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In the comic book industy, and ashcan is an in-house mock-up of a upcoming title. It is used to secure copyright on a work. As such, usually only a couple of them are made. They are often black and white, and usually smaller than a normal comic book (4" x 5").

In more modern times, an ashcan is no longer used for securing rights. They are instead used as introductions to a new series. An ashcan often includes pre-production sketches, character designs, and creator interviews.

They are still normally printed in small quantities -- limited editions -- and many become collectors items.

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