Friday, December 20, 2013

Marvel Comics Bullpen Bulletin July 1993 on Bill Mantlo

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As most of you know by now we can all thank Gary Martin Jr. "a Rom curator" ( and as you can see he lives up to that title) for bringing this to us. I believe this Bullpen Bulletin came from Alpha Flight 122 (1993) and you'll notice that issue is in the check list box at the bottom. Anyways, so we have at least one source that proves that Marvel did officially acknowledge what happened to Bill and his amazing work history with Marvel. Although I feel like a side bar column seems a little lacking in compared to the scope of the tragedy and Bill's contribution to Marvel 80s. But I suppose this was better then nothing as the saying goes.

For all you fans of Bill's work on The Hulk or just fans of The Hulk in general might want to have a peek at the Smash Tales FB page. Be sure to be on the look out for the monthly Hulkcast

That's probably gonna do it for the rest of this year but of course I wouldn't dream of starting off 2014 with out a new posting you all can count on that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy holidays with new sketch cards & custom figures

I found this sketch card earlier this month on ebay and thought I'd save it for the right time to post. As I said before I've never been a big Hembeck fan but I've been kinda digin these Rom sketch cards by him that have been turning up lately. Also, gotta give it up to Hembeck for Marvel Age #89 (1990) and his NOVA chronology two page spread. In the last panel there is a direct reference made to ROM #24. Ya know something is missing in a a Nova origin story if it doesn't cover the events of that issue

Nova 17 volume 2 (1995)
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And moving on it's time to spread some holiday cheer with some stuff from Gary Martin Jr. that I've had for a little while. This is the first appearance of the Dire Wraith Queen Volx (Nova 17 vol. 2). Nova 17 and 18 chronicles how she managed to get to Earth as a stowaway on a Xandarian transport ship that has Richard Rider on it. After taking on the identity of one of it's pilots she is never the less discovered and the ensuing battle causes the ship to crash land on Earth and "Richy" narrowly avoids getting his brains sucked out by the timely arrival of the current Nova Prime back then. Interestingly enough that Nova series was cancelled after issue 18 as described in that editorial page. However, the cliff hanger that #18 ends on (Richy's attempted suicide) picks up in the opening pages of New Warriors 60

And last up we have the latest custom figure from Chris. Now there have been customs made of Jack of Hearts but this one is truly unique because it features the costume he was sporting at the time of his epic "death" (Avengers 76 vol.3) which I actually like much more then his original. And just think, up until a few weeks ago Chris hardly knew jack about Jack

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The challenges of digital coloring

Here's some of the latest fan art by Dann Phillips that recently showed up on deviant art. I usually only like to color art work that primarily consists of bold and fine line work on a white back ground. Fan art that consists of heavy shading in multiple darkness to lightness values represent a lot of coloring challenges that can make what normally would take me well under an hour to taking me half the day to do.
But on a whim in between breakfast, listening to the news and working out I tried something new out on this piece. Of course I used photoshop to do this in so I'll put it in Laymens terms. Basically, it deals with making multiple copies of the entire art piece and assigning an individual color swatch to each one. Then you just lay them all on top of each other and remove what you don't want from each one until the full picture appears. And then there was a little touch up work done using the more common photoshop features like the air brush and color fill tools.
I may end up tweaking it some more over the next couple of days but for now I'll post how it came out initially.You may notice that the this new coloring method doesn't produce the more vibrant colors as seen with the type of fan art I more typically color. The U-Foes coloring job from a few postings back is a good example that. Never the less it's always good to expand your horizons a bit from time to time.

When it comes to the well fare of your children trust no one other the greatest of the spaceknights to get the job done.

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Just a little something for shits n giggles I whipped up in photoshop and decided to throw in here as an after thought. I'm sure the inspiration for this is pretty obvious.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Easter Eggs, fan art, custom figures

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Most of you will recognize this FF 216 splash page with the ROM Easter egg as something I've posted before. But thanks to this Fanatastic Four trade I had from the library I was able to get a nice color scan of it. Take note of all some of the staff listed in the credits like Torpedo creator Marv Wolfman and of course Bill Mantlo. We also have the late Mark Gruenwald who's first wife (Belinda Glass) offered the inspiration to Bill and Sal for the Sabra character which is Marvel's first Israeli superhero.

Here's something of another type of Easter Egg from Incredible Hulk 472 (1999) which Gary Martin Jr. picked up fairly recently. Can you find what it is our resident Rom curator spotted here?

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I whipped this up a couple weeks ago but I think most of you have seen it already on deviant art. All the custom figures of spaceknights from ROM #26 that Chris has been making lately I think partly inspired me to sketch this scene.

And speaking of custom figures check this out. This Ikon spaceknight custom comes from Italy and was on ebay earlier this week with a starting bid of $100. Thanks for the heads up Gary this is pretty damn sweet I sure wish we could have scene some where along the line Ikon mix it up with Terrax like some of her 1st generation brother spaceknights did.

However, not to be out done by any other custom figure designer I proudly present the original greatest of the spaceknights custom by Chris

And if you haven't seen this yet check it out. The only thing that would have made this cooler is for Buzz Light Year to get tongue spiked through that glass dome by a Dire Wraith. Something like that happened on page 18 in X-Men 186 where a guy gets it through his front wind shield

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Foot notes, dire wraiths and mutants

Now I was talking in another posting recently about the Wraith War spill over in X-Men issues 185, 186, 187 and 188. So to find this footnote (thanks Gary) in a future issue (#225) with Rogue's reflections on the X-Men having saved Forge from a Dire Wraith assassination attempt was not at all surprising.

But I was having some trouble with this X-Men foot note in Iron Man 190. I've been sitting on this clip art for a while now but I recently did a double take on it . . . .

X-Men #181? Well I checked out some online reviews on that X-Men issue and as far as I can tell it's got nothing to do with anything that Wanda is talking about in the clip art. In fact it's pretty much just a Godzilla tribute story that takes place right after the events of the first Secret Wars mini-series. But I later found out by commentator RT who does have the issue that there's some mention of the mutant registration act or something like that. But it still seems to me X-Men 184 or even 185 would have been a more appropriate for that foot note.

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But just in case you didn't know, or forgot Forge's first ever appearance in the Marvel Universe was in X-Men 184. Thanks to an online review I discovered recently along with some clip art from the issue provided by Rom curator Gary Martin Jr. I now see that this X-Men issue is an important tie-in to the Wraith War story line in the Rom series. Not only do we see the hand held neo-neutralizer prototype for the first time Forge also makes a direct Rom and Dire Wraith reference.
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On a side note here it's too bad we never got to see Forge's neutralizer used on Hybrid that would have been interesting. We've seen it's effects on dire wraiths and homo-superior alike and even though the X-Men's computer Cerebro identifies Hybrid as a mutant he's still in a class all his own.

Monday, December 2, 2013

So much cool new ROM stuff from the fans lately!

I've shared a lot of this recently discovered stuff with those of you I know from Farce book and Deviant Art but for those of you who I don't know through those social networks I'm gonna make a special posting today. First up there's this re-edited version of the ROMfall video it's got some cool extra added footage as you can see from this screen shot

And speaking of Deviant Art, not just one or two, but three new pieces of fan art just turned up by a certain artist that I'm convinced at this point has an addiction to illustrating ROM related fan art. The new stuff includes other spaceknights, The Torpedo, Jack of Hearts and Nova!

On a not so high note as far as new ROM fan art goes here's the latest page on the Rom #1 remix project. There's an obvious aspect about it right away that makes me feel less then thrilled about it can you guess what it is?

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Wednesday update: I'm just adding this catalog photo image here today because it's just so rad and brings back some great memories. I used to have that Micrnoauts play set and oh my God do I wish I had had that Space 1999 Eagle 1 shuttle both the play set and die cast version. I also had one of those giant Shogun Warrior dolls but not that awesome Raydeen as seen here. So much cool stuff in this catalogue except for maybe item B or D, but that's just me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Zombies aren't the only things that want your brains

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Well our resident Rom curator Gary Martin Jr. does it again. What you see here is the first of three pages featuring the Dire Wraiths in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Handbook A-Z update issue 1 of 5 (2010). I'm only featuring the first page for a reason which I'll get back to. As a whole the entire entry is pretty thorough in regards to the long history of the dire wraith in the Marvel Universe I have to say I was impressed. It's all stuff long running Rom fans pretty much know about but it does act as a reminder of interesting tidbits (page 2) that even they may have forgotten such as the tension between dire wraiths born on Wraith World in The Dark Nebula and those born on Earth. We also are reminded of how dire wraiths forged documents like birth certificates for their new cover identities when they first arrived on Earth which apparently started prior to but increased during World War II. Page 3 concludes with a series of head shot images of notable dire wraiths among then such as Dr. Dredd, Agent Kraller of SHIELD, Rachel Sweet of Project Safeguard, Most High One, Jacob Marks (Hybrid's father), Woodcrow Cather (Avengers #244), Kattan-Tu (Hulk #262 back story) etc.
But what I really like about the first page is that it appears to feature some new clip art quite possibly developed just for this updated Marvel Universe Hand Book entry. I'm speaking of course of the very well done dire wraith female there by Gus Vasquez which I don't at all recognize from any already existing clip art in the Marvel Universe. We also learn on the first page how a sect of dire wraiths came to find themselves as part of the Universal Inhumans.
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There also seems to be some varied interpretation as to what male dire wraiths really like but I just leave that to individual speculation. I say that because in the 2006 over sized hard bound Marvel encyclopedia the dire wraith entry clearly describes the natural state of the males and females as looking different where as on the 2010 Marvel Universe hand book page seen above you it implies males and females all look like the red skinned non-humanoid version. The 2006 encyclopedia also includes entries for The Torpedo, Turbo and makes a ROM and Dire Wraith mention in the Skrulls entry. No entries for Galadorians or spaceknights unfortunately. I wanna thank our resident custom figure guy Chris for the Marvel encyclopedia loner.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Some colorized fan art, a new custom figure and Jo Duffy on Rom

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This kicks ass, great job!

And speaking of custom figures the Rom one I had here yesterday turns out to be something I posted 3 years ago. I must have had a senior moment, but I'll leave the link for it since it features that same custom from different angles then what I had before

And here's my latest coloring job. You all remember this U-Foes fan art that was part of the art work care package for Bill Mantlo's birthday right? I also wanted to thank one of my regular commentator's RT for mailing me a copy of Daredevil #127 which featured the first action appearance of Brock Jones as The Torpedo. Who says selling insurance can't be fun?
But that's not all RT was up to last week he also made friends on farcebook with a certain Jo Duffy who was the editor for Rom spaceknight issues 1-18. I think you'll find what she had to say rather interesting during one of their correspondences.

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 "Actually, a group of us plotted the first issue of ROM, before Bill came on board. Jim was definitely an important part of the group with some critical ideas, and Bill modified them to fit his style when he took the reigns. All the toy company gave us was ROM, his name and powers, and the fact that the enemies he fought were called Dire Wraiths. I think the dust outlines of the banished wraiths was Bill and Sal's idea, but was inspired by mid-century science fiction flicks, like the Gene Barry version of War of the Worlds. The group created the young lovers who befriended ROM, and set the mandate that Steve be a sympathetic, likable rival. Bill developed them and gave them their names. The wraith's true forms were kept secret to build the suspense. And ROM sent them to limbo as a kind of prison sentence. No one wanted or could care for a hero whose idea of protecting the innocent was to commit genocide against even the worst villains."

Jo Duffy 

That's probably gonna do it for this month but we'll kick off December with some more Dire Wraith brain draining fun.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

New kick ass custom figure and some cool fan art

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I really enjoy doing these side by side cover comparisons of these X-Men back issues with the corresponding X-Men Classic reprints. On this one I'm so torn because I love the original but the cover variant looks pretty damn good too especially with how they included Forge's neutralizer which was a pivotal part of the issue. An issue I'm happy to remind you all which launched a four issue story arc (X-Men 186, 187, 188, 189) of the attempted assassination of Forge by the Dire Wraiths only narrowly avoided by some help from The X-Men. But as it turned out Forge had almost as much to worry about from Storm despite her having lost her mutant powers. Here's a back posting of the side by side comparisons of the next two X-men issues

2.5"x3.5" Watercolor over inks sketch card by Danny Kuang

Now as we all know sometime not too long before the Wraith War spilled into the pages of the X-Men the Dire Wraiths had something of a "changing of the guard". In other words the females killed off all the males so they could do things they're way proving that indeed the female is the more deadly of most any species  : )
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But that certainly doesn't make this new custom male Dire Wraith from Chris any less cool. In fact it's not just merely cool it's down right bad ass. And to save you the trouble of asking the base figure was The Thing from the Fantastic 4.

It's funny when artists who are Rom fans seem to almost be thinking about the same thing at nearly the same time. It wasn't long ago I did a piece that included Rom and Acroyear and even more recently Firefall. Have a look what just turned up yesterday

Sunday Update: I think Firefall must be the spaceknight of the month or something look at this video that just turned up today

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Heroes Death

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I've known for a little while about the death of  The Jack of Hearts in Avenger 491 and I'm sure most of you know about it too so I'm not going to go into a recap of it. A Google search with key words "Jack of Hearts Avengers" will send you to sources for the synopsis and more clip art easily enough. And speaking of clip art in regards to his death I only came across what you see here fairly recently. As a hero who's father (who loved playing cards) was murdered and had led a life of torment due to the unstable nature of his powers I can't think of a better bit of writing in regards to Jack's final words. Now I can't say if Bill Mantlo would have approved or disapproved of his creation being killed off but I'm willing to bet if he were to be ok with it he would have been really happy about the way it was handled in Avengers 491.
After all Mantlo killed off The Torpedo who didn't exactly go out in a blaze of glory but at least he went down swinging. Although created by Marv Wolfman The Torpedo had his longest notoriety in the Rom spackenight series. Now I've heard, but don't quote me on this that Jack has appeared since then in the Marvel Universe. If you know anything about that please do share with the rest of us. In closing I just wanted to say that I really love the costume that Jack was sporting by the time of his death and the art here is amazing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to draw a face from that perspective? Moving on to more Mantlo inspired work . . .

This tribute page comes from the 1997 Bug 1 shot. Of course you can't list the greats of the Marvel 80s with out including The Boisterous one. On the flip side I can think of at least one name here I would have left off however.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The custom figure that's too hot to handle!

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Well this now makes the third Micronauts cover I've strategically inserted Rom's image into and I think this is a good time to post it given that it's Bill Mantlo's birthday. Thanks to Mantlo's imagination these characters would live on for many years after their respective toy lines long since disappeared from store shelves and stock rooms. It just sucks that we never got to see them together but of course we've had that discussion already here on more then one occasion.

Here's a digital project I've had in the back of my mind ever since Chris produced this awesome Firefall custom. Aside from the custom it's self Chris had an assortment of well staged photos of it that almost begged to have something like this done to one of em. You all know about the back story for Archie Stryker and the Firefall spaceknight armor I don't need to get into that right?
Good, so with that said let me move on to presenting the last of Gary's foot notes. This one comes from Nova #10 (Vol. 2). Rom spaceknight #24 sure did have some staying power given all the flash back cameos and foot notes out there for it. The art work is done by Erik Larsen who I'm not a big fan of.

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And now my latest back issue discount box finds from earlier this week . . . 

Fantastic Four Roast special (1982)
This panel comes from the 1982 Fantastic Four Roast 1 shot spoof. Did anybody else out there know about this Torpedo appearance in it that I discovered?

Avengers Academy 25 (April 2012)
Onward to some other shit I found in the same discount box that wasn't so cool. Coming right off the heels of the massive disappointment that was The Annihilators mini-series we were then treated to a shitty 3 issue (#23, 24 and 25) story arc in Avengers Academy that featured the return of Hybrid. By the time I got done reading 24 I was getting irritated with how they hadn't explained Hybrid's return as they did in X-Man 31 (1997).
By the time issue 25 came out I decided to thumb through it first and woe and behold I came across the clip art you see here. Oh man was I ever pissed! Why couldn't he have just said something like "He left Earth years ago" or "We don't know where he is and we don't have time to try and fins him". Did ya have to say Rom is dead Marvel? really!? I didn't buy that issue nor did I buy any new Marvel comic since then up until recently with Infinity and we all know how that turned out. But I decided to pick up Avengers Academy #25 for a buck just so I could share this bullshit with you all. To all Rom fans, don't buy new marvel comics it's just rewarding bad behavior and Infinity is just the latest example.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Foot notes from S.H.I.E.L.D

Continuing with Gary's foot notes and the S.H.I.E.L.D. theme from of the last posting. You all remember this charming little scene from Rom #43? Back in the day I felt like I could just stare at this page for hours. Yeah S.H.I.E.L.D almost lost their helicarrier that the Dire Wraiths had had it with all the panzy ass infiltration games they'd been playing with S.H.I.E.L.D since the beginning of the Rom series.

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And it seemed like the Wraith War had taken it's toll on S.H.I.E.L.D in more was then one as mentioned in the Incredible Hulk 298 clip art above as well as in the Incredible Hulk 297 clip art below. By the way I dunno if the agent shooting the Hell Hound in the mouth is supposed to be Gabriel Jones or just the token black S.H.I.E.L.D agent on that page but either way he should have had a dialogue bubble saying "EAT THIS!" (that's from ALIENS).
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Doctor is in, time for some Strange foot notes

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Alright it's time for some more of the Rom foot notes from the collection that Gary Martin Jr. sent me some time ago. Here we have one from Incredible Hulk 305 with Dr. Strange and as you can see I also included some corresponding clip art which ironically happens to have a foot note of it's own. For a synopsis of Incredible Hulk 305

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The above clip art comes from Dr. Strange #75 (vol. 2) which is retelling part of the story line from Fantastic Four #277. For those of you who don't have that issue all the panels on the top half of the page told the story of the confrontation between Ben and Johnny who had started dating Alica Masters already. Although unknown to either of those two dudes back then she was actually a skrull : ) So anyways, the conclusion of the Wraith War spills into that troubled love triangle as most of you know.
Mean while the bottom panels of the issue tell the story of a battle with that bastard Mephisto against Reed, Sue, Franklin and Dr. Strange. As you can see Mephisto was somehow drawing power from the Wraiths but as the war turned against them so did his power start to wane. I'm sure you didn't miss the little Rom #65 foot note there.

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And last up we have a flash back cameo and foot note from Dr. Strange Annual #2 (Vol. 2) in which Dr. Strange again faces and old enemy known as The Dweller in Shadows. When Rom fought him he blew him away with his neutralizer but it wasn't really that clear if he was sent to Limbo or some other crappy dimensional Hell hole. Rom gave The Dweller one of those go back to where ever you came from kinda pronouncements but I'm not sure if that was meant to be taken literally. The other panel comes from Dr. Strange Sorcerer Supreme #2 (Vol. 3) and I'm not sure about the context of the clip art but I believe that's supposed to be a Dire Wraith but don't quote me on that.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dust in the wind

Actually the posting title probably should have been Stardust in the solar wind. There actually is something as solarwind astronomically speaking Google it. But I'm hoping someone out there picks up on what I'm referencing with my posting title as it is. So moving right along, what we have here is the latest custom figure by Chris which I'm sure most of you have seen already but here it is just in case for you followers who aren't on farce book or deviant art. We first saw Stardust in Rom annual 1 but he again made a brief appearance in the Quasar series.
Although he wasn't able to get it to me in time to include in the Bill Mantlo fan art birthday package I sent off last week you'll be happy to know we made sure this fan art by Zhaanman never the less will be getting to Bill in time. And moving on here we have some more foot notes from Gary Martin Jr. Ya know it seems like there's two different types of foot notes and here are some examples of what I'm talking about.

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Doesn't it seem sometimes that foot notes are more about promoting other titles then having to do with a truly relevant tie in? Take this clip art from Captain America #305. We saw Cap. in both Rom #65 and 66 and even though it was mentioned in 65 that heroes from every corner of the globe had come to fight in the final battle of the Wraith War Captain Britain never makes an actual appearance.
On the flip side here's a foot note from THOR 354 with Beta Ray Bill who did appear a couple of times in Rom #65 as well as on the cover
That one makes a lot more sense to me, so does this one from The New Defenders.

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Oh boy Gary Martin Jr. "a Rom curator" just saw my posting and called me out on my latest misinformation fuck up. Indeed Captain Brittan did appear in Rom #65 and on the very same page as did the Defenders no less. But there he was sporting his red costume as we knew him in the 80s. More foot notes on the way.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A package full of fan art for Bill Mantlo's birthday

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So before I dropped all this stuff in the mail for Michael Mantlo I decided to take a snap shot of it all for you good people. So I'm sure you recognize my latest fan art which I made some high quality laser prints of. I wanna thank Randomnerd for sending me her copy of  geek magazine from last month which allowed me to make that very readable quality xerox copy. My buddy Randy whipped up some fan art of the U-Foes which first appeared in Incredible Hulk 254 ( Bill & Sal ). We should be seeing a color version in the near future. And from one of my regular commentator's (Joseph) we have something from his ten year old son who loves both the Hulk and Rom and also has half the Rom series but swears who will have them all some day.

There was a little bit of trash talk about the Power Pack series in the comments section of the last posting. But in all fairness I did have at least one issue back in the day. Ironically it wouldn't be for about 27 years later that I would learn the very same issue I had contained a Rom foot note. I can thank Gary Martin Jr. "a Rom curator" for that and in the next posting we can all thank Gary for some of the other Rom related foot notes I'll be posting.

And we're back with some more Dr. Doom even though unlike What If #39 (Vol. 2) this clip art is totally unrelated to Rom or to Bill Mantlo's birthday but I love it so much I'm adding it to this posting anyways. This is such classic Dr. Doom the dialogue and so in keeping with what makes the character so awesome. For the low down on where this clip art is from
Ok so look, since Dr. Doom mentioned the Sub-Mariner (or Namor if you prefer) I'll stop my childish posturing and throw in this other foot note into the posting I just got from Gary recently that comes from Incredible Hulk 277.

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More classic 80s and 90s foot notes next week!