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|TV Century 21|
|Publisher||City Magazines (1965–1971)|
IPC Magazines (1971)
|Genre||Action, Adventure, Science fiction, Spy-fi, Techno-thriller|
|Publication date||23 January 1965 – 6 September 1969|
After merger with Joe 90:
27 September 1969 – 25 September 1971
|No. of issues||242|
After merger with Joe 90:
Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward
Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons
|Written by||Alan Fennell, Tod Sullivan, Angus Allen, Terry Nation|
|Artist(s)||Vicente Alcazar, Frank Bellamy, John M. Burns, John Cooper, Gerry Embleton, Ron Embleton, Richard E. Jennings, Mike Noble, Carlos Pino, Paul Trevillion, Ron Turner, Keith Watson|
|Editor(s)||Alan Fennell (1965–1967)|
Chris Spencer (1968)
Howard Elson (1968–1969)
After merger with Joe 90:
TV Century 21, later renamed TV21, TV21 and Tornado, TV21 and Joe 90, and TV21 again, was a weekly British children's comic published by City Magazines during the latter half of the 1960s. It promoted the many science-fiction television series created by the Century 21 Productions company of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The comic was published in the style of a newspaper of the future, with the front page usually dedicated to fictional news stories set in the worlds of Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and other stories. The front covers were also in colour, with photographs from one or more of the Anderson series or occasionally of the stars of the back-page feature.
The brainchild of writer-editor Alan Fennell and presenter Keith Shackleton, TV Century 21 was produced by the staff at the Andersons' Century 21 Publications, while printing and distribution was handled by City Magazines. Many of the leading British comic artists of the time contributed to the publication, including Frank Bellamy (who drew two-page-spread adventures for Thunderbirds), John M. Burns, John Cooper, Jon Davis, Eric Eden, Ron and Gerry Embleton, Rab Hamilton, Don Harley, Richard E. Jennings, Mike Noble, Paul Trevillion, Ron Turner, James Watson and Keith Watson, and the duo of Vicente Alcazar and Carlos Pino under the pseudonym "Cervic". The comic was produced in partnership with Anderson's Century 21 Productions; people like editor Alan Fennell also wrote episodes of the various Anderson TV shows.
The comic was adapted for the Dutch market as TV2000. Early copies of TV Century 21 are difficult to find, and attract high prices compared to nearly all other print material associated with Gerry Anderson's work.
In contrast with Polystyle Publications' TV Comic, which was a traditional strip comic, TV Century 21 was conceived as a newspaper for children with a front-page containing "Stop press"-style news items and photographs.
The majority of the strips in TV Century 21 were set in the same shared future history. Even strips without a related TV series tied into it; for example, Special Agent 21 was set in the relative "past" and depicted the formation of the World Space Patrol seen in Fireball XL5. The primary setting was the 2060s, with each newspaper-style issue covering the "top stories" of the decade. Earth was depicting as having a World Government — based in the fictional Unity City, Bermuda, and incorporating a President and a Senate — whose authority encompassed most of the planet. Besides Spectrum, the World Navy, the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP) and the World Space Patrol, all of which were seen in the Anderson series, the future Earth also boasted a World Army, World Air Force, and Universal Secret Service (USS).
Elements of these would feature in multiple strips, including ones based on other series; elements of Fireball XL5 appeared several times in the Captain Scarlet adventures. Various textual commentaries established backstories for the characters that also connected the various series; for example, some of the Spectrum officers seen in Captain Scarlet were revealed to be former World Space Patrol agents. This did not necessarily contradict any of the TV series themselves as all were assumed to be set in the mid-21st century at least up until Captain Scarlet; Anderson's final two Supermarionation series, Joe 90 (1968–69) and The Secret Service (1969) had more contemporary settings. (The Secret Service never appeared in TV21.)
A recurring plot element was the fictional Eastern European nation of Bereznik, a country not part of and hostile to the World Government. It appeared most frequently in the Thunderbirds and Lady Penelope strips, usually as an antagonist.
After losing the Gerry Anderson license in mid-1970, TV21 became a television comic virtually in name only, with the Star Trek strip being the lone feature still related to TV. The publication became more typical of other British comics of the era, featuring a mix of adventure, humour, Western, and sporting strips, some of which were reprints from other publications. Marvel Comics reprints became a feature in the magazine's final year of publication.
The first issue of TV Century 21 was published on 23 January 1965.
The comic dropped the "Century" from its title in January 1968, after 155 issues, and became known as TV21. In September 1968, after 192 issues, TV21 merged with its sister publication TV Tornado to form TV21 and Tornado.
On 18 January 1969, Gerry Anderson's most recent Supermarionation production, Joe 90, was adapted into a City Magazines spinoff comic, titled Joe 90 Top Secret. The new comic did not endure, however, lasting only 34 issues before it was merged with TV21 and Tornado (According to British cartoonist and comics historian Lew Stringer, "...Joe 90 was selling better than TV21 but lost out to the older title, presumably because the publisher felt that TV21 had more longevity as the name of a comic.") The final issue of TV21 and Tornado before the merger was #242, published 6 September 1969.
Meanwhile, at the beginning of 1969, Century 21 Productions had become financially over-stretched. Within a few months, the company had disbanded their three warehouse-sized studios on the Slough Trading Estate. In June 1969 the entire staff of Century 21 Publications were given a month's notice. A small nucleus of staff from the disbanded division were taken on by Leonard Matthews and Alf Wallace — the ex-managing editors of Fleetway Juvenile Comics; and Eagle and Odhams' Power Comics line, respectively — who were now operating an independent studio off Fleet Street under the name of Martspress. With the coming relaunch, Martspress became the comic's packager.
The new merged comic was renamed TV21 and Joe 90, with the issue numbering reset to 1 (with a "New Series No." printed on the front cover). Reflecting City Magazines' relationship with IPC Magazines, the first issue of TV21 and Joe 90 featured an advertisement for the IPC title Smash! (which IPC had taken over from Odhams Press on 1 January 1969).
The publication's name reverted to TV21 after 36 issues (the 278th overall). With issue #93 (3 July 1971), the title changed publisher-name from City Magazines to IPC Magazines.
Altogether, the title published 347 issues from 23 January 1965 to 25 September 1971 (242 issues before the merger with Joe 90 and an additional 105 issues thereafter).
In late 1965, with the success of TV Century 21, City Magazines began publishing a number of related annuals and specials, two of them featuring Stingray. The first Thunderbirds annual was published in 1966, with a new one appearing each year until 1972. City Magazines also published the first TV Century 21 Annual in 1966, eventually putting out five such annuals (with the last one appearing in 1970). A second Stingray Annual appeared in 1966, and two more TV Century 21 seasonal specials in 1966 and 1967. The first Captain Scarlet annual debuted in 1967; City Magazines published a new one in 1968 and another one in 1969.
TV Century 21 was launched to capitalise on the popularity of the Gerry Anderson-produced Supermarionation TV series Stingray, which followed the underwater adventures of Troy Tempest and the World Aquanaut Security Patrol (WASP). Stingray strips were joined by Supercar, Fireball XL5, and Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward (from Thunderbirds). (The Supercar and Fireball XL5 TV programs had ended prior to the launch of TV Century 21, but were still being broadcast sporadically on ATV in the United Kingdom. They also had previously been adapted into comics a few years earlier in Polystyle Publications' TV Comic.) Other than Lady Penelope herself, the Thunderbirds themselves were not featured until issue #52, the same issue the Lady Penelope strip left TV Century 21 to star in her own comic.
TV Century 21 extended its licensing beyond the Anderson productions, and for its first two years published strip adventures based on the extraterrestrial Doctor Who villains the Daleks, the early scripts for which had the approval of Dalek creator Terry Nation. Many of the stories were written by David Whitaker, who alternated with Nation in writing Daleks stories for the Doctor Who TV series; however, as Polystyle's TV Comic had the primary rights to adapt the Doctor Who television series itself, the character of The Doctor could not appear in the TV Century 21 comic. TV Century 21's early issues featured adaptations of two other popular TV series as well: My Favourite Martian, with art by Bill Titcombe; and Burke's Law, with art by Paul Trevillion.
Issue #21 of TV Century 21 saw the debut strip of Special Agent 21, i.e. Brent Cleever of the Universal Secret Service. The character had first appeared, in text form, in issue #1, as the fictional editor of TV Century 21; readers were "drafted" as his agents and asked to address reports (i.e. letters) to Contact 21. Special Agent 21 was written by Tod Sullivan and illustrated by Rab Hamilton.
Three strips left the publication with issue #51 (8 Jan. 1966) — Lady Penelope, Supercar, and Burke's Law — replaced the following issue with Thunderbirds, Get Smart, and The Munsters. Bruno Marraffa, who had been drawing Supercar, took on Get Smart, while Paul Trevillion, who had been drawing Burke's Law, was now the lead artist for The Munsters strip.
A new strip joined the lineup with issue #73 (11 June 1966). The Investigator, by Alan Fennell and Don Harley, was about Bob Devlin and Marc Carter, fictional troubleshooters for Universal Engineering Incorporated, builders of the XL fleet, Fireflash, and the first Martian probe. (The strip was not related to a later unsuccessful TV pilot by Gerry Anderson.) The strip didn't last long, being canceled after issue #89 (1 Oct. 1966). Following The Investigator was Catch or Kill, another strip taking place in the year 2066. Originally by Angus Allan and John M. Burns, Gerry Embleton later took over the art chores.
Wright C.H.A.R.L.I.E., a humour strip set in the "Anderson universe" about the inventions of a Professor Wright from the Central Headquarters Atomic Research Liaison for Industrial Experimentation (C.H.A.R.L.I.E.), debuted in issue #107 (4 Feb. 1967). It lasted until issue #131 (22 July 1967), when it – and Catch or Kill — were replaced by Front Page. That feature, drawn by John M. Burns, was a meta-strip set in the year 2067 about fictional TV Century 21 investigative reporter Pete Tracker, who learns about the secretive organization Spectrum; the strip was used to promote the upcoming Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons TV series (and the accompanying comic strip).
The first new TV series adaptation to appear in a while, Sgt. Bilko, debuted in issue #139 (16 Sept. 1967).
The character of the "indestructible" Captain Scarlet, the hero of Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, made his first appearance in TV Century 21 in issue #141, 30 September 1967, timed to coincide with the airing of the first episode of the TV show. (The back story of the Mysterons, Captain Scarlet's Martian enemies, was being revealed in TV Tornado, another City Magazines publication.) Captain Scarlet was featured on most covers of the title until the 1969 relaunch.
The publication dropped the "Century" from its title in January 1968, after 155 issues, becoming known as TV21. With that same issue, the Special Agent 21 strip changed its name to Mr. Magnet, and the Get Smart, Front Page, and Sgt. Bilko strips were all canceled.
In September 1968, after 192 issues, TV21 merged with its sister publication TV Tornado to form TV21 and Tornado. The TV Tornado strips Tarzan and The Saint moved with the merger to the new TV21 and Tornado. This meant the cancelation of the Supermarionation strips Stingray and Zero-X; Fireball XL5, meanwhile, had ended back in issue #174 (18 May 1968).
The final new strip to join the publication's lineup — taking over from the canceled Tarzan — was the adaptation of the TV series Department S, drawn by Carlos Pino, which debuted in issue #212 (8 Feb. 1969). (Tarzan would return shortly thereafter in TV21 and Joe 90.)
TV21 and Tornado published its final issue, #242, on 6 September 1969.
With the new TV21 and Joe 90, the publication dispensed with the hundred-years-in-the-future cover date format as well as the focus on the Anderson-universe, becoming more of a typical British adventure comic (the first four issues, in fact, featured association football imagery). According to Stringer, "the content and tone of the merged comic was more like Joe 90 than TV21." The Thunderbirds and Joe 90 strips were printed in black-and-white in deference to the new colour features Star Trek and Land of the Giants. The Saint strip, now titled Meet the Saint, continued from the first volume of TV21, illustrated by Vicente Alcazar; the Tarzan strip returned as well, drawn by Don Lawrence. The relaunched publication for the first time featured strips not related to either Anderson properties or television adaptations, such as the sporting strips Forward From the Back Streets, by Martin Asbury; and I've Got a Sports-Mad Dad; as well as Roy Davis' humour strip The Kid King.
Star Trek, originally by Harry Lindfield, was one of only strips to last all 105 issues of the relaunched publication, eventually being illustrated by Jim Baikie, Mike Noble, and Carlos Pino and Vicente Alcazar, often working together as "Carvic".
Joe 90 and Thunderbirds gradually disappeared from the comic, whose name reverted to TV21 after 36 issues (the 278th overall). In fact, by issue #38 (13 June 1970), both strips were gone, and with them the last vestiges of the Gerry Anderson Supermarionation properties. TV21 no longer had the Anderson license.
With their demise, TV21 underwent a series of strip turnovers. In short succession, four new strips joined the lineup: the adventures strips The Heat-Master, S.N.O.R.K.E.L., and Danny Merlin Son of the Wise; and the humour strip Micky's Moonbugs, drawn by Graham Allen. (S.N.O.R.K.E.L. stood for Section Nine, Ocean Research and Knowledge Establishment for Learning; Danny Merlin was a fantasy strip about junk shop owner Danny Merlin, keeper of the "Keys of Wisdom.") None of these strips lasted very long.
A sign of the title's failing prospects began with issue #55 (10 Oct. 1970), when reprints began to replace original strips (reprints being much cheaper to produce). First to join the lineup were the American King Features Syndicate strips The Phantom and The Lone Ranger and Tonto. Another, original, Western strip, Butch Conner Sheriff of Dodge City, came along an issue later, shortly followed by The Blue Angels, reprints of the Buck Danny strip from the Franco-Belgian Spirou magazine. All of these strips lasted fewer than ten issues before being canceled and replaced.
Late November 1970 saw the introduction of five strips reprinted from American Marvel Comics titles. Although the publication had given up the Gerry Anderson license, IPC did have the Marvel license, which had last been used to publish reprints of Marvel's superhero strips in the Odhams' line of Power Comics (including Smash!) in 1966–1969. Beginning with the issue of 28 November 1970 (#61), some Marvel stories began being reprinted in TV21. The Marvel reprints — which featured the superhero strips Spider-Man and the Silver Surfer, the Western strips Ghost Rider and the Ringo Kid, and the 1950s humour strip Homer the Happy Ghost — lasted through TV21's final issue.
At this point, other than Star Trek, the publication called TV21 had no more strips based on television properties.
In the comic's last few months, as other strips dropped away, new ones joined the lineup, including the mostly forgettable adventure strips Menace of the Black Museum, The Tuffs of Terror Island, and Wheels Moran; and the humour strips Clancy Clot: Magician's Mate and Cap'n Stardust. Of all those, only The Tuffs of Terror Island survived the merger with Valiant and Smash!
Two former employees of Century 21 Publishing, Dennis Hooper and Roger Perry, had worked on TV21 and Lady Penelope in the period 1965–1968. They pitched Polystyle Publications the idea behind a new comic utilizing the Anderson license. Soon enough, Polystyle's Countown, debuted in February 1971, initially reprinted many of the Supermarionation strips which had originally run in TV21, including Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Fireball XL5, Joe 90, Lady Penelope, Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Zero-X. (Countdown launched while TV21 was still in publication, but when it no longer held the Anderson license.)
With the end of TV21 in October 1971, IPC discontinued using Marvel reprints — except for one final Marvel Annual, published in Autumn 1972, which featured early stories of Spider-Man, Conan, the Fantastic Four, and the Hulk (all of which, except Conan, had been reprinted a few years earlier in the Power Comics titles). Marvel, meanwhile, set up its own Marvel UK imprint, releasing The Mighty World of Marvel #1 in September 1972.
Issue "#243" of TV21 (continuing the numbering of the first volume of the series), dated "13 September 2069", was published in 2014 by Network, with editing by Martin Cater.
|Strip title||Strip type||Original creator(s)||Other notable creator(s)||Starting issue (date)||Ending issue (date)||Notes|
|Stingray||Anderson universe||Alan Fennell & Ron Embleton||Dennis Hooper, Gerry Embleton, Michael Strand||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||189 (30 Aug. 1968)|
|Fireball XL5||Anderson universe||Tod Sullivan & Mike Noble||Alan Fennell, Don Lawrence, Tom Kerr||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||174 (18 May 1968)||Evolved into a text feature|
|The Daleks||TV series||Terry Nation & Eric Eden||David Whitaker, Richard E. Jennings, Ron Turner||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||104 (14 Jan. 1967)||Based on the fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants from the Doctor Who TV series. Replaced by Zero-X.|
|My Favourite Martian||TV series||Bill Titcombe||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||104 (14 Jan. 1967)||Based on the CBS science-fiction comedy series that ran from 1963 to 1966|
|Lady Penelope||Anderson universe||Tod Sullivan & Eric Eden||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||51 (8 Jan. 1966)||Moved to her own comic|
|Supercar||Anderson universe||Bruno Marraffa||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||51 (8 Jan. 1966)|
|Burke's Law||TV series||Paul Trevillion||1 (23 Jan. 1965)||51 (8 Jan. 1966)||Based on the ABC detective series that aired from 1963 to 1966|
|Special Agent 21 / Mr. Magnet||Anderson universe||Tod Sullivan & Rab Hamilton||21 (12 June 1965)||242 (6 Sept. 1969)||The character first appeared, in text form, in issue #1; became Mr. Magnet with issue #155|
|Thunderbirds||Anderson universe||Alan Fennell & Frank Bellamy||Scott Goodall, Don Harley||52 (15 Jan. 1966)||242 (6 Sept. 1969)|
|The Munsters||TV series||Paul Trevillion||52 (15 Jan. 1966)||242 (6 Sept. 1969)||Based on the CBS comedy series that ran from 1964 to 1966|
|Get Smart||TV series||Bruno Marraffa||52 (15 Jan. 1966)||153 (23 Dec. 1967)||Based on the NBC comedy series that ran from 1965 to 1970|
|The Investigator||Anderson universe||Alan Fennell & Don Harley||73 (11 June 1966)||89 (1 Oct. 1966)|
|Catch or Kill||Anderson universe||Angus Allan & John M. Burns||Gerry Embleton||90 (8 Oct. 1966)||131 (22 July 1967)|
|Zero-X||Anderson universe||Angus Allan & Mike Noble||Jim Watson||105 (21 Jan. 1967)||192 (21 Sept. 1968)||Replaced The Daleks.|
|Wright C.H.A.R.L.I.E.||Anderson universe||107 (4 Feb. 1967)||131 (22 July 1967)||Replaced by Front Page.|
|Front Page||Anderson universe||John M. Burns||132 (29 July 1967)||154 (30 Dec. 1967)||Replaced Wright C.H.A.R.L.I.E..|
|Sgt. Bilko||TV series||139 (16 Sept. 1967)||154 (30 Dec. 1967)||Based on the The Phil Silvers Show sitcom which ran on CBS from 1955 to 1959|
|Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons||Anderson universe||Angus Allan & Ron Embleton||Mike Noble, Jim Watson, Keith Watson, Don Harley, John Cooper||141 (30 Sept. 1967)||242 (6 Sept. 1969)|
|The Saint||TV series||Vincente Alcazar||192 (21 Sept. 1968)||242 (6 Sept. 1969)||Based on the ITV mystery spy thriller series that ran from 1929 to 1969. Came over from TV Tornado.|
|Tarzan||TV series||Don Lawrence||192 (21 Sept. 1968)||211 (1 Feb. 1969)||Based on the NBC series that ran from 1966 to 1968. Came over from TV Tornado. Replaced by Department S.|
|Department S||TV series||Carlos Pino||212 (8 Feb. 1969)||242 (6 Sept. 1969)||Based on the ITC Entertainment series that ran from 1969 to 1970. Replaced Tarzan.|
|Strip title||Strip type||Original creator(s)||Other notable creator(s)||Starting issue (date)||Ending issue (date)||Notes|
|Star Trek||TV series||Harry Lindfield||Jim Baikie, Mike Noble, Carlos Pino, Vicente Alcazar||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)|
|Forward From the Back Streets||Sports||Martin Asbury||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||c. 105 (25 Sept. 1971)||Association football drama|
|I've Got a Sports-Mad Dad||Sports||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||68 (9 Jan. 1971)|
|The Kid King||Roy Davis||Humour||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||68 (9 Jan. 1971)|
|Land of the Giants||TV series||Gerry Haylock||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||60 (14 Nov. 1970)||Came over from Joe 90: Top Secret|
|Tarzan||TV series||Don Lawrence||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||54 (3 Oct. 1970)||Based on the NBC series that ran from 1966 to 1968. Continued from the earlier version of TV21|
|Meet the Saint||TV series||Vicente Alcazar||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||52 (19 Sept. 1970)||Based on the ITV mystery spy thriller series that ran from 1929 to 1969. Continued from the earlier version of TV21|
|Thunderbirds||Anderson universe||Frank Bellamy||John Cooper||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||38 (13 June 1970)||Continued from the earlier version of TV21. Replaced by Danny Merlin Son of the Wise, Micky's Moonbugs, and S.N.O.R.K.E.L..|
|Joe 90||Anderson universe||Michael Strand||1 (27 Sept. 1969)||36 (30 May 1970)||Came over from Joe 90: Top Secret. Replaced by The Heat-Master.|
|The Heat-Master||Adventure||37 (6 June 1970)||57 (24 Oct. 1970)||Replaced Joe 90|
|Micky's Moonbugs||Humour||Graham Allen||39 (20 June 1970)||68 (9 Jan. 1971)||Science fiction humour|
|S.N.O.R.K.E.L.||Adventure||José Ortiz||39 (20 June 1970)||57 (24 Oct. 1970)|
|Danny Merlin Son of the Wise||Adventure||39 (20 June 1970)||55 (10 Oct. 1970)|
|The Phantom||Adventure||Lee Falk||55 (10 Oct. 1970)||61 (21 Nov. 1970)||Reprints of the King Features strip|
|The Lone Ranger and Tonto||Western||Paul S. Newman & Charles Flanders||55 (10 Oct. 1970)||60 (14 Nov. 1970)||Reprints of the King Features strip|
|Butch Conner Sheriff of Dodge City||Western||56 (17 Oct. 1970)||61 (21 Nov. 1970)|
|The Blue Angels||Adventure||Jean-Michel Charlier & Victor Hubinon||58 (31 Oct. 1970)||67 (2 Jan. 1971)||Reprinted from Spirou #1607-1627|
|Ringo Rides Again||Western||Joe Maneely||61 (21 Nov. 1970)
92 (26 June 1971)
|80 (3 Apr. 1971)
101 (28 Aug. 1971)
|Marvel Comics reprint|
|Amazing Spider-Man||Superhero||John Romita Sr., Stan Lee, John Buscema, and Jim Mooney||62 (28 Nov. 1970)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)||Marvel Comics reprint|
|Silver Surfer||Superhero||Stan Lee & John Buscema||62 (28 Nov. 1970)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)||Marvel Comics reprint|
|Homer the Happy Ghost||Humour||Stan Lee & Dan DeCarlo||62 (28 Nov. 1970)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)||Marvel Comics reprint|
|Ghost Rider||Western||Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, and Dick Ayers||62 (28 Nov. 1970)||91 (19 June 1971)||Marvel Comics reprint|
|Menace of the Black Museum||Adventure||José Jimenez||c. 69 (16 Jan. 1971)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)|
|The Tuffs of Terror Island||Adventure||Tony Coleman||c. 81 (10 Apr. 1971)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)||Continued in Valiant and TV21|
|Wheels Moran||Adventure||c. 81 (10 Apr. 1971)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)|
|Clancy Clot: Magician's Mate||Humour||c. 81 (10 Apr. 1971)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)|
|Cap'n Stardust||Humour||c. 90 (12 June 1971)||105 (25 Sept. 1971)|
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