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S.P.A.C.E 2014 after convention report:


S.P.A.C.E after convention report:

This past weekend was the 2014 Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo in Columbus, Ohio. It was my first time going, let alone having a table at SPACE. For years I had heard about the expo, first learning about it from an episode of the old Webcomics Weekly podcast. Columbus is a very comic friendly city because of the Ohio State University comics library- who was also represented at this year’s SPACE event.


Due to pet hotel time constraints, we ended up arriving at SPACE late and having to leave it early- which sucked because it limited my available time to talk to other artists, significantly. There was also a social hour where karaoke and comics were read aloud at a local bar establishment that we also failed to get to because of the radio show commitment (not that I didn’t enjoy numerologist Ed Peterson as our guest on Saturday, he was great!) So at the end of the weekend, we didn’t feel like we had been able to completely enjoy the show since we had missed out on such things. That has been a big disappointment, but one that is our fault, not the show.


My booth at SPACE 2014!

Speaking of the expo- it is probably the best run convention/ expo event that we have ever attended. Bob did a great job planning and hosting the show (although I never met him besides hearing his voice) and unlike other conventions past- there was an opportunity to buy food through the hotel and have it delivered. Apterous had a bit of wait though on Saturday for our food, it was a bad day to go without breakfast. The hotel had messed up our order, so what should have been a half hour wait for two sandwiches turned into an hour and a half.

There was a lot of foot traffic at SPACE by the general public, which was great to see! I was worried since SPACE is devoted to the little guy (or gal in my case) who doesn’t have a large publisher to back them up to distribute their work. From my experience, the general public isn’t too keen on picking up new, small talent- lucky that is the point of SPACE. It’s an event where indie creators can gather to make finding us easier for the general public, and those who love to find new talent can go to meet us. Sure, the convention wasn’t as big as other comic book conventions, but I did like how people could stop and talk to us without being pushed away for sales.


Since Miss Grey is sold and distributed digitally, I was concerned on how well it would do at SPACE. I’ve had mixed results. SPACE is largely devoted to traditional indie hand-made comics, which I attempted to make but Apterous said “no, you won’t look professional enough.” But apparently at SPACE, people were totally cool with that. Bummer on my part. I think the idea that a comic was digitally distributed scared some attendees away, someone said it was too “Sci-fi” for them to read a comic on their computer and just walked away from the table. My lesson learned- always have a few print comics available for sale at the booth! With that said, people were interested in a comic about a grim reaper fighting demons and monsters! Yay!

I did get to meet up with two comic friends while at the convention: Tim Fuller of Zombie Marge and Rodney Fyke of Peanut Butter n Jelly! I had met them at last year’s Cincinnati Comics Expo and they were here again at SPACE! Tim won second place in this year’s SPACE awards too! Congratulations!


Tim Fuller, creator of Zombie Marge

As mentioned in a different recap of the event (by someone who had time to talk to other artists) there was a happy change in the demographics of comic creators. As he pointed out, there more than just the stereotypical “old white guy” selling their comics at the convention. It was a diverse mix of comic creators from all walks of life, which was great! However, there were still a small number of female creators, myself being one of the few who were both an artist and writer for their own series. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday I did hear a lot of surprise when I said that I not only wrote, but drew, all of Miss Grey, and that Apterous was just my “booth babe.” People were shocked. Most apparently assumed he had a hand in the creation and management of the comic (he doesn’t.) There were other women there too, Lora Ines and the creator of Prince of Cats come to mind (I know there were a few more there though). At least I can say that SPACE wasn’t a huge sausage fest like some other comic conventions I have gone to in the past- creator wise. Happy change!

So the big question is- will I return next year? Yes, I think I will. I will also put Miss Grey into the comic completion under the graphic novel category. All-in-all, it was a great event to find new talent at and I encourage comic lovers to visit it in 2015!

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Going to Comicology

Hiya L’s and G’s,

If you have noticed, the site has gone through a little bit of a change, as in, Miss Grey isn’t up here anymore! “What happened” you may be asking yourself, well, Miss Grey will no longer be hosted on this site. Instead, it is moving to Comixology, a huge online comic shop!

New pages will be up on Comicology at the end of March.

miss grey is moving copy

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Ohayocon (part 2)


Hiya L’s and G’s, onto Ohayocon part 2!

So in Ohayocon part 1 I just talked about the convention in general and showed off all the commissions that I drew up during the course of the convention.  Working in the Artist Alley of any convention really limits the amount of “face time” you have to experience said convention- because you are literally watching it happen from behind a table. Paul, a fellow webcomic creator did something brillant on Saturday- he invited all the webcomic creators out for dinner so we would have a chance to meet each other!

After the Artist Alley closed on Saturday all of us (who were able to make it) gathered at the bottom of the escalators. After introductions where said, Paul and Landon of the webcomic Wayward Cross lead us to a pizza place, Fabian’s Chicago Style Pizza Place, in the Short North neighborhood of Columbus. Holy crap, that was a long and cold walk- but soooo worth it for Chicago deep dish pizza!

It was great talking shop with other comic illustrators and writers, especially since the Miss Grey crew haven’t attended an artist alley in years. We learned a lot about the current state of artist allies, and were suggested conventions to attend- and avoid. Also got to share my love of Japan with the creator of Flipside, Brion Foulke, who just visited Japan! Since Apterous and I had just been to Japan in April of 2013, we had a lot to talk about!










The creator of Flipside being a goof.


A great time was had by all on Saturday night!

A big thanks to Paul for organizing the event, it is definetly something I would do again next year! Also, it was great meeting all the other comic creators!

Check out these webcomics by artists and writers who attended the Ohayocon chow-out (based on the business cards I received). Sorry if I forgot names and other comics, please let me know who I missed! 

Flipside: about a jester girl with split personalities! 

Wayward Cross by Paul Corn and Landon Franklin (the guys who organized the chow-out!) 

Prince of Cats: by Kori Michele Handwerker is about a love story that spans a year of high school drama with Lee Holtzer, a 17 year old boy who can talk to cats.

Spinnerette: superhero comic about a crime fighting 6-armed spider girl! 

Little Guardians: by Ed Cho and Lee Cherolis (and were the booth across the hall from us!) A comic about two extraordinary kids who were switched at birth. 

Plus check out the main list of creators from Ohayocon’s artist alley list:




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Ohayocon 2014 (part 1)

ohayocon 1

The second to last weekend in January this year was Ohayocon, one of the larger anime/manga conventions in the Midwest and I think the largest in Ohio! In 2012 there were 12,500 attendees, I think there were many more this year (though, still waiting for stats).  Since 2004 I have been attending Ohayocon on and off, I think it was 2008 when I had my first artist alley booth there. This year I returned and brought my chibi-badge commission skills with me! I would like to write up a good, juicy report on my experiences at the convention where like- but it would read like this:

9AM: After swimming through a hallway of attendees waiting for the dealers room to open, I managed to trudge up the stairs and into the artist alley. Other equally exhusted artists were there to greet me.

10AM: Artist Alley officially opens, time to take commissions and draw, draw, draw!

3PM: What’s this? Someone has left this gyro on the table! How long has it been here? It’s kinda cold. Oh well, mine now! (eats cold gyro)

7PM: Artist Alley is closed for the night! Myself and a other webcomic artists slowly trudge our tired bodies one mile down the road to a pizza place that serves an adiquate amount of alcholic beverages. We commiserate over the joy drawing brings to our lives, and geek out over different artists and their projects, and awe over the idea of a “completed work”.

1AM: Frozen, find my hotel room and pass out on the floor from exhaustion. Who needs a bed anyway?


::Rinse and repeat for Saturday and Sunday::


My Artist Alley booth at Ohayocon 2014, complete with new Miss Grey banner!



There are over a hundred of these little beauties in my collection…

By far the thing that attracted people to my booth the most was not the badges, not the banners, not my cool cat-eared hat, but the huuuuuuge collection of COPIC markers in my possession. Many convention attendees would rush over to the table and then just poke around looking at the markers. Though a note here to one attendee, please ask permission before you decide to take a marker. Some attendee just strolled up to my table, opened the cap and proceed to draw with the marker on her hand. Yeah, that wasn’t cool and I don’t appreciate you just man-handling my markers here girlie. The girl gave it back, but it was still rude to do that since the markers weren’t on display- they are my work tools!


Behold! My masterpieces so far!

Above are the 24 chibi caricature badges I drew over the course of the convention. What I love most about doing these badges at conventions is the broad spectrum of imagination that people have- and as me to draw it! As an artist, it really forces me to exercise on subject matter that I generally wouldn’t draw on an average day. From that weekend, the trickiest one was actually the badge drawn on the back of the laminated badges given by Ohayocon (it is the googly-eyed one third from the bottom). It was difficult because my permanent markers (it was the only one drawn with normal Sharpie markers) drew on with a sheer color, so the strokes had to be layered. Also, it is just plain old stressful (at least for me) to only have one shot at drawing something.

The “Power of Friendship” looks like one big badge in the above picture, but surprise, it is is actually two!


Power of Friendship badges on the display rack.

I have to say, it was pretty creative to ask for a “friendship” badge that created a larger image when put together.


The Rogers Family portrait, a 7″x10″ (trade paperback size) commission.


The above image was by far the largest commission I have ever taken. Took a bit of time, but I am happy with the results. Mr. Rogers here commented on the illustration on the Miss Grey Facebook page saying “we love it thank you very much.”  Another comment I received from a chibi badge commissioner J. P. was “I just wanted to say that you guys made my entire con with my badge! I had the one with snarf. Totally swooned. I cannot tell you how happy that made me. Thank you x 10000000000!

Although I work tireless hours, until my hand is throbbing in some cases, to finish badges in a timely fashion. But it is all worth it to get such positive feedback on the pieces when they are picked up!

In the end of the weekend, all the work managed to “kill” a few of my skin shade markers  but those can be replaced fairly easily. As mentioned earlier, a lot of people were interested in my COPIC markers. Many moons ago I started collecting COPICs while living in Japan (a lot of them still have the old price stickers on them!). But here in the USA, I order mine off of On the site you have the ability to either by single markers or entire marker sets!

I had a lot of fun at Ohayocon this year, this convention never lets me down. It is well run and well organized. The thing that I was honestly shocked to see not on the schedule was any drawing or webcomic workshops. This really isn’t something at fault from the staff’s side, but probably that no one volunteered to run such a panel/ workshop. My question is, has comic making become that passe that workshops for interested parties aren’t even mentioned anymore as an interest?

More to come in Part 2, which is about my night with other artists!


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A dark day at Purdue



My heart goes out to the Purdue University campus, all faculty and students currently there. Today was a dark day for the University, especially for the Electrical Engineering department, which saw a fatal shooting in its build today.

Although I don’t know the victim, shooter, or any of the current faculty, they are still part of the Boilermaker family and it hurts to see this occur on campus grounds. I am not a graduate of Purdue, but Apterous (my other half) and Apterous’s family are all graduate and alumni of Purdue. I’ve even lived on campus for a year after I graduated from Indiana University and Apterous spent many years working and studying in the EE building, so Purdue feels like a second home for us.

To the victim’s and shooter’s families, I’m sorry for your losses. Your lives are forever changed and no one will be able to fill that new gap in your heart. My sympathies to the victim’s family who will never see their son again.

To my readers, hug your loved ones tonight. Life is very short, live every minute of it.



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And the winners are….

お久しぶりですね。。。Or in other words, “Long time, no see”

Sorry for my absence on the internet, sometimes real life happens and when comics are only you hobby (as much as I would love to make it my living) have to be set aside for larger issues. In my case, a close relative of mine had open-heart-surgery and I was busy helping the family. Also, I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year, which always is a bit nerve-wracking.

About the Shonen Jump manga completion:☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

On the Shonen Jump International Manga Competition; the results were released on Friday evening (Eastern time) and only one American made it into the finalists- I was not that person. I congratulate all the finalists on their achievement! 1,400 people submitted entries into the contest, about 600-700 were from the English speaking category, and out of those only 6 made it to the pre-finalists stage. Only 2 were picked from those. So, someone had a .0029% chance of being a finalist in this competition. Holy. Crap.

Let me introduce you to my entry, Phasma, a steampunk fantasy manga about a young police officer, Gil, and a brilliant alchemist, Hayley. Gil had a magic sword, Hayley had fantastic lasers and sound guns powered by alchemy, and together they took down supernatural beasts from another dimension (a chimera and golem in the entry) who were released into our alternative history planet by Hayley’s father, an professor of the occult. If you ever see a steampunk story much like this springing up in any Shueisha property, it is probably going to be Phasma in a “different coat” sort-of-speak. Technically, Shueisha does hold the copyright to that short story, so I can never publish it. However, I will have my copy available to read at conventions and keep it in my portfolio of works.


What I learned from the competition: ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

Honestly, learning that I didn’t make it into Shonen Jump’s contest did send me into a minor depression this weekend. I estimate that I spent about 500 hours on the comic over the course of three months, but perhaps it was more. My dream that I have carried for 15 years is that I would one day become a mangaka for Shonen Jump and that this was a great chance for that to happen! I would be lying if said I didn’t cry a little when I saw the results, honestly I haven’t brought myself to read them yet, but I will soon.

What I am kinda astonished about, really, is that fact that I have bounced back so quickly from the failure with Shonen Jump. Although I was sad and shed a tear or two about losing the competition, there was a quick realization that there were other oppurtunities out there and that SJ was not the one and only thing out there. Not getting a contract with SJ means that I can see my family still, get reasonable hours of sleep, spend time with friends, establish my own small business, and work on more than one story in my lifetime. Knowing these oppurtunities exist make me excited to work on manga more!

One thing I did take from seeing the finalists is recognizing the fact that my line art does need work. It’s hard to see from day-to-day, but looking at the winners comics and then looking through your own, you start to see the flaws that need addressing. I think my story was strong, but my art was flubbed up. (which means I need to practice more with Manga Studio). However, I don’t see my art is horrible and that I need to start over, I’m pretty damn good.

I’m going to put what I learned about manga into improving Miss Grey, well, I’m always trying to improve Miss Grey. I’m taking my time writing and storyboarding the next story arch, which encompasses many chapters, ensuring that the story flows well and is intriguing to you guys. In a way, the next story arch is my loveletter to Japan, a chance for me to use all the elements of Japanese culture that I love in the story as a whole. Obakemono, monsters, kimono, onmyodo, all get used in this next story arch. It should be exciting!


Wishing everyone happy holidays from sunny Northern Indiana!





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What I learned from participating in the SJIMC- part 2

What I learned from participating in the SJIMC- part 2

Let me briefly recap what I wrote in part 1:

  • Shueisha Publishing opening up a Shonen Jump contest to its international readers.
  • The gamble that contestants have losing their manga submission’s copyrights.
  • What I suspect the contest is really for…

What I do have to say is that I learned a lot about the entire comic making process that I really hadn’t bothered to learn before. Honestly I would consider myself a hobbyist illustrator trying to make it in the larger manga business. I’ve never apprenticed under anyone, hell I didn’t even go to art school. My mother, a commercial artist who worked for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the large newspaper in Cleveland, Ohio, taught me most of what I know about 2D drawing with little bits here and there of knowledge learned at art camps or in art class at school.

When I was a kid growing up (haha, made myself feel old there) there were not a whole lot of “how to draw” manga books out for English readers. The first one I got was How to Draw Manga- Occult and Horror  by Hikaru Hayashi in 2001. Who would have thought I would have liked an occult and horror themed book? Hahaha.


Anyway, I poured over that thing. Screen tones were a completely new thing to me. Later I got the books How to Draw Manga: Compiling Application and Practice Vol.3 ( no I don’t own Vol. 1 or 2) and How to Draw Manga: Illustrating Battles which I think I need to read over again. Moving on…

Through reading those books I practiced anatomy and backgrounds, you know those standard things. However, it wasn’t until I actually participated in the competition that I actually lived the world of a mangaka. And boy oh boy is that a world of tight deadlines, little sleep, and constant stress to make your art better. Not long ago I came across the same workweek of Shiibashi Hiroshi, the mangaka best known for the series Nurarihyon no Mago that ran in Weekly Jump in 2008. It was in a Gaia Online forum thread with the original poster saying something like “hey, I found this on a website and how real is it?” with many replies saying that it can’t be real, that people can’t work that much in a week with that little sleep or food.

Yes kids, it is possible. For four months this summer, my schedule was very scarily similar to Shiibashi’s, and the kicker was that I didn’t get paid for that work either. What major differences there are is that I don’t have assistants, I get to sleep more, and I’m not visiting an editor (although Apterous played that role). You will also notice that I go to the dog park with Wheatley and make an effort to exercise at a gym every day. Personally I think exercise and actually being outside for a while is important to keeping balanced health.


Shiibashi Hiroshi’s weekly manga schedule


vegapunk manga schedule

My weekly manga schedule.

My Manga Process: then and now


Then: I would write a loose plot idea for story arch, then write each page as it came time to draw it.

Now: For the SJIMC project I wrote the entire story’s theme, and then broke down the plot in better detail. It is something that I am doing for the Miss Grey Halloween special and for chapter 4.


Then:  was something I didn’t focus on.

Now:  For the SJIMC project I made sure to story boarding was done first, breaking down each page and the dialogue. There were 19 pages total, and this process took me a few days to do.


Then: I would do a week’s worth (three pages) of rough-pages.

Now: After the storyboarding was done and checked by Apterous, I drew up the rough-pages. This process also took a few days, but done in a large group. Each page would be sketched out, speech bubbles placed, as well as dialogue for each character and sound effects. Apterous checked the rough-pages before starting the next step.

**Note: this step is done digitally using Manga Studio 4ex. Traditional mangaka would do this on a manga board (heavy sheet of paper) and do the illustrations and layout by hand.


Then: Sat and “ink” over the loose sketches I had drawn.

Now: Sit down and “ink” over the rough-page illustrations. Lettering is also done at this time since the program allows for speech bubble placement and lettering at the same time as inking. This would have been an extra step when done traditionally.

Sound Effects:

Then: Done in Adobe Photoshop.

Now: Still done in Adobe Photoshop, because it allows the free transform of fonts.


After each page was completed, Apterous would do a final check to make sure everything was spelled correctly and punctuation was correct. If the dialogue made sense and was illustrated well, we considered the page done and moved on to the next one. This was done for all 19 pages.

Hopefully all the Miss Grey stories from here on out will be much easier to read and make a whole lot more sense with ideas and themes being fleshed out better than in the previous chapters. The other great thing is that I managed to keep the same aesthetic style throughout the SJIMC project! I didn’t switch styles as I saw fit, an issue that plagued Miss Grey and previous earlier works.









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What I’ve learned participating in the SJIMC-part 1

Since starting my SHONEN JUMP International Manga Competiton {the SJIMC} I knew that I wanted to write a blog post after it was turned in about my experience doing it.

shonen jump manga competition

Shueisha Publishing { 株式会社集英社 Kabushiki Gaisha Shūeisha} who is the parent company to Shonen Jump announced May 15th, 2013 that they were holding the International Manga Competition in celebration of the manga anthology’s 45th birthday. I remember this well because I learned about it at Anime Central 2013, a rather fitting place to learn about the largest manga competition in the world I think! So, unlike some blogs that I ran across online or other artists that I have talked to in the past four months, I have been a part of the SJIMC since the beginning.

The competition was open only to amateur artists who have never had works professionally published. Basically this meant that no comic/manga artist that does have published works with another publisher, no matter the size of that publisher, can not participate. However, webcomic artists such as myself, can! Even very popular ones that have many, many fans can participate- as long as they haven’t been professionally published. It is my opinion that there are very few webcomic or comic artists out there that possess the skills needed to do the competition and who haven’t been published yet. So basically, only hobbyist artists can participate.

There is a monetary prize for those who win the best in their language category and for the artist who wins reader favorite. The rules were kinda gray about who can win what though; do the winners of the language catagory win for the language they submitted in {most likely the answer here}? If that is the case, people who don’t speak English, Japanese, or Chinese as their first language may have a harder time and that doesn’t sound very fair to me. Second, all the submissions are that are going to be hosted by Shonen Jump to be voted on in December by the readers will be translated into Japanese, Chinese, or English. So what if the most popular submission in Chinese on the site was submitted originally in English? Does that person who submitted it in English then win the Chinese Language award? I doubt it, but he rules just didn’t clarify this question.

The biggest concern however was with who holds the copyright of the submitted entry. The rules say that by submitting your story to the SJIMC the creator forfeits all copyright to Shueisha/Shonen Jump. What does this mean? It means that if Shueisha was dirty enough, they can hire another writer/mangaka to write and illustrate the story you submitted- and you will get no recognition for it. No royalties, nothing. That is a HUGE RISK. It is a risk every mangaka in Shonen Jump has {probably} taken when they submitted their pilot entries to different competitions in the past in Japan. Romance Dawn was Oda Eiichiro’s submission in 1996, we know it now as the series One Piece. I know of artists who wanted to submit entries into the competition but just refused out of principle of losing their copyrights to the story. For an artists, holding the copyright to a story is the way you make your living, lose it and you lose all power in the story’s creation and lifespan.

As for me, I am not a gambling person, but I did gamble on following my dream.

The most important point here before start the “What I learned” portion {now part 2 of this article} is that winners are not guaranteed a contract to become Shonen Jump mangaka or have a full series in Shonen Jump. I know when I first learned of the competition I had the day dream of winning the competition and working for the company. That would make me the first foreigner to work for Shonen Jump. Let that sink in…if someone from this competition wins it and gets a contract and aren’t from Japan, they will be the first foreigner to work for Shonen Jump.  That is truly making history!

Vegapunk’s hypothesis time!☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ This is just speculation! 

I think it would be a stupid business move for Shonen Jump not to hire winners of the competition, and even some of the runner-ups. Why you may ask? Shonen Jump’s readership has been falling from the mid-90′s and they are loosing two of the “Big Three” series in the next two years according to rumors- Bleach and Naruto. That will drop readership like a stone unless they can find the next big series, which I think is what this contest is really all about. I can’t say if the creator of that series will go on to work for Shueisha, but they are looking for some fresh stories to breath life back into Shonen Jump.

It would be a bold move to branch out and incorporate foreign writers and mangaka, but one Japanese companies have been aiming for in recent years. The Japanese market itself shrinking, and the government is giving out grants for companies to find and bring in foreign employees. It is a risk that the company is willing to make I think.

Just a note for whoever wins- be prepared to be treated as a novelty and not a person. It will be a struggle, but if you can move past it you may have some great success!


What I learned while participating in SJIMC- part 2 will be up Thursday.




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Ohayocon 2014

Happy to announce that I will have a table at the upcoming 2014 Ohayocon Anime and Manga Convention in Columbus, Ohio!

Ohayocon Logo 14


I am very excited that we’re returning to Ohayocon to promote Miss Grey! The last time we’ve been to Ohayocon in the artist alley was waaay back in 2008 or so (it’s been so long I can’t remember). It is natural for an artist to constantly question their ability to create art (although it isn’t a healthy habit) and getting a first round approval has given me the little acknowledgement for effort that I needed.

Thinking back, I can’t remember when Sporkrat and I started going to Ohayocon! I know we started going to conventions in 2003 (we met at one) but not sure when we started going to Ohayocon in particular….

Anyhow, great news!



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Vegapunk YouTube Channel

Hello L’s & G’s!

There is a new YouTube Channel for the site! I have hopes of putting up drawing tutorials and such, but for now it is home to two videos about two of  my pets- Sammy and Wheatley.

Some people have messaged me asking about how Sammy is doing since his surgery in August. So instead of writing about it, thought I would actually show you. It seems that Sammy has a slight evil streak in him.

Anyhow, enjoy!


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