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mygif

Wow, that pretty much sums up why I don’t go either. I do go to Dragon*con because (a) it is in my home city and (b) for the sketches. I pick a theme every year and try to get as many artists as I can to add to it. The really nice thing about Dragon*con is that it is mostly a television celebrity convention. That means no one is hanging around Peter David and we can chat for half an hour.

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vonDread said on July 23rd, 2008 at 10:37 am

I pretty much agree 100%, but I have been planning to hit up the SDCC for a while now. Not this year, maybe next year. Will take some planning and some capital. I live in BC. It’s still quite a trip, but not nearly as far as across the entire continent. Main reason for going: I have a friend down there I’ve known for about 10 years now, but online only. Huge comics fan too, and it’s just kinda been the plan that’d we do that sometime. I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of some reason to actually meet my favorite creators, and ya, it’s gotta be con sketches. When I go, I’m going to get a John Constantine sketchbook filled out. Can’t think of many panels I’d want to sit in on, because from the transcripts I’ve read, it sounds like a bunch of people who aren’t public speakers fumbling for interesting and/or funny things to say and coming up empty for the entire running time of the panel. Woo. But there are certain guys, like Kevin Smith, who’ve got their shit together.

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mygif

I’ve been to a few Science Fiction/Fantasy Cons (and am going to WorldCon in a couple of weeks, actually), and IME it’s terribly easy to interact with the pros at those in your preferred manner. I’ve never been to a Comic Con, so perhaps it’s a different attitude in the industry…

As to point #4…I’m afraid that, for many of those people, it’s not that the NerdCon makes them stop showering, so much as it just brings them out of their Mom’s basement where they don’t ever think about trivialities like bathing while they’re grinding their toons to the next ding and sucking down Cheesy Poofs.

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mygif

#7 needs to read:

7.) People dressed up in any type of costumes outside the context of Halloween or acting are inherently creepy.

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mygif

Regarding #4, rules should be enforced at conventions that “Cos Players MUST shower”, or not be given access.

I’m not much for conventions, but if Bruce Campbell is there it’s always my reason for going.

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mygif

I am guilty of being the not-showering guy and the floor-sleeper guy, but at the time, I had my excuses. I wanted to stick around for the con events, but my friends had gotten the notion that we drove down to Columbus and rented a hotel room for the sake of sitting around playing video games. So, without a ride back to the hotel, I was pretty much stranded at the con itself until the following afternoon.

However, I got to see one of the most terrifying sights in life because of this — someone taking a sip of bottled OJ, topping it off with Red Bull, taking another sip, etc.

It was… mesmerizing in its lunacy.

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mygif

Maybe I’ll take notes. I’m heading for PAX this year, my first con of any type.

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mygif

“Plus they’ll have beer, and usually also Buffalo wings”

Christopher Bird, please do not tell me you eat the food at strip joints. Because that is gross. If you do, for the love of god, stop! (Because it is gross.)

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malakim2099 said on July 23rd, 2008 at 12:05 pm

I always shower daily when attending a Con. But I actually agree with you about most of those things… but one trick I found regarding #1 is just to throw a curve ball at someone. Met Dwayne McDuffie (then writing FF) last year at WWLA, and instead of offering a FF for him to sign… I gave him my copy of Damage Control v1 #4 (with Wolverine getting hit in the face by a cream pie). So we talked for 10 minutes about Damage Control and other things. :)

In general though, I do agree with this list, which is why when I go to conventions, it is typically to play games, not to schmooze or buy crap. And if there is nifty crap I want at a convention, I give money to my friends that I know are going.

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mygif

“You sneer, but come on: the average titty bar is probably more respectful of women than the average comic convention.”

So true. No self-respecting titty bar (nor even an average one that didn’t respect itself) would have had the whole open-source boob thing.

And the fact that a con’s members did says all I ever needed to know about why not to go to cons. Talk about people with lack of understanding of the idea of “personal space.”

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mygif

You met Jim Cuddy? That’s awesome! What’d he have to say about Five Days in July?

I got to interview him years ago (when they were touring the US for Tremolo), and I’d not really heard of them at the time, so I didn’t make the most of the interview. But since then I’ve kept returning to their music, and really love what I’ve heard.

What was that about this being SO MUCH MORE than a comics blog?

(And actually, I totally agree with you about fan-pro interaction at cons. How many times can I tell someone I love his work? Message boards are much better — they’re a group conversation, even if some members of the group are inevitably jerks.)

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mygif

Speaking as someone who used to have enough of a “name” in her former life to get invited to cons as a panelist and guest, I don’t go to cons anymore because of the fans…and the pros.

And by “the pros” I mean the “semi-pros”, who also have just enough of a “name” to be invited, and who sit in the green room making snide comments about the latest NYT Bestselling authors and why they don’t deserve it and bitch about no one understanding their vision and BLAH BLAH BLAH. People who, once I stopped being an editor and manuscript reader for the magazine I worked at, pretty much treated me like I didn’t exist because I was No Longer Useful To Them.

As for the fans: pretty much everything you mentioned above.

I will say this about panels. Back in the day, before the internets, panels were awesome. It was a rare chance to pow-wow with or in some cases hear a great presentation from someone you didn’t hear from often. Blogs and online communities have changed that. In my opinion, conventions should be rolling with that, but many are still stuck in the same-old, same-old.

My company has a convention every year. And though we still get the theatrics, there’s no hero worship, there’s a LOT of beer, and a tremendous amount of fun. Panels are fairly informal, and most exist as Q&As for the people who want ‘em. But mostly, it’s one big party. This year it’s in August. I intend to have a lot of fun, and never once hear anyone sneer that so-and-so is a bitch who so doesn’t deserve all this success.

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Joe Helfrich said on July 23rd, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Beyond sketches, the market for original art is best at the cons, and San Diego in particular. I’ve got lots of Finder pages, a Zulli page, several Transmet pages and one from True Story Swear To God that I wouldn’t have ever even seen if I hadn’t gone to shows.

Now if only I still had the money to buy those….

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mygif

You met Jim Cuddy? That’s awesome! What’d he have to say about Five Days in July?

It was mostly talking about the barn and about how much whiskey Sarah McLachlan could put away at the time. Apparently she used to be a total hardcore drinker, back in the day.

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mygif

I’ve yet to go to a con, at some point I will to hook up with friends from the Wizard message boards and to see a con in its stagnant glory.

But I do want to say that I read the old Doonesbury strip in question many a year ago, and it’s one of my favorites. Hey, we just bonded.

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mygif

If I ever had the time to go to cons, I would totally start a Brainiac Five sketchbook.

Francis Manapul did a Brainiac Five sketch for me at the Paradise Toronto Comicon earlier this month.

I’m keeping it.

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mygif
pete, son of abg said on July 23rd, 2008 at 2:51 pm

The Green Wolverine hasn’t been good since Larry Byrne was drawing it!

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mygif

Sketches are my only motivation and even then, I haven’t gone to a con in years. Back in the day, I would take a blank pocket-sized sketchbook and ask for autographs, never for anything else, but I was amazed at how many artists, when confronted with a sheet of blank paper, have a seeming NEED to put a picture on it.

Writers too, oddly enough. I have a Superman sketch by Jerry Siegel, from SDCC ’84.

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mygif

So when you start writing the Legion and getting invited to comic cons, what’re you gonna do? Say no? Go and lord your meager powers over your slavering fanboys? Get laid by groupies? Reinvent the genre (of comic cons)?

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mygif

Stuart Immomen has a quite funny mini-book called “50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions” which pretty much sums up all the major categories of con attendees… and their myriad of flaws.

Friends of mine got invited as guests to a lot of east-cost Anime cons in the late 90′s, so I tagged along to loads of them and could literally see the demographic change year by year. I think the last “con” I went to (other than getting parachuted into a panel once here in Toronto as a last-minute fill in) was Otakon in Baltimore in 2000 – and even then I was profoundly uncomfortable with the number of near-naked 14-year-old cosplayers.

The fact is, conventions used to be *the* unique place to discover something new about a medium, find a fresh insight, wallow in unselfconscious fandom, discover something you had overlooked, or to buy stuff from a much wider selection than any one store… but the internet does all of that better than a singular gathering of people who often self-identify as “socially awkward”.

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mygif

The panels at comics conventions, by and large, suck. There are, however, exceptions. Mark Gruenwald and Julie Schwartz discussing the ins and outs of comics editing (future comics editor Michael Eury was the moderator and wisely got out of the way) made me want to be a comics editor, which lead to me moving to New York.

Other than that one, the best comics panel I ever attended was at a small science fiction convention–a one-hour guest of honor presentation by P. Craig Russell, which was basically him giving a slide show of comics storytelling technique. Fookin’ brillyant. More comics conventions should do things like that.

But comics panels are mostly rehashes of the same five not-ideas over and over and over. (Admittedly, with a good panel, the same old panel ideas can be interesting. But it’s tough.)

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mygif

Honestly, though, I think you could make up a list like this for every single human activity ever. :) Sure, there are downsides to attending a con, but there are upsides too. I’ve had some great experiences with panels at DragonCon, where the fans in attendance are about as smart and educated about their interests as I am, and are asking the panelist the same questions I would have. At which point, it really does feel like you’re having an intelligent, hour-long talk with the professional about his/her work. (Peter Davison, Warren Ellis, Nathan Fillion, George Romero, John Rhys-Davies…heck, Peter David gives great value as a panelist, at whatever con he’s at.) Sure, a bad panel can be rough, but a good one? Magic.

Buying stuff…I do it less than I did, but one of the advantages to a big con is that lesser-known creators show up with their wares to sell, so I can buy it straight from them and help support them (which also is important in relation to one of the comments–I’ve had nothing but nice experiences with small-press guys and gals. Jennie Breeden is hilarious in person, Pete Abrams is a gent, and I enjoyed picking up their stuff.)

The smell…honestly, it’s better than it was. I think that the shame of the stereotype of “unwashed geek” has made people care a bit more about their hygiene.

And costumes…I don’t cosplay, I never have, but I will say that cosplay hits a point on the scale where it goes past creepy and attains a certain grandeur, and DragonCon is at that scale. I’ve seen full cosplay “troupes” who dressed up as the entire Legion of Super-Heroes, and done it with professional quality. I’ve seen movie-quality Blade costumes, full platoons of stormtroopers, Captain N, excellently-done Daleks…really, at the large cons, when you start getting the people who are very good at it, you see some amazing stuff.

So, to sum up, don’t let a few bad experiences turn you off the whole con trip. They can be a lot of fun if you let them be. (It helps to go with a good group of people, BTW. Going to a con by yourself is something like 1/1,000,000,000 as much fun as going with even one other person you know and like.)

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mygif

I want someone to get a Squirrel Girl sketchbook going.

Just because I want to see an Adam Hughes-drawn Squirrel Girl.

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mygif

[b][i]People dressed up in superhero costumes are inherently creepy.[/b][/i]

…but dressing up as a superhero is one of the most fun activities known to man.

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mygif

“Just because I want to see an Adam Hughes-drawn Squirrel Girl.”

Screw that. I want to see Frank Miller’s Goddamn Squirrel Girl.

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mygif

I get what you’re saying, MGK, but one day, you have to go to CCI. I know you’re based in or near Toronto, but it’s like Mecca for comic fans. I’ve gone twice…I know that it’s grown exponentially in the five years I’ve been away, and it’s probably a lot more exhausting, but I feel the pros outweigh the cons. Plus, there are a lot of great attractions. One tip: pandas at the San Diego Zoo? Overrated. Go see the orangutans instead. They’re a fun bunch.

I go to cons for sketches, panels and deals. I must be a sucker for hitting the DCU panels, but I have. I figure that it’s better to weight for books to hit the $0.50-1.00 range before pouncing. And I will not shut up about the sketches that I get. Here’s my latest book that I started. I try to distinguish myself from the others, but there are times where I wish I could do a theme, like the one guy with all the Lockjaw sketches. On the other hand, then I wouldn’t have the Doctor getting bugged by the Adipose. I figured Roger Langridge would go for a “Kirk half-buried in Tribbles” effect that I wanted, but I was happy with the result.

From the sound of it, you probably don’t go to the Canadian National Expo. I’ve been there twice…last time ended on a down note for me, since I lost my sketchbook (which I got back) and my camcorder (which I didn’t). I’m guessing the sheer volume of anime cosplayers alone would keep you away. If you’re up for a trip to New York, there’s the MoCCA Art Festival in July…two days of indy comics fun in a low-key atmosphere. If you want to go further south, I’ve found that while Heroes Con isn’t my cup of tea, it does serve as a meeting place between the big cons and the indy stuff.

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mygif

Jason: The Fan Expo is genuinely terrible, everything that is bad about the con experience rolled up into a single package and then given an additional twenty-five dollar surcharge. I went once because of a gaming event and then said “these people are never, ever getting any of my money ever again.”

I like the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, which is like MoCCA except it is A) local and B) free.

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mygif

I’m crying Bird. Crying.

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mygif

Ouch. Well, aside from losing my stuff, I had a decent time. I had a hotel near the airport with easy transity to the center, I like taking pictures of cosplayers, and I get to meet Canadian artists. I know that I see Dale Eaglesham and his wife every year at another con or two, but I’ve only gotten to meet Ty Templeton and Greg Hyland at the CNE. I’ll admit it was easier the first time I went, since I stayed with a friend for free, albeit sleeping on the couch. And I got the tourist stuff out of the way the first time, though I’d still like to see the Rogers Centre, the state-of-the-art stadium for the early 90s.

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mygif

I hope I get to be an artist that gets to draw in a Squirrel Girl sketchbook someday… so I can draw Thanos raping her anally.

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mygif

A quick rundown of the cons that I’ve frequented:

Big Apple Con/The National: It was frustrating at first to not have a big con in the big city. The BACs happened every few months, and I mostly looked for deals. The National was a bit of a joke, since it was like a BAC, only slightly bigger. This year, there’s only been a few BACs scheduled for this year…and one of them was on the same weekend at the MoCCA Art Festival, which was a real dick move.

New York Comic Con: I feel there’s a constant state of evolution after three years. The first time was a fiasco, but the organizer keeps improving things. It’s great for me, since I get to commute back and forth. And the last two times, I got to see Gail Simone; we were both posters at Jonah Weiland’s forums for Kingdom Come, the ancestor of CBR. And yeah…she is a rock star. Bad news: the 2009 con goes from April back to February.

MoCCA Arts Festival: nice, mellow, full of indy artists. Only downside is that there’s lots of stuff to pick through, and I never know what to buy.

Wizard World: yes, I am part of the problem, going back and forth to Philly. I get sketches, go to panels, and get comics cheap, but it always feels that the Chicago version is always going to be beefier. I haven’t been there since 2001. On the bright side, there’s no better tourist spot for a baseball fan than Wrigley Field. It’s like a carnival whenever the Cubs are in town.

Canadian National Expo: see above. Your mileage may vary.

Heroes Con: I probably won’t go back anytime soon, since I couldn’t find that many places to eat that were open, and I only had enough time to hit one tourist spot. I stayed at the Westin, and it was surreal to see pros in the hotel lobby (I did that in Rosemont in ’01; the peak came when Kenny Baker asked me how breakfast was). Once again: it’s where mainstream and indy intersects. If I do go back, I’ll have to see how to reach the comic shop that puts the show together.

Baltimore Comic Con: Only done it once, and I’m thinking of going back in September. It’s great…no flying, no trains, I just drive through New Jersey and Delaware to get to Maryland. I wound up staying at a hotel outside the city for two nights, took in an Orioles game, and spent two rather mellow days conning.

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mygif

“I hope I get to be an artist that gets to draw in a Squirrel Girl sketchbook someday… so I can draw Thanos raping her anally.”

Not that I particularly want to SEE that image, what with being a SG fan and all, but…what’s stopping you from doing that now?

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mygif

“Not that I particularly want to SEE that image, what with being a SG fan and all, but…what’s stopping you from doing that now?”

After that post, it’s probably because everyone’s too scared to hand him a sketchbook. You DO NOT want to hear his plans for Tippy-Toe, but I’ll give you a hint: It involves crawling inside of Richard Gere’s colon.

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mygif

Jason, that sketch-book makes me want to see Chris Giarrusso do a Watchmen story.

Wish I had the money to try a con and be disappointed. I’d probably improve upon my Halloween 2003 Rorschach costume. I need to rock that shit before it gets played out by the movie.

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mygif

The internet, and eBay in particular, have essentially turned us all into Jimmy Thudpucker.

Maybe Jimmy Thudpucker could find those last two issues of the full set of New Warriors I’ve been working on for four years, then…

But of course deep down I know the chase is better than the catch…which is why I do go to cons…

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mygif

[...] Chris Bird sums up rather well why I won’t go to cons. [...]

mygif

“Not that I particularly want to SEE that image, what with being a SG fan and all, but…what’s stopping you from doing that now?”

Because i don’t want to spend any more time drawing that loathsome character than I have to.

and my plans for tippy-toe have nothing to do with Richard Gere. More like a small latino child lifting a blindfold, looking down at the entrails and saying “where’s the candy?”

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mygif

I think the biggest trick in going to a Con is to find one close enough that you don’t have to be there too long. If you’re there for more than one afternoon, that’s probably too long. The Baltimore Comic-Con’s right near us. Take the light rail in the morning to get there. Hit the half-price TPB deals early. Talk to a few creators. Go to a panel or two (the big hype ones are fun for what they are; past that, try to hit a Greg Rucka one. He’s usually real good). And then get the hell out of there and go home while everyone else can go do whatever the heck it is they do after I get home.

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mygif

Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly why I don’t go, either. I don’t like gadgets and gizmos, I don’t buy back issues, and anything of note on any panel will be repeated ad nauseum online. The only reasons to go are 1) sketches, 2) meeting up with folks, and 3) maybe getting that one comic that REALLY MEANS SOMETHING to you signed by the guy(s)/girl(s) who did it.

My only theme is I sometimes get writers to draw characters they write. The results can be hilarious.

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mygif
Brad Reed said on July 24th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

“It was mostly talking about the barn and about how much whiskey Sarah McLachlan could put away at the time. Apparently she used to be a total hardcore drinker, back in the day.”

Now I have yet another reason to love that woman to pieces.

The Small Press Expo in the Washington, DC area was fun and reasonably harmless. Fewer people in costumes and more moping art students than the big cons. Whether that’s an upgrade depends upon your worldview, I suspect.

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mygif

Kyle…I almost didn’t get it because I saw Giarusso doing a big sketch featuring the major players from the book. But I didn’t have too many references with me, so I went ahead with it.

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mygif

Your first point sums up my main problem with cons pretty succinctly. I’ve only ever gone to one con–New York ComicCon 2007–and that was only because I got a free pass. I personally think it’s cool to have signed books… but I don’t care much either way. And to be honest the process of getting something signed is just so damn awkward that I feel like it isn’t worth the effort (not only is it a bad way to try and tlak to these artists who you respect and admire, as you detailed, but I also just feel like a total ass if I take more than like, one book to get signed by any given person. I see people bring longboxes to get signed by people and it blows my mind that they have no shame about this.

But, comic book fans.)

And panels do suck, yeah. The only time I’ve ever been interested in something like that was Warren Ellis’s thing at the recent Wizard World Chicago, where he talked on stage for an hour and a half. And that’s like a one-time-ever thing, too.

(and all this sucks because a birthday gift I’ve been meaning to get together for my Dad for years now is a copy of Demo #8 signed by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan… and in order to get the latter of the two signatures I have to pay to get into a con or be lucky enough to be around on one of those rare times when she’d be signing at a comic store for some thing. gah!)

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mygif

[...] seems to have morphed into a PR-palooza, with the celebration of an art form giving way to corporate hype and [...]

mygif

“(Memo to all nerds: even when Jessica Alba was seventeen, she still wouldn’t have talked to you.)”

Oh I don’t know MGK, when I was a nerd in School, and even more socially awkward and ugly than I am now, most of the pretty girls got on quite well with me. They probably would have felt vaguely ill at the thought of any form of physical contact but they were always friendly.

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mygif

I don’t go to comic cons, or at least I’ve never been to one, but I do enjoy a good anime con every few years ago – mainly for the filmings and the chance to be exposed to new work I wouldn’t otherwise get. There isn’t really a corallary to that at a comic book convention, other than previews for comic related movies I guess (although I do love that sketchbook idea).

However I do wish I could go to Comic Con, soley to see the screening of Repo: The Genetic Opera (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiP4f_8BeOQ), which I strongly encourage anyone who is attending to go see. I cannot wait for this movie to be released!

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mygif

Er… must have pasted the wrong link in my last comment, hope nobody got some unexpected Crue… or that they at least enjoyed it. ^_^

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