Dallas Comic Con 2012 Fancy Sketches

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Dallas Comic Con and I have always been at odds. I resent it for being so close to my home and yet such a poorly organized, terribly mismanaged convention, and it resents me for being alive apparently. Don’t get me wrong, all of the fans I talked to (all half-dozen of them) were quite kind and wonderful. But I spent a day away from my family, paid for a table and sat there for 8 hours for basically no reason. I’m sorry, Dallas. You must have done something VERY wrong, because you don’g get a good con. [I wrote a GIANT post about why this con was an incredible disaster, but I realize it was a bit of downer so I moved it to this TUMBLR post.]

Major thanks to all of you Fancy Bastards that have started donation subscriptions since I added the new $2, $3 and $4 monthly levels. There is a now a premium RSS feed just for subscribers that has the full comic in the feed. You’ll get an email with a link when you sign up. If you have already signed up, you’ll be getting an email this week.

When I told you all that I was rethinking what I was doing with HE, I opened myself up to a lot of criticism. A lot of it was constructive, and a lot of it was painful to take in (because it was true). Still some of it was painful just because a few of you took my self evaluation as an invitation to let me know how badly I’ve been fucking up for the past year or so. Not many of you, but enough. One thing that KEPT cropping up was a deep, all consuming hatred for the photo comics. Many readers told me they were the very reason they stopped caring about the comic in general. A lot of people said they were all in-jokes with my friends and this inaccessible. This is a criticism I can sympathize with despite not really understanding it at all. I always assumed the appeal of the photo-comics WAS that I was bringing you inside. Many of the people I feature in the photo comics are far more famous than I. I never expected writing silly situations for me and famous friends to act out would seem exclusionary.

Now, before you jump to their defense and tell me you LURV the photo comics, rest assured that I have heard from your camp as well. I have determined that these photo comics are the MOST DIVISIVE thing I have ever created. You either ALL THE WAY love them or hate them, but you do not KIND OF anything them. I admit they are a bit self indulgent, and certainly not in line with the regular drawn comics you might be accustomed to here. Since I do enjoy making them, and SOME of you do enjoy reading them, I am working on a way to separate them from the main archive. I am also considering moving the convention sketches along with them. I am thinking you would see regular HE comics on the site when you visit it, and then there would be a sidebar widget they told you if there was a new “Convention” comic or a new “Lo-Fi” comic.

I am definitely doing this with the Lo-Fi’s, so that’s not up for debate. The reason is, if I move them I can actually do them multiple times a week (on the same days as the regular comics even) which was always the plan. I’m just not sure if I should break out the photo comics, the sketches or both into their own area. I am opening the floor to your thoughts on this matter. Please don’t use this as a reason to let me know why you hate the photo comics. I’ve heard enough of that for a lifetime. I just want the site to be as user friendly as possible.

COMMENTERS: Weigh in on this idea if you have something constructive to add. I am going to base my decision largely on your feedback. This site is for you to enjoy, and I don’t want to go breaking it needlessly. If you read my TUMBLR post about Dallas Comic Con, feel free to add your own convention (or other gathering) nightmares. I once went to a ren faire where the sewers backed up and started creating little cesspools here and there throughout the faire grounds. It was very… authentic.

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99 Comments

  1. If you move the sketches, photo comics, and lo-fis to their own area(s) I hope they'll have RSS feeds so that those of us still using that antiquated technology can still keep up with them.

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    • The feed would basically be unchanged. All update, regardless of type would show up in the feed.

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      • I basically use Twitter as RSS. I don't care how your site is organized, or if content is split across multiple websites (like with Tumblr). As long as you keep linking actively to all your content on twitter, I'll keep visiting.

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      • Cool. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Also, and I guess because I'm just a contrary person by nature, I actually *am* kind of "meh" about the photo comics. Not my favourite, but it's not like they actively ruin anything for me. So it doesn't really matter to me if they show up in the feed or not… but the Lo-Fis? I really like them, so I'd be disappointed if they disappeared from the feed.

        By the way, I think it's really cool that you're taking chances and making changes based on feedback.

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        • yeah, i am definitely "kind of" everything about the photocomics. the humor is still there, it just doesn't always connect. even if they blow over my head, though, they still only take a few seconds to read.

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          • I wanna third being kind of anything about the photo comics. Of course, I haven't given any feedback before now, so you'd have no way to know that.

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        • For my two gold-press latinium, I'm in the middle (I know, you don't believe in me), I *kind of* like the photo comics. If I didn't see them I wouldn't miss them, but when you do post them, it's interesting to get a look at cons I can't make it to, or the "secret worldz" of an Internet ink/picture slinger.

          And I'm sorry, unless you posted that pic of you and your posse with the cast of TNG on the MAIN site, I wouldn't have gone to tumblflicktweetface to look for it; but that's just me.

          All in all, yes we may be your semi-anonymous customers, but you do have to be the artist here and be all artistic, and junk. Or stuff.

          Personally, if I could have even half your talent in drawing things, I'd probably be where you are now with the Experiment.

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          • Given that most artists don't do ANYTHING when they go to cons or vacation, photocomics and sketches are a welcome change to THAT.

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    • I was freaking out there for a second thinking that you were doing away with the photo comics altogether, but if you're just moving them somewhere else and they will still be in the RSS then that is grand, freakout averted. I love the photo comics because I don't get to go to those conventions and meet my webcomics heroes, but they make me feel like I am one of the gang. Ok that sounds kinda sad, maybe you should do away with the photo comics and I should get out more…

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  2. I love the convention sketches and the Lo-Fi comics, but would be fine if they were in there own separate space. Right now I use the RSS feed as a means to let me know when there is an update. Would this new area still be included in the feed?

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    • Repost from above:

      The feed would basically be unchanged. All update, regardless of type would show up in the feed.

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      • That's all I care about. I like all your stuff, so as long as I can get it via some combination of RSS feeds it doesn't matter to me where they live.

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    • I find the photo comics a hoot! Somehow, Joel, those have the funniest dialogue in your comics!

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  3. As long as you keep producing consistently and it is funny, it doesn't matter if it is the regular comic, the lo fi version or the photo comics.

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    • I agree with that, and I really don't care how the site's organized, as long as I can find the stuff I want to look at. I don't use an RSS feed, I just go to the website every day to see if there's an update. If I have to click through to another page to look at a photo comic or con-sketches or whatever, I don't think it would really bother me, as long as it was clear there was something there to look at so I wouldn't miss anything.

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      • I also visit the website daily (hooray ad revenue!), so as long as you link to Lo-Fi, photo comics, and con sketches in a sidebar, I'll find and read them.

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  4. I was trying to think of a way to say something nice about you moving things, but in a clever way that would draw attention to myself. I have failed in that. So now I'm just posting random thoughts.




    I am a blond, so this might take a while.

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  5. Ok so.. without taking sides or jumping to anything, just want to say I wasn't aware of any fucking of the up. Well maybe with the exception of the exclusion of a naked Josh in a photo comic. BUT I digress.
    Main point being: You're an artist, it's your output/vision – come on!

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  6. I am a waffler on the photo comics; sometimes they are funny, other times they aren't. There's no way for me to tell you specifically how to make only funny ones (Hey, sometimes the comics aren't funny, but I still visit each one every time it gets posted).

    Honestly, I'll probably read no matter what you end up changing. I like it here.

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    • I agree with everything above. I also do often enjoy the Lo-Fi comics as much as the regular comics. Sometimes I don't really get some of the con-art sketches, but some of them are really funny, so I will continue to check them out as long as they continue to be posted, because I wouldn't want to miss a really good one.

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  7. I'm still laughing at the Borg-ified Josh with the Fleshlight arm and iPad chest piece. I need a copy of that for my desk… well… maybe not for my desk at the office….

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  8. I think the problem, if there is one, could be one of consistency. If you hit the link expecting to see a 3 panel gag but instead get a long photo-comic (or more likely whatever was up the day before) then expectations have been dashed. So, in a word (actually two) be consistent. RSS feed sounds like a winner. Then folk know what to expect before hitting the link.

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  9. I must be the outlier. I kind of like the photo comments, but I have no strong feelings about them. I find hatred for them ridiculous, but I don't have the foot in the convention world that I imagine is a prerequisite to really loving them. They're just one more kind of amusing thing that goes on the site every once in a while.

    Separating them out makes sense. Give the people who don't want to see them that right, but keep them accessible for everyone else. Go for it.

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    • I'm kinda with you on that one.

      It might be helpful if the people in the photos had name tags, so I know who they are – but I probably still wouldn't get most of the jokes. And I blame my own lack-of-knowledge for that – not inside-jokes.

      I would miss the comic sketches if they were moved out of the regular rotation. I don't know that I'd go looking for them.

      Lo-Fi, I probably would do an extra click to see those.

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  10. I'm neutral on the photo comics, I enjoy the con art. Please keep the con-art in the regular thread.

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    • This is the way I am leaning. Leaving the con sketches in and moving the photo comics out of the archive to their own section.

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  11. I'm a relative noob here, and at first I ignored the photo comics assuming they were just injokes, but then I actually read one and nearly prolapsed myself laughing. Especially the dolphin rape one. Anyway, you keep on doing that voodoo that you do so well and I'll keep endangering my innards by reading it.

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    • I concur. If you had asked me a year ago, I probably would have said Nay to the photo comics because they do come across as inaccessible, at first. But now that I'm fully immersed in your archives, and have a real love for your humor, I say Do What You Will, Sir, and the Legions of Fancy Bastards will Follow! I only recently started to use Twitter, so hopefully I won't miss anything! :)

      But, to echo a point I've seen already mentioned – I much prefer content to no content, and completely appreciate that it's difficult to make new comics during cons, so please keep posting the con art and whatever else you've got. I always prefer your original stuff to guest stuff, and it makes me sad when I check for updates that just aren't there. Plus, Lo-Fi Jinks are hilarious, so make as many of those as your hand can take without cramping. Keep up the great work!

      Also, I follow several different online comics (and it appears you are friends with many of those artists – thank you photo comics!), but none of them are as open and engaged with their fan base as you are. Thank you for that, I love it!

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  12. If you do separate the different types of comics into different areas of the site, it would be nice if you would keep the RSS centralized. ie, it would be helpful not to have to subscribe to multiple feeds. Since people have to click through anyway now from the RSS feed, seems like you could keep the one centralized feed with a minimum of fuss. (Somebody doesn't want to see a photo comic, they just go to the next thing in their feed.)
    Alternative: if you this segragation of comic types into different site section must also be accompanied by multiple RSS feeds, could there be an aggragated feed? Then I only have to make one change to my RSS and I don't have to worry about it, even if you add or remove categories of comics.

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    • " if you would keep the RSS centralized. i"

      No matter what, the RSS will stay the same. 1 feed for everything. Any other option just sounds too cumbersome.

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  13. Oh, dur, you already addressed this. You can ignore this other than a +1 for your plan of not changing the RSS feed.

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  14. Well I for one actually like the photo comics, its funny to see real life interactions sometimes. And there can never be enough penis references on the internet! I am easily amused however…

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  15. I mostly read your site from the RSS feed and I'd like to be notified of all your content so it sounds like I'll be covered. However, it does strike me as sort of silly for you to create content and then hide it away behind extra clicks so that less of your audience will see it. It makes sense to take the photos and lo-fis out of the archive since they kind of stick out and might be jarring if you're just clicking through the back catalog, but it seems a shame to never have them on the front page of your site where people are most likely to see them.

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    • This is a good point. I might be able to work it so the photo comics show up on the home page when they're new, but don't go into the regular archive. I will keep this in mind as I go forward.

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  16. I think it's important and valid for you to have a fallback plan for days when you are sick, your house burns down, a meteor strikes Austin, or for whatever other reason you are unable to do a normal comic. I think the worst thing a webcomic can do is fail to update on the agreed-upon schedule. It is so disappointing, and many people read comics as part of their habit or routine, and missing an update breaks the habit. Having Lo-Fijinks and photo comics available to you when a regular full-color comic is outside of the realm of possibility is important both to maintain your readership and your health/sanity.

    Since it is a total certainty that there will be days when you can't update, I think that if you move all of your "backup" update options to a separate area of the site, you will just be required to make up a new backup option. Or just miss an update, which sucks.

    Now, some people would say that the solution is to keep a stable of comics in the can that you can draw upon when you need them, like TV dinners for when you're too busy to cook. If you can do that, awesome! But it's harder than it sounds. Before you make this decision, I think you should spend some time deciding what your backup plan will be, and be realistic about your working methods and your needs.

    If you're gonna insist on an opinion, here's mine: I like the photo comics and I'm happy to have them on the main page. Same goes for Lo-fijinks. I like having everything on one place, and hate websites that don't put the comics on the home page. The new PVP design pisses me off to no end, and I've always hated it about Penny Arcade that I have to click through to see the comic. Extra clicks separating the news posts from the comics? Bah! Humbug!

    About backup plans: Personally, I think it's super cute that you and your daughter can play with the cinteq together. I used to do the same with my mom and her ancient wacom. Would it be totally crazy to suggest that your daughter "illustrate" comics for you when you are too tired to draw yourself? Obviously, this would be mostly rainbows and butterflies and superheroines, but I think it might be really cute, and the usual joke writing would still be there to please people who hate anything that breaks the normal flow. Plus, people would have to be real a-holes to complain about your little child's artwork, and it's easy to ignore a-holes. I've seen some other comics that have used kids as guest illustrators and enjoyed it. Just a thought.

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    • Good points. I will take this into consideration.

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  17. I love the photo comics and the sketches, but I think you're on to something here: When more casual fans come to HijinksEnsue.com they expect to see the HijinksEnsue characters getting up to hijinks. I think moving the photo comics to live on their own is a good move for selfish reasons: I still get to read them. I say that because I think the alternative to not moving them really isn't keeping them in the feed, it is cutting them out entirely and I'd hate to lose them.

    When you cut away all personal feelings, whether you love the photo comics or hate them, good or bad, at the end of the day they do distract from your brand. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of this "I need to change something" movement I think that's at the heart of it: the desire to strengthen your brand. You're doing that by making the characters more individual, and by giving them arcs to expose more of their different personalities… but there's also the management of making sure that you don't issue a bunch of stuff that ISN'T HijinksEnsue.

    I think the masters of branding in webcomics right now are the Penny-Arcade folks. All of their behind-the-scenes stuff is kept in separate archives… every now and then they'll do a short experiment where the comic gets something not Gabe-and-Tycho related but it's always very short even if it is successful (like Lookouts). They never let their side projects distract from the Penny-Arcade brand of those two characters.

    In order to keep things like your photocomics from being distracting from your brand… from being something that isn't your HijinksEnsue characters… I think they HAVE to be moved (or at least have future ones not appear in the traditional comic space). I think this sucks. I think they're awesome. So if you're willing to keep doing them I love that you are considering giving them a new home.

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  18. I strongly dislike the convention comics for all the reasons you listed above and I'm totally on board with them somewhere else. Call me a purist, but I'm all for the three panels comics.

    I think you're on the right track and I admire you for your ability to take criticsm and react to it in your own way.

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  19. Since I, also, use the RSS feed to keep apprised of the updates on this site, it doesn't matter to me how you do it. Whatever would keep things best organized for you and the other visitors to the site is how I think I'm gonna say it.

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  20. UGH this stupid form lost my entire comment that I took 45 minutes to carefully craft for you, so I'm redoing it as a TL;DR version:

    1. lived in Indy, visited GenCon and SW Celebration twice each. loved them b/c of fans and things-to-do.
    2. am not a stuff-buying-congoer. don't collect anything, don't read physical comics. plus I'm broke-ish and prefer the stuff-doing to the stuff-buying.
    3. moved to Plano, visited comicon in richardson, nearly died of boredom. no variety, nothing to do; visited sw days in plano and it was only marginally better (cool panel with clone wars tv cast)
    4. will never pay for those experiences again. would rather go to NTIF.

    As for separating stuff, the comment by "That Guy" who describes himself as the outlier – I'm That Girl. +1 to everything he said. FWIW, I like the Fancy Sketches as much or more than the actual regular comic.

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  21. I like the photo pics from the cons I never go to, it gives a cool insight to the events, the people being human <or slightly human> Plus seeing you with webcomic artists of other strips I like is cool.

    I've seen some of the other webcomic artists throw in random stuff too for con weeks or when they're sick or whatever. keep doing the pics, because you enjoy doing it.

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  22. I suppose it's my fault for not weighing in earlier, I guess I must be the only person who KIND OFs the photo comics. I like them a little more if they have people I recognize in them (mostly Wil Wheaton) and a little meh if they don't. But it's not all-consuming passionate love or hate. (People really get that worked up about them? Really?)

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    • I think what we can learn from this is that any time you post something about us in general, a whole bunch of people will leap on the comment section to contradict you. 😉

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  23. Yes, please move the photo comic. I fall into the camp of people who don't care for them and feel like they are a bunch of inside jokes I'll never understand. Moving them to a separate section I think is the best solution for everyone.

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  24. I like the sketches comics, dislike the photo comics; please consider them as separate categories of things.

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  25. Doctor Zelda needs to be a shirt

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    • And in glorious 8-bit if possible!!!!

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    • I want to go to there.

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    • Agreed!

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  26. I don't think there's anything you post up here that I go, "Ugh, it's one of THOSE things again?!" and turn away in disgust. I adore the photo comics; they remind me of my own convention days (too far away from everything to go anymore but hopefully not for long!) and I have used them as a good stand-alone kicking-off point to demo the comic to friends. Gives them a taste of your humour that doesn't require any kind of background knowledge of the characters. At all. Hell, everyone knows who Wil Wheaton is. 😀

    Having said that, while I actually do get really excited to open the site and see a photo comic up, so long as there is some way to see (easily and obviously, please, beause I can be durrr lol) that there is a new photo comic/con sketch/lo-fi comic/whatever up on the main page when I come to it, then it makes no difference to me how you organize them on the site. I'll read whatever you post wherever you post it, because I deeply appreciate your sense of humour. You're awesome, man! 😀

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  27. I'm in the "Love the photo comics" camp, but as long as they still show up in the RSS feed, I don't care where they show up on the main page. I also love the convention sketches & was stoked to finally get one for myself.

    I'm with you on Dallas Comic-Con. We only go for the toys & artists, since we can't afford to pay for signatures & photo-ops. But the lines & crowds made it a real headache, especially since we were there with kids. We get so excited because it's so close to us, but it's not a good con.

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  28. I say do what you love and love what you do. If you love doing the photo comics, then do the photo comics! (I hope you keep doing the photo comics…!) I am betting that they are a nice way to relax and relive fun memories from the cons you attend, and who cares if other people like them if it's something you enjoy? I personally rarely feel like I'm not "in" on the jokes, and when I do feel that way, I still think they are absolutely hilarious. I think putting them in their own area is a fine idea that keeps everyone happy. I'm an RSS girl so it doesn't really matter to me. :)

    Keep on keepin' on. Listen to the constructive criticism, but don't let the haters get you down. Because there are way more of us that love you and your work. ^_^

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  29. I'd really like a turkey sandwich. Not lunch meat turkey, but freshly carved roasted turkey breast with mayonnaise, beefsteak tomato slices, salt, and pepper on soft white bread.

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  30. I like the photocomics but splitting them and other 'side comics' might make it easier for folks who don't. As I like your site and want it to excel, I say make the change. we can click over when we want. 😀

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  31. No complaints nor suggestions from me, love your work, and if you change anything I'm sure I'll figure it out.

    Let me know if you ever hit an Australian con, other than that, keep on with the bweezness as usual!

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    • "Let me know if you ever hit an Australian con"

      Someone would have to fly me out. Otherwise there is NO WAY i could ever make enough money to spend that kind of money on a flight.

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  32. That's funny – I sorta hated the photo comics at first, but then my brain leapt to their defence when you mentioned how critical people have been. So I guess I've sorta grown to love them now. Who'd have thunk it?

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    • That might be a tumor. You should get that checked out.

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  33. Side note on the photo comics (coming from someone who likes them a lot): I don't think the issue people have with them is that they are exclusionary… but rather that they aren't interested. I know that I never cared about what Gary Larson or Bill Watterson did with their friends, so long as big fat people with tiny heads did something stupid in The Far Side, or Calvin and his stuffed tiger were getting up to adventures every day.

    Webcomics give us a window into the artist's life. I think we're missing out if the artist is willing to open that up a little bit and we don't take it. That's why I like the photocomics… but it's probably fair to say many folks have the same relationship with comics as they always did.

    It is very easy to think of everything you put on HE as a single product: A funny comic, some insightful words, a bit of a blog, funny links, comments… all of it is what you do in part of updating the site. But in truth the comic and your posts are seen by certain people as different products. It is very difficult for a geek like me to understand the mentality since when I like something I dive in as far as I can go. I memorize words to favorite movies, I read the history of my favorite musicians, and I'm interested in what my favorite webcomic artists do when they go on vacation.

    But causal people don't. It's like people who have a favorite band, but have no idea what the name of the lead singer is. Nor do they care. When he winds up in rehab their thought isn't "oh man that's terrible, his life is in ruins" it is "oh man that sucks, no new albums"

    And it's that 'oh man no new albums' that I think is bugging people about the photo comics. Cold as it sounds, they don't care about who the lead singer is for HE.

    That's not meant to be insulting or cold, though I'm sure it comes across that way. You, more than just about any other site, have made HE very personal. Main character and his friends are you and your friends afterall. But it's a simple reality of the casual fan. There's nothing you can do or even should do to make those people interested in who you are. It's just recognizing that is how they see the site: You may be the leader of their favorite band, but they aren't about to watch Behind The Music.

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    • "they don't care about who the lead singer is for HE. "

      BUT IT'S ME! I AM THE LEAD SINGER! I AM THE BAND! [overdoses, falls off a roof into traffic]

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        • But if we're lucky and he didn't kill himself, there'll be a great reunion comic series in a few years. 😎

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  34. I might be echoing what Dave said above a bit, but there are (at least) 2 kinds of people viewing your comic. Those that want comics, and those who want comics and a connection to you. I love the photo comics for the very reason that people seem to hate them – the injokes etc. It gives an insight into your life (that seemed less creepy when I was thinking it… but isn't that the whole point of social stuff nowadays?) and makes everything much more personable. I love that shit.

    Sketches – I can take them or leave them.

    Regardless of what you chose to do, it makes no difference to me. I get all my links to your comics off Twitter and check them all out. You link it, I clicks it.

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    • "those who want comics and a connection to you. "

      I guess I just wish that was everyone. Obviously I have no control over this.

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  35. I really enjoy the lo-fi jinks as it nicely breaks up the main comics and I'm happy to see them as part of the main feed (although I'd understand if you decided to split them off into their own area); as for the photo comics, I think the issue for me is that there's too many of them. I don't mind one or two comics from a particularly good event, but doing it for almost every con is overkill.

    And I have to admit I was painfully bored by the JoCo cruise comics; that really should have been put up online elsewhere, possibly on your Tumblr.

    That said, I still really enjoy your work and am excited to read your plans for the future, I will certainly continue to visit your site. Keep it up!

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    • I actually particularly liked the JoCo cruise photo comics in comparison with some of the other photo comics, but maybe that's because I've been on some party cruises myself and could relate to some extent. (Although I'm pretty sure I've never been on a cruise with such an awesome collection of passengers as were on Joco.) Enjoyed the JoCo vids, too. Especially the "Mr. Roboto" send-up. That was both hilarious and impressive.

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  36. I love the photo comics, but like booze only in moderation. Although judging from most of the photo comics I don't think that idiom applies to your group of friends… But I digress, keep the photo comics coming, but maybe only one at a time, dotted here and there to keep things exciting.

    The ongoing narrative is an interesting concept, although personally I'd say a little unnecessary, but it's early days on that one so I'll reserve judgement for now.

    Other than that, everything's peaches. I've been reading HE for an age now and I've always loved it, got a recurring donation set up and I check the page daily. I put 3 years into trying to do what you do and make a living off internet based comedy entertainment and I failed miserably, so I respect the shit out of you for making it work. Keep 'em coming.

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  37. Personally, I would prefer if the sketch comics and “Lo-Fi” comics were kept as part of the main page. Maybe put them on the main page somewhere below the regular comic, near where you have the shirt ads. But even if you put them on a separate page, so long as their separate page is easily visible, that would be fine.

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  38. honestly joel i think that what you're doin with the sight is fine, and more importantly it's YOUR SITE, do what you want, in the words of 50 cent and kanye (paraphrasing 50 cent) if they hate, let em hate, and watch the money pile up

    now that said i loved this comic
    both the han-mal intergalactic traffic jam (although let's face facts space is big, just go around eachother)
    and the ipad fleshlight singularity one, in fact i always love these little i'm bored here's doodles, comics

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  39. Posting for the first time for one reason only; to let you know that yes indeed I DID kind-of like the photo comics (damn it), which were almost always mildly amusing and sometimes genuinely funny to me.

    If asked though, I'd say that separating them from the main comic archive is probably a good idea! They did seem somewhat out of place when they cropped up. I'm a firm believer in setting strict boundaries for the space your project inhibits, be it comic, short story, video series or what have you. Doing whatever you feel is fun or funny under one label will confuse the people who liked what you used to do, whereas filing them into different categories might only mildly inconvenience some of your biggest fans. Cheers, and good luck!

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  40. apparently the people who don't like the photo comics hate fun! I love them, and I actively wonder about the process (were pictures taken with dialogue in mind, or was dialogue created while browsing the pics). I could understand their complaints if there was a running plot with this comic, but as it is kind of a geek pop culture grab bag (in the best way) I don't think it takes away at all.

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    • If the photos are just random candid shots, the dialog is made up on the spot as I lay out the comics. If the pics are obviously staged in a sequence then I am usually planning ahead.

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  41. I like the convention sketches and the Lo-Finks and would prefer them to stay on the main page – but if you have to move them…just make it an easy to find link.
    Rarely did I find the photo comics funny, and would prefer them elsewhere.

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  42. I want to thank for being a gracious host and asking our opinion about our likes and dislikes. I appreciate everything you do and the work you put into it all. I am least fond of the photos with dialogues, but that is just my own preference. I love the comics from the cons. Whatever way you wish to organize them is fine with me. Thanks for caring about us :)

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  43. I'm not really in the hating or loving camp re: the photo comics. I enjoy them (sometimes I really love them), but because they're so long I generally end up skipping them. I think moving them elsewhere, while keeping them in the feed, is a good middle ground (selfishly, because this would help me to find them easily when I do have time to read something longer).

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  44. I prefer your 3-panel jokes, I think your best/funniest stuff has been in those. also agreed with the whole expectations-setting of the up, and breaking of when something bizarre (i.e., photocomic) shows up.

    also also, *pithy* 3 panel is seriously different from the text-filledness common to both the photocomics and last week's experiment. just looking at all that text exhausts me! No actual suggestion but wouldn't it be nice if you could establish continuity/character/whatnot without quite as much dialog?

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    • Just as an experiment, go back and compare the amount of dialog in last week's comics to any previous week of "pithy" 3 panel HE comics. It's basically the same. I always use a lot of words.

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  45. I'm going to chime in with the "keep Lo-Fi and Con-sketches" in the main archive and the photo comics in a separate spot. I can understand that not everyone likes watching home movies, not even their best friends'. Though I may not have caught every comment on the photocomics, I did dig through to try to make sure this wasn't brought up before and I hope that this isn't covering old ground: I think the photocomics do you a bit of a disservice by misrepresenting what a con actually means to "the experiment".

    Before reading through these threads and your responses, the impression I got from reading just your blogs and comics (through Google Reader) was that by and large going to cons was a big treat for you – especially some of the bigger ones. There was a lot of "thank you for getting me to such-and-such con" I had a great time – see? Now, from your point of view, I have to imagine you're thanking your readers for supporting your livelihood by giving you a chance to make a decent amount of money in a big lump as opposed to the daily drizzle. That totally makes sense. BUT, without the context that may or may not have been present in the comment section, what came across to me was more "hey, thanks for bankrolling my fun weekend" because a) I have no idea what it is like to be a vendor at a con and b) from the photocomics that was what seemed to be happening.

    At this point, I'm going to step out on a limb and speak more personally. I will do my best to avoid any oversharing. I would love to have the cajones and commitment to my own creative talents to do the kind of thing you do for a living. I spend some portion of every day in my cube at work staring over the precipice daring myself to jump, but I just can't do it. I suffer from the "terrible tragedy" of working for a good company, making decent money with good benefits, and having a family to support. So instead of taking the leap, I sit and let my feet dangle over the side during my lunch break and then go back to work.

    So when you post a photocomic of a con, it is bittersweet. On the one hand, I think they are usually hilarious. The JoCo Cruise series was so good, my family and I have decided to go next year. I also like seeing other artists that I follow and getting to know their faces and personalities more. You're the only one I know who goes this in depth with their travelogues, which is good because I'd get tired of it if everyone did it. On the other hand, I can't help but think, "That should be me. I should be in those photos with those other crazed baboons because they seem more like me than anyone I see in my real life."

    So I understand why people have responded so passionately to the photocomics. I think that it's possible I'm not the only person who gets a pang of "I should be making these, not reading these" when they pop up. So those inside jokes get tinged with bitterness and what was meant as "Here's a peek at a side of people you like that you probably wouldn't get to see" get translated as "Haha, look at what I get to do and you don't". Perhaps taking advantage of moving the photocomics to a different section to clarify how cons work for you financially and socially could help you avoid giving people the impression that you're suddenly "living the good life" as a dick jokester extraordinaire, which I fear may have cost you some readers.

    TL;DR – I know that from your point of view, what you do is incredibly hard work full of doubt and fear and stress (though obviously not only that). There are people who are jealous of your lifestyle in spite of that, which might be something worth considering as you plan the future of your photocomics.

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    • ""hey, thanks for bankrolling my fun weekend"" couldnt be further from the truth. Travel and conventions are basically the hardest, most exhausting work I do. Sure, I enjoy many aspects of convention life, but you'd have to in order to keep putting up with the grueling, life-draining parts. Why show those aspects in the comics? That's not fun for anyone. I might be showing the "all fun and games" side of it, but that's only a few hours out of the entire weekend. Being "on" for 8-10 hours at a time 3-5 days in a row is emotionally draining. On top of that, I can't sleep when Im away from home, so I typically get 3ish hours a night. On top of that I absolutely abhor air travel. I show you guys the fun, because the rest of it sucks the life out of me. I've cut back on cons tremendously and Im still doing on average at least 1 a month just because I need the money. It's a tough game. Anyone that tells you different is far more famous than I.

      And go do your thing. Save at least a years worth of safety net money (2 if you can) and do your thing. You are going to die one of these days, so at least make use of the time you have while you have it.

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      • Thanks for that last bit. It means a lot.

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      • "You are going to die one of these days," yes yes, so it is written …. until such time as I get my hands on the copy editor and I make my own rewrite >_>

        It's not so much dangling your feet off the tower but more like the dock at a friends cottage as a kid.
        Me? I just recently jumped off the dock with both eyes wide open … it stings ….. also, I just realized I am not that good at swimming …. *panic ensues*

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  46. People are just disappointed that the photo comics don't have caption contests and therefore feel excluded from your fun.

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    • That's a pretty big leap. I don't think anyone has ever voiced that desire before.

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  47. Hey Joel. Just wanted to post a quick note of support for all your work – been reading from early on and have always enjoyed it. Unless you make the big time and fly over to Scotland, I'll probably never meet you at a con, but will keep buying the books and wishing you well!

    (On a slight aside, is there any chance of adding an option to buy a years subscription at one go? I realise that probably screws with _your_ budgeting, but it makes it easier for mine 😉 )

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    • "any chance of adding an option to buy a years subscription at one go"

      Yes. I have planned this for a while.

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  48. I've been loving your comic for a pretty long time (Hell, I even signed up for Twitter purely to get tweets about when it updates), so I really didn't want to criticise it. I also appreciate even the most well meaning comments can leave you feeling bummed.

    But yeah, I did feel that the photo comics take something away from the comic. I don't object to them, but to me they kill the separation between crazy comic Joel and co. and real Joel and co. It's almost like an uncomfortable breaking of the barriers, if that makes sense. They're like pictoral blog entries?
    I'll also admit that some of the time I don't really "get" the photo comics, but I appreciate that if I turn up tomorrow there will be something I find funny! It's like a friend of mine said about Marx brothers films.. You don't have to like every single joke, because five minutes later you'll have another.. and another. You've consistently entertained me for years now, and I'm grateful.

    So far as separation goes, I don't want to miss content because it's filed somewhere else. So for dumbasses like me, could you please make sure you have a big ol' reminder of the Lo-fi somewhere obvious like the blog post?
    I am the sort of person who develops "side-bar blindness" on sites I check regularly, especially if they also have ads. Down here at the bottom of the comment section, I'm even not sure what your sidebar has on it.

    Either way, being puzzled by the photo comics hasn't stopped me from returning to your site (and if people are passionate enough to complain, I hope they're in for the long run). :) Big love to you from the UK, sir.

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  49. Hey Joel,

    First of all, you do great work, and I'm a big fan even of the photo comics. I can see, however, if you don't follow @wilw, @jephjacques, @jonathancoulton, et al. how they could feel excluded sometimes.

    That being said, your convention sketches are almost never exclusive. Its just a series of punchlines, and I think any fan of what you do on a regular basis would see the humor in… well what you do on a regular basis. I think you should keep those in with the regular comics, but I can understand moving the photo comics out.

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  50. I got your update on the Experiment and came back after not looking at comics in a while (it wasn't you, I let my entire comics RSS folder get out of hand, so I hadn't looked at a single one in six months, visiting here only to buy a Unicorn Poop T-shirt). So the first thing I see when I come back is a topical week-long story arc, followed by a one-shot I didn't get (because we don't get HBO, but you can't have everything) and a hilarious set of con sketches. What's not to love? I didn't know you were ever gone, but welcome back. I think you're doing it right.

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  51. I'll admit: I actually took a break from reading HE for a few months, and the major barrier to me coming back was the photo comics. Knowing that I'd have to work my way through them made the backlog of unread comics in the archive more intimidating. For me, it's not that I don't like them so much as that they take so long to read.

    Coincidentally, I finally read through the comics I'd missed and started reading new updates again right about the same time you started changing things up.

    Anyway, I'm in support of the photo comics not being in the main comics archive.

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  52. It strikes me that if you feel the need to move them off of the main page to placate the mob, feel free to do so. Perhaps just drop a friendly link in your newspost after the comic to show those interested where to find such content.

    Although you may not wish to hear it, I FRAKKIN' LOVE that Dr. Who sketch. I'm jealous of whomever has received such ambrosia.

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  53. Ok, I've leapt to the defense of the photo comics before, and will probably do it again. I realize that part of my reaction is based off being bothered by the nature of the complaints against them, and the feeling that those people are ruining you the creators enjoyment of making that content, and frankly it pisses me off when people make content creators feel bad about what they are choosing to put their effort into. So I probably can be a bit over enthusiastic in defense of these things, so I'll try to put that aside and just make a few points.

    First off, you have to keep in mind the natures of these "2 camps". You seem to be trying to give both sides equal credit for their opinions on photo-comics, which is fair and very open minded of you, but not necessarily accurate. I feel very confident that the MAJORITY of your actual fans like them or at least don't mind them. Just because both sides seem "equally vocal" doesn't mean they are equal in numbers. Remember that complaining voices are almost always twice as loud as supportive ones.
    To me anyone who would go out of their way to actively complain about something like that is giving a pretty good indication that they are the petty malcontent, over entitled and demanding type of person. Because they are bitterly complaining about FREE CONTENT that they are in NO WAY obligated to read! Seriously anyone who would stop reading a source of FREE ENTERTAINMENT just because of a handful of photo-comics a few times a year, is nothing short of an idiot. That's not my biased in favor of photocomics speaking, that's just simple reasoning. If the choice is between No update or an Alternate format comic you don't like, They are saying they'd rather choose the No update at all option, and will actually complain if confronted with the unwanted content, rather then ignore it? That's not the sort of person anyone should be going out of the way to appease.
    Sorry, I know I'm ranting a bit here, and probably no one is reading all of this, but I just can't help but be frustrated by people whining about FREE CONTENT that isn't exactly how they want it at all times, and expecting changes be made to please them, rather then just ignoring the unwanted EXTRA FREE CONTENT.

    I will stop myself from even going into why I DO love the photo-comics. And only point out that, different format or not, extra "inside jokes" or not, it's still the SAME humor and style of writing there as you'll find in the normal comics, so I think most people actually opposed to the photo-comics are letting their automatic dislike of the format blind them to the full contents.
    (if a page has 10 jokes/funny lines in it, and 4 are inside jokes over your head, then just shut up and laugh at the other 6!)

    If anyone is still reading this far, I'll add my voice to the others say that breaking up a site in to extra sections rarely ends up working to well. It just creates more clicking, and easier to miss parts of the content, and you end up with several smaller sections which each get much less notice instead of one main section with it all.
    I'm in favor of ALL new content going to the front page when it's uploaded, but then giving them separate "archives' for back browsing.
    Maybe make a separate special RSS feed that only lists full comic updates (for those tho just CAN'T stand to see any lesser content).
    Or create a more strict official update schedule for primary comic updates, and limit sketch/photo/etc comics to being posted on "off days" only. To make it extra clear they are "bonus content" and not us poor viewers being "robbed of a real update".

    But for my part, even if I didn't specifically LIKE sketch/photo/lo-fi comics, I would STILL always rather get an alt-format update then no update at all. And firmly feel that anyone who would say otherwise is being WAY over entitled to their FREE internet funnies.

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  54. Frankly, I'll support you whatever you do. You've earned it by being consistently funny and genuine, and by providing 100% free content that's always worth reading no matter the format. Make changes for yourself, sir, and ignore the asses who bring you down.

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  55. I don't mind the convention sketches as an occasional break. They could be left in the normal page, especially since they often feature the main characters just in unusual spots.

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  56. I'm an afficionado (afficionada?) of your con photo comics, and I enjoy Lo-Fijinks as well. Basically, I'm happy when you post anything. I'm here for your brand of humour, and that comes through in everything you create. I'm not fussy about format or style, as long as the story (of the individual comic) is there. :)

    (Btw, I tried to sign up for a monthly donation, but PayPal won't let me because I don't have a credit card. How sucky is that!?)

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  57. Personally I'm not generally a huge fan of the photo-comics (only because I rarely get everything they're about), but I always really liked that you did them (if that makes sense). It DID invite us all in, which was undeniably cool, and just generally showcased you having a good time which is always nice to see, since we're all on your team. I find it really strange that people would be such dicks about them. On behalf of your readership: Sorry! I'm just happy to be able to witness your genius in whatever form it manifests. Do what you please with the site, I'll come back Monday through Friday just the same.

    And thanks for all the laughs!

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  58. I love the photo comics, in part because I don't really go to cons and it's interesting to see stuff from there, and also because I read most of the comics of the other artists that appear in the photo comics so it's fun to see you guys all hanging out together. I'm afraid if they aren't in the main archive I may miss them.

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  59. Side Note: I would very much like to purchase the Doctor Who/Zelda sketch above. Please make that an option for me! Thanks

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  60. My two cents: Just put the photo-comics in the tumblr blog, and then only use the comic-con sketches that aren't in-jokes. The timelord one above is a great example of one that everyone can get. The in-joke ones can also go on the blog. It's nice to have filler when you're busy traveling to stay afloat but can be derailing when nothing makes sense.

    Much love for all you do!

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  61. I realize I’m comingctobthis argument over a year late, but unjust discovered your comic last week. Long story short: I got here as fast as I could.

    Now, I’m sorry some of your fans don’t like the photo comics and don’t like hunting down explanations for the in-jokes, but I think the nay-Sayers are missing an important point. The entire concept for HE is a big collection of SF and comic geek in-jokes. Most of the strips are imagined and hyperbolic responses of your group of friends to the latest happenings in the world of SF, comics, and computers. In other words, the photo comics might not involve as much drawing, but they are most certainly NOT off-topic. If anything, they’re just photograph-based comics of what happened in and around various SF/comic cons. They’re the same as comics drawn to depict the cons–but we get to see what some of the characters look like IRL.

    So, yeah, I think the photo comics–as the kids say–rock. I hope you keep churning them out.

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