Tag Archives: gothic tales of haunted love

Quickstarter Roundup: Three Comics Campaigns to Back This Week

Welcome to the inaugural Quickstarter Roundup, a shortlist of currently-running comics crowdfunding campaigns that are worth your time and money. If you have tips about current or upcoming comics crowdfunding projects, you can reach out at quickstarter at ckstewart dot com.

On to this week’s round-up.

MINE! A Comics Collection to Benefit Planned Parenthood

Top literary and artistic talents are coming together to support the constantly besieged Planned Parenthood with a brand new reproductive rights anthology. Mine! features stories from writers like Tee Franklin (Bingo Love), Rachel Pollack (Doom Patrol), and Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex), with art by illustrators Fabian Lelay (Jade Street Protection Services) and Devaki Neogi (The Skeptics). Already more than 50% backed with two weeks to go, and promoted by some of the biggest names in comics right now, Mine! is a safe bet for full funding. The project is up front about its communication with Planned Parenthood and what’s most likely to cause delays, meaning it’s easy to understand where your money is going, how the project works, and reasons for potential delivery date changes. Reward tiers start at $5, with a digital copy of the book available for $10 and a digital/softcover bundle available for $25. This campaign ends on September 15.

The Sun and the Wayward Wind

Managed by the Dandelion Wine Collective, The Sun and the Wayward Wind is a full-color anthology focused on reimagining North American legends and lore. This anthology includes some incredibly talented illustrators, including Ashanti Fortson (Galanthus) and e. jackson (Baby, Summer Fright Nights). Donation tiers start at $15 for a DRM-free PDF, which includes a digital wallpaper. This is the Collective’s first project, and they’re only at $8k of $32k with two weeks left to go, but the campaign states they have all materials and vendors lined up to start production as soon as the project wraps, and the sample art is so beautiful it’s worth at least chipping in a dollar or two for the lower-level reward tiers for a shot at purchasing the full anthology at a later date. For those looking for innovative and original indie comics to add to your shelves, this Kickstarter is worth chipping in for and signal boosting. This campaign ends September 14.

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love: A Comics Anthology

This is one of the safest bests in this round-up. Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is already fully funded and managed by Bedside Press founder Hope L. Nicholson, who has a number of high profile, successful campaigns under her belt. Gothic Tales brings together powerhouse creators like Sarah W. Searle (Ruined), Mel Gillman (As the Crow Flies), and Hien Pham (It Will Be Hard, an 18+ “choose your own gentle smut” graphic novel also currently funding on Kickstarter) for tales of heroes and villains, romance and tragedy, across worlds and decades. If you backed The Other Side anthology last year, this is a great (though unrelated) companion to that, with genre-hopping tales for romantics of all stripes. The PDF is available for $15CA, and the digital/physical bundle is a little pricier at $30CA but includes a 4×6 print and exclusive bookplate. This campaign ends on September 12.

The Forbidden Chamber: An Interview with Sarah Searle About Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

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cover art by Leslie Doyle, logo by Dylan Todd

Sarah Searle brings a new twist to the gothic genre and an old tale in her story for Bedside Pressanthology Gothic Tales of Haunted Love. A fundraising campaign is currently running on Kickstarter and you can read more about it in this previous article.

Searle’s story, “Ladies of the Lake”, is Searle’s “spin on the classic Bluebeard tale, incorporating some Arthurian themes over a setting of spooky 1920s Wales.”

The new themes and setting is one twist Searle gives this source material, but this story is even a slight departure for Searle herself. “I’ve done a good amount of historical fiction at this point, but I’m allowing myself to stylize it and go a bit darker this time, which sets it apart from my past works that focus more on research.”

Although Searle hasn’t “read anything from that time period [the 1970s gothic romance comics that inspired this anthology]”, she is “a great lover of gothic literature and romance comics, so it was a natural fit!”

It was such a good fit, in fact, that she “had this story already written, just waiting for the perfect home. ‘Ladies of the Lake’ references some of [her] favorite books, including Northanger Abbey, so [she pays] homage to [her] own inspirations as well.”

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“Ladies of the Lake” by Searle

Searle elaborates on her love of Northanger Abbey: “Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a delightful play on the gothic romance genre back when it was much fresher, which is an enjoyable read.”

But Northanger Abbey isn’t her only gothic inspiration, as Searle explains: “I also love Terry Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum for a healthy dose of vampire romance. I suppose I’m drawn more toward humorous, satirical approaches these days, but I can’t help but love taking it seriously sometimes, too.”

And Searle doesn’t just create and read gothic stories–she plays them too, as she explains: “My D&D group recently finished the Curse of Strahd campaign and I really enjoyed seeing the romance and drama unfold amongst the NPCs.”  

When discussing Hope Nicholson and Sam Beiko, the two editors in charge of the anthology, Searle had nothing but good things to say: “I haven’t worked directly with Sam before but she’s had great feedback for my script, and Hope is always super on top of the business side.”

Having worked with NIcholson on The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, Searle had already experienced Nicholson’s business acumen.  In particular, she commented on how “everyone in publishing is so busy all the time, which often means (understandably) long waits on emails, so [she] extra appreciate[s] how quick they’ve been with communication.”

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The Secret Loves of Geek Girls Kickstarter Edition Art by Gisele Lagace and Shouri

Searle offers one last word on the Gothic Tales anthology itself: “I’m especially excited for the comic my friend Hien Pham is working on, about a man who gets help from a friendly ghost during the Vietnam War”, a comic covered in this interview with Pham.

But this anthology isn’t the only place to see Searle’s work.  Much of her work can be seen on her website, www.swinsea.com.  Searle is passionate about her site, putting in the same effort in designing it as she would her comics, saying, “I started it back when I was a new media major learning coding and web design, and I don’t know if I could ever leave it behind. It’s like I’ve built this time capsule that tracks my whole career.”

She continues to express her passion for her site: “I keep it mostly for myself, but I do see that it gets regular traffic, and I like knowing people can get a taste of my work even while I’m toiling away on books that won’t see the light of day for years to come. Plus the accessibility of webcomics has been so important to me, I try to put as much out there as possible.

As seen in the images above, both the anthology piece and the pieces posted on her website, Searle avoids extensive cross hatching and weighing her work down with unnecessary details.  

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Searle’s “Ruined” from Oni Press/Rosy Press’s Fresh Romance

Part of this comes from her many inspirations.  While “it changes all the time,” Searle lately has “been studying the works of Hayao Miyazaki and Jillian Tamaki in particular”, artists known for conveying much emotion and story in few lines.

As Searle herself says, “’I’m very story-focused so my art ends up on the minimalist side, and I want to learn from artists like [Miyazaki and Tamaki] who seem to really understand just how much detail is needed in a character design or environment to convey meaningful nuance.”

Reflecting on “Ladies of Lake” and her other work Searle concludes, “I’m proud of all the comics I’ve made for various reasons, but I’m also generally pretty happy to leave them in the past. I learn so much from every project I do, even the small ones. Even if I don’t feel confident about the quality of story or art anymore, I’m proud of myself from making them so I could grow into the better storyteller that I am today –– and still growing, I hope!”

Anyone interested in more of Searle’s work can follow her on Twitter and study her online portfolio while waiting for Gothic Tales to release!

 

CJ Standal is no stranger to Kickstarter, having run a successful Kickstarter for his comic Rebirth of the Gangster, for sale as a print copy or an ebook now!  Find out more about him at cjstandalproductions.com.

A Ghost of a Chance: An Interview with Hien Pham About Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

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Hien Pham brings a new twist to an old genre in his story for Bedside Pressanthology Gothic Tales of Haunted Love — an anthology and Kickstarter that you can find more information on in this previous article.

Pham’s story, “Minefield”, concerns “a young ghost in love with a young farmer whose home is under attack by a foreign troop during the later stages of the Vietnam war.”

Part of what makes this story unique, however, is that it draws on stories Pham’s parents–who grew up in Vietnam–would tell him. According to Pham, “This is the first time I have directly tapped into my parents’ war stories I grew up on. There has always been some sort of war-like, bigger forces and conflicts in my stories, but I haven’t done anything so close to the source material.“

Pham elaborates on this inspiration for “Minefield”:

The story that inspired Minefield was actually a precautionary myth of sorts: back then, if you weren’t conscripted into the American army in the day, and you weren’t conscripted into the Vietnamese army in the night, the next morning you’ll find your head on a spike. ‘Minefield’ originally was written to directly reference this ‘rock and a hard place’ position Vietnamese folks had to live through. After rewrites, the comic has lost some of this resemblance, but hopefully it’s still a good gothic romance nonetheless!”

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love draws inspiration from 1970s gothic romance comics, but Pham “wasn’t too familiar with the genre until [he] did [his] research to write [his] anthology submission!”

But perhaps this lack of familiarity is what led Pham to take such a personal and unique approach with his story:

“The stories from that era that I’m used to are simply horror stories from my parents who lived through the war. These stories are always human stories, myths, rumours, and precautions that were either passed down to my parents or actual life experiences they have lived through. Growing up in the Vietnamese culture has made me entirely too aware of the pain and horror their generation suffered. I wanted to take this chance to put a sweeter slightly-less-bitter spin to that.”

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Image Credit: from “Minefield” by Hien Pham (told entirely in Vietnamese)

In creating this story and trying to make it as authentic as possible, Pham decided to use Vietnamese instead of English (as seen in the above image).  

To explain this choice–telling a story in a different language than the one the target audience speaks and reads–Pham said,

This is a Vietnamese story. These are Vietnamese characters and for them to speak Vietnamese just rings true to me. In the process of writing the story. I made two different scripts: one with the dialogues in Vietnamese and one in English. There are tiny subtleties and nuances in the way they speak that scream Southern Vietnamese that are lost in translation. Some parts of the story change ever so slightly and feel less interesting when I have them speak English. To me, there’s just something that’s slightly more genuine and authentic when I let them speak Vietnamese.”

Pham adds in his trademark self-deprecating way, however, that he has “no idea if it works better or worse on the comic page, ahaha! That’s my challenge to solve!

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Image Credit: Hien Pham’s“The Young Giant” promo picture on Supanova Comic Con page

He elaborates on these concerns–and the second guessing almost any artist experiences in creating something new and personal:

“I am downright terrified, ahaha! I’m quite afraid of the fact that the readers can’t understand what the characters are saying which might put them off finishing the story altogether. I’m afraid that they can’t connect to the characters and find the story boorish and boring. I’m afraid that Vietnamese readers might read it and say I didn’t do it justice and they would rather read it in English anyway! I’m quite the paranoid person so I have millions and millions of worries in my head.”

Despite all these worries, though, Pham insists he is making the right choice:

“What makes it worth it is that it might just work as I intend it to. The language barrier emphasizes that this is specifically a Vietnamese story, not a romanticized vision told by anyone who hasn’t been on excursions to actual prisons where people were tortured and murdered since first grade. I wanted these Vietnamese characters to speak Vietnamese as a way to reclaim a tiny bit of my culture from everything that’s used it as exotic backdrop or tragedy porn. I’m hoping the the audience would be firmly aware of the cultural differences, yet still be able to emotionally invest in these characters, and find love, lost, hope, and dreams within them.”

Another benefit, he adds, is that creating the story this way presents a unique artistic challenge: “the classic ‘show don’t tell’. The story is practically wordless, so I will need to flex my storytelling muscles to get the emotive language across. I’m very excited to give it a good shot!”

Pham expressed his working relationship with Hope Nicholson and Sam Beiko the editors of the Gothic Tales anthology as very rewarding:

 

“I am a new face to the comic-making community in general and haven’t had much experience working with editors. They were very open to my ideas and gave me great advice and direction to go with the story. I wholly appreciate their trust in letting me do a foreign-language story and believing that I’ll have the skill to deliver it.”

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Image Credit: from Hien Pham’s “Float”

Nicholson is also well known for working with diverse creators on diverse stories, and there is one more part of Pham’s “Minefield” that aligns with this diversity: “Minefield” is also a love story between two men, something not frequently seen in mainstream comics.

And this focus on homosexuality is something Pham is looking to explore more of with Pham’s future work, It Will Be Hard, which has no release date yet–Pham says it will be coming out soon though.  Pham describes it is as a “lite choose-your-own gentle smut adventure about two men’s relationships with their bodies and with each other.”

He adds that he’s “still got a long way to go with [his] drawing skills and drawing this comics has been practically doing anatomy aerobatics!”

Other than improving his anatomy skills, Pham has found that working on It Will Be Hard has carried other benefits: “Making this comic has also made me look more into my own sexuality and the different ways I feel about my body and myself. It’s given me a lot to think about and a lot still to process but I can feel myself being more confident in my own skin the more I work on the comic.”

Anyone interested in Pham’s work can follow him on Twitter and his online portfolio!

 

CJ Standal is no stranger to Kickstarter, having run a successful Kickstarter for his comic Rebirth of the Gangster, for sale as a print copy or an ebook now!  Find out more about him at cjstandalproductions.com.

Hope Nicholson and Bedside Press: A Dream Realized

Bedside Beginnings

Last Saturday, July 15, marked the beginning of another Hope Nicholson Kickstarter, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love–a Kickstarter discussed more throughly here Nicholson has been publishing comics under the Bedside Press imprint and running successful Kickstarter campaigns for years.   
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At first, Nicholson didn’t expect Bedside Press to become as big of a part of her life as it is now.  

In fact, when she started the imprint in 2014, she “just wanted to do this one reprint book because [she] didn’t see it in the market! But what [she] learned about the process is not only did [she] really, really enjoy it but [she] had the seeds to be good at it too. Ever since Nelvana of the Northern Lights [she has] been trying to nurture these seeds and grow as a publisher.”

nelvana of northern lights

Her “first project was a reprint, but after [she] caught the publishing bug from Nelvana [she] knew that [she] wanted to do new content too. Getting the pinups for Nelvana and Brok was [her] first experience with working with artists and it was a rush.”

Working on Brok didn’t only just become a fun experience because of working with the artists. In fact, “Brok Windsor is [her] pride and joy”, the comic she’s proudest of so far.

Nicholson holds this comic in a special place in her heart, because it’s “a beautiful comic, so iconic of Canadian history, and of [her] own city Winnipeg in particular, and completely forgotten.”

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As mentioned before, “that project really was [her[ first solo outing, and it was a joy to be able to reach out and see what [she] was capable of in all avenues. Discovering the real Brok Windsor, finding ALL of these lost 1940s comics to reprint, hiring a new artist to reinvision a comic only available as a text script and reaching out to over 30 artists to draw pinups of Brok made [her] really proud of my abilities.”

And it seems like she was onto something–since starting Bedside Press, Nicholson has published 11 books, sometimes graphic novels and sometimes a mix of traditional text and comics. As the Kickstarter shows too, she’s only getting started.

Refreshingly, Nicholson seems to enjoy “the feeling of satisfaction in producing books and working with really talented creators”, and focus on that feeling more than trying to be a publisher only focused on the bottom line.

“Plus,” Nicholson adds “all the readers seem really happy!”

A Diverse Touch

Maybe the reason the readers seem happy stems from that personal touch and from a focus on producing a wide range of texts from a wide range of creators.

Early on, she knew “that [she] wanted to focus on diverse content” although that focus is still on hiring “people who tell good stories”.

However, Nicholson noted that when a publisher focuses on good stories, they’ll find that “people who tell good stories come from everywhere. It’s important to tell their stories”.

And one of those stories is making it’s way into Gothic Tales of Haunted Love:

One [story] really caught [her] eye, so much so that [she] had to hire a restorationist so [she] could reprint it in this collection…[that story] was Sanho Kim’s ‘The Promise’. It’s an exceptional gothic romance, set in Korea, created by a Korean artist, and lettered in both Korean and English. It’s proof that there are always resistance and exceptions to dominant genres and [she’s] really excited to showcase it.”

sanho kims the promise

This is just one of many diverse stories, however, both in Gothic Tales of Haunted Love and in the rest of Bedside’s publishing catalog.

Nicholson attributes her success at attracting diverse voices to a few things:

At first when [she] did open calls, [she] didn’t have as far of a reach, so a lot of creators outside of [her] immediate circle never even heard of [her] projects, let alone could apply for them. But over the years [she has] had more and more standing in the industry and since [she] promote[s] a lot of different creators…people who aren’t white, who aren’t straight, who aren’t binary gender.. [diverse creators] are now within [her] social sphere.”

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But she knew she had to do more than just rely on her social sphere:

“[She had] to put the work into research and asking for specific recommendations in order to compensate for [a social sphere’s] limitation. For example when [she] did The Secret Loves of Geeks, it was a bit of an attempt to fix an issue that feminism has with binary gender. [She] didn’t want just stories from men, just stories from women–[she] wanted stories from people where the gender binary just wasn’t accurate for them. So [she] asked specifically for stories from nonbinary creators, and received several!”

 

Bedside Bumps

 

Although Nicholson has been successful in her publishing experience so far, she does admit that there have been a few bumps in the road, mainly stemming from her steadfast commitment to publish stories she loves instead of only pursuing commercially successful stories.

Distribution and finances are the biggest bumps she’s experienced so far:

“In Canada because of our sparse population base most publishers exist on grants, and grant eligibility is restricted to very strict criteria. [Because of this limited funding, she] fund[s] most of [her] projects through Kickstarters, but this only reaches an audience of usually 400-3,000 funders, and is usually only done two-three times a year.“

She adds that “distributors don’t want niche projects for the most part, so it limits [her] reach to what [she] can hand-sell. That’s tough”.

It’s so tough that Nicholson has had to adjust her life a little. “Because [she uses] almost all of [her] freelance income to put into new projects, it also means [she has] had to cut personal costs as much as [she] can” so she lives with her parents.
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On the bright side, though, she’s “had better luck licensing the projects to publishers later (like with The Secret Loves of Geek Girls through Dark Horse), and using all [her] freelance payments from other projects (like writing The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen for Quirk Books) to fund additional books.”

For example, “The Spectacular Sisterhood paid for all the production and printing fees for Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time!”
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Kickstarter Boost

Part of her success as a publisher comes from running successful Kickstarters; Nicholson has run six successful Kickstarter campaigns and is looking to add a seventh.  In fact, she’s been so successful in this area that Kickstarter has made her one of their Thought Leaders, an honor only bestowed on seven creators so far.

kickstarter thought leaders hope nicholson

When describing this experience and honor, Nicholson says that “ it’s been nice!”

But she adds that, “not too much has changed for [her], since unofficially [she] was already giving a lot of advice and panels and seminars on how to use Kickstarter and tips on how to succeed. It’s basically just given [her] a degree of legitimacy when [she says she’s] an expert!”

Nicholson was more than happy to share some of those Kickstarter tips in this interview.

One of her biggest pieces of advice is to “keep a lot of spreadsheets of lists! It’s tough to re-do all your research from scratch for each campaign.”

While Nicholson has raised enough funds with all of her Kickstarters, she does offer some light for those who don’t have her track record.  She reminds them that “failure is OK.”

Not only is it OK, it’s so much a part of life that she prepares “as much for the failure of a campaign as [she does] for its success.”

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Sometimes this means asking the right questions, such as “at what point would [she] be comfortable making a personal investment in the project if funding doesn’t push [her] over the edge”?

Does she think that she would “try the project again at a later date or through a different method”?

“Would [she] approach a publisher with the project instead, or would [she] let the project die and encourage the creators to apply with their story for other projects?”

Even though she prepares for failure, she hasn’t had to answer those questions outside of the abstract yet.

And she attributes that success to many things:

“[A big part of success is] putting the work in. And that goes from every aspect. It includes having and maintaining a newsletter, having an active social media life (yes, life not just promotion! People want to know who you are before they feel connected), chatting to press and journalists like they are human beings (so many creators treat press like a necessary evil which is ridiculous. We’re all in this equally together!), identifying your weak spots ([hers] is design) and hiring appropriately (S.M. Beiko did all the amazing design for the kickstarter!)”

Despite this success, she made a point to say that she is ”always learning, and anything outside of comics kickstart-ing is still a bit foreign to” her”.

*Note* All quoted material is from Hope Nicholson.

 

Hope Nicholson Talks Gothic Tales of Haunted Love

The summer might be almost half over, but Hope Nicholson and her imprint Bedside Press are just getting started on a Kickstarter for their new anthology Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, stories that will chill the blood even on the warmest night.  

Image Credits: “Gothic Tales of Haunted Love”

cover art by Leslie Doyle, logo by Dylan Todd

(click on link to see anthology credits and details)

Or in Nicholson’s words herself:  “If you like horror, you’ll like this book. If you like suspense you’ll like this book. But if you need happy endings, well….you might NOT like this book!”

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Image: Cover of a 1970s gothic romance comic; typical of the comics that inspired the anthology (not part of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love anthology)

The campaign itself started July 15 and ends on September 15.  After that point, the creators involved in the anthology have two months to finalize their stories before the anthology goes to print with January 2018 as the targeted delivery date.

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, like Nicholson herself, has many inspirations.  It all started when she “was doing research for The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen [published by Quirk Books].”  She discovered the 1970s comic genre of gothic romance, and had one reaction: “They were thrilling! After spending days reading romance comics, which were entertaining but usually pretty formulaic, it was so great to read stories just as emotional but with a lot more unpredictability.”

Hope elaborates on her love for the genre, saying it’s “interesting because though it still had many stories of pale beauties on the moors and dastardly lords, it was also very campy and supernatural. Lots of demons, witchery and ghosts!”

Despite her interest in this genre, though, she did admit that it had one drawback: “[These stories] were still mostly focused on North American creators, white girls, and straight romances.”

For anyone familiar with Bedside Press and Hope Nicholson, it’s no surprise that this lack of diversity troubled her–in her own words, that lack of diversity is “boring for an anthology”–and it’s something she’s looking to fix with Gothic Tales of Haunted Love.

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Image Credits: from “Minefield” by Hien Pham (told entirely in Vietnamese)

Specifically, to create an anthology that reflects true diversity and brings this genre into the 21st Century, they “did a half-curated, half-open call for new content and the stories…in this project have a focus on global gothic romance.”

And this is reflected in the stories themselves; one story has “two young men falling in love in Vietnam”, another has “pain and loss in Jamaica,” a third has “fashion intrigue in Taiwan, and [overall there are] lots of beautiful ghosts of all genders falling in love with mortals.”

The anthology itself is the reward Nicholson hopes most people enjoy.  

However, there are some other killer rewards: “Something really fun [Bedside Press] did was reach out to the estates of classic 1970s gothic romance cover artists and license artwork for special print reprints. So while [there is] a lot of new content, [Bedside Press] still [offers a] nod to the aesthetics of the old.”  Finally, as part of the rewards they “also have brand new prints from our creators as well!”

Next week, we’ll continue Nicholson’s interview, focusing on her journey as a self-publisher and Kickstarter Thought Leader.  But until then, make sure you check out the Kickstarter for Gothic Tales of Love!

 

*Note* All quoted language in this article was from Hope Nicholson.

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Image Credits: from “Crush” by Janet Hetherington, Ronn Sutton, Becka Kinzie, and Zakk Saam

 

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Image Credits: from “Fazenda do Sangue Azul” by Dante L. & H. Pueyo