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Tim Bradstreet

Criminal Macabre

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As some of you are no doubt aware, I spent 7 years doing covers for "John Constantine: Hellblazer" over at Vertigo.

It was massive fun, and a real thrill for me to actually get to do covers for the series considering I worked in a comics shop years ago when the series first began.

I was an immediate fan of the book AND those gorgeous Dave McKean covers. Little did I know then that I'd become the regular cover guy on the book starting with issue #134.

It was a job I coveted, it was my favorite thing to do every month, and then lo and behold . . . It came to an end.

 

I wasn't being dropped by Vertigo, they just needed to breathe some fresh air into the book. I had survived 3 different writers, four different editors, and a slew of asistant editors during my 7 year tenure. It was time for a change. Vertigo handed me "Sandman Mystery Theater: Sleep Of Reason" as a way of keeping me busy, but that was only a 5 issue series and there was nothing else hanging around at the time that I could jump to. I was feeling a tad concerned that I would not be able to find a book I was seriously into to replace that hole in my schedule every month. I wanted to stick in comics and find a regular gig. A few months passed and I was taking little things here and there but I still hadn't found that book.

 

Enter Steve Niles and Criminal Macabre. I was yapping with Steve one afternoon and he asked me, Would you consider taking on the covers for Criminal Macabre? I was like HELL yes.

I've been a fan of Cal McDonald since the early 90's when Steve was trying to convince me to draw "Hairball". Cal's first story. I'd read all the books, comics, etc. Steve knew I was a huge fan. I'd even done a cover for one of the novels "Guns, Drugs, And Monsters". This was very much a no brainer.

 

Well I have to say that without a doubt I've never had so much fun working on a book. Criminal Macabre is a blast for MANY reasons.

First, we right away decided that Tom Jane HAD to be the cover model for Cal. We still needed someone to portray Mo'Lock and we enlisted the services of another actor here, Christopher Nelson. Chris had just worked with Tom and Steve on "The Tripper", and you'll also recognize him from "Kill Bill" where he played Uma Thurman's doomed husband to be. Chris is an absolute BLAST to work with. He's also a former make-up FX guy who plyed his trade with good friend Greg Nicotero over at KNB EFX. So we not only have a perfect model, he can also do his own make-up!

Second, I practically get carte blanche in terms of doing what I want to do with he covers. Both in terms of concept AND execution. I have the freedom to decide, "This cover needs to be black and white". I have the freedom to say, "This cover will be entirely digital." I'm getting a lot of input. Generally all I have to do is run it by Steve and it's done.

Now complete freedom isn't always the best recipe for success. Sometimes you need someone to reign you in, or to suggest alternatives. You need someone to keep you honest.

And that's why we have Dark Horse's Shawna Gore hanging out in the editor's chair. Shawna knows when to stay hands off and she knows when to stick her head in and politley suggest another direction. She also LISTENS to me when I suggest things pertaining to Trade Dress, logo coloring, and overall layout of a book's design. I really feel a part of the whole production. That's something that as a creator, you just can't buy. Universal elements have to align, or something. That's why I feel we have magic with this book.

It doesn't happen often, but it's happening here, and it's happening NOW.

 

So, without furthur ado, I hearby open the official Criminal Macabre thread here on the Bradstreet forum.

We'd love to know your thoughts about the covers but also about this amazing book and world that is Cal McDonald, the ORIGINAL monster hunter.

See alo these links ---> http://www.steveniles.com - http://www.myspace.com/criminalmacabre - http://www.darkhorse.com/profile/profile.php?sku=14-633

 

As a bonus for sitting through my lengthy post I offer you the very first look at Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby #4

This one's gonna be ALL black and white.

 

Macabre8.f.jpg

 

- TB

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My oh my. That looks very nice. It would look bitchin' on my wall :P

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Great cover Tim! Good to know what goes on behind the scenes with your work. You would not have a list of all of the Criminal Macabre/ Cal McDonald books by any chance? The only one I have read so far is Two Red eyes but I enjoyed it a lot and would love to back track and read all of the stories I have missed.

 

Aaron

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Guest AdminGuyX

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT.

 

Black and white the way black and white should be done, and a killer use of the Schofield revolver, I might add. One of my favorite guns. Long before it was used by Clint in Unforgiven too.

 

It's odd not to see your work on the cover of Hellblazer, I gotta say. I keep looking for it still when I go to the shop, then it hits me once I see the book.

 

But hey, I love Cal stories too, and in fact I'm enjoying those more than Hellblazer.

 

:P

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Noeland always spots my favorite pistolas when I throw them in a piece.

The Schofield obviously has a distinctive shape. It and the LeMat have got to be my two favorite pistols, ever.

The new shit is all fancy, sleek, and hardcore, but the old revolvers get me like nothing else. Big fan of the British Webley too.

It's also a top break revolver, like the Schofield. I'm a sucker for top breaks.

I had a chance to pick up a real nice Schofield replica when I was in Germany last, and skipped picking it up. Always regretted that.

 

Not sure what Nick Stackle is doing with the interiors. We talked about comparing notes at one point then dropped out of touch. But the Schofield indicated on the cover to "My Demon Baby" #4 is representing something Niles referred to as "A holy artifact, the Church's holy gun", or something like that. I love religious iconography and when you mix that up with firearms (I know, seems rather sacrilegious of me) I get nutty like a schoolgirl. I came up with the cross on the handle bit and then added a skull, like it's a holy weapon of death. Artists for 2000 years have been doing some warped stuff in the guise of religious artwork, be it sculpture or paint. Even to the point of gruesome. Like the "skinless man" in the Duomo in Milan. It sits (it's a sculpture) to the right of the main sanctuary, and it's almost hideous. Naturally I gravitated towards it right away. Anyway, I'm getting way off the subject.

 

I'm not sure what Nick ended up doing for the gun in the interiors. Doubt we'll have continuity there. But that's OK. I don't think it hurts to cross that line from time to time where cover imagery is concerned. For me it's all about compelling someone to pick that sucker up and buy it.

 

And good news. Editorial concurs and this thing is going to be black and white on the stands. I'm trying to convince them that the logo should be white too. But that'll be a harder sell.

 

- TB

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Holy Crap that's awesome!

 

 

My favourite Criminal Macabre cover you did was Two Red Eyes #1. There was just so much information in it that you couldn't help by stare at it for minutes, just trying to find new things! It's also the issue that I got a Cal drawing and letter put into the letter column, so I'm biased.

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shit....I was gonna say somethin' nice but all these other guys put it in much better words. Man is that lovely or what!

 

Actually it wasn't until Tim started doing the Hellblazer covers that I even picked up an issue. Of course I then had to catch up on all the back issues. I love the new book as well.

 

But I am going to add that one of my favorite covers he did recently (sorry off topic.) was for a Jonah Hex comic....always been a hex nut.

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Tim, you need to post some of the actual photos of Tom posing as Cal so we can compare. Seeing the actaul photograph and the after product fascinates the shit outta me because of how damn good it is.

 

JO

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Tim,

 

Where can I get a list of all the Crimimal Macabre and Punisher covers that Thomas has posed for? I would love to have a collection of them. Also are there are any posters of your cover art available anywhere? Would love to see them. Thanks.

 

Mediumfan

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Hmmm,

So far for Criminal Macabre Tom is featured on - Criminal Macabre: Two Red Eyes 1-4 (also now available in trade paperback - with a new cover), Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby 1-4 (first issue is on stands), and Supernatural Freak Machine - A Cal McDonald Mystery.

 

Punisher MAX #6 (back shot)

Punisher MAX #13 (as Nick Fury)

Punisher Mini comic - Available inside the first edition of the DVD, The Punisher.

 

I think that's it so far.

 

As for posters, I'm not sure. Marvel just prints anything they want to and never tell me they're doing it.

 

If you are interested in lithographs though, I make artist proofs of my covers - 13" X 19"

You can see some of the stuff here ----> http://www.plyconskeep.com/artwork/timproofs.htm

No Criminal Macabre stuff up there yet, but they are available.

 

I'm going to start a thread soon on the subject of artist proofs and how you can get them directly from me.

So if that interests you, keep your eyes peeled for more info.

 

Best - TB

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Hmmm,

So far for Criminal Macabre Tom is featured on - Criminal Macabre: Two Red Eyes 1-4 (also now available in trade paperback - with a new cover), Criminal Macabre: My Demon Baby 1-4 (first issue is on stands), and Supernatural Freak Machine - A Cal McDonald Mystery.

 

Punisher MAX #6 (back shot)

Punisher MAX #13 (as Nick Fury)

Punisher Mini comic - Available inside the first edition of the DVD, The Punisher.

 

I think that's it so far.

 

As for posters, I'm not sure. Marvel just prints anything they want to and never tell me they're doing it.

 

If you are interested in lithographs though, I make artist proofs of my covers - 13" X 19"

You can see some of the stuff here ----> http://www.plyconskeep.com/artwork/timproofs.htm

No Criminal Macabre stuff up there yet, but they are available.

 

I'm going to start a thread soon on the subject of artist proofs and how you can get them directly from me.

So if that interests you, keep your eyes peeled for more info.

 

Best - TB

 

 

Thank you so much, TB. That is great. I'm going to start searching for all of these right away. And thanks for the tips about the proofs. I've looked at your site and I"m definitely going to be looking into those. I've already started my wish list for those proofs and I'm going to start collecting those as soon as I can.

 

Again, I LOVE your work and I am eagerly awaiting the new stuff from RAW.

 

 

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It should be said that when I put together a large proof order for the locals here at the forum, the price will be substantially reduced.

Proofs will be $20 each or 6 for $100. They are all printed with 7 ultrachrome inks with 100 years lightfastness, which means they won't fade away.

They are printed on 100LB watercolor paper, they are 13"X19", and they are F'ing gorgeous.

The hell with it. I'm starting the order proof thread tonight. Deadline for orders will be middle of December so we can get them out in time for Christmas.

 

Also, James -

Cal McDonald movie eh? Are they making one of those? ;)

The scoop is this. There have been people lining up at Steve's doorstep to make a Cal movie.

There has also been talk of it being a 1-2 season HBO thing (like Rome, Deadwood).

But so far everyone who wants to gently coax it away from Steve, also wants to water down/eliminate the whole "drugs" aspect of the character.

Needless to say, that would be like making a movie out of "Hellblazer" and turning the character into a non blonde, non British, detective of the weird from LA.

"Constantine" was not a bad movie, but it was a TERRIBLE adaptation of "Hellblazer" because they ripped out the essential ingredients of the character.

Be honest. There ain't a one of you that thinks Keanu makes a good Constantine. I love Keanu, always have, but guess what? He just ain't John Constantine.

Paul Bettany would have been BRILLIANT, and if they'd have cast HIM, and shot it in London, or Liverpool, or even fucking BATH, it would have been fugging brill.

But Bettany is not proven box office. It's all about selling popcorn people!

I think they could have saved a lot of money. Instead of the 60 to 70 million it did cost, they could have done it for 20, cast Bettany and delivered a creation that would have had a much better chance of succeeding .

 

But I digress.

 

Steve is sticking to his guns. The drugs/drug taking, is not glamorized in Criminal Macabre, or any Cal McDonald stories. But it IS an essential part of what makes Cal, CAL.

If not for drugs, Edgar Caine would have killed Cal off a decade ago and we wouldn't be having this conversation. One of the most interesting concepts about Cal is the story behind why he stays in an almost perpetual state of "medicated". The dude is a receptor for freaks and monsters. He has to shut that out somehow, otherwise it overwhelms him. Pick your poison right? It's an "R" movie anyway so it's not like 8 year old kids re going to be rushing to the theater and then wanting to act like Cal. I don't condone the use of drugs, but I do understand it ;)

And if it's presented in the way it is intended, to an audience made up of 17 and above, then how is it any more dangerous than making a film about Hunter H. Thompson?

Did you rush out for some peyote or LSD after you watched "Where The Buffalo Roam", or "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas"?

Me neither, but only because I couldn't find any.

 

Kidding!

 

After 30 Days of Night hits theaters and does as well as everyone is predicting, I'm sure Steve is going to get the deal done HIS way.

We're probably going to know something solid in the next 6 months. And with any luck it will be Tom Jane in the role.

 

- TB

 

 

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It should be said that when I put together a large proof order for the locals here at the forum, the price will be substantially reduced.

Proofs will be $20 each or 6 for $100. They are all printed with 7 ultrachrome inks with 100 years lightfastness, which means they won't fade away.

They are printed on 100LB watercolor paper, they are 13"X19", and they are F'ing gorgeous.

The hell with it. I'm starting the order proof thread tonight. Deadline for orders will be middle of December so we can get them out in time for Christmas.

 

Also, James -

Cal McDonald movie eh? Are they making one of those? ;)

The scoop is this. There have been people lining up at Steve's doorstep to make a Cal movie.

There has also been talk of it being a 1-2 season HBO thing (like Rome, Deadwood).

But so far everyone who wants to gently coax it away from Steve, also wants to water down/eliminate the whole "drugs" aspect of the character.

Needless to say, that would be like making a movie out of "Hellblazer" and turning the character into a non blonde, non British, detective of the weird from LA.

"Constantine" was not a bad movie, but it was a TERRIBLE adaptation of "Hellblazer" because they ripped out the essential ingredients of the character.

Be honest. There ain't a one of you that thinks Keanu makes a good Constantine. I love Keanu, always have, but guess what? He just ain't John Constantine.

Paul Bettany would have been BRILLIANT, and if they'd have cast HIM, and shot it in London, or Liverpool, or even fucking BATH, it would have been fugging brill.

But Bettany is not proven box office. It's all about selling popcorn people!

I think they could have saved a lot of money. Instead of the 60 to 70 million it did cost, they could have done it for 20, cast Bettany and delivered a creation that would have had a much better chance of succeeding .

 

But I digress.

 

Steve is sticking to his guns. The drugs/drug taking, is not glamorized in Criminal Macabre, or any Cal McDonald stories. But it IS an essential part of what makes Cal, CAL.

If not for drugs, Edgar Caine would have killed Cal off a decade ago and we wouldn't be having this conversation. One of the most interesting concepts about Cal is the story behind why he stays in an almost perpetual state of "medicated". The dude is a receptor for freaks and monsters. He has to shut that out somehow, otherwise it overwhelms him. Pick your poison right? It's an "R" movie anyway so it's not like 8 year old kids re going to be rushing to the theater and then wanting to act like Cal. I don't condone the use of drugs, but I do understand it ;)

And if it's presented in the way it is intended, to an audience made up of 17 and above, then how is it any more dangerous than making a film about Hunter H. Thompson?

Did you rush out for some peyote or LSD after you watched "Where The Buffalo Roam", or "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas"?

Me neither, but only because I couldn't find any.

 

Kidding!

 

After 30 Days of Night hits theaters and does as well as everyone is predicting, I'm sure Steve is going to get the deal done HIS way.

We're probably going to know something solid in the next 6 months. And with any luck it will be Tom Jane in the role.

 

- TB

I agree, Paul Bettany would have been a killer choice. I was greatly disappointed in that flick and didn't understand how the hell you could F'up Hellblazer. Why?

 

Anyway. Let's get down to brass tacks. How much for the ape?

 

If they can make Fear And Loathing they can sure as hell make a Cal movie. Seriously.

 

After I watched Trainspotting, I definitely didn't want to go dope up, fall into the floor, have nightmares all while listening to Iggy & The Stooges. I just listen to Iggy & The Stooges.

 

Simple.

 

Thanks for the insight though, and I'll be looking foward to the prints for sale.

 

P.S. - If Tom Jane ain't Cal, what the hell is the point???

 

-JO

 

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TB, you're awesome! I've already found several of the covers I asked about so THANK YOU so much! I REALLY dig those covers. And the books are fan-dam-tastic. I am SO into Cal McDonald right now, it's unreal. And you're so right about TJ in the role of Cal. If he doesn't do it, then it just won't be Cal McDonald. He would be so F-ing awesome in that role, it would be insane. I'm glad Steve is sticking to his guns about the character. It wouldn't be right any other way.

 

And thanks for the info on the proofs. I can't wait to get my hands on those. Anxiously awaiting more news.

 

 

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And also, let me be clear -

I'm not taking a stab at the Constantine film as a whole.

I think Francis Lawrence did a nice job with the pieces he was given to work with.

A lot of the story elements are there and it might have succeeded across the board had the source material been honored more completely.

 

You go to comics to reach a built in fan base. Hellblazer, being Vertigo's flagship and longest running book may not have "X-Men" numbers, but what it does have is a died in the wool fan base. How does it make sense to fiddle with that? How much respect do you show the fans when you strip a character of essential elements?

It's Hollywood arrogance at work. It's been done a thousand thousand times, mostly from source material such as novels and short stories. Take this lesser know story that is already written and adapt it. Normally it works because the fan base is small, or there are certain things that MUST be changed to create a better "film" VS "book reading" experience.

But you still run the risk of alienating it's fan base, especially when those changes involve re-imagining a main character. Changing plot and pacing, omitting certian details, and so forth is somewhat more acceptable. Look at "Master And Commander", a film based off of Patrick O'Brien's 20 book opus. In their adaptation they showed "reverence" to the source material.

The only real sticklers being that Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) was not as physically diminutive as described in the books, and the main antagonist is a French vessel, not an American vessel, as was the case in the books. That stuff is much easier to overlook when everything else is so completely authentic. Both cases were happily overlooked by most.

A spot on performance by Bettany, and an American or no - fearsome adversary did a lot to put fears to rest. That's 20 NOVELS of material that translated into a brilliant film. It proves why Peter Weir is a genius. And they didn't screw with Capt. Jack Aubrey. Thank the Gods.

 

In the case of Constantine they became a victim of their own script, and subsequently their own budget. For a while there it was Nicholas Cage who was attached. And that would have been the same problem with a different actor. But it also leads me to believe that they HAD to have a lead that could put people in the theater, which means they had a decent mid to upper range budget. Now they're stuck in the Hollywood formula. There is a short list of actors they check who have proven ability to "open" a film. And believe me, they do not falter on this thinking. That's why there was no way they'd make this thing with Bettany. I think it was written to be specifically located in LA to save $, and specifically written with a proven American lead in mind, and to Hell with the source material. My thinking is this. If you are going to go THAT far from the character then why bother to do the adaptation?

It's just insulting.

But guess what, the formula works! Because idiots like us pay to go see things like this. And then we go buy the DVDs.

 

 

 

Hey, I have an idea. There is this book called Captain America, about a young kid named Steve Rogers who doesn't have what it takes to become a soldier in America's war on the Axis.

He takes a drug, a "super serum" and it turns him into a juggernaut. He wears the stars and stripes and he carries a cool shield. He becomes a one man army battling evil.

OK, that's cool. Hmmm, Let's keep the name, toss out the America part, let's call him Captain WAR. Lose the shield, the FX could be done with CGI but it's still kinda hokey. Let's give him a big super soldier GUN and update the whole thing and throw him in Iraq! Oh, and let's make him a bald black guy. That would make a way better film that fans would jump on!

 

Wrong.

 

- TB

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Tim, thanks again for the tips on the covers. I've found or ordered all of the Criminal Macabre books that you mentioned, and I even found the Criminal Macabre trade paperback that you mentioned.

 

When is the next book in the My Demon Baby story going to be released? I loved the cover that you did for #1. It's probably my favorite of the Criminal Macabre covers. I am continually blown away by your work. It is absolutely freakin' amazing. It's mind-boggling, it's so good.

 

Keep up the good work.

 

mediumfan

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Well shucks.

Seriously, thank you MF.

I absolutely love it if people enjoy them as much as I do, which is to say, as much as I had fun working on them.

And it's always nice to know that one's hard work is appreciated.

I'm having an absolute ball on the book and hopefully it shows through.

 

Not sure about release date for Demon Baby book 2.

Maybe check Steve's forum? Or the DH site for release dates.

 

- tb

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the cover is off the heezy for reezy.

its all about the black and white.

reminds me when i fell in love with your art back in the WW days.

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Earlier today, I picked up a copy of the Two Red Eyes TPB I had ordered from Borders. I also picked up Guns, Drugs and Monsters: Monster Hunter Book 2. I really liked the idea of adding chapters to the Two Red Eyes stories, you don't see that too often. I also noticed for the first time, that in both the Cal stories (My Demon Baby, Two Red Eyes), Jane doesn't appear in issue #3. I bought the TPB even though I already had all four comics, I got it for the cover.

 

Street, I'm wonderin if the shot below is ever gonna make it into a comic or graphic novel. Its really impressive...

 

Thomas Jane is Snake Pli -- I mean Cal McDonald

 

thomasjaneascalmcdonaldxh7.jpg

 

-TL

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Glad you grabbed the goodies TL.

That piece is supposed to be the new cover for the "Supernatural Freak Machine" Trade Paperback.

I've been wondering why I haven't seen it published.

I'm going to do some snooping and see WTF.

I did that thing like 10 months ago.

 

- tb

 

PS - In "Two Red Eyes" TJ appears on issue #3, it's the shot of him in the car with the hand grasping out at him from the back seat.

It's issue #2 that he does not appear on. That was especially for Nosferatu.

With "My Demon Baby" I did the cover with Mo'Lock holding the severed head, Cal with the syringe graphic first. It was supposed to be the first cover, then the cover with the priest, the open hand, and the robed accolytes, then TJ holding the demon baby, then the Black and white cover. Editorial changed things up on me so now TJ and baby are first, Cal and Mo are second, the priest/hand thing third, and BW last. Now I feel like a goddamned ping pong ball ;)

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Glad you grabbed the goodies TL.

That piece is supposed to be the new cover for the "Supernatural Freak Machine" Trade Paperback.

I've been wondering why I haven't seen it published.

I'm going to do some snooping and see WTF.

I did that thing like 10 months ago.

 

- tb

 

PS - In "Two Red Eyes" TJ appears on issue #3, it's the shot of him in the car with the hand grasping out at him from the back seat.

It's issue #2 that he does not appear on. That was especially for Nosferatu.

With "My Demon Baby" I did the cover with Mo'Lock holding the severed head, Cal with the syringe graphic first. It was supposed to be the first cover, then the cover with the priest, the open hand, and the robed accolytes, then TJ holding the demon baby, then the Black and white cover. Editorial changed things up on me so now TJ and baby are first, Cal and Mo are second, the priest/hand thing third, and BW last. Now I feel like a goddamned ping pong ball ;)

First off, is Supernatural Freak Machine a collection or a graphic novel of it's own?

 

I've been wondering about this because I saw news about it and didn't really know.

 

Also, when does the next issue come out? Do you know, Tim?

 

-JO

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