Friday, April 15, 2016

SHENANIGANS

For your listening and dancing pleasure:  a conversation with Adam Chapman of the Comics Shenanigans podcast.  You can listen to it right here.  Enjoy!

65 comments:

  1. Hwy! Weird War Tales was awesome. Why do you have to badmouth that book? There was an issue where on the covers Indian ghosts attacked a space station. I can't even.. I can't even...

    I'm out Dematteis I'm, I'M OUT!


    Jack

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    1. WEIRD WAR and all those anthology books are an important part of my professional life, Jack. My point was that I had no idea they existed...and, as I recall, even DC wasn't sure who, exactly, was reading them.

      But you can't beat Indian ghosts attacking a space station, can you?

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    2. Not ot mention how many of those comics showed Nazis getting what they deserve.

      They help start your career. They show Nazis getting punished. And then you mock people like me who old onto them and buy back issues. Wow.

      You say you didn't mean it that way. I will cautiously believe you. But something tells me that guilt is building up in you.

      If it makes you feel any better, for my local comic shop's website I wrote an essay about Ann Nocenti (your old rival for who is the biggest hippie in the Marvel offices award back in the 80s)as the first part in a series focusing on women in comics. So, at least some one is talking UP comics.

      I think Marvel and DC should bring back anthologies, even if they are at a loss. It is a good way to find or at least groom new talent. In the end it may be a bigger gain for the company in the long term.


      Jack

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    3. As I think you know, I love anthologies, so I'm sold.

      Can you provide a link to your Ann Nocenti essay? I'd love to read it.

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    4. I will. I just hop you'll leave a comment on the bottom of the page so we can have a nice little little role reversal. Even feel free to ask me some inane question that has nothing to do with anything, just like I do here.

      http://gobacktothepast.com/the-feminine-touch-a-look-at-female-comic-book-creators-part-1-ann-nocenti/

      Scott Lovejoy has plans to right about Karen Berger for part III.

      Hope you enjoy, and that I did Ms. Nocenti justice.

      Jack

      PS. The hippie contest was only for the 80s, I think it is pretty obvious Steve Gerber was #1 hippie overall.

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    5. Very nice piece, Jack. Really enjoyed it!

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    6. Well Dematteis, I'm glad you enjoyed it... albeit not enough, to leave a comment on the bottom.

      I was really looking forward to seeing what you go through. It isn't too late you know Dematteis, and I'm sure they'd get a kick out of it.

      I take it that your enjoyment means it was a good take on Ms. Nocenti? Yes? No? I was worried about that.

      Feel free to tweet, or twunk, or what ever it is the kids do across the internet. What I shilled for the shop, now I shill for myself. IS that so wrong? It is... oh God, the guilt.

      Jack

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    7. Yes, it was an excellent take on Ms. Nocenti! It really gives her her due.

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    8. Now that is a relief. She really is one of the unsung masters of the character. Of course she has had plenty of other great stories, but I'll always think Daredevil with her first.

      The run was really this perfect example of talent, not being sure what to don after Miller, and being in the right place at the right time.

      I honestly think if everything progressed as normal, but with Miller being considered really good, but not a superstar she would be mentioned far more often.

      Jack

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    9. As I've said before, the thing I really admire about Ann is that she came into the business with her own voice, right out of the box. She was Ann Nocenti from the very first story. And then she got even better as she went along!

      And she's a helluva nice person, too.

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    10. Oh no, there is no mistaking Ann Noceni's work for anyonelse's. A true original, and as I said, only in comics could that voice thrive like it did. Point comics... eat it movies.

      And nobody wrote dichotomy like her

      I'll have to take your word on the second part of it. I'm not disagreeing, I've just never met her. If I ever do though, you better believe I'm gonna try to get a writing sample.

      By the by, who won that hippie contest anyway?

      Jack

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    11. That's embarassing, it should be "write about Karen Berger." color me embarassed.

      Wavy Gravy? words fail me, I don't recall that Marvel employee.

      take care,
      Jack

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  2. I love Weird War Tales! I must tell you that I was flipping through the fifty cent bin at my local comic store this weekend and came across a Marvel Fanfare with Man-Thing on the cover. I grabbed that up immediately and was surprised when the story was one I had not read before. Rock N Soul by a certain J.M. DeMatteis. Great story, sir!

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    1. I think I'd forgotten that story existed till you just mentioned it, Douglas!
      If memory serves, it was an inventory story I wrote very early in my time at Marvel that eventually ended up in FANFARE. Now I'm going to have to dig it out and give it a read!

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    2. I thought it was great. Very Gerber-esque while having a distinct voice of its own. The artwork was also magnificent.

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    3. Young Me writing a MAN-THING story? How could it NOT be influenced by the Great Gerber? : )

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  3. Right? Gerber influenced so many people. I think he did Vertigo stories before there was a Vertigo.

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    1. Gerber was definitely Vertigo before vertigo. I think his influence can be seen all over Sandman and Hellblazer.

      Of course the 80s had its fareshare of pre-Vertigo Vertigo tales. Swamp Thing, Jim Starlin's epics, and the Englehart run on Dr. Strange.

      And of course the first back in the 60s... Silver Surfer. Okay, that one may not seem as Vertigo like now, especially compared to Gerber, but at the time? That is what opened all those door.

      Jack

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    2. I agree. It's hard to see now but, at the time, the Lee-Buscema SILVER SURFER run (especially the first six issues) was unlike anything ever done in comics.

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    3. I think the bigger problem is just that it gets lost in the era. I remember reading those Lee stories for the first time well after their first printing and still being blown away.

      I think it just becomes awash in both the while of the Marvel Silver Age, and the 60s in general. I mean, who wasn't making poignant remarks on humanity in 1969?

      Le has returned to the character many times, stories like Silver Surfer: Parable and Judgement day cam in far closer, if not during the era of Vertigo. They didn't seem that far removed and weren't different from what he did in the 60s. The 1980 story from EPIC ILLUSTRATED could easily, EASILY be a Sandman or Vertigo Swamp Thing story.

      I don't people want to look at some things from the past as anything but cute. They want to think that they are so far beyond it, that hey outgrew it.

      Jack

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    4. The Surfer story Stan did with Moebius (one of my all-time favorite artists) is a real highlight for me. Stan's writing on "Parable" was more understated than usual and the whole story really clicked.

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    5. Agreed. I think it shows that Stan did have chops a a writer, not just a comic writer. He just understood the idea of right time and right place. That is also something that people across all mediums sometimes lack.

      Like I said, that could easily be a Vertigo book. It really showed the potential for the EPIC line. Its a shame it never got a chance to take advantage. Can you imagine how great of stories could have come about in a world where Vertigo and Epic could compete, draw influence, and push forward.

      Interesting side note: Parable was a sort of unofficial sequel to the Silver Surfer graphic novel of the 70s. according to the Marvel wikia they take place in the same universe.

      In recent years it has started to get more traction as a classic.

      Jack

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    6. Loved the 70's gn Stan and Jack did. A memorable, stand-alone classic.

      Having been part of the early days of Epic (MOONSHADOW was very much a Vertigo comic before Vertigo), I would have loved to have seen the line continue as it was then. The idea of Marvel and DC both having lines of books to "compete, draw influence and push forward" is a wonderful one.

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    7. Hey, in some universe it happened. Now we just have to figure out how to steal there comics.

      I've heard theories about what happened, including that it eventually devolved into vanity projects.

      I don't really know what happened, and it doesn't really matter. In the end it just may have been ahead of its time.

      We'll never know what could have been, but a man can dream, a man can dream...


      Jack

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    8. Dammit. That should be "the 70s had its fair share of pre-Vertigo Vertigo" and "how to steal THEIR comics."

      Very embarrassing. Not a great typing day for me.

      Jack

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    9. No worries. It was all pretty clear in context.

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  4. While I don't believe that Marvel will ever return to anything like EPIC again, DC has announced a new imprint, Young Animals, headed by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way. I saw Shade The Changing Man and Doom Patrol mentioned as well as some original series as well. His Umbrella Academy was pretty good so I would be interested to see how this develops. I've heard of this write with the initials JM that would be a great fit for something like this.

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    1. What's interesting is that both SHADE and DOOM PATROL had incarnations as Vertigo books, but now they're part of this new line. I suspect Vertigo is focusing on originals, while Young Animals will provide Vertigo-esque interpretations of established DC properties.

      No one has approached me about writing for the line, but I'd certainly be interested.

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  5. I really liked the Shade Vertigo book. Peter Milligan if I'm not mistaken.

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    1. Milligan also wrote the final run on Hellblazer. Sad, but a good was to go out. I mean in terms of quality of run. The last story was a bit... lets say up to debate. Though I do think whatever writer had it was in a no win situation.

      I had heard those new books were going to be part of Vertigo.

      No go figure out how to steal that other reality's comics Dematteis.

      Jack

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    2. I've spent the past several days moving through a variety of parallel universes, Jack. I'm working on it!

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    3. Great article, Jack. I didn't read DAREDEVIL religiously, but I remember enjoying the Nocenti issues I picked up at the time. I think you're right that following up on Miller eclipsed her accomplishments on the book a bit, which is unfortunate.

      She followed Miller's lead but made the book her own, putting Matt's social conscience to work in a way that no one else has before or since. I also like that she dealt with the shared universe more than Miller did, so you got to see how street level characters reacted to events like The Fall of the Mutants.

      And I think Typhoid Mary is such a rich addition to the Marvel universe, every bit as much as Elektra. Hopefully we'll see her pop up on Netflix's Daredevil series at some point.

      So, inspired by your post, I'm reading through her entire DD run on Marvel Unlimited.

      I also think her Spider-Man crossover "The Mad Dog Ward" is criminally underrated, mostly because of superficial similarities with KLH (Spider-Man 'loses' a battle, is at an enemy's mercy, and must find his way back to his newlywed life with Mary Jane).

      In a lot of ways, MAD DOG WARD is the best/worst followup to KLH.

      Thematically, it works really well, given that they both deal with mental illness. KLH is more focused, more personal, dealing with it from the afflicted individual's perspective, while MDW takes the point-of-view of the mental illness community.

      Tonally, it's probably a bit of a problem as a follow-up to KLH, because you really need a bit of a breather after that kind of intensity. Like a Frog-Man story.

      In terms of execution, KLH is one of those rare, flawless stories where everything just clicks on a magical level that even the creators can never quite explain. So there aren't a lot of stories that can walk away from a direct comparison to KLH looking none the worse for wear.

      But I digress! Seriously, thanks for writing that article, Jack. I'm really enjoying reading and re-reading through Nocenti's DD run. She is a brilliant author.

      BTW, I haven't gotten around to it yet, but the amnesia boxer story you mention sounds like it's inspired by DAREDEVIL #162, "Requiem for a Pug!" It's a fill-in issue that falls in the middle of the McKenzie/Miller run, written by Michael Fleisher and illustrated by Steve Ditko.

      --David

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    4. What is the KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT people keep talking about?

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    5. Forget the creators not being able to explain KLH, they don't even remember it! :)

      --David

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  6. KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT is some overrated Spider-Man story by a hack comic book writer. :)

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    1. Hey, it could have been worse. He could have had Kraven take Spidey out with one punch! :)

      --David

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    2. Saving that for the JLI-SPIDEY crossover!

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    3. You know that has to happen now, right? You can't just throw that out there and leave us hanging.

      I mean, you wouldn't! (Would you?)

      --David

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    4. I have no control over it. Those decisions are made by other people. I could of course do a creator-owned series called THE FAIRNESS GUILD MEETS BUG-BOY.

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    5. Logically, I know that, but the heart wants what it wants...

      I believe someone asked Axel Alonso about Marvel/DC crossovers a while back, and he basically said they just aren't profitable enough to justify their existence right now.

      That said, IDW and DC recently had a BATMAN/TMNT crossover, so you never know...

      At any rate, there's always the possibility of a JLI/GHOSTBUSTERS!

      --David

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    6. "Beetle—don't cross the streams!"

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    7. "Ray, when someone asks if you're Batman, you say yes!"

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    8. David- You and Dematteis do know there is a comments section on the bottom of the page, right? Irs fine though whatever.

      I do appreciate the kind words though. The fact is that after I posted the link I noticed that the last two paragraphs had been changed by Scott. An editorial is the absolute worst place to do that. He and I are going have a little chat about that when I pick up my comics today.

      Originally I had mentioned, but been more ambiguous about the boy's club idea. I have no idea, I have only heard that most of the Marvel staff was supportive. Of course after the fact even your biggest detractor will say they always had your back.

      The subtraction that rally bugged me was a condemnation I had for people that ignore her (and other female creators) for a political point about needing more female creators.

      Its still MOSTLY mine, so in the end I'm fine, even if he did make it weaker.

      Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.

      As for the Mad Dog Ward... yes. It is a greatly underrated story. So is the story by Nocenti where Typhoid in her Mary Walker identity befriends Mary Jane.

      Personally, while I do consider each story great and individual, I also think of it as part of a larger Spider-man saga. The Amazing issues where Peter and MJ confront her past and she says she'll marry him, the annuals where they are married and go on the honeymoon, Kraven's last hunt which solidifies the marriage, and Mad Dog Ward. They all flow well together after a fashion.

      While I like the Elektra saga as a story more, I think that Typhoid Mary is far and away the more interesting character.

      If you ever get a chance read the TYPHOID mini-series from the 90s. It was one of those mature content minis Marvel put out in the 90s to sort of compete with Vertigo. It has Mary as a private eye. Nocenti did a good job of having the content and subject matter be... dare I say it... adult. And not through just excessive sex and violence.

      As for Alonso's statement, marvel isn't in a position to charge $5.00 for an issue #1 or keep books people don't want to read out, but that doesn't seem to slow them down. So there is still hope.

      Again, thank you for the kind words, both David and Dematteis. It is indeed appreciated. And now the store can say the segment is Dematteis (and David approved) can, but shouldn't. It's like having a money paw.


      Jack

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  7. Now all I want is The Fairness Guild Meets Bug-Boy. I would read every issue. Just saying the title makes me laugh.

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    1. You never know. It might happen one day—!

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  8. Finished the podcast yesterday. Good stuff. There was one person who had a lot of questions. Also, I kept hearing a bell chime from time to time. Any idea what that was? And, as always, I thought it could have gone longer.

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    1. The chime was my mail program, which I should have turned off. Every once in a while an email would come in and it would ping! I think I turned it off eventually.

      Glad you enjoyed the talk!

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  9. I'm sad to learn of Shelly Bond's position being eliminated at Vertigo. She's been there for a very long time. Personally, I think this may be a huge misstep on the part of DC Comics.

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    1. As I said on Twitter the other day, Shelly is one of the very best editors (and nicest people) I've ever worked with. A HUGE loss for DC/Vertigo letting her go, especially on top of Karen Berger's departure a few years ago.

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    2. The whole Vertigo situation seems complicated.

      The fact is (and correct me if I'm wrong, Dematteis) Vertigo in many ways WAS Karen Berger. Without her vertigo has stumbled.

      It didn't help hat along the same time Berger left Hellblazer ended (it may have even been the same month).

      The company has struggled to find new footing, and to little avail.

      What's more Vertigo was never a big money maker. In fact, I've heard that Sandman and Hellblazer wee the only real moneymakers and the rest couldn't support the company. Even Hellblazer had issues with that. In short, the company only got to exist because it had Superman and Batman as sugar daddies. Which is fine, a lot of good has come from that model.

      The problem is DC has lost half its readership since the New 52. With the artsy prestige line looking less and less like that, and still following the same economic idea, something has to change.

      Changes for Vertigo were inevitable. I'm not saying that was the right choice, and it probably wasn't, but something DID have to change.

      One one hand I do like the idea that DC is finally looking to fix the downward spiral it has been in in the past few years. On the other, some decisions seem ambiguous in the face of success to say the least.

      Only time can tell if this will be a good idea. I do think the idea behind it is for the best.

      Jack

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    3. I can't speak to Vertigo's profitability because I don't know. Was Karen Berger Vertigo? In many ways, absolutely. It wouldn't exist without her and her vision and POV are what shaped the vision and POV of the line.

      That said, Shelly Roeberg has been there since the early 90's, starting out as Karen's assistant, essentially learning at her feet, absorbing Karen's wisdom and then adding her own formidable skills to the mix. I worked with Shelly on a number of projects and, if there was anyone other than Karen that embodied the Vertigo sensibility, it was Shellly: a great editor and, equally important, a wonderful person.

      What's in the future for Vertigo I can't even guess, but Shelly was incredibly valuable to DC and her leaving is a great loss for the company.

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    4. Whoa, who, whoa. As you may recall, I said I was against he leaving, I was only in favor of DC acknowledging the bad ideas they made, and trying to fix them.

      Lets not paint me as pro in this whole issue.

      The fact is that if they are getting rid of her opposed to shuffling her somewhere else it is an even dumber idea than you said.

      You mentioned her being a great editor, but that isn't the real value she has right now. When things get rough for a company or industry it tends to retreat in and consult those who were there longer. That kind of wealth of knowledge, so long as they weren't the ones who caused the mess, is invaluable. They know what DIDN'T work in the past, and what did.

      Editors are especially important for that goal in publishing. The fact is that JL3K probably got the green light for that reason, they were hoping to correct course. Its also why Starlin was put on Authority, and Len Wein on a Swamp Thing mini series. They want the past, they just aren't going to the nerve of the past, namely editors.

      Just because I can see the good intention, doesn't mean I can't see how the mortar could wind up in damnation's trail.

      What's more, I thought Doom Patrol and the ilk was supposed to be part of Vertigo. It was here I found out differently. The fact is that Vertigo may being phased out entirely. Which would also be a mistake.

      Jack

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    5. I wasn't painting you as anything, Jack. I was just singing Shelly's praises, not relating it to what you said.

      I agree, someone like Shelly, who's been doing her job so superbly for nearly twenty-five years, is an incredibly valuable asset. That said, I've learned, as a freelancer, that trying to make sense of these kinds of decisions is maddening and often fruitless. All we can do is our very best work, the rest is in the lap of the gods. Shelly is so talented, and so good with people, that I'm sure she'll find another venue where she'll be able to shine.

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    6. There have been times at work where the only thing that comforts me is the fact that as a freelancer I can leave whenever I want. So... yeah, I get the whole not trying to understand decisions.

      And finally, don't lie Deamtteis, you were trying to paint me as at least a Picasso, possibly a Dali. Why never a Hopper?

      Jack

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    7. I always say that the most important part of the word freelancer is the word "free." As you say, we always have the ability to walk away AND to start a new project.

      Hopper? Now I have an image of you, all green, hopping around from lily pad to lily pad.

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    8. No, the most important part is "lance." Makes people think twice about mugging you.

      I know it was a joke, but the better hopper joke would have been that you see me in a theater removed from the people, or in a diner that is nearly abandoned in the middle of the night, or at a gas station in the middle of nowhere.

      Jack

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  10. I am concerned that Gerard Way mentioned that Shelly was a huge part of the new Young Animal Imprint that DC will be releasing and whether it would impact the release of those books. I was kind of looking forward to his take on Doom Patrol. The internet has taken the entire thing to ask for Eddie Berganza's head on a platter again. Like that would ever happen. If it was going to it would have already. I do agree that Shelly will be a fine asset elsewhere and I am looking forward to Karen Berger's new comic this summer Surgeon X

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    1. Yes, I'm very glad that Karen is back in the comic book game, Douglas. She's been missed! Aside from being one of my oldest, dearest pals, she's a huge talent with so much to offer.

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  11. Run For The Shadows sounds awesome. Can't wait!

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