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Tokyopop: Out of the Stew and Into the Fire? [Jun. 4th, 2008|02:50 pm]
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If you haven't heard the news yet, Tokyopop has split into two companies (the usual 'we publish books' company and a new 'we publish movies, music, and merchandise' company) and in the process, has laid off 39 direct employees (in a company of 80-100) and cut its yearly output of books in half. Heidi, over at The Beat, has a follow-up report and links.

From somebody who's been working with Tokyopop for nearly four years now, the news doesn't come as much of a surprise, I guess. The annoying thing is that this leaves Steady Beat 3 in limbo until things settle down and resources consolidate. News is slow but not absent; it seems my editor survived the cut, but I don't doubt she's swamped with work. Cutting half of your output doesn't help any if you're also cutting half your employees as well. Half the work but also half the staff to handle them.

So how does this affect OEL creators?

Honestly, I'm happy this happened. I was expecting bankruptcy by November 2007. Instead, for perhaps the first time ever, Tokyopop has made the right move by cutting back on how much spagetti they throw at the wall to see what sticks. I don't doubt the turmoil will take several months to settle down and many of us creators will be cut, but from a business perspective, this means that in the long run, they could potentially be better off. They cut back also by deciding not to exhibit at San Diego or Anime Expo which means less time spent going to conventions and more time focusing on actual creative material; it's the little things that count, and when employees run up a thousand dollar tab just on drinks, that hurts not just the company but the creators as well.

And not only that, but Stu Levy is no longer head of the book publishing division. Doth my heart dare leap for joy? I feel that part of the reason the actual PUBLISHING aspect of Tokyopop has suffered so is that he has his baby now (Princess Ai) to the affect of forgetting to pick up the step children after school. I feel often that we've been left on the side of the road in the hopes that we'll either just disappear or somebody else will pick us up and adopt us.

Well, I didn't stick around long enough to find out if I'd be adopted. The last year and a half have been busy, and I can tell you it hasn't all been Tokyopop stuff. The good news is that in spite of this latest news and all the cutbacks, Tokyopop is still paying me to finish up Steady Beat even if it doesn't go to print. They're contractually obliged to do so.

And if it doesn't go to print? I'll just post it on my website and say it's advertising. I have 50% of the rights meaning we can BOTH utilize the property independently of each other, and there are no specifications of number of pages I may use in marketing my books.

And you know what? I haven't worked my ass off on what I consider the height of this series to let if flounder in the dust, sight unseen. In television production, they tell you that most studios won't even consider your work until you've produced at least 5-6 shows, and that's because they understand that there's a learning curve. Steady Beat 1 & 2 were what felt to me were my learning curve. I feel like Book 3 is the peak of this series with only better things to come in my other creative works. But that's just IMHO. I can honestly say, however, this is the first work I've produced that I've felt truly happy and confident about.

So what happens now? Well, I keep inking "Steady Beat 3". In spite of the dubiousness of whether or not it'll see print, I feel I owe it to not just my readers but myself to finish.

I would never leave a series incomplete.

Now, just for my readers, I've uploaded a segment of the raw pencils from the middle of the book. This chapter (and the one after it) is, to me, what the series is all about, and you can read it without spoiling the rest of the book. You've seen the story so far from Leah's side, but what about Sarai, the gay sister? What's it like when you've spent your whole life being what somebody else expects only to find that no matter what you do, you'll only end up disappointing them?

I give you,































And I stiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill need a scanner for my oversized inks.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: selphish
2008-06-04 09:08 pm (UTC)

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God, your art has so much improved over the past few years, it's absolutely amazing.

Beautiful pages. Thank you so much for sharing.

Fingers crossed that book three makes it to print.
[User Picture]From: starre257
2008-06-04 09:14 pm (UTC)

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Wow... that's awesome. I also hope the book gets to be printed.
[User Picture]From: quiet_aversion
2008-06-04 09:17 pm (UTC)

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These pages are gorgeous and just so full of emotion. They're really amazing.

I'm going to be sorely disappointed if your book doesn't make the cut! It'd be such a shame. Here's hoping, yeah? : )
[User Picture]From: d_morris
2008-06-04 09:18 pm (UTC)

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I don't know if you're able to discuss this in public but is there any chance that the 50% of rights that you don't own will revert back to you in the near future or after a certain time if the third volume never gets published?
[User Picture]From: d_morris
2008-06-04 09:20 pm (UTC)

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I just ask because I think it would be shame that you work your ass off on something and it never sees the light of day.
[User Picture]From: kittytreats
2008-06-04 09:24 pm (UTC)

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I just learned DJ Milky is indeed Stu Levy..that's odd *LOL* *sigh* Tokyopop seems to have a history of making fan angry. Like the whole MixxZine to Smile... I feel so sorry for the guys who were subscribed to Mixxzine *lol* I kinda liked Smile though XD

Wow thanks for sharing the pages! So you actually draw the word bubbles in?!
From: crispypoohs
2008-06-04 09:33 pm (UTC)

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This looks stellar Rivkah~ The only way I could describe reading these pages would be like... a cinematic ride down a river? The things you chose to show and the way you show them are so cinematic, and you arrange them so well that there's a powerful visual flow -- it's fluid. Nice job~

I hope for you that something happens and somehow you're able to get back the rights to Steady Beat, like Tavisha and Rikki did with their older series. (granted, the contract on that probably expired or something, but I dunno -- somehow, that'd be cool). But yeah, I hope the best for you -- I would hate for them to not publish your work because of their own mismanagement. If you managed to finish it, they should manage to fucking print it.
[User Picture]From: otakubarcode
2008-06-04 09:40 pm (UTC)

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Beautiful pages and truly inspirational. Wow. you blow my mind. I cannot wait until volume 3....poor Sarai. I hope everything gets worked out and will be okay in the end.
As for the Tokyopop thing, it must be really scary to be working for them, they're a good company and do a lot of good things but right now (and even within the last few years) seem to be being a bit fickle and although I would love to get published one day myself ( as I've said several times ) I don't know if after knowing everything I know about them and their system if I could even willing submit one of my babies to them.
Good luck with everything and again, I cannot wait until volume 3 of Steady Beat. ^ ^
[User Picture]From: goldfishhead
2008-06-04 09:56 pm (UTC)

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Ah, you always have such imaginative and perpousful layouts. You realy use layout techniques to their full effect. I so admire that. (PS, in the extreemly unlikely event that you find yourself with spare time, I would consider trading my left arm for a tutorial or some pointers on your thought procces when you do layouts).

Also, thank you for, as always, giving such an honest and objective opinion from within the industry :). I rely on you, and a few others, to let me know whats realy going on.
[User Picture]From: fuuringo
2008-06-04 10:12 pm (UTC)

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Beautiful pages! It's so nice to see hand-lettering for a change, it seems more personalised. I've only read volume 1 so far but I can believe that you've come a long way. Your pencils are so clean! I'd say you wouldn't even have to ink these. ^^
Despite the gloomy prospects,I'm glad to hear you're resolved to finish Steady Beat 3. Huge best of luck!
[User Picture]From: chrissydelk
2008-06-04 10:31 pm (UTC)

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I'm really glad to hear you have a solid plan for Steady Beat 3 either way.
[User Picture]From: tristantzara
2008-06-04 10:37 pm (UTC)

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Wow, your draftsmanship is improving so much! I'm sure the third volume will be just as stunning as the second and first :)

It's kind of sad that Tokyopop is having the problems it's having. Even with their sometimes glaring problems, they've always been an ambitious and interesting publisher. They were one of the first major publishers to even have an agenda of publishing OEL, and I think that's pretty significant.

Plus, I'm sure any number of publishers would love to handle your work should your arrangements with Tokyopop conclude.
[User Picture]From: tifaria
2008-06-04 10:54 pm (UTC)

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That panel with Sarai standing alone, where she says "Oh.." broke my heart. There's such emotion in every panel of this, and your art has improved so much since the first volume. Thank you for sharing with us. I truly hope that SB3 does go to print.
[User Picture]From: groundbyground
2008-06-04 10:59 pm (UTC)

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Woooooooow.

(Stares in admiration)
[User Picture]From: rosalarian
2008-06-04 11:11 pm (UTC)

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It's always nice to see things in their rough stages. And oh, God! I've been waiting for this forever! It looks great.

The comic company I work for is going through some worrying stuff as well. It seems like all of a sudden, comic companies are going through a real upheaval.
[User Picture]From: lisalees
2008-06-04 11:47 pm (UTC)

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I hope TP pays attention to people who want Steady Beat. I have volume 3 on pre-order through Right Stuf.
[User Picture]From: sxyblkmn
2008-06-05 01:23 am (UTC)

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now that is some nice art riv
[User Picture]From: kurishojo
2008-06-05 01:43 am (UTC)

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Thanks for your inside insight on Tokyopop's current affairs. I'm thrilled to hear you still plan to remain so dedicated to your book and your fans. I can't wait to read Steady Beat 3, whether by purchase or online from you. Much appreciation for sharing these pages; they're heartbreaking in all the right ways, very well executed. Keep up the beautiful work!
[User Picture]From: yuffie_9
2008-06-05 04:24 am (UTC)

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Oh my god 0.0

I love this so much! I can't wait to read the rest of it no matter what medium it is in. I've been waiting to hear Sarai's side since the beginning, so this is the coolest thing!

(p.s. I love the elephant)

[User Picture]From: rurouni_jedi
2008-06-05 05:00 am (UTC)

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Hi there--

Found your page through "Comics Worth Reading". I was interested in hearing what you had to say about TokyoPop and the changes that have been made recently, as I'm preparing a pitch and I'm torn as to where I should take it.

Upon coming across this page and reading the pages you have written, I'm ashamed that I have not yet read Steady Beat. I've done my best to support OEL writers in the past, and yet your title seemed to have slipped under my radar. Ironic, as the pages you've posted have instantly resonated with me, and it's my wish to write and illustrate manga just like this--the kind that strikes a chord with the young female crowd, without simply resorting to the equation of a sappy romance (although, I admit, I do LOVE sappy romances LOL). So inspiring! I hope you don't mind me friending you so that I may continued to be inspired by your work! :D
[User Picture]From: divalea
2008-06-05 05:15 am (UTC)

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GOOD FOR YOU! \m/
I'm surprised TP had the money to start the OEL line to begin with. I figured they'd collapse under their own impossible weight a long time ago, because of their noticeable habit of starting something, appearing to throw a lot of money into it, and dumping it. That's no way to spend, make or keep money, even if your goal is to simply run an IP farm.

The Manga Pilots reminded me of when dotcoms would stop paying people and would spend their bank account balance on schwag and go to a show, in some weird desperate try to gain some capital before everything shut down.

I have yet, in my long career, to see a company other than DC or Marvel stay in business much longer than five years if they start by "sharing" copyright, or move to that practice. How long did this practice last at TP before now? Three years? Four?

I called this one in the air when the OEL line was announced, and this fallout is part of the reason why I cried foul. This is what happens. This is how businesses that insist on IP rights do. They piss away money, and move on when they're bored.
It leaves hardworking and loyal people in the ditch, often without pay or support. It's shitty.

You keep on truckin'. You have the base to move to web and finish high.
[User Picture]From: joechummer
2008-06-05 05:39 am (UTC)

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What I don't understand about Bible thumpers who decry homosexuality is that they claim something is in the Bible that isn't.

I was a Christian for the longest time -- even went to Christian school for 13 years -- so I know my way around the Good Book. In all my years, I have YET to find a verse that says something along the lines of "Women should not lie with other women," and no one else has ever found one either. The ONLY reference in the entire Bible to lesbianism is in Romans 1:26, the second half of which says (in the NIV), "Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones." (or in the KJV: "for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature")

Notice it doesn't say it's a SIN; it just says it's "unnatural." It doesn't say it's "detestable," a "perversion," or an "abomination," -- all words that are used to describe other sins. So, if you assume that anything unnatural is a sin, then we're all going to hell for eating stuff like pudding cups. Lord knows pudding doesn't grow on trees!

Because of this I've always told people that the early church didn't mind a little girl-on-girl. Apparently God and the framers of the Bible were so focused on worrying about two guys getting it on that they completely forgot about what the girls were up to.

By this token, the whole bit in this section of Sarai's story about "Sodom and Gomorrah" doesn't really apply to lesbians, because the perversion going on in S&G (as mentioned in the Bible) was MALE homosexuality. Lesbians never factored into it.

Which, again, goes to show how completely ignorant this Bible thumper in your story really is :)

BTW, your art is -- still -- absolutely gorgeous!
[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2008-06-05 06:03 am (UTC)

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Bible thumper story: True story. It happened to me my sophomore year in high school and wrecked my confidence, but in the long run, actually brought me closer to my faith.

You find out how in the next chapter. :) Everything you've just said is how I feel word for word, though the sodom and gomorrah story actually wasn't really about homosexuality either. Whole page dedicated to that one.
[User Picture]From: joechummer
2008-06-05 06:58 am (UTC)

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One thing I've never quite understood is how someone can believe in a faith that condemns them for something they can't change. I've heard of churches that follow the Bible but don't believe homosexuality is wrong. I've seen books talking about how the Bible actually SUPPORTS homosexuality. These two examples strike me as attempts to reconcile their faith with their sexuality, but when it comes right down to it, the Bible doesn't just suggest that MAYBE it MIGHT be kind of a bad idea for two guys to sleep together; regardless of what people believe, the Bible's pretty blatant about that point.

Here's an example. When my older brother was outed by a classmate, he got kicked out of our non-denominational Christian school, and the pastor of our church invited him into his office shortly thereafter and said something along the lines of "I don't think it would be a good idea for you to come back here." Our father, a deacon at the church, practically disowned him (although they're still on speaking terms, thankfully). These kinds of things make it rather difficult to stick with a religion that basically says there's something wrong with you. Naturally, my brother stopped going to church and became a big ol' pagan -- something that jived better with sexuality -- and I wasn't long to follow, mostly because of my own experiences with the church and about how he was treated so horribly by the love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin crowd.

I'm not saying it's impossible to reconcile with one's faith, but I do look forward to being enlightened! (and being enlightened by pretty art, to boot!)
[User Picture]From: p_the_wanderer
2008-06-15 10:22 am (UTC)

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Yes, there are parts where homosexuality isn't treated as bad, much like the opposite. I don't remember where now, though :/

Generally if you talk to intelligent Catholic priest he should know, that homosexuality isn't a sin; sex without marriage is, but despite of the sex.
Still the way the whole church and most of priests treats the matter (despite of what's happening between them >.>)also throw me away. So, being bisexual myself (and for some other reasons) I became kind of heretic. I'm not a pagan, but I guess I'm not a Christian anymore. If I'm supposed to be wrong anyway I don't need to pretend everything's OK.
[User Picture]From: ichigo2momo
2008-06-05 08:35 am (UTC)

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I hope your book makes it! I would really like to see this in print. The art is indeed gorgeous and the story is great. Thanks so much for posting this!
[User Picture]From: jtabon
2008-06-05 08:47 am (UTC)

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These pages are beautiful, thanks for sharing! I'll be glad to see SB 3, no matter what form it may end up taking. ^_________^

This Mustek scanner's been pretty good for me so far, at least with inked pages. Pencils tend to scan a little too light. Or maybe I'm just not as heavy handed with a pencil as I used to be, I dunno. <_< Also, I'd probably find any measure acceptable that would stop Stu Levy from forcing more Princess Ai on the world.
[User Picture]From: sonia_leong
2008-06-05 09:39 am (UTC)

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Brilliant pacing and brimming with emotion. I can't wait to see how it resolves.
[User Picture]From: gregusa
2008-06-05 01:24 pm (UTC)

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Wow! That's amazing! I love it.

As far as the TP business... well, two words: web serialization. You have the right idea there. It's tough times for all non-cape publishers, but it's a great time to have a comic on the web.
[User Picture]From: stef_g
2008-06-05 03:24 pm (UTC)

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Gourgerous, and very very inspiring.
Brought me back to wanting to draw again.
Thank you.
From: yuricon_alc
2008-06-05 03:39 pm (UTC)

Looking forward to it!

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It's been a while since you started the series, but it looks like you'll get to the end one way or another. I'm looking forward to it.

Cheers,

Erica

Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu!
http://okazu.blogspot.com
[User Picture]From: uminomamori
2008-06-05 05:16 pm (UTC)

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Wonderful! Keep it up! I'm happy as long as I get to read the rest, however it turns out. But it would really be a shame if it wasn't printed.

From: gorbeh
2008-06-06 01:20 pm (UTC)

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Wow, it's pretty! You've inproved so much since vol. 1 it isn't even funny. And I just love your layouts. Clearer than usual shoujo layouts but not blocky or constricted. I'll definitely buy it if I see it here.... And I'm sure it will get published. XP
[User Picture]From: mayshing
2008-06-06 04:24 pm (UTC)

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I think Tokyopop made a right move, finally, something that makes sense in business. :/

Beautiful pages. Whether it's published or not, we would love to see it all finished.

From: lalacanthearyou
2008-06-08 01:09 am (UTC)

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Ashfoidhkv.

Rivkah, you are a genius.

WOMAN OF MAD GENIUS.

^^
[User Picture]From: pencilkiller
2008-06-08 10:31 am (UTC)

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Wow, The pages look wonderful and it have so much detail on the penciling pages. I can't wait to read the rest. :)

Steady Beat is the first original series I follow back in the day. (Actually I first follow it though Wirepop :)). I hope to make my collection completed. :)

As for TP, I just glad I'm able to get my book to print before the this happening...
[User Picture]From: mission_flyer
2008-06-09 05:52 am (UTC)

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I'm fascinated by your series, I think because as a bible thumper so to speak the thoughts that go through someone's mind is something I don't truly understand. Now I call myself a bible thumper, but really I'm just a guy trying to understand that bigarse book. More I don't understand this because I come from a few right wingnut conservatives.

I eagerly await to see how this story unfolds...because if anyone ever told me "It doesn't matter, it's in there" I would put new definition to murdering with my mind.

Yeah...that aside, if the comics publishing if the manga industry has been faultering this long why are they grabbing up every property they can to push it on the market?
[User Picture]From: vexingthoughts
2008-06-09 09:44 pm (UTC)

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Wow. I think I should start reading Steady Beat now (just got here from Okazu)
[User Picture]From: decibel45
2008-06-10 02:55 pm (UTC)

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Nice elephant reading the paper... ;P

Did we ever figure out if my scanner was big enough for what you needed?
[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2008-06-10 06:05 pm (UTC)

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I don't remember. Is the offer of my using it still up in the air? O_O If so, what model is it again?
[User Picture]From: decibel45
2008-06-12 02:40 pm (UTC)

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Umax Astra 2200
[User Picture]From: moonlitrain2
2008-06-11 03:49 am (UTC)

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It's great to hear progress on vol. 3, I've been waiting for it since I read vol. 2 ^_^. I had no idea what was going on with TP, but hopefully the split works out. Hopefully vol.3 will get to print too!

I've really gotten into the story and became a big fan, I love the story and the art is wonderful! When I started Steady Beat, it hit home on many issues that I had to deal with, including living in the bible belt. I dealt with finding out my brother was gay and had to re-evaluate how I thought about things. I also ended up dealing with similar issues when I ended up coming out of the closet myself.

I liked the page with the bible beater when Sarai asked "why" and the he replied "who cares? It's there" That is exactly how they justify everything. I loved how you did that ^_^.
[User Picture]From: comic_heroine
2009-03-26 03:41 am (UTC)

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A friend of mine was asking me about the status of Steady Beat 3 recently...I told her to follow your blog about it, plus see your art.

But I still love those those pages. I remember you had shared them a while back and they still make me tear up. Sarai really is an excellent character.
[User Picture]From: cracon
2009-07-14 03:41 pm (UTC)

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Oh my, how I'd love to see the 3rd volume published ... (but, you know, no pressure ;) )

At this point I don't even care anymore if I want to read it in German or English. I've been waiting for over 2 years now and absolutely love the pages!

Hope everythings fine. :)
From: imeekaye0812
2010-10-25 01:03 am (UTC)

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OMG...it was so suspense! makes me curious what will happen next...great story that I will love to finish reading...I'll rather find this one! Keep it up and more power...Thanks for posting :)

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Imee
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