewhere (and given the “abandon all hope, ye who enter here” state of the backroom, it’s not unlikely).
It does look like we have all of the First Comics series, and then things get a tad complicated after that, looking at the Wikipedia page. Then there’s all the Mike Mauser stuff, Mauser being a private detective supporting character in E-Man and having his own back-up series in Charlton’s Vengeance Squad. I think we have those at the shop, but those are also reprinted along with the original E-Man stories by First Comics, and that series also has some previously unpublished work and now I’m thinking I should have just taken home the reprints instead.
AAARGH. Now I’m waffling. I may bring back the originals and go for the reprints. But the originals have the cool Ditko back-ups. Man, these big decisions are the worst. I’m going to end up buying both versions and hating myself. LOOK WHAT YOU’VE MADE ME DO.
There was also a series teaming up Mike Mauser with Ms. Tree, Ms. Tree being a series I did read and I tell you right now, without checking my inventory list, I couldn’t tell you with any confidence whether or not I own that mini. I’ve seen it at the shop plenty of times, but my memory tells me I didn’t pick it up because I wasn’t familiar or just indifferent to Mauser, but my collector-fanboy-sense tells me I did pick it up because it’s a Ms. Tree tie-in. I have no idea. Okay, hold on for a second, I’ll check.
Looks like I don’t have ‘em. Well, I guess if reading E-Man is going to turn me into a Mike Mauser completist, I guess I’d better pick those up at some point, too and fill out that Ms. Tree collection at the same time.
Now, all I have to do is find time to read all these. I’m sure that’ll be no problem. I’ve almost made it through #1!
…or, possibly, both:
Anyway, that’s not what I originally planned this post to be about. This image was taken from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man
#90, cover-dated May 1984, and is notable primarily for being one of the first appearances of Spidey’s then-new black costume.
The subject came to mind when, on our store’s Facebook page, a customer questioned an assertion I made on our regular website that Amazing Spider-Man #252 was the black costume’s first appearance. “Isn’t it Secret Wars #8?” he wondered, and I explained that even though Spider-Man is shown first receiving the costume in SW #8, that is actually a good seven months or so after the costume made its debut in ASM.
However, even that’s apparently not cut ‘n’ dried, since in Overstreet it’s noted that ASM #252, the aforementioned Peter Parker #90, and Marvel Team-Up #141 are “tied” (Overstreet’s terminology) for the costume’s first appearance.
Today’s Marvel is more than happy to crank out four or five or six Avengers or X-Men titles the same week, but it was my memory that wasn’t Marvel’s habit way back when, when all these comics were hitting the stands. So it had me wondering, even though they’re all cover-dated May 1984, did they all come out the same week, or on succeeding weeks, and which one was first?
Alas, though our store was open then, those invoices/cycle sheets/what-have-yous were discarded long ago. A little Googling finds some discussion (like this example), based mostly on “I-was-there” memories, plus additional blurring of the costume’s history with the inclusion of prior promo pieces from Marvel’s news/interviews comic Marvel Age and elsewhere.
A mention of Amazing Heroes #39 as a possible “first appearance” of the costume (speaking of blurring the lines) reminded me of a feature of Amazing Heroes, the “Coming Distractions” section, which would list all the new releases for that month, including specific release dates. Thus, I pulled out #40, the issue with the relevant information, out of the Vast Mikester Comic Archives, and here is what it says:
Amazing Spider-Man – “ships 1/10, newsstand o/s 1/31″
Marvel Team-Up #141 – “ships 1/24, newsstand o/s 1/14″ [typo - supposed to be 2/14...see below]
Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #90 – “ships 1/24, newsstand o/s 2/14″
And, yes, of course there’s that typo in the Marvel Team-Up listing, confusing things. But it’s certainly a typo: every other comic with a ship date of 1/24 is listed as being on sale on newsstands February 14th. (Both December 24, 1983 and January 14, 1984 would have been Saturdays, whereas every other date listed is on a Tuesday. In addition, no other book with a December shipping date is noted, so the 1/24 date doesn’t seem to be a typo.)
According to the information provided by Marvel, Amazing Spider-Man #252 was at least planned to ship out at least two weeks before the other books, making this the first in-story appearance of the black costume. This is of course assuming things worked out the way they should have. Shipments could have been delayed, books might have been late, etc. etc., so it is within the realm of possibility that some of the books may have been released, at least in some locales, simultaneously.
And then there’s the fact comic shops in the direct sales market received their books weeks prior to newsstands. I wasn’t on the business side of the counter in those days, but my memory is that direct shipping of new books wasn’t quite the exact science it is today, he said half-sarcastically, so again, it’s possible that even if the books stuck to Marvel’s schedule, who knows what order they showed up in which comic book stores.
On top of that, there was the usual speculation/hoarding shenanigans that turn up whenever something in the comic market smells like it could be “hot,” so it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some people remember seeing Marvel Team-Up #141 before Amazing #252, since all the 252s were immediately scooped up, bagged, boarded, and thrown in boxes marked “DO NOT OPEN ‘TIL EBAY.” And even beyond that, the disparity between new arrivals in comic shops and new arrivals on newsstands could have meant people spotting the latter Spidey books at their comic shops before seeing #252 pop up at the local 7-11.
Anyway, I wish I knew back then I’d be writing this blog today, so that I’d have taken better notes. As it is, at the time I did buy Amazing Spider-Man #252, from a newsstand no less, because I was semi-collecting that series anyway. I don’t recall when those other Spider-Man comics in question came out in relation to 252, since I wasn’t reading those at the time and didn’t pay any attention.
I was also going to discuss whether or not Web of Spider-Man #18 should be considered the actual first appearance of Venom, but I think we’ve all had quite enough of this sort of talk today. (And if you say ASM #252 is his first appearance, I’m gonna pop you in the nose.)
image from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man #90 (May 1984) by Al Milgrom and Jim Mooney
So I recently acquired a few of these Whitman comic book three-packs (still sealed!), and this particular one has something I’ve never seen before:
…two copies of the same comic! That’s Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
#25 (from June 1978) on the front there, there’s a copy of Woody Woodpecker
#168 on the other, and, in the middle, another copy of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids
#25, espied by me by carefully separating the comics while still inside the polybag. Well, I don’t know about you, but if I shilled out my 99 cents and got two of the same funnybook for my troubles, I would have been a tad miffed.
I don’t know how common an error this was, as at the time these were in stores, I wasn’t going around from toy store to department store carefully examining each three-pack and doing a little amateur quality control. It was more like “MOM! Can I have this pack of Star Wars comics?” and the depth of my examination was mostly restricted to “do I already own the outer two comics visible in this package?”
Anyway, none of the comics in any of these pre-packed bags are in particularly high demand…I mean, there’s some demand for cartoon comics like Fat Albert, but the packs themselves as is will sell more quickly for us as novelty items than waiting for collectors to request the specific issues therein.
Of course, that’s not always the case. There are a handful of issues from various series that were only distributed via the Whitman three-packs and not as a racked single issue, most famously (and expensively) Uncle Scrooge #179. A copy we had about — oh, ten years ago, maybe? — sold in the $300 range on eBay, and it was around a Very Good to Fine copy, if I remember correctly.
Speaking of collectability and also awkward transitions, I’ve started to have some inquiries into the first issue of Preacher, a comic that long ago stopped having any back issue demand since the primary way anyone wants this series now is via the trade paperback/hardcover editions. Which is fine, I sell plenty of Preacher books, which has more than made up for any dead Preacher backstock we’ve had sittin’ around, but now that people are getting wind of a television adaptation, I’d better dust off that section of the back issue bins for the brief period of time that they’ll be sought after again.
Plus, the return of Doomsday is resulting in multiple requests for Superman: The Man of Steel #17 (Doomsday’s first appearance) and #18 (the start of the “Death of Superman” story). I assume that’s what’s causing it, and not some spontaneous uprising of Doomsday nostalgia. Or maybe he’s in that Batman/Superman movie and I haven’t heard about it? I mean, everyone else is, so why not.
I’m also looking forward to the eventual revival of interest in Heroes comics and merchandise. I mean, all you folks loved Heroes, right?
Here are a couple of funny animals books picked up at a recent local flea market while finding some goodies for the shop…Goofy Comics #24 (February 1948):
…and Krazy Krow
#1 (1958, reprinting a comic from 1945):
I do so enjoy the off-brand (i.e. not Disney, Warner Bros., or DC Comics) funny animal comics from the Golden Age. So many oddball characters that only so briefly saw the light of day, and are now mostly gone and forgotten save for the occasional archaeological find like these.
The bags for these comics had, shall we say, optimistic pricing written upon them:
…which turned out to be Overstreet’s near mint pricing for the books. As it turned out, the comics were sold for much
cheaper than the marked prices, which is a good thing since the seller had marked the near mint price for the original 1940s Krazy Krow
comic, and not the decade-later reprint this was.
Anyway, I totally kept these for myself, which is one of the two perks I have at this job (the other being the cruel mistreatment of my employees). And I decided to just show them off in this post instead of writing out my usual overly-verbose Monday posts since I’m coming down with a cold, I think, and also I just watched the Breaking Bad finale and you seriously expect me to write anything after seeing that? C’mon.
So I recently acquired a comic that’s been haunting the back of my mind for nearly thirty years:
I glanced through this comic in the shop back when it was released in 1986, and two parts of the book have lingered with me all this time. One, the pronunciation guide on the cover (and repeated several times inside as a running gag):
I have been sort of privately pronouncing the name “X-Men” this way in my head for years
. I usually don’t say it out loud, unlike “Defect
ive Comics,” which I say every time I pull down the Detective Comics
box because I think I’m hilarious.
…the shocking Cerebus cameo has stuck with me, because, you see, in the regular X-Men books, Professor X uses Cerebro, a big ol’ computer thingie, to enhance his mutant psychic abilities to find mutants. However, in Xmen
(pronounced ZHMEN, one syllable) it is, of course, Cerebus
who tracks mutants for Professor X, because “Cerebus” sounds sorta like “Cerebro.” Or, excuse me, “Cerebos,” as the clearly-edited-after-the-fact Us in these word balloons would have it:
I’m not even really sure why
I kept this comic, which showed up in a collection recently. It’s not as if I haven’t had opportunities to pick it up in the past, since copies turned up at the shop from time to time. The comic itself as a parody doesn’t really do anything for me. There’s the funny names for the characters, the poking at X-Men tropes, the satirizing of then-current X-Men plot twists and character quirks, and so on, which might play a little better for someone more invested in the X-universe. The comic does feature some nice early work by Charles Troug, who would go on to illustrate Grant Morrison’s run on Animal Man
, so there’s that.
I suppose I mostly kept this comic to finally have a physical representation of those two wires this comic crossed in my head so long ago, a print version of the memories still echoing from that brief exposure.
Speaking of Cerebus, this comic came out last week:
…an anthology of parody/tribute stories by cartoonist Cerebus
fans, using the Cerebus character as per creator Dave Sim’s decision to allow other folks to use it in new creative works. For the cover alone this probably deserves a place in your Cerebus collection, and you can read about its creation here
(and buy a color print here
!). The contents are amusing as well, with even the…less polished entries still having an undeniable and entertaining enthusiasm. Like the Xmen
book above, it’s probably best appreciated by those folks still in the bag for the property being parodied, and a little too much “reading someone else’s mail” for the uninitiated. But, I’m still game for new Cerebus spin-off stuff, making me the target audience, I guess.
Almost universal reaction from customers at the shop (and even an employee or two) to seeing Low Society on the stands has been “a Cerebus parody comic…now?” which, well, fair enough. It has been nearly ten years since the series ended, but I do have to note that I’m seeing a small uptick in sales on Cerebus trade paperback collections lately, so someone out there is still discovering and reading it. Or, at the very least, upgrading their collections from the pamphlets to the phonebooks. At any rate, I did fear that once it was over, Cerebus would fade into memory, but there appears to be a little life sticking to it yet. It’s a complex, multilayered, and (especially in the latter half) divisive, problematic and controversial work, and still contains a wealth of material to be mined, discussed, criticized, and, yes, parodied.
Anyway, Cerebus: I still need to reread that someday.
So in the comments to my last post both Robert in New Orleans and GregNGray mention stores bagging, boarding and / or otherwise preventing the handling of the new comics on display, in one case even requiring folks to go to the counter and request which new comics they wanted to buy after looking at the sealed-off selection. Now, I have to admit, I’ve been sorely tempted by those options after yet another person trying to park on the floor and read all the new comics without buying, or after discovering yet another comic that’s been thrashed beyond the ability to sell when we were somehow not looking. I think it was even pal Dorian who half-jokingly suggested having a store where people would go to the window, tell the trained roller-skating chimpanzee there what comics they’d want, and the chimp would zip off to the rack, grab the comics, and bring ‘em back to the window. Why a chimp? Hey, people love chimps. They’re cute, when they’re not doing something horrifically violent. But perhaps I’m getting off-message.
Anyway, it seems like restricting access to the new books by sealing them off, somehow, would do more harm than good. People have got to be able to at least browse a bit, otherwise how are they going to be able to decide if they want to start reading a seventh new Avengers title? Or, you know, anything else new or odd or interesting that may catch their eyes? And I mean “browsing,” not “sitting on the floor mooching free reads of entire books,” which will get you a well-deserved, mostly-metaphorical boot in the ass. Again, I’m certainly sympathetic to the responses of those retailers, but (and I’m saying this without knowing what exact circumstances caused those decisions to be made) a little more employee supervision and attention to the racks may be better in the long run than cutting off access.
Besides, I can’t imagine spending the time bagging ‘n’ boarding all the new comics for the rack each week. Who’s got that kind of time? I’m too busy teaching spoken English to roller-skating chimpanzees.
• • •
GregNGray also notes that he likes signage in his stores, and I agree. I try to put up signs everywhere, particularly identifying which graphic novels are where (from genre distinctions to featured topics and characters — “HELLBOY” or “WALKING DEAD” and the like), to clearly marking the all-ages sections (bookshelves and the new comics rack by the register), big signs on the back issue islands on the floor telling you which letter of the alphabet is where, and so on. I don’t really have a big sign saying “HERE ARE THE NEW COMICS ON THIS WALL,” but it’s a giant wall of new comics, it’s reasonably self-evident, though the new comics for the week do all have “new this week” tags on them. Our back issue bins behind the counters have tags on the front that (ahem) usually have the correct contents marked on them, though I’m shifting and moving comics so often sometimes I get a little behind in updating those. It’s still a work in progress, even after all these years, but I’m trying to get more signs up where needed.
• • •
Luke and the previously-mentioned Robert who is presumably still in New Orleans asked what sticky labels I use to seal comic bags, as using tape on comic bags is a punishment I believe that casts you into the outer ring of the Seventh Circle of Dante’s Hell. In general, we use Avery removable labels, usually the 3/4″ round ones or some of the rectangular ones that you can find perusing these pages. Some stores have their own brand of removable labels, and those should work as well, so long as you see the word “removable” on the package somewhere. I prefer using the white ones, as the colored ones seem to curl a bit more with use, and maybe this is just me, but they seem to be less…sticky, at least for the purposes of sealing and resealing a comic book bag. Anyway, the white ones also allow for a little more clarity when we write notes on them for in-store use (such as the comic’s condition, year of publication, etc.). And, best of all, there’s more of a chance that it’ll come off very cleanly should the sticker accidentally get stuck to a cover, which would be a total disaster with a piece of tape, particularly on older comics.
Now, at home, I also use removable labels, but a while back I scored a cheap deal on some 1 by 3 inch removable labels, which may seem a bit excessive in size, but I cut each label into thin strips which I then use to seal my bags. Since I’m not using those stickers for condition notes, like at store, it doesn’t matter if I don’t leave room for any writing (except for issue numbers, if necessary)…just so long as they’re wide enough for the seal to hold. I suspect I’ll be working on these boxes of labels for years. Unless I can get a comic-bagging chimpanzee to take care of them for me.
So I was asked, in response to my post on Monday in regards to DC’s 3D cover allocations, which title was the one I’m getting more copies than what I originally ordered. I probably should have noted it at the time, but, you know, how do you keep a blog reader in suspense? I’ll tell you Thursday: it was the Darkseid issue of Justice League, and I don’t entirely understand DC’s mix of numerology and voodoo in determining how many copies of each comic that each retailer gets in relation to the actual number of copies DC ordered, but apparently they thought Darkseid was going to be A Big One and set print runs accordingly.
I mean, I have no idea how true that is. DC’s allocation formula is apparently based on each retailer’s ordering history for the titles, or something like that, so maybe the comic publishing stars aligned in just the right way for my Darkseid orders to be increased rather than decreased. The mileage of other retailers may, as they say, vary. At least I’m getting all the copies I ordered of that Joker issue, which apparently means DC also anticipated demand and ordered a forest-leveling amount of them. Anyway, in conclusion: 3D covers! I’m looking forward to never talking about them again!
In other news, comic collections, like buses and taxis and Adam Sandler movies, seem to come all at once, and in the last week or three we ended up with about three collections of ’80s and ’90s indie comics, resulting in yet another copy of Yummy Fur #9 in our possession. As you may remember, that was one of the big missing links in my collection that, after a decades-long search, finally was acquired a few months ago. So now here’s another one, mocking me with its availability so soon after I finally found a copy. Sigh…it’s MacKenzie Queen #5 all over again. Please note my accurate prediction regarding current events in that post.
And in variant cover news: why, hello there awesome Jim Starlin variant for Superman Unchained #3:
I enjoy Superman Unchained
well enough as is, but baby, like I wrote about at the end of this post
, I would much rather read the comic this
cover is selling me. (Take a look at this oddly creepy yet amazing Brian Bolland variant
So in response to the recent news about DC’s lenticular covers for their Villains Month special event, Twitter pal Joe and I had the following back ‘n’ forth:
This is the Eclipso: The Darkness Within
cover in question, by the way, straight outta my collection:
And here’s a close-up of the gem:
Geez, I should have looked a little more closely, and picked one that didn’t still have that bit of flash by the top corner, there. Ah, well. Way to go, younger me.
Now it’s been a while…like “over twenty years” a while, so my memory was that there were two versions of the Eclipso comic, one with a plastic gem and without sans gem…well, that bit is right, anyway, but I thought that you paid a little extra for the privilege of having a big lump on the front of your comic that would dent the comic ahead of it in the box. Turns out I was wrong, thankfully, because I didn’t want to think I dished out an extra fifty cents for that. I do notice that the drawing of the gem is actually removed from the cover that had the plastic gem glued to it, which is nice attention to detail, I think.
Anyway, after a close investigation of the comics surrounding that issue of Eclipso in my storage box, I can determine no damage caused by said gem to any of the comics in front of it. The box was not tightly packed, however, whether by accident or by subconscious desire to avoid pressing anything too heavily against that Eclipso, because like I said in that Twitter post up there, it did occasionally cross my mind that storing that comic was going to terrible, terrible things to other innocent comics. I didn’t worry enough about it to put a backing board or something in front of it as other Twitter pal Christopher suggested, but it was just one of those comic related things floating around in my head, like “which issue of X-Men did snowy Iceman become icy Iceman” and “hold on, I didn’t actually buy X-Force #1, did I?”
Of course, writing about this has me wondering about how our backstock of this Eclipso comic is being stored at the shop. I sure hope we packed the box properly way back when.
Anyway, back to that DC Villains event…I don’t know about the rest of those comics, but we’re gonna sell a billion of those Jokers.
I talked before about how I’m not really looking for any more old comics for my collection, outside of an issue of Dog Boy or two, or ’60s and ’70s fanzines. I mean, sure, if something cool comes along I might snap it up for myself, but by and large there’s not a whole lot of specific back issues I’m actively looking for. This comic I acquired a few months back, for example, was the big one, a comic I’d spent years trying to find.
But there is this one comic that I’d been half-interested in buying, one featuring the debut of a character that’s appeared on and off over the decades, that I’d never seen in the shop in all the time I’ve worked here. I’ve always liked its quite striking cover, however, since I first saw it in a long-ago issue of Amazing Heroes, and decided then I’d buy a copy should I ever get the opportunity.
And then, this weekend, there it was in a collection (the same collection where I found the comic with this page, in fact):
#79, December 1968, featuring the debut of Dolphin as written and illustrated by her creator, J. Scott Pike
Now I suppose I could have gone online and bought a copy from someone, but it’s not something I was absolutely going crazy from not owning…I just figured that sooner or later, a copy would come by the shop, and hopefully it would be in halfway decent shape (i.e. Dolphin didn’t have a mustache drawn on her). As it turns out, it was far more “later” than “sooner,” but, hey, good enough. And now I own a copy of this comic, and the cover looks just as great in real life as it did in that magazine article and on comic cover gallery websites.
Also in the comic is a reprint of the first appearance of Aqualad, and a one-page text piece explaining the idea of fanzines as well as promoting a couple…which is certainly an added bonus for me, given my appreciation for ‘zines.
In conclusion: just what I needed, another comic…but it is always nice to finally find that one elusive item you’ve been searching for, the long itch that finally gets scratched.
• • •
In other news:
Yup, a few more of these Whitman funnybook pre-packs made their way into the shop, only a few short months after that Star Wars one popped up. And while none of these were from series I particularly perused at the time (aside from my Battlestar Galactica treasury edition, and a single issue from the monthly series), even just feeling the (still-sealed!) bags in my hand took me back to that time, so long ago, when I was reading comics. …Oh, wait, I’m still reading them now. Well, you know what I mean.
Like I said, I had the treasury edition (adapting the pilot film) and one issue…that one issue being #3, which was part three of the adaptation of the pilot film, so, well, my 1970s comic dollar wasn’t very well spent, there, I guess. I keep meaning to check out the issues of this series illustrated by Walt Simonson.
I don’t know a whole lot about Shogun Warriors
. I mean, I remember it being on the stands an’ all, and I may vaguely recall the toys the comics were based on as well. This is one of those series that had a price bump partially because it’s a ’70s Marvel title and those are getting harder to find in top condition, and maybe kinda sorta from riding that ’70s toy nostalgia wave even though nobody’s nostalgic for this. (NOTE: I exaggerate for lightly-humorous effect…do not email me with links to your comprehensive “Shogun Warriors Forever” web shrine.)
I can’t even say for sure I’ve ever even looked inside a copy. I’m pretty certain we have a full run in the back issue bins at the shop…maybe I’ll take a look. Someday.
So I was absolutely fascinated
with the Micronauts toys as a kid…I think I had a couple of the figures, and maybe a vehicle, but I think a foot was put down at some point and I had to pick between one or the other parents’-wallet-draining sci-fi franchise toy line, and Star Wars
received my young nod. But boy, did I pore over the one or two catalogs I had for the Micronauts toys, imagining how wonderful they must have been. The only person I encountered back then who had any extensive collection of these toys at all was some friend of a friend, so my direct exposure to these items was tantalizingly brief.
I only ever read one issue of the series…guess which one…though I kept meaning to get around to reading a couple of the later issues that tied into John Byrne’s Fantastic Four run. Though, oddly enough, this mini-series, which I inexplicably bought off the rack, still remains a favorite.
Most of the three-packs shown here contain the first three issues of their respective series, but this Buck Rogers
pack, featuring comics based on the Gil Gerard TV show, holds issue #2 – #4. According to the interesting publishing notes on this Grand Comics Database entry
, the numbering of the series picked up from the previous Buck Rogers
series published by Gold Key back in 1964. So, you know, just 15 years between issues. I wonder if any of the kids buying Buck Rogers
#2 in 1979 were driven crazy, desperately seeking that first issue, thinking they were missing some exciting four-color adventure starring Gerard and Erin Gray and Twiki. Plus, according to that same entry, #10 of the series also went AWOL, just to pick up a few of the Buck Rogers fanboy stragglers not yet driven to madness by the lack of an obvious #1.
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