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Alan Moore's Writing For Comics - Download as PDF File .pdf) or read online. This consideration appears in the first pages of Alan Moore. Comics as . Through these – his early treatise On Writing for Comics, or occasional essays such as. Alan Moore is widely considered to be the greatest comic book writer of all time. With over thirty years dedicated to the medium, his body of work includes.

Alan Moores Writing For Comics Pdf

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Alan Moore – writing comics. What comics is and what it is not. Comics is a motion picture that has NEITHER movement nor soundtrack. Alan Moore's Writing for Comics book. Read 90 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Alan Moore, Hugo-Award winning author of WATCHMEN . Alan Moore's Writing for Comics is a book published in by Avatar Press. It reprints a . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.

The book also features incredibly bold and symbolic artwork that begs close study.

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It also feels like one of Moore's more personal stories. It doesn't take much to imagine the story about an older Moore, reflecting on whether he's sacrificed his youthful idealism for short-term gain in writing superhero fiction. An iconic hero who represents the nation itself. No, not Captain America. We're talking about Captain Britain. The character didn't catch on, and lost his own series, becoming a backup character in various other books.

In "Marvel Superheroes" , Alan Moore took over the character. As he tends to do with existing characters, he completely turned the character upside-down. He started by killing Captain Britain and his elfin sidekick, and changing his origin to make his powers come from aliens instead of magicians. The aliens brought him back to life, and Captain Britain went on journeys to alternate realities, and battled new enemies.

It featured epic moments drawn in what came to be known as "widescreen," something now common but rare at the time. It's all an amazing journey, once again showing how Moore takes even the most stereotypical character and makes it unique. The series has no end of weird characters, including a team leader in the form of a talking dog in an exoskeleton, a crime scene investigator with synesthesia, a detective with a box full of toys, and a drug operation run by a Nazi mad scientist.

While the series had its share of humor, it also tackled issues usually ignored by mainstream comics. Monsters and robots faced prejudice by humans and law enforcement struggled to deal with the pressure of fighting crime.

There were elements of satire and reflection on society along with jokes about life in a world of superheroes, where a clothing store is called the Phonebooth, and people sell signal watches instead of cell phones. More than anything, the series showed once again how Moore could bring new life to the stereotypical superhero genre. It also showed he could be pretty funny.

When "Promethea" was first released in , many expected it to be a sort of Wonder Woman rip-off. Instead, Moore created a brand-new character inspired by the concept of imagination itself. The series begins when a college student named Sophie Bangs investigates Promethea, a woman who keeps appearing in folklore, cartoons, and even comic books. But this is no "comic book comes to life" story. Sophie discovers Promethea is a legendary female warrior who exists in Immateria, a realm created by imagination.

She appears whenever someone calls her into existence through telling stories about her. In some cases, women actually become her. Through "Promethea," Moore explored the power of comic books, superheroes, and their connection to ancient mythology. Towards the end, the series dipped deeper and deeper into spiritism and religion, challenging the natural order and even reality itself. Moore's love of mysticism was never more clear than in this series. Alan Moore's "From Hell" dramatically stretched the boundaries of what the comic book format is capable of.

Instead of a macho portrayal of superheroes and supervillains or a horror story of macabre monsters, he tells a historical horror drama where the monsters are human. Set in Victorian London, this graphic novel is about the famous serial killer Jack the Ripper. But unlike most stories involving Jack the Ripper, the murders are not the beginning or the end.

Moore tells the story as a way of seeing the world of Victorian London in a new way. In this graphic novel, Moore portrays Jack the Ripper as the Queen's physician, part of a Masonic conspiracy.

Not only is it a dramatic story, but the graphic novel ends with numerous annotations, showing how much exhaustive research he carried out. It's a testament to his dedication to the story. In 's "Warrior" magazine, Moore created a new version that upended the old one. Upon rediscovering his powers, Moran also discovers his childhood adventures were all fantasies implanted by a government experiment that really created him. He also finds that his former sidekick Kid Miracleman Billy Bates has become a psychopath using his awakened powers to wreak havoc.

As Miracleman, he tries to find the truth about his past, stop his former partner, and struggles with his identity. While not as controversial as "Watchmen," "Miracleman" plays around with the same concepts. The brutality of Bates and the shocking portrayal of violence depicted in the battle between he and Miracleman makes us see evil in a whole new light. Moore's " The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen " is basically a literary take-off on the Justice League of America set in an alternate version of Victorian England.

The conversations and arguments between the five of them are great with clever quips and retorts. The League is thrown into battles and adventures, all the way up to a kite-flying climax. It's one of Alan Moore's best works.

What makes this series especially great is that every page and panel is crammed with literary references and characters from across the era. You could write a book about all the stuff happening in each panel, and some authors have.

In , Alan Moore was given the chance to work on a low-profile comic book on the verge of cancellation, "Saga of the Swamp Thing. But Moore literally reinvented and revitalized the character and the book, starting by killing Swamp Thing in issue 20 and bringing him back to life.

What makes the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book is less the length of the work for how many pages really make it possible to say that a book is a novel?

The graphic novel is a composite, well-organized structure whose construction implies careful textual design on the part of the author s. This basic element makes the difference from the pure iteration of the adventures of one or more characters. Rob Vollmar and Paul Gravett have satisfactorily highlighted this aspect by stating that the graphic novel must be written with the larger structure of the work in mind and allowed for the length of the segments to be dictated by the story instead of by serial format demands Vollmar, Discovering Part 3 , and that it must tell a solid, self-sufficient tale Gravett 9.

However, the most exhaustive recent considerations about the topic were provided by Charles Hatfields book Alternative Comics In his stimulating study, this American scholar underscores aspects that had been neglected or too hastily dealt with in previous examinations.

He claims that, despite its ambiguities, the graphic novel has established a solid position within the market that it would be inappropriate to ignorebut also that one must be careful when using the term, because it unfortunately tends to hide the complexity Introduction and precariousness of comics publishing, obscuring the long forms dependence on the serial As noted above, the graphic novels Sabin includes in the first typethe ones directly published as book editionare the exception to the rule.

Most graphic novels get into the stores as a series of episodes because it is the only way to make them financially sustainable, both for the publisher and for the author s.

This risks hindering the progress of comics that are meant to work as a big, single story, because both narrative rhythm and the readers expectations can be damaged by fragmentation into installments.

However, serialization can affect the graphic novel in several interesting ways: it inspires authors to painstaking care of structure via thematic repetition; allows them to get reader feedback; and most of all, if the creators have control of the narrative, they can use serialization to emphasize features of plot and structure, thus making the reading experience more powerful for examples and further analysis of these aspects, see Hatfield, Alternative, especially Provided we remember that not all authors are capable of reaching the latter effect, and that most comic books represent self-contained cases due to the inherent flexibility of the medium, I agree with Hatfield in believing that the term graphic novel is acceptable as long as we carefully contextualize it: we need to know where these works come from, and what conditions enable and constrain their production.

We also need to know what readerly habits and expectations shape their reception Having said that, why does it make sense to refer to certain works by Alan Moore as graphic novels? The preceding overview has shed light on the fact that the graphic novel has made a name for itself both in the market and in the field of criticism.

Therefore, my current use of the term does not come from a longing for status or legitimization. The point is simply that the comics by Moore this book deals with which shortly will be introduced match the characteristics of thematic unity, large structure, and cohesiveness mentioned above. Most of them also feature novel-like length, such as the massive narratives of texts like From Hell or Promethea.

On top of that, Moore long ago decided not to draw his comics, but to devote himself to meticulously writing and planning his works, producing impressive amounts of pages of descriptions and suggestions for the artists with whom he collaborates an aspect that will be touched on in chapter 1. Indeed, he defines himself as primarily a writer Khoury, Extraordinary , and he is very much a literary writer who often refers to, and plays with, the tradition of prose literature, as will be shown throughout the following chapters by explaining his use of intertextuality see ch.

These elements, and his recent choice to devote more of his time to prose than to comics scripting, confirm that the connection with traditional novel writing is more evident in Moores production than in many other comics creators work. In his case, the expression graphic novel is appropriate because it conveys the balance between the weight of the literary tradition and the equally important visual aspect of his works.

For all his appreciation of literature, we will see that Moore makes it very clear that the medium of comics has unique qualities, and that making the most of those qualitiesthe interaction of word and imageis what has interested him throughout the greatest part of his career. Yet, the title of this book does not call Alan Moore a graphic novelist. Doing so would actually be limiting and therefore inadequate.

Instead, the title refers to Moores comics as performance. Not all of Moores works are graphic novels: he also created strips like his early Maxwell the Magic Cat , cartoons, serializations, and single comic books. He wrote poetry and prose. He acted in performances and recorded CDs. He is definitely more than just a graphic novelist. For this reason, the best term I could come up with to describe him and again I have to say thanks to Jeet Heer for suggesting it is a performing writer.

We will see that there is more to the adjective performing than just the denotation of a writer who is also active as a theatrical performer. But I am jumping to my conclusion. Let us briefly outline the chapters of this book. Chapter 1 considers Moores aesthetics of comics by examining his manifesto On Writing for Comics, and by reflecting on his peculiar approach to scripting and to relating with the artists he chooses as co-creators for his works.

Again the concept of the graphic novel will be explored, with special reference to the authors awareness of his own literary influences and approach to writing, and to his simultaneous belief in the unique value that characterizes the blending of the verbal and the visual in comics.

The chapter then studies the authors strongly intertextual narrative strategy, which allows him to playfully manipulate both the literary tradition and the tradition of comics, and to metafictionally call into question the validity of his own narrative, thus constantly endowing it with multiple layers of reading and possibilities of interpretation, which are always emphasized by the polysemic complexity of the interaction between word and image.

We will focus on literary intertextuality and on the rewriting of genres and narrative formulas, drawing examples from V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, and a brief look at the controversial Lost Introduction 23 Girls, published in after sixteen years of work with Melinda Gebbie and further examined in chapter 4. We then highlight the intertextual manipulation of the comics tradition by focusing, as a case study, on the hackneyed but nonetheless unavoidable topic of superhero comics and their revisiting, mainly dealing with Miracleman and with milestones Swamp Thing and Watchmen.

The following chapter is devoted to an examination of Moores narrative structures, drawing on the Bakhtinian notion of the chronotope to study the way he experiments with time and space in a medium where these two elements are one and the same, as noted by Scott McCloud Understanding We start by studying the relation between spacealso intended as outer space and time in The Ballad of Halo Jones, one of Moores most critically neglected works.

Structural and thematic features of the work will be considered, paying particular attention to its use of science-fiction conventions; the representation of the psychology of the protagonist both as a woman and as a sci-fi character; and the way the narrative is organized with a circular structure on both visual and verbal planes. The space of the city and its expansion into historical and mystical time will be considered as lying at the core of From Hell.

The movements of Dr. Gull through London, accompanied by the characters mystical insights, offer Moore and Campbell the possibility masterfully to play with the representation of space and time through verbal and visual interaction. Moreover, the somber portrayal of Victorian London that emerges from the contrast between the depiction of the affluent West End and the poverty-stricken scenery of the East End calls attention to the novels teeming narrative universe, whose dense network of characters is not unlike the one created by Charles Dickens in his novel Our Mutual Friend.

Finally, we will consider how the strong metafictional slant of From Hell in particular as regards the second appendix to the novel opens the Ripper mythology out to infinite possibilities of fictionalization and interpretation by simultaneously keeping it isolated in the impenetrable circle of an irretrievable and perhaps nonexistent historical truth. Finally, chapter 2 focuses on Promethea, a revolutionary work in which Moore explodes the very notion of chronotope by undoing space and time in favor of an absolute space-time of the imagination, where narrative becomes a site for reflecting on the process of artistic creation.

The idea of circularity is here maintained and yet simultaneously disrupted in favor of the concept of a fluid, harmonious space-time where metafictional reflection once again is called for, and where imagination and artistic creation become apparent as mankinds most powerful resourcewith comics being the most innovative result, provided they are ready to undergo radical change.

Such a stance clarifies that Moores narrative, despite being overtly metafictional, resists withdrawal into itself and opens out onto precise historical, social, and cultural issues. Chapter 3 moves from concerns of narrative structure and organization to more tangible facts by explicitly stressing the connection between Moores works and their historical, cultural, and political context.

We focus on the authors attitude toward English identity, and the crisis it has undergone in the twentieth century, by examining his stand on issues such as imperial legacyespecially in its ethnic and gender implicationswith particular reference to the characters from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The most significant character in the novel seems to be Mina Murray, one based on a revisiting of her Dracula namesake and revealing of the attention Moore pays to female characters, as already seen in the depiction of the prostitutes in From Hell, of Halo Jones, and of the revised superheroine Promethea. Margaret Thatchers politics, in which gender trouble was also ingrained, are an essential feature of twentieth-century English identity whose consequences on Moores narrative will also be considered.

We take examples from V for Vendetta and from the long poem The Mirror of Love, where the issue of gender is more specifically explored with reference to Thatchers repressive, homophobic politics. Another important aspect of the Thatcher years, social decay, is then scrutinized as it appears in the committed commentary provided by such works as Skizz, and by the two existing episodes of the unfinished but still valuable graphic novel Big Numbers.

Both works focus on issues of unemployment and the lack of welfare funds that characterized England in the s. Our considerations then move to the strong sense of place that again emerges from Big Numbers and from Voice of the Fire, Moores only prose novel so far.

By drawing a parallel with Raymond Williamss People of the Black Mountains, we reflect on the importance of Williams, a key figure for English culture, in the development of Moores vision. While each of the above-mentioned chapters covers three or more of Moores works on the basis of a common topic, chapter 4 is dedicated to a single graphic Introduction 25 novel.

Lost Girls deserves separate treatment for at least two reasons: first, because it was only released in , sixteen years after its first page was created, and thus we are still in the process of absorbing it in order to locate its place in Moores output; and second, because it differs considerably from the authors previous worksor better, because it shares many topics and stylistic features with but diverges from them in that it is not entirely successful.

After reviewing the considerable controversies generated by the problematic genre the novel belongs topornographywe examine Lost Girls in terms of both style and content to find out which elements work and which do not. Intertextuality is analyzed by exploring the thick fabric of verbal and visual quotations woven by the authors and made particularly sophisticated by Gebbies drawings, which are replete with allusions and pastiches that recall other artists work.

The subsequent section of the chapter involves the way space and time are manipulated, arguing that Moore and Gebbie create a chronotope of sex that, while functional to their discourse on the nature of imagination, fails to adequately prop the story and thus partially collapses.

Lastly, we consider the political aspects of Lost Girls; the authors discourse on gender; the portrayal of sexuality; and the subversive potential of pornography. Drawing inspiration from a parallel reading of two works by Angela CarterThe Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and The Sadeian Womanwe argue that, even though it is flawed in narrative and crushed by excessive formalism, Lost Girls is successful at least in its attempt to become an arena for discussion on the representation and problematic social perception of sex.

Finally, we draw conclusions from our journey into Moores production by identifying him, as anticipated above, as a truly performing writer, with special reference to his performances and to the deep-rooted theatrical quality of his writing.

The sum of the characteristics of Moores work as they are outlined in this study ultimately place him in a specific context he shares with certain twentieth-century British authors, with particular emphasis on the connection between his work and books by the likes of Angela Carter, Iain Sinclair, and Peter Ackroyd. Nevertheless, what makes Moores production unique is the way he uses the comics medium. I hope my book can prove to be an admittedly partial answer to the need for inquiry into the wide realm of Alan Moores art, and perhaps become a 26 starting point for further questions and concerns, thus paving the way for new perspectives in the critical analysis of his work.

A note on editions, pagination, and ellipses For the sake of convenience, in this book I usually refer to Moores works in their collected editions save exceptions like Big Numbers, which only came out in two issues. When pagination is present, it is sometimes consecutive, and sometimes not, for in many cases it starts all over again at each chapter. Whenever books are not paginated, I have tried to obviate the difficulty by personally counting the pages and allocating them hypothetical consecutive numbers.

Original ellipses from quoted material are represented by unspaced dots [ Chapter 1 Alan Moores Writing This chapter examines some of Moores works in terms of form and structure, aspects of his aesthetics that are crucial to the extent that, in the opinions of a few critics, they turn into an obsession in his latest enterprise Lost Girls only hinted at here but better explored later in this book.

Most of Moores comics start from an intertextual assumption: a quotation, or an allusion to an existing character, a distinctive genre, or a particular work. They are built on a proper web of references that are not only mentioned or suggested but challenged and recontextualized in order to convey new meanings.

Thus transcended, intertextuality is stripped of the status of mere formal device to become a proper narrative motif. These pages are devoted to the study of the various ways in which the author practices intertextuality, indeed one of his key strategies. But in order to proceed with this analysis, we need to begin with Moores own elaboration of the basic concepts of the aesthetics of comics.

The language of comics and the aesthetics of the graphic novel Moore first preferred to skirt the problematic issue of use of the term graphic novel and kept his distance from the debate by simply asserting, together with other fellow artists and writers, that the graphic novel is actually nothing new but that the term works very well from the commercial point of view: [graphic novel] is just a handy, convenient marketing term that can be used to sell an awful lot of the same old crap to a big new audience Groth, Big Words Pt 1 More recently, the author declared that a possibly better term could be graphic story Kavanagh , even though he ultimately seems to have accepted the usage 28 Formal Considerations on Alan Moores Writing of graphic novel see Baker 23 in compliance with the current custom, for in late he admitted that theres something quite interesting going on in comics at the moment, which is that it seems that the respectable book publishers are moving in.

I think that the whole of comics could be moving into some new territory, which would hopefully throw off a lot of the dross of comics origin Amacker, Opening the Black Dossier Part 2. However, Moores earlier refusal to recognize the graphic novel as a selfstanding literary category contrasted with his short programmatic essay On Writing for Comics.

This treatise was featured in Fantasy Advertiser between August and February , published again in the Comics Journal in , and reprinted as a revised edition in a booklet released in Although presented as a quick reference manual for young comics scriptwriters and not as a proper piece of criticism, the essay nevertheless allows us not only to understand the authors aesthetical orientation but also to appreciate his deep connection with prose.

As the concluding part of this book will show, this link has recently become more overt and has been put into practice in the novel Voice of the Fire , the work-in-progress Jerusalem, and the future project Grimorium see Santala ; but its role in Moores artistic production has been prominent from the start.

In On Writing for Comics the author highlights his belief in the unique expressive skills of comics to construct far-reaching, innovative fictions, but the comparison he chooses when appraising narrative density and originality is the complexity of prose.

Moore draws inspiration from the tradition of the novel, in order to revisit it and to convert its most interesting peculiarities into visual communication. Despite his admiration for some of his predecessors in comics, Moore asserts that most of his artistic and cultural points of reference come from the tradition of English and American prose.

This stance was already apparent in an interview he gave in , two years before publishing the first version of the booklet: I suppose one major point is that in writing comics I dont really absorb too much influence from the comics that I read unless its something inexpressibly brilliant.

Mostly Id say that my influence comes from novels that I read or the occasional film that I see. If anything, Id say that what Id like to do as a writer is to try and translate some of the intellect and sensibilities that I find in books into something that will work on a comics page Burbey, Alan Moore Moore mentions a wide array of texts and authors, both classic and contemporary, as his favorites, and the multiple intertextual refer- Formal Considerations on Alan Moores Writing 29 ences that pervade his work an aspect that will be dealt with in the following sections show how eager and omnivorous a reader he is.

His interests span from antiquity to Jacobean theater, from experimental to formulaic and genre fiction; he pronounces his enthusiasm for Norse sagas, Arthurian legends and the story of Robin Hood, Shakespeare, fantasies by Mervyn Peake, science fiction, ghost and horror stories from M.

James to H. According to Moore, being a strong reader is essential for the process of cross-fertilization see 68 that lies at the core of a good writers activity. It was widely praised, with comics author Warren Ellis calling it "my all-time favourite graphic novel".

He remarked that "I had a lot of different ideas as to how it might be possible to do an up-front sexual comic strip and to do it in a way that would remove a lot of what I saw were the problems with pornography in general.

That it's mostly ugly, it's mostly boring, it's not inventive — it has no standards. Meanwhile, Moore set about writing a prose novel, eventually producing Voice of the Fire , which would be published in Unconventional in tone, the novel was a set of short stories about linked events in his hometown of Northampton through the centuries, from the Bronze Age to the present day, which combined to tell a larger story.

The same year marked a move by Moore back to the mainstream comics industry and back to writing superhero comics. He did so through Image Comics , widely known at the time for its flashy artistic style, graphic violence, and scantily clad large-breasted women, something that horrified many of his fans.

How to Write Comics by Alan Moore

That all of a sudden it seemed that the bulk of the audience really wanted things that had almost no story, just lots of big, full-page pin-up sort of pieces of artwork.

And I was genuinely interested to see if I could write a decent story for that market. The series followed two groups of superheroes, one of which is on a spaceship headed back to its home planet, and one of which remains on Earth. Moore's biographer Lance Parkin was critical of the run, feeling that it was one of Moore's worst, and that "you feel Moore should be better than this.

It's not special. Instead of emphasising increased realism as he had done with earlier superhero comics he had taken over, Moore did the opposite, and began basing the series on the Silver Age Superman comics of the s, introducing a female superhero Suprema, a super-dog Radar, and a Kryptonite -like material known as Supremium, in doing so harking back to the original "mythic" figure of the American superhero.

Under Moore, Supreme would prove to be a critical and commercial success, announcing that he was back in the mainstream after several years of self-imposed exile. Moore's "solution was breathtaking and cocky — he created a long and distinguished history for these new characters, retro-fitting a fake silver and gold age for them.

I didn't think that he was respecting the work and I found it hard to respect him. And also by then I was probably feeling that with the exception of Jim Lee, Jim Valentino — people like that — that a couple of the Image partners were seeming, to my eyes, to be less than gentlemen. They were seeming to be not necessarily the people I wanted to deal with.

Moore named this imprint America's Best Comics , lining up a series of artists and writers to assist him in this venture. Lee and editor Scott Dunbier flew to England personally to reassure Moore that he would not be affected by the sale, and would not have to deal with DC directly.

Rider Haggard 's Allan Quatermain , H. Jekyll and Mr. The series was well received, and Moore was pleased that an American audience was enjoying something he considered "perversely English", and that it was inspiring some readers to get interested in Victorian literature.

The character's drug-induced longevity allowed Moore to include flashbacks to Strong's adventures throughout the 20th century, written and drawn in period styles, as a comment on the history of comics and pulp fiction. The primary artist was Chris Sprouse. Tom Strong bore many similarities to Moore's earlier work on Supreme, but according to Lance Parkin, was "more subtle", and was "ABC's most accessible comic".

Moore's series Promethea , which told the story of a teenage girl, Sophie Bangs, who is possessed by an ancient pagan goddess, the titular Promethea, explored many occult themes, particularly the Qabalah and the concept of magic , with Moore stating that "I wanted to be able to do an occult comic that didn't portray the occult as a dark, scary place, because that's not my experience of it Williams III , it has been described as "a personal statement" from Moore, being one of his most personal works, and that it encompasses "a belief system, a personal cosmology".

Quick , and Splash Brannigan. Tomorrow Stories was notable for being an anthology series, a medium that had largely died out in American comics at the time.

Specifically, in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen No. In , he remarked that "I love the comics medium. I pretty much detest the comics industry. Give it another 15 months, I'll probably be pulling out of mainstream, commercial comics. In , the complete edition of Lost Girls was published, as a slipcased set of three hardcover volumes.And also by then I was probably feeling that with the exception of Jim Lee, Jim Valentino — people like that — that a couple of the Image partners were seeming, to my eyes, to be less than gentlemen.

In the process, he created a heroine whom many female readers found immensely appealing because she acted like a real person instead of a stereotype. That's where I think this works the best: What makes the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book is less the length of the work for how many pages really make it possible to say that a book is a novel?

Finally, we will consider how the strong metafictional slant of From Hell in particular as regards the second appendix to the novel opens the Ripper mythology out to infinite possibilities of fictionalization and interpretation by simultaneously keeping it isolated in the impenetrable circle of an irretrievable and perhaps nonexistent historical truth.

Instead, the title refers to Moores comics as performance. He explained that the graphic novel is a true literary form. Apr 26, Adrian rated it it was amazing Shelves:

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