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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #207

Welcome to the two-hundred and seventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous two hundred and six.

Comic Book Legends Revealed is now part of the larger Legends Revealed series, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can check out here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: Generic Comic Book #1 was written by Chris Claremont or John Byrne.

STATUS: False

Reader Josh S. asked me awhile back (like about a year and a half ago):

I was reminiscing on Marvel’s 1984 “Generic Comic”, and I did some Googling. On the surface, it looks like no one is sure who actually wrote/drew it, with rumors including Claremont/Byrne among others. I can’t see how the art could be Byrne, but, anyways, it seemed like such an obvious Urban Legend investigation that I searched through your old columns to check it out, assuming it would have already been covered.

Soon after Josh’s question, I posed the query to Jim Shooter, who did not know. His best guesses were Jim Salicrup or Jim Owlsley, but he stressed that he really did not know.

The Grand Comic Book Database even (as of May 14, 2009) has the issue listed as a mystery.

Well, while he was rumored to have done it for some time, the issue was clearly laid to rest in this week’s issue of Michael Eury’s Back Issue magazine, from TwoMorrows!

In it, we find out that the mystery writer is….

Steve Skeates!!!

Skeates explain in the interview that he was asked by editor Larry Hama to write the Generic Comic Book, although Skeates does not know whose idea it was originally.

Here are a couple of sample pages…

Skeates mentions that since he was away from mainstream comics for awhile at that point (later 1983/early 1984), he was particularly adept at making fun of the seeming absurdity of it all.

The comic actually led directly into Larry Hama then giving Skeates the job writing the ongoing Peter Porker: The Spectacular Spider-Ham comic that debuted about a year later.

So writing generically CAN pay off!

It’s awesome to have this “mystery” solved. I’m always keeping an eye out for answers to reader’s questions, even ones that were asked years ago!

Thanks to Josh S. for the question and thanks to the long, extensive interview by John Schwirian (this was Part 3) with Steve Skeates for the information!

Click here to purchase a copy of Back Issue #34 to get the full interview (and a lot of other good comic book history)!

By the by, the Comic Book DB were kind enough to notify me that they have had it correctly credited to Skeates for a year now!

COMIC LEGEND: Gary Larson was sued in Australia for listing people’s telephone numbers as being the Devil’s phone number, even though Larson intended to put a fake number in the cartoon.

STATUS: True

In the United States, films and television shows and other pieces of fiction often have to use telephone numbers when characters are telling each other what their number is.

The most common thing to do is to use the prefix 555 before the number (although, do note that only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are actually specifically protected for fictional usage – the other numbers are almost always free, as well, but they’re not guaranteed to like 555-0100 through 555-0199 are).

I just did a bit on Movie Legends Revealed where a recent film caused a stir when it listed God’s number withOUT a 555!

However, Gary Larson of Far Side fame once got into a little bit of trouble for giving the Devil’s phone number, only he actually DID use the 555!

You see, while 555 denotes fiction in the United States, it doesn’t really mean anything in, say, Australia (who do have their own fictional numbers, of course – it just happens that it is not 555).

So when Larson did a Far Side comic strip (I’d repost it here, but Larson’s not a fan of people posting his cartoons under any circumstances) about the Devil, where he included some graffiti “For a good time, call Satan, 555-whatever it was,” people, he did it thinking that it was, of course, a fake number.

That was not the case in Australia, so he was actually sued for defamation by the owner of the number in Australia.

The suit was a failure, of course, as no one could reasonably believe that Larson was intimating that the person in question was actually the Devil or, as the Dead would put it, a friend of the Devil.

Here are two prominent Australian lawyers who are experts in the field of defamation law discussing the case back in 2001:

Richard Potter: The Far Side case was a cartoon in which the Devil is depicted in Hell, and there’s some graffiti on the wall saying ‘Satan is a warm and tender guy. For a pleasant conversation, call Satan on 555-1332. And in America, triple-five numbers are used for the very reason that they can’t be mistaken by anyone else, because they don’t exist, and so they’re used by the media and films and all that sort of thing. But of course the number does exist in Australia, and some very strange and weird people rang the number just to find out who was on the other end, and the inevitable kind of insults followed. So the person whose phone number it was sued but in that case it was held it was so far-fetched you couldn’t really say that the meanings contended for, like the plaintiff was akin to the Devil, was a friend of the Devil, you know that sort of meaning, could possibly follow. The reasonable person would not think by seeing that number in a cartoon, that the owner of the telephone, really was akin to the Devil. But there are situations where people’s names have been put in things, and there’s literally no way around it, it’s just absolute liability if it could be thought by anyone, any third person, that that was the person that they were talking about.

Damien Carrick: So as regards the publication of that Far Side cartoon, even though no doubt it was very distressing for the person who picked up the telephone, that person couldn’t prove in a court of law that their reputation had been damaged in the eyes of the reasonable person by having their telephone number splashed across the back of the cave wall in the cartoon.

Richard Potter: Well it was more an identification issue; they could probably prove that their reputation had been damaged by bringing someone who knew them but the fact was that a reasonable person would not think less of that person simply because they can see it’s a Gary Larsen Far Side cartoon, and that it is clearly coincidental, and they can see through that façade and would not believe that this cartoon is really referring to the plaintiff.

Thanks to Potter and Carrick, as well as the Law Report for the transcription!

COMIC LEGEND: Wonder Woman made her first animated appearance on an episode of the Brady Kids!

STATUS: True

DC Comics had not had as much success as you would think with using their characters in the world of animation. Sure, there had been the animated Superman serials of the 1940s, but it was not until the mid-to-late 1960s that DC began having regular animated shows using their characters.

First, Superman and Superboy had animated features.

Next, Aquaman got into the game.

Finally, in 1968, Batman got into it, as well.

However, for whatever reason, even though Superman ended up teaming up with various DC heroes, Wonder Woman was not one of those chosen to team-up with Superman.

As the 1970s began, Wonder Woman STILL had not shown up in animated form!

In 1972, Batman and Robin had a notable guest appearance on Scooby Doo.

This clearly began to make the wheels turn that perhaps it would be useful for DC’s characters to make appearances on cartoons.

But really, in the BRADY KIDS?!?

Still, later in 1972, in the Brady Kids animated series, the Brady Kids are sent back in time and figure that they’ll compete in a Greek marathon.

Wonder Woman shows up and convinces them that they shouldn’t, as they might change history!

Here, courtesy of the great Wonder Woman site, Wonderland, are some pictures of Wonder Woman from the episode…

Here is the episode from YouTube.

And that, sadly enough, was the FIRST time Wonder Woman appeared on an animated program!

Luckily, the very next year, Super Friends debuted.

And Wonder Woman has been around ever since, in Super Friends, Super Powers, Justice League and now her own animated DVD!

Thanks to AdzFlickz for the YouTube clip!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comic Book Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com.

As you likely know by now, this Tuesday, April 28th, my book finally came out!

Here is the cover by artist Mickey Duzyj. I think he did a very nice job (click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you next week!

57 Comments

Oh, yes, the stereotypical Marvel mincing, man-hungry gay guy. Lovely. Christ, the ’80’s sucked. Did Skeates have one in Spider-Ham, too?

Let me see if I understand… the Generic Superhero was upset, because his super-hearing allowed him to find out he was getting a new, unfriendlier boss early rather than have it happen DURING work? How did he go from “being a hero” to “my work/life is ruined” just because of that? I know, i know, the whole thing is a joke, but that’s some poor logic indeed. I guess that was parodying the angst that so many Marvel (but not DC) heroes seemed to go through without much reason…

You know, I would’ve thought Satan’s phone number would start with 666 rather than 555… ; )

Wonder Woman showing up in the Brady Kids show isn’t that surprising, despite a lack of cartoon appearances WW was probably already the best known (modern) hero with mythological connections at the time. I’m glad they updated her looks for Super Friends, though.

If you think about The Brady Kids, it’s really a sad concept. Something happened to Mike, Carol, and Alice that forced the six kids to live in a treehouse with a dog, a bird, and two pandas.

On your “The Comic Book Alphabet of Cool” page that i read today some one said:
“You know why Image was founded, right? Liefeld and Valentino and Portacio were all fighting because only one of them was allowed to draw Quasar, and they decided they’d rather stay friends and leave than have to make that terrible choice. Don’t believe me? The Quasar artist at that time was Greg Capullo, who’d soon get the call up to the bigs to work on Spawn.”
is this true

Wait, we’re supposed to believe that the Bradys would have WON a marathon against trained Greek athletes? Was that how they were supposed to have changed time? Some of them can’t even catch footballs.

On your “The Comic Book Alphabet of Cool” page that i read today some one said:
“You know why Image was founded, right? Liefeld and Valentino and Portacio were all fighting because only one of them was allowed to draw Quasar, and they decided they’d rather stay friends and leave than have to make that terrible choice. Don’t believe me? The Quasar artist at that time was Greg Capullo, who’d soon get the call up to the bigs to work on Spawn.”
is this true

Jeff’s Quasar obsession is beginning to cause misinformation to run rampant! :)

In other words, no, that’s just a joke.

Wait, we’re supposed to believe that the Bradys would have WON a marathon against trained Greek athletes? Was that how they were supposed to have changed time? Some of them can’t even catch footballs.

They had already won the qualifying heat when Wonder Woman got them not to compete in the actual event.

The Brady kids had access to modern steroids that were unknown in ancient Greece.

What about when The Brady Kids met The Lone Ranger? Bobby was disappointed that a sheriffs badge he got was made of tin, so Merlin tried to change it into silver. What he did was conger up Silver, the Lone Ranger’s horse, which meant that he wasn’t too far behind.

Man, those Brady Kids got around! They also met Miss Tickle, the witch/teacher who taught a group of multi-cultural kids with the help of Multiversal adventurer RICK SPRINGFIELD! (Take that Grant Morrison!)

OK, so Generic Comic Book is written by Steve Skeates. So who did the art? The coloring? The lettering? Was Stan Lee really the editor? He doesn’t seem to be listed as such in the book; only as publisher and “presenter”.

As an editor for GCD, I’ve updated the entry to add the information about Skeates, but we do strive for completeness when known (and can always use more volunteers).

>COMIC LEGEND: Gary Larson was sued in Australia for listing people’s telephone numbers as
>being the Devil’s phone number, even though Larson intended to put a fake number in the cartoon.

>STATUS: True

Er, I don’t think so!

>Still, you have to be careful about these things – while that case was far too generalized to show any actual
>defamation, in Australia, people have been successfully sued for things that sound as silly as that.

Er, I don’t think so either!

Come on man, show us some proof!

Generic Comic Book had art quality that varied from decent to horrible, but it was a fun experiment.
My best guess is that the in-house art correction staff, “Romita’s Raiders” jammed on that book. While many a Romita Raider went on to the big time, others didn’t. The job was a ground-level entry gig for kids who wanted to be in the industry. I wish that policy wasn’t discontinued, but I understand that in the internet age, it would be hard to keep secrets, plus comic art isn’t quite the slapdash assembly line style as it used to be (see all the art changes in the first Secret Wars mini).

I’m glad they updated her looks for Super Friends, though.

Never mind Wonder Woman’s look in this program… what on earth did they do to Marcia? The 12 year-old in me with a crush on Maureen McCormick is horrified!

Wow. I love these little nuggets that come up every week… Now if only we had questions based on these legends in something like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”…

Man, the Super Friends need to get some sun…

Graeme said: “Never mind Wonder Woman’s look in this program… what on earth did they do to Marcia? The 12 year-old in me with a crush on Maureen McCormick is horrified!”

And why’s Peter looking at her like that – she’s your sister, dude! (Well sure, by marriage, but still!)

@Mark White: What, you’ve never seen the Superfriends’ latte-colored Green Lantern?

mclam – I did grow up with the show, but it’s been a while.

I remember watching one episode in which the Flash dug someone out of an avalanche, and thinking (as a very young boy), “wow, not only can he run really fast, but he can shovel snow really fast too – that’s like TWO powers in one!”

Wasn’t Superman also in that Brady Kids episode?

That Scooby Doo/Batman DVD cover looks like Joe Staton’s art to me. He’d be a logical choice, since he’s drawn both characters in comic books & could be counted on to keep them on model.

Bugs me that they miscolored Robin, though.

mrclam wrote:

@Mark White: What, you’ve never seen the Superfriends’ latte-colored Green Lantern?

I always figured he had a tan. Hal Jordan IS from California, after all. :)

Wow, all these years and I’d never heard of, let alone seen, the Generic Comic Book. Crazy. Good stuff.

that generic comic looks funny… bet it’d cost a packet to buy one though…

Wonder Woman did not appear in the DC-based Filmation cartoons of the mid-to-late ’60s because William Dozier, executive producer of the live-action “Batman” TV series of the same era, held the rights to her, though that project never got off the ground. (per James Van Hise, “The Green Hornet Book,” Shuster and Shuster, Inc., 1988, p. 28: “Following the completion of the Black Beauty [car for the “Green Hornet” TV series], Dean Jeffries did some other work for William Dozier….’We were going to build a Wonder Woman car because he had all the rights to those characters at that time, but it was never done,’ Jeffries states.”) On the other hand, Wonder GIRL did turn up in animated form then, as a member of the Teen Titans. There were three such cartoons as part of a rotating slot in the Aquaman half of “The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure.” Another threesome was “The Justice League of America,” and these were the only cartoons made in this period where “Superman ended up teaming up with various DC heroes.” Not what the sentence suggests, is it?

FYI, Superman also made an appearance on “The Brady Kids” show.

The early 1940s cartoons were not serials (I know, picky, picky; that’s why I saved it for last, and if I hadn’t had anything else to say, I would not have bothered about it at all; just for the record since I’m here, really).

“Man, those Brady Kids got around! They also met Miss Tickle, the witch/teacher who taught a group of multi-cultural kids with the help of Multiversal adventurer RICK SPRINGFIELD! (Take that Grant Morrison!)”

…Springfield never did live that series down. When he had his big comeback with Jessie’s Girl, older fans who had to take their younger siblings and/or kids to see his concerts used to yell out for him to play some of the cheesy songs he did for the series. He never did, natch.

I’ve been looking for the Generic Comic Book ever since I saw it listed in Bullpen Bulletins in some random back issue. How hard to find is it?

“I’ve been looking for the Generic Comic Book ever since I saw it listed in Bullpen Bulletins in some random back issue. How hard to find is it?”

Well, I just went to an online comic book dealer and found it on sale for $1.49 in Fine condition.

So you tell me– how hard was that?

Mission: Magic! (I forget NOTHING…) was one of the only examples of a back-door pilot on an animated series I can think of.

Filmation had a far more varied library of stuff than most people remember. The this day, when the wrestlers the Hardy Boys perform, I start singing the theme to the TV series, “Oh boy! Here come the HAAAAaardys!”

And do not get me STARTED on how Fantastic Voyage and Journey to the Center of the Earth should be on DVD.

I remember Mission: Magic too; in fact I never saw the Brady Kids show, I guess it never aired here. But M:M was really cool. I need to read something about it one of these days. Oh, and I had no idea Rick Springfield was a real person (too young then to care about rock stars.)

About The Generic Comic Book, what I REALLY want to know is: why? Who thought that it was a good idea? At a time when everybody was trying to be unique, that stuff came across as a lame Silver Age throwback. Self-deprecating genre humor can be done right (see: Galaxy Quest, Enchanted) but this wasn’t it. And why weren’t the people behind it revealed either? Too ashamed? Yeesh.

I also remember seeing Generic Comic in some Bullpen Bulletins, but I’ve never seen a copy until now.

I must say I like that Marvel used to do strange special issues like this in the 80’s. My favorites were The No-Prize Book and Fred Hembeck’s Fantastic Four Roast.

I also liked the more serious specials they’d do like the first deluxe reprints of Giant Size X-men, Wolverine’s first Hulk appearances, and Phoenix: The Untold Story.

>> what I REALLY want to know is: why? Who thought that it was a good idea?

Well I did. But I’m just a reader. You have to remember two things: (1) this was topical humor. Back in the 80s a lot of stores were coming out with generic ranges that provided the bare minimum in each area. That’s the whole joke. (2) Back then comics were cheaper. You could buy a silly comic, get one or two smiles, and not feel cheated.

“quotation”

Statement about quotation.

Witty end line.

[What? no one else wanted to add a generic comment?]

Mission: Magic has been released on DVD, though it is now out of print because the company went out of business in December.

Go here for further information:
http://www.andymangels.com/MissionMagic.html

A few episodes of The Brady Kids were released on the Brady Bunch mega boxed set, but none of the guest-stars were in them (Superman, Wonder Woman, Lone Ranger)

I HATED that Geneic Comic Book when it first came out. There was hardly anything generic about it. And the art was not even a superhero artist. Now if it was called Crappy Ass Lame Parody Comic…

Mission Magic! One of the very few Sunday morning cartoons of my youth!

Did the live action Wonder Woman predate the Brady Kids Wonder Woman?

The first Wonder Woman live action series to actually make it to the air was two years later, in 1974.

I own a copy of Generic Comic Book and I’m PROUD! And I HAVE NO LIFE!

Sorry, Brian, but the first live-action Wonder Woman series didn’t make it to air until 1976.
What you’re thinking of was a one-shot (thankfully) movie special. It starred Cathy Lee Crosby who was woefully miscast as Wonder Woman and a pre-Mr Roarke Ricardo Montalban (it also featured one of the original “The Price Is Right” models, Anitra Ford–as a rogue Amazon, IIRC).
The REAL Wonder Woman series (the good one, with Lynda Carter) first aired in 1975 (again, with a movie special) and a couple more trial episodes in early 1976 before being picked up as a regular series that fall (of note, Carolyn “Morticia Addams” Jones played Hippolyta in a couple of episodes and Debra Winger, who’d go on to star in some major 1980s films, played Diana’s younger sister, Drusilla/Wonder Girl). In 1977, the series moved from the 1940s to the 1970s.

(Just as an aside, it’s too bad that Carolyn Jones never appeared on the George Reeves “Superman” series or made an appearance in any of the Christopher Reeve Superman films, otherwise she could have made the “Trinity” complete. In addition to being on “Wonder Woman”, Carolyn had also made several appearances as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds on the old Adam West “Batman” series.)

I Love Gerbils

May 16, 2009 at 5:05 am

The cover of ‘Generic Comic Book’ mentions a ‘well-endowed girlfriend’. Clearly the phrase ‘well-endowed’ is supposed to refer to said girlfriend’s huge boobs, but was I alone in picturing the girlfriend with a massive penis? That’s what ‘well-endowed’ suggests to me. I have no problem with transsexuals in comicbooks, but surely the inclusion of a she-male in this story takes it far beyond the realms of ‘generic’. Unless… were they trying to suggest that all superhero girlfriends are chicks with dicks? Is this the real reason Peter Parker and Mary Jane got divorced?

“Oh, MJ, I’ve waited for this so long. Tonight’s the night it’s finally gonna… AAARRRGGGHHH! A massive shlong! Help me, Satan!”

once there was a girl who would like to make her own comic book!
so she did this to be on to be on the computer

Is it just me or does that top guy in the generic comic, look like Carrot-Top?

Looks more like Larry Fine, to me.

Robert Fuller

May 17, 2009 at 7:44 am

“Let me see if I understand… the Generic Superhero was upset, because his super-hearing allowed him to find out he was getting a new, unfriendlier boss early rather than have it happen DURING work? How did he go from “being a hero” to “my work/life is ruined” just because of that? I know, i know, the whole thing is a joke, but that’s some poor logic indeed. I guess that was parodying the angst that so many Marvel (but not DC) heroes seemed to go through without much reason…”

I don’t think you do understand. He was upset because his boss was arrested and he got a new boss who was certain to not give him the raise and promotion that the previous boss had promised him. I don’t know where you got this whole “finding out early rather than have it happen during work” thing. It was during work.

“He was upset because his boss was arrested and he got a new boss who was certain to not give him the raise and promotion that the previous boss had promised him. I don’t know where you got this whole “finding out early rather than have it happen during work” thing. It was during work.”

I understood that. But the page makes him sound likes he’s sorry his superhearing made him find that out by himself rather than being TOLD about it by someone, possibly his new bad boss.

But even besides that: how does he go from “I am a superhero now” to “my life is ruined”? Because, you know, SOMEONE ELSE might have uncovered his boss’s scheme and get him arrested anyway. No matter how you look at it, it’s a very lame way to angst over being a super hero.

The Marvel Generic Comic Book interior art looks like either Jim Sherman or Alan Kupperberg. Compare some of the drawings to Sherman’s art in Archie’s “The Fly” #1 under their Red Circle imprint from 1983 (everyone has a copy of that, don’t they?).

“The this day, when the wrestlers the Hardy Boys perform, I start singing the theme to the TV series, “Oh boy! Here come the HAAAAaardys!””

That had better be their entrance music during the inevitable reunion. Also, they should solve some mysteries with the help of mild mannered reporter Gregory Helms and his superhero friend the Hurricane. And I should probably not fantasy book bad WWE comedy skits here anymore.

Andrew Perron

May 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

But even besides that: how does he go from “I am a superhero now” to “my life is ruined”? Because, you know, SOMEONE ELSE might have uncovered his boss’s scheme and get him arrested anyway. No matter how you look at it, it’s a very lame way to angst over being a super hero.

Well, yes; I think that’s the point.

[…] moment I saw this cover (when Comic Book Legends Revealed ran a story revealing the issue’s anonymous writer) it reminded me of the issue of Grant […]

Wonder Woman. Showing up in ancient Greece to warn the Brady Kids that they might ‘ change history ‘. Yes.

Anthony Durrant

August 26, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I hadn’t seen that BRADY KIDS episode in many years, but I remember it very well. It was the first time I ever saw Wonder Woman and the first time Wonder Woman was animated. There was to have been a Terrytoon featuring Wonder Woman, but because the animators wanted to follow the structure of a Red Hot Riding Hood cartoon, it was abandoned – I’m a little hazy on the details. Marlon and the Greek mathematician Thales were apparently voiced by Daws Butler, whom I believe I saw on a show hosted by Ray Bolger years ago where he did the voice he used for Jabber-Jaws in that cartoon.

Well, from that *out-of-context* single page, I took away the idea that his first, totally unrelated foray into superheroing had the inadvertent result of also uncovering his own boss’ unlawful dealings.

I could be wrong, but again, that’s kind of my point. We’re reading the last page of a comic with one page more’s worth of the story known to us.

Wonder Woman didn’t just “show up” in ancient Greece. In her secret identity of Diana Prince, she was transported back in time with the Bradys.

Wonder Woman should be grateful about any cartoon appearances she gets. Let’s face it, nobody cares about her other than some comic book nerds (mainly DC fanboys). The fact that she guest starred in a cartoon before appearing in Super Friend is impressive enough.

Timothy Markin

August 4, 2013 at 7:12 am

Actually the Generic Comic art looks like Hempel and Wheatley, who had been doing Mars for First Comics at the time. I actually bought the book and still have it. Didn’t it come out during Assistant Editors Month?

Coming in on this conversation late… I wanted to make note of the fact that the Generic Comic Book is a REALLY dated joke of the “you had to be there” variety. In the early ’80s, many supermarkets tried selling “generic” merchandise at much cheaper prices than brand name goods. Shelves were full of cereal boxes, canned goods, and so on, in plain white packaging with black bar codes and ingredient lists, and no brand names or logos. Since there was no money lost on color printing, advertising, or graphic design, the cost of the goods was cheaper.

Some publisher (I forget who) made fun of the trend by putting out a series of paperbacks: Generic Romance Novel, Generic Science Fiction Novel, etc., all with plain black-and-white covers and no credits. The covers had blurbs that went something like “This product contains spaceships, ray guns, a bug-eyed alien monster, a dashing hero, and a beautiful heroine.”

The Generic Comic Book was just another attempt to poke fun at the fad. Even though I wasn’t a Marvel fan, I bought it when it came out and got a chuckle, then bagged and boxed it. I must still have it, but I don’t think I’ve read it since then.

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