"Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

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"Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Robert Frazer on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 3:31

Loose ends look unsightly and spoil a complex weave - and they need to be plucked out. The SWA has dispatched Jethro & Monty, their overseas fratello, to Sumatra in order to clip off one such fraying thread, trailing from the rags of the Gladiator Games.

[Fanfiction.net Link]

After making "Occupational Hazards" less a short story and more of a complete novel, I'm afraid that the prospect of immediately launching into another full-fledged piece was a little daunting. I don't want my writing to become a chore, so to take a break this was something that I whipped up quickly, a clear tonic to freshen the palette before the next grand endeavour. Like "Firing For Effect" this is another comic script, this time featuring J&M off on another globetrotting adventure. This isn't the Afghanistan story that I'm partway through writing, but a separate and more straightforward tale of rough'n'tumble action-adventure. I hope that you enjoy it!

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Alfisti on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 9:15

You like shooting up my cyborg don't you? It's a good thing you do it well. Razz


Splash page sounds great... though I'd probably arrange the typographyslightly differently. "Six degrees of seperation" was a good way ofleading into the story too and quickly covering ground.

Robert Frazer wrote:MONTY: Mister Jacopo, I presume?JACOPO: Who the Hell are you—
I'm sure Doc Livingstone was far more polite.

MONTY: One of the goodies, Jacopo.


Sorry... it's the first thing that popped into my head when I read that line. I loved that show as a kid.

this is to convey the remarkable nature of cyborgs to laymen.
"laymen" just cracked me up Razz

GOON: Bajingan kotor putih! Jangan bergerak!
Out of curiosity, is that actually Indonesian or are you making it up?

MONTY: What are you waiting for, for the chauffeur to open the door for you? This isn't Raffles! Get in!
Grouchiness through dry humor... very Monty.

JETHRO 1: Good of you to worry, Jacopo, but this is a rental.MONTY: I prefer to say, 'disposable'.
Drive it like you rented it, because driving it like you stole it means always obeying the speed limit and never forgetting to indicate... unless you're stupid.

MONTY leans an arm on the rear door beside her and regards JACOPO with a lidded, dismissive expression and a sardonic smile.
Monty's expressions are important to her character, so I got a kick out of seeing this included.

-The GOON in the previous panel has squatted down to retrieve theclipboard, and uses his other arm to pull open the door further.-Inthe foreground, a pair of armed grenades, disturbed by the movement ofthe door, fall out, their spoons flying freely. The GOON looks up totheir sound, momentarily baffled while he processes the sight.SFX: Clink, clink [grenades dropping]
Didn't think it'd be like Monty to leave paperwork behind Razz

MONTY: We've a boat on the shore – it's a quick hop to Singapore. Now stop jabbering—
Somehow comforting, even if it's not really British soil anymore.

Panel 8.5-Concentrate on MONTY – bloodiedbut unbowed – as she looks up and shields her eyes from thestrengthening morning light that bleaches her clothes crisp andenriches her injuries to sumptuous ruby.Panel 8.6-Themoment passes, and the colours become more muted again as MONTY followsthrough on her handlers' coded instruction and begins climbing a tree.Her expression is thin-lipped.
Now you're hitting on one of the reasons I've decided against going to greyscale comics. Once you've lived with it, colour is just so damn important for setting mood and atmosphere.

-A moment's respite – with no bodies and the lower edges of the panel discreetly obscured by intervening undergrowth,
Much to the relief of the artist. Limp, dead bodies are suprisingly difficult to draw.

MONTY: Good idea, Jethro.
Just a quick sidenote on Monty. Despite calling everyone else by their names without recourse to a "Mr", "Mrs", "Miss" or what-not, she rarely, if ever, refers to Jethro by his first name. Not unless she's talking about him to someone. Don't ask me why, but that's just how it fits in my head. Perhaps it's a way to differentiate him from everyone else she talks to, or (ironically) attempting to not appear too familiar. Then again it could just be that she got used to calling him by "Sir" or "Skipper" or "Guv" or whatever early on and never grew out of the habit.

I figure she finds time to dig these bullets out at some point before she spak-fills over the top. Otherwise getting through airport security's going to be hell.

JACOPO: Bring up a pair of life-vests while you're at it, "Monty" – you are Ol'Jeff here are going for a refreshing romantic swim back to shore.
And after all that he's still desperate... and stupid.

-MONTY suddenly launches herself forward, filling the entire panel with tear-streaked inflamed bawling fleckspittled outrage.
Actually probably quite in character for Monty redlining... and it wouldn't just be the conditioning sending her ape either. As much as they play down the more squishy emotions most of the time, J+M are horribly attached to each other. The thought of loosing Jethro would terrify Monty. She doesn't have the close support structure of friends that the other girls do, there simply isn't anyone else, and vice versa.

JETHRO: Easy, Monty! I'm okay! We still need him to talk!Panel 12.3-JETHRO leans over and puts a hand on MONTY's shoulder. They bring their heads close together. JETHRO tries to be encouraging.-MONTY gnaws her lip, and her shoulders shudder as she comes down from her danger-high.JETHRO: See? All's well that ends well, right? Never mind me, how's your hand?
Again, I liked this interaction between the two, but part of me thinks Jethro's part should be, more full on perhaps? Talking faster, talking more, getting disjointed and slightly panicy. A tight hug rather than a hand on the shoulder. He loves this girl, and seeing her freak out and go berserk is just so unusual, so without precedent, and so far from her normal demeanor that it's going to throw him for a total loop. I doubt he'd be entirely sure how to handle it... so he'd be clutching at straws, guessing and fumbling.
A sidenote on J+M physical contact. It's something I mentioined to Voodoo in a P.M conversation, but it's worth noteing that Jethro communicates with Monty as much through touch as through speech. An arm around her shoulders to guide her or a gentle push to signal "you first" instead of saying it.
MONTY 2: Listen, wiseguy. Social Welfare Agency policybefore now was to stew in the backside of nowhere until you ran out ofmoney and came crawling back to Italy begging for a plea-bargain. Thislittle contract put out on you piqued our curiosity, though. Why now,after all this time?
I think there's supposed to be a "leave you", or something to that effect, in there somewhere...

Anyway mate, as always I love seeing you write J+M. Once I finish the Monaco arc I might see what I can do toward turning one of these scripts into a comic.
And thank you.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 12:14

Awesome work!

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Robert Frazer on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 15:09

Kiskaloo wrote:Awesome work!

Thanks, Kiskaloo, I'm glad you liked it.

Alfisti wrote:You like shooting up my cyborg don't you? It's a good thing you do it well.

I do like using cyborg abilities to their fullest - including their survivability. Wink Really, though, I seem to be something of a literary sadist - I'm always putting characters through the wringer, whatever the setting, and it usually takes a bodycount in at least double figures to get me out of bed in the morning. It even applies to myself - years back, when I took part in forum trade-off stories, I even wrote my own entries so that my author avatar suffered from at least one limb loss or organ failure per adventure...

Out of curiosity, is that actually Indonesian or are you making it up?

Well, it's Indonesian parsed through an automatic translator... so I might as well be making it up. sweat

Didn't think it'd be like Monty to leave paperwork behind

In one of the story arcs for Queen and Country, detailing an attempted Islamist attack on the 2002 World Cup, heroine Tara Chace and MI6's No. 2 in Egypt are caught up in a gunfight. After defeating the enemy, they walk over to the car that the baddies were using and helpfully find a convenient clipboard of documents in the back seat providing full details of who the enemy are and who's been backing them. Jethro is not guilty of the same blunder!

Somehow comforting, even if it's not really British soil anymore.

GODFUCKINGDAMNIT PERCIVAL, YOU OUTNUMBERED THEM ALMOST THREE TO ONE AND THEY WERE OUT OF SUPPLIES FER CHRISSAKES IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT NNNNGGGGRRRAAAAAAGGGGHHHH *bangs head against the wall repeatedly*

Ahem. Anyway, I chose Singapore mainly because the image of the city is an appealing vista to end on (and it's probably easier to find the Italian Consulate there than sail hundreds of miles to Jakarta) than for historical purposes, but now that you mention it when I visited Singapore during a stopover on the way to Australia it struck me just how Anglicised the city was. Three-pin plugs... double-decker buses... Hell, it even rained as much as it did in England! Wink

Then there was my blundering dad trying to get us into Raffles Hotel in shorts and T-shirts, and being turned away by a very polite doorman mentioning that there was a dress code. Even at the age of fourteen and not entirely au fait with protocol I was still so utterly abjectly humilliated I felt as though I wanted to sink into the pavement... He considered it a triumph! He smiled dumbly and said "that's the nicest put-down you could get anywhere, boys." I just wanted to find a quiet hole to die in. Embarassed

Then again it could just be that she got used to calling him by "Sir" or "Skipper" or "Guv" or whatever early on and never grew out of the habit.

Although it fits especially well here as Jethro literally is the skipper of their boat! I've edited it to suit.

Again, I liked this interaction between the two, but part of me thinks Jethro's part should be, more full on perhaps? Talking faster, talking more, getting disjointed and slightly panicy. A tight hug rather than a hand on the shoulder. He loves this girl, and seeing her freak out and go berserk is just so unusual, so without precedent, and so far from her normal demeanor that it's going to throw him for a total loop. I doubt he'd be entirely sure how to handle it... so he'd be clutching at straws, guessing and fumbling.

A valuable insight, and thanks for it. I'm afraid that space constraints really prevent me from exploring it fully, but I've altered 12.3 to represent that in at least some way:

--------
-JETHRO leans over and pulls MONTY into a tight embrace.

-MONTY gnaws her lip, and her shoulders shudder as she comes down from her danger-high. She returns her handler's hug with a clutching fierceness, and her eyes look suddenly sorrowful and vulnerable as they peek out from JETHRO's chest.

-I'm assuming that the wheel is on autopilot so pedants don't need to worry about the yacht swinging off wildlywithout someone on the helm.

JETHRO 1: See? All's well that ends well, right? So, never mind me - how's your hand?

MONTY 1: Eeeeesh... we might need to head back to Rome to fix it.

JETHRO 2: Well, don't get blood all over my shirt.

MONTY 2: Sorry.
---------


Last edited by Robert Frazer on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 15:53; edited 1 time in total

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 15:38

Even better now with the changes.

And I like the fact you give the cyborgs a workout. I think as authors we tend to be a bit...protective...of our creations and not put them into harm's way when, really, that is what they were built for.

So when I see Kara get chewed up a bit in your stories, I can only applaud the decision because that is how she should be operating - especially if it was to protect Michele.

Kara: "Just keep my thighs out of the line of fire, please, so I can continue to wear miniskirts and shorts. Feel free to target my lower legs, since I can get a few new pairs of knee-high boots out of Michele." Wink

And having been their last weekend, Singapore is a great town. And as a host city for a Grand Prix, it walks all over Monaco. Since they run the race at night, it's awesome to finish Qualifying or the Race and heading right to the bars and restaurants for dinner and drinks followed by clubbing as opposed to Monaco where you have hours to kill before the night falls and the nightlife can begin.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Alfisti on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 21:10

Robert Frazer wrote:GODFUCKINGDAMNIT PERCIVAL, YOU OUTNUMBERED THEM ALMOST THREE TO ONE AND THEY WERE OUT OF SUPPLIES FER CHRISSAKES IDIOT IDIOT IDIOT NNNNGGGGRRRAAAAAAGGGGHHHH *bangs head against the wall repeatedly*

Ahem. Anyway, I chose Singapore mainly because the image of the city is an appealing vista to end on (and it's probably easier to find the Italian Consulate there than sail hundreds of miles to Jakarta) than for historical purposes, but now that you mention it when I visited Singapore during a stopover on the way to Australia it struck me just how Anglicised the city was. Three-pin plugs... double-decker buses... Hell, it even rained as much as it did in England! Wink
Yeah, but at least in Singapore if it rains it doesn't really matter since it's that hot you dry out pretty quick afterward.

It's probably a little odd that I should tend to view Singapore as a "safe" haven, considering my own family history with the place. Dates a little further back to WWII when my grandfather was captured there. Yeah, sunk off Malaya then captured at Singapore... it wasn't a great period of time for grandad.

Either way, it's probably quite comforting for Jethro to have a little reminder of the might of the Empire (or at least former might) rolling over the horizon.

Monty: And Raffles, for cocktails.


A valuable insight, and thanks for it. I'm afraid that space constraints really prevent me from exploring it fully, but I've altered 12.3 to represent that in at least some way:

--------
-JETHRO leans over and pulls MONTY into a tight embrace.

-MONTY gnaws her lip, and her shoulders shudder as she comes down from her danger-high. She returns her handler's hug with a clutching fierceness, and her eyes look suddenly sorrowful and vulnerable as they peek out from JETHRO's chest.

-I'm assuming that the wheel is on autopilot so pedants don't need to worry about the yacht swinging off wildlywithout someone on the helm.

JETHRO 1: See? All's well that ends well, right? So, never mind me - how's your hand?

MONTY 1: Eeeeesh... we might need to head back to Rome to fix it.

JETHRO 2: Well, don't get blood all over my shirt.

MONTY 2: Sorry.
---------

Well if Jethro's trimmed the sails right, the boat should hold it's course with relative ease (we were never that good).

Ugh, I hear you on space constraints. It's a balancing act, what does need to be seen, what doesn't need to be seen or can just be mentioned and what little moments in time are important enough to be allocated more page space. There are also, some tricks you can play with typesetting to let characters say more. Very Happy I guess if it was me I would probably would have tried to spread 12.3 over two panels (thumbnailing and the Gods of page layout willing). Give the moment of the embrace a chance to hang for a bit, then move into the dialogue. Besides, I think Monty's going to need to move her hand in order to look at it. Sorry if I'm only starting to hit this stuff now... Despite drawing them, I'm not used to critting comics.

That said, I like the changes you've made... and then Monty quickly starting to pull herself together as the moment passes.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Robert Frazer on Wed 29 Sep 2010 - 23:29

Eh... thinking about it, I might scrap the last page altogether. Reading back on it, it rushes through far too much in too tight a space, essentially four entire scenes are being crammed into one page and the swing from fight to intmacy, interrogation and and a soothing closing vista with no more than a panel gutter as an interval is dizzying. I'll delete the page entirely and extend the comic to fourteen pages. That would be more fitting, anyway - if the typical print issue has 28 pages of comics, it becomes a tidy half-issue.

Anyway, back to the drawing board.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Robert Frazer on Fri 1 Oct 2010 - 19:15

Okay, updated. I wasn't able to keep it to the 'neat half-issue' after all - it turned out to be fifteen pages - but both Monty and Jacopo get smacked about even more in this version.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Alfisti on Fri 1 Oct 2010 - 21:31

Ok, erm... in honesty? I think I preferred the first edit you did.

Because to be honest that was damn-near perfect.

Yes it was a little cramped at the end, but now I fear you may have swung too far the other direction and lost the impact. All the old version really needed was an extra panel or two to allow the story to wind down (which, yes, would have meant reorganizing the last few pages so as not to cramp the layout). The final bit of viloence was sudden, so let the intimate, gentle moment that follows linger.

One of the things that appealed to me in the old version was how sudden Monty's flareup was. Jethro's threatened, Monty goes ballistic then Jethro's there clumsily trying to calm her down again, bring her back. It was a fantastic character moment. It was also a fantastic "always be on guard" moment, a sudden spike of tension just before the end that made the audience jump. I think that in extending the combat you've written a better action sequence, but it's detracted from the chapter as a whole, it's lost its ebb and flow.

Speaking of highs and lows: I'd remove Monty's smartarse comment about being hard-headed. It's too in control and too much like her regular personality. Again you've lost that stark contrast that you had previously.

That said, I like some of the edited text on the last page. Monty's mention of not liking going back to the Agency and Jethro trying to reassure her that the only person who knows about her loss of control is him (which may not be that comforting to her to be honest, but he's trying).


Now, this is the second edit you've done in a short period of time. May I suggest putting it aside for a few days, not looking at it and giving yourself a chance to step back a bit? Razz

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Robert Frazer on Fri 1 Oct 2010 - 23:46

Hmm. I suppose that Panel 11.1 is redundant, it's just a hop to getting onto the boat - that could be cut without difficulty, and it would let a couple of panels move up to give more room for the cooldown in page twelve. Still, I like the ending of each page to be a mini-cliffhanger of its own to keep up momentum between leaves, and ending page eleven with either the shot-stop or the punch might seem too final. I'll have another look at the earlier version.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Alfisti on Sat 2 Oct 2010 - 7:19

I don't have a copy of the earlier variant on me, so I'm going from memory here. I guess if I was doing it I'd leave 11.1 in there as it ties the jungle and the ocean together nicely and tack on a 13th page. Have page 12 end on Monty's cool-down hug and starting to pull herself together, then page 13 for them to start interrogating Jacopo and sail into the sunset.

That last page I'd have what's currently dialoge wise in 15.1 and 15.2 (except for the final line) intact in smaller panels focusing on the characters. Then pull back for the big sweeping vista of Singapore and their small yacht with Monty's final "so start talking" just hanging there...

...and cue whaa muted brass section.

I mean, if I was drawing Singapore from the sea, I'd want as much space as possible, maybe even a two page spread. It'd be big, grand and in a manner that you could almost feel the "this is just the start of the adventure" in the scene.


Anyway, that's how I'd probably do it, but honestly this is where I'd sit down and faff a bit with some thumbnails for layout to see what works.


As for ending in mini cliffhangers... I think it depends on what sort of segment it is. For action, certainly. But for dialogue I find I tend to just work with what feels like the flow of conversation if at all possible.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 4 Oct 2010 - 19:07

Well...there certainly are a lot of GOONS in Indonesia, and you went through a large number of them!

It's interesting that you started the strip from Jacopo's point of view rather than that of J&M. Shifting the focus of the story from the fratello protecting him to fighting against him gives a little breather between the two action segments, which is important if this ever does reach comic format...otherwise the sections would run together confusingly.

Monty's ferocious defense of her handler is the highlight of this work. Her embarrassed response and Jethro's sympathetic "Ssh. No-one knows but us, eh?" really humanize a pair that at times can feel a bit too stylized.

It's a strange format you're using, but it comes across well once again. Looking forward to the next one!

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Alfisti on Tue 5 Oct 2010 - 9:45

Professor Voodoo wrote:Monty's ferocious defense of her handler is the highlight of this work. Her embarrassed response and Jethro's sympathetic "Ssh. No-one knows but us, eh?" really humanize a pair that at times can feel a bit too stylized.
I'm curious to know what you mean by "too styalized". I don't mean that defensively mind, I'm just interested to know in case its something I can address in my own work (rather than relying on you and Robert to do my job for me ).

If it means what I think it means, then it's worth noting that J+M are supposed to be a tad over-styalised, with a bit of manufactured flourish and glamour about them. They're people who put up facades and build barriers, whether conciously or not. Monty hides behind her attitude, work and looks, and I'm sure that for the vast majority of the time she honestly believes she is that cool and composed. Self doubt isn't something Monty deals with a lot... which of course makes moments where she's proved wrong even more difficult for her to deal with. Jethro, to paraphrase a bit of White Collar: "even if he was ready for a straight jacket would still be grinning and telling you that you had to trust him."

The amount to which they block people out obviously varies from case to case, but chances to bring the barriers crashing down around their ears (like here) are few and far between. I've not found a chance to do it in my own writing yet... fortunately Robert's here to pick up the slack

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 5 Oct 2010 - 23:27

Alfisti wrote: I'm curious to know what you mean by "too styalized". I don't mean that defensively mind, I'm just interested to know in case its something I can address in my own work (rather than relying on you and Robert to do my job for me ).
Perhaps too stylized was the incorrect choice of words...Monty & Jethro are after all created for the visual medium, and they are all about style and design. That said I did enjoy seeing a loss of control for Monty...then Jethro expertly picking up the pieces and putting them back in place. Saying that it humanizes both characters would be the wrong choice of words; Monty freaks out precisely because she is not human...and her very cyborgish autonomic response establishes ties back to canon. As cool as Monty is, she contains the same nuts, bolts & software as Henrietta.

The incident also allows Jethro to strut his stuff, and show that he is a "real handler" very capable of dealing with his cyborg at moments when she is less than her best.
J+M are supposed to be a tad over-styalised, with a bit of manufactured flourish and glamour about them. They're people who put up facades and build barriers, whether conciously or not.
You and I have discussed J&M at great length, and I see that in your finished works, but the comic format you work in does make character development slow. That's not a critisism of course...you've ordered your priorities perfectly. First establish who Jethro & Monty are...then demonstrate their chameleon ability to fit into whatever situation they need to...and only later deal with deeper personal development.

Self doubt isn't something Monty deals with a lot... which of course makes moments where she's proved wrong even more difficult for her to deal with.
And that perhaps sums up what I've been rambling about. Monty's polished facade is so good that even she believes it...making these "cyborg moments" a bit embarrassing for her.

Final note; I'd consider James Bond to be too stylized as well, so it is not poor company to be in.

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Re: "Picking Out The Stitch": A Comic Script

Post by Alfisti on Wed 6 Oct 2010 - 2:26

Professor Voodoo wrote:That said I did enjoy seeing a loss of control for Monty...then Jethro expertly picking up the pieces and putting them back in place. Saying that it humanizes both characters would be the wrong choice of words; Monty freaks out precisely because she is not human...and her very cyborgish autonomic response establishes ties back to canon. As cool as Monty is, she contains the same nuts, bolts & software as Henrietta.

The incident also allows Jethro to strut his stuff, and show that he is a "real handler" very capable of dealing with his cyborg at moments when she is less than her best.
I don't know if I'd call Jethro's handling of Monty's freakout as "expert"... I think I mentioned it to Robert here somewhere, but Monty going all cyborg on him is probably going to throw him almost as much as it throws her. Though he's probably more thoretically prepared for it than Monty is, the freakout is highly unusual for her and almost completely divorced from her normal persona so I doubt it's something he's learnt to deal with completely. He's not like Elio who's had practice dealing with his cyborg's "Marisa moments" and knows how to handle them. So while Jethro's managing to say pretty much the right things and take pretty much the right actions... he's guessing. It's also probably one of the few times he'll speak without mentally vetting what he's saying, so while it's all barriers down for Monty, it's a similar story for Jethro's side.

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Alfisti

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Location : A Town by the Sea, NSW Central Coast, Australia

Fan of : Triela, Hilshire, Priscilla, Ferro

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