The Theban Band
|Name:||The Theban Band|
|Alias(es):||ned & leny|
|Type:||Fan artists, manips|
|Fandoms:||The X-Files, LotR, Once a Thief, HP, Highlander, Pirates of the Caribbean, Due South, The Sentinel, Alexander, Andromeda, Angel, Band of Brothers, Brokeback Mountain, Doctor Who, Horatio Hornblower, Master & Commander, Rome, Sharpe, Smallville, Tour of Duty, X-Men, Miami Vice|
|Other:||RatB, The Agency, WArm thoughts, FellowShip|
|URL:||Slash Art by The Theban Band|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Theban Band is probably best known in online slash fandom for their homoerotic photo manipulations depicting popular slash pairings. People sometimes assume that they are a larger fan collective (of gay men), but the truth is that all these manips were created by just two women - ned and leny; both of them queer and from Australia.
Over the years, the Theban Band created slashy photo manipulations in a lot of fandoms, but the biggest ones were The X-Files and Lord of the Rings. Some of their artwork was for zines in several fandoms and when the Theban Band published the two volumes of The OaT Zine, the only Once a Thief zine of the fandom, they completely illustrated them with their own manips. They also created fanfiction covers for several X-Files slash stories.
When the X-Files fandom run the FOX Awards, a fan award for X-Files fanfiction covers in 2000, The Theban Band won Fanfiction Cover Artist of 2000 and their covers won first place in many categories. The cover for Green Eyed Monster by Aries won Outstanding Slash Fanfiction Cover Art and the covers for Sarah Bellum's A Fish Called Krycek and Aries's Jade Series were tied for Outstanding Fantasy/AU Fanfiction Cover Art. The cover for Fan4Richie's Pulped won Outstanding Humor Fanfiction Cover Art, the cover for Russianrat's Stranger in Paradise won Outstanding Skinner Fanfiction Cover Art, the cover for Carla Jane's Sharpe's Scoundrels won Outstanding Crossover Fanfiction Cover Art and the cover for Heroin by Zen and Nancy won Outstanding Angst Fanfiction Cover Art, Outstanding Krycek Fanfiction Cover Art, and Outstanding X-Files Fanfiction Cover Art of 2000 (the latter a tie with a MSR cover).
In addition to creating fanart, ned and leny were active as archivists in both of their main fandoms. In X-Files fandom they maintained the main M/K slash fanfic archive RatB and the RatB spin-off WArm thoughts for Krycek/Skinner slash, and the main Once a Thief archive The Agency. Once a Thief was to some degree an offshoot of the X-Files slash fandom because Nick Lea, who played Krycek on The X-Files, starred in both shows and ended up playing one half of an OTP slash pairing in either incarnation. The OaT fanfic was originally included on TER/MA, the RatB predecessor, and later on RatB before ned and leny created The Agency.
When the Theban Band first put their slash art site on the net, some people still felt conflicted about this kind of fanart because the idea of putting the heads of actors on other bodies to create an erotically charged picture was for some fans dangerously close to RPF, which was still a big taboo in media fandom. The standard disclaimer on the page reflected and addressed these concerns:
- These images illustrate the characters as portrayed in slash fanfiction and are in no way intended to represent the actors who play them.
The Theban Band used Photoshop for creating their manips and the pictures of the bodies came from all sorts of places; gay sites, scans from magazines or what other people sent to them. Their approach was fairly straightforward. When they wanted to do a picture of Krycek kissing, they would shift through hundreds of photos to get a particular angle and then work with that. Putting images into a different context was part of it; for example using a picture depicting pain in a scenario involving passion because one translates very well to the other.
Especially striking were the fantasy pictures that showed the characters with wings, horns, or as centaurs or merpeople. The Theban Band had a winged Krycek as early as 1999, and in 2000 the winged Mulder and Krycek manips were part of the fantasy section of the site where they shared space with other hybrids. Asked about the technique that went into creating these fantasy pictures, leny said: "We cut bits & pieces from all sorts of things - birds, animals, objects or whatever and stick them all together with a bit of our own invention and try to make it look like it belongs."
The high quality and high visibility of the Theban Band manips often turned them involuntarily into slash fandom's face to the outside world. When some journalist or talk show host or just a regular netizen stumbled upon the slash phenomenon and needed examples to explain slash or wanted to mock it, they often used Theban Band artwork; sometimes with, sometimes without permission. Other people just wanted to show off the gorgeous pictures they found on the internet. The result was the same - the manips were linked all over the place and caused ned and leny hotlinking problems.
Cybersocket Web Magazine, a nationwide gay publication in the U.S., called the Theban Band art "seductive", while an article about Yaoi/Slash in the Bay Area Reporter referred to them as the creators of the most popular slash art on the Web, featured two LotR manips, and said their "work walks a fine line between kitsch illustration and fine art".
One thing that is certainly true is that the artwork is accessible to fandom outsiders. In 2001, a regional gay publication in Germany showed a winged Mulder/Krycek picture on the magazine cover and three Mulder/Krycek manips (with permission) as illustrations for a six page slash article that was the feature story of that issue. Another regional magazine, this time a US publication from 2005, used a Frodo/Sam manip as cover for a feature article  and three additional manips - two with Frodo/Sam and one with a naked Legolas - as illustrations while crediting the Theban Band. In contrast to that, an article about slash in the style section of Sunday Times Magazine in 2004 used a Frodo/Sam manip as illustration without attributing it at all.
When Frodo Met Sam, July 2004. This Sunday Times Magazine article uses a Theban Band manip without attribution.
Reactions: Lord of the Rings Actors
When a fan took a Merry/Pippin LotR manip from The Theban Band website and showed it to the actors who played the characters, the actors' reaction was amused (Dom: "What the HELL is that?" / Billy: "When did we do that, again?") but some fans were unhappy about it and felt that it was inappropriate behavior. However, that was nothing compared to the Ring*Con 2004 where a Haldir/Boromir/Legolas manip was displayed on the big screen in the background during a panel with Craig Parker (Haldir) and Mark Ferguson. The manip was used without permission and the Theban Band only learned about it after the fact.  According to one Con report, the actors took the situation with a sense of humor, probably already used to this kind of thing, and joked about the picture in a way that must have been quite entertaining for the audience.
In an interview ned and leny were asked if they've had any problems with the LOTR or X-Files producers. Leny replied that there hadn't been any problems so far, although they were aware that people had reported them, hoping to close down their site." When asked about the actor reactions they mentioned the incident with the Merry/Pippin picture and Leny added: "We heard that Ian McKellen recommended our website in an article in UK GQ. [...] We've never been able to find the article, so I don't know how true that is." This probably refers to the GQ article from January 2004. The author showed a condescending attitude towards fans and called them "anoraks", which is a derogatory British term meaning someone is obsessively interested in an obscure subject or activity no sane person would be interested in, and Ian McKellen sharply criticized him for it. McKellen later said that he had seen slash sites and fanfiction. It is unclear whether he recommended the Theban Band site to the author or if he found it on his own, but the text included the passage: "For the uninitiated these sites, such as Slashart by the Theban Band, are worth a visit. Slashart is filled with countless, lovingly wrought images of Aragon and Legolas or the like having a rather chaste cuddle. They might make you laugh and might make you think that the Life Shop has a lot of unsold stock. You wouldn't need to be Perry Mason to put its creators in the vicinity of the anorak."
When it comes to public display of Theban Band artwork, nothing is more public than TV. Before Elijah Wood appeared on Graham Norton in March 2004, the producers asked the Theban Band about showing their website on TV. They didn't take it too seriously and were surprised that the show actually went through with it. Elijah Wood brought up the topic when he talked about fanfiction and then mentioned the Theban Band website ("Have you? Have you seen this? And it's the homosexual images of Frodo and Sam, and Aragorn and Boromir together, and Gimli and Legolas! There's a shot, and they, they look like us!"). They showed a few pictures but never mentioned the name of the site or revealed the URL:
- EW: Oh gotta see this, this is the best thing ever.
- GN: Okay, it's called Lord of the Rings, and it's got hobbit love
- EW: Yes! There they are
- GN: You got hobbit love [audience: both squee and aww]
- EW: The thing that's so unbelievably creepy about it is that it does look so, it's US!
- GN: I know!
- EW: I mean, they may have well be photos, and I certainly never took a photo like that!
- GN: It's just that- The weird- the thing that-
- EW: I love that you had that, that's great.
- GN: It's great. 'Cause we looked at it in the office and we thought it might offend you, but you brought it up so. I did the right thing. I did the right thing.
Apparently the non-fannish feedback the Theban Band received after the show was very positive.
Reactions: The X-Files
When David Duchovny appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2004, promoting his movie Connie and Carla, he and the talk show host had a look at the Theban Band website. David, who played Agent Mulder on the X-Files, explained that he was friends with Nick Lea and that Nick had turned him onto the Theban Band. Jimmy Kimmel then accessed the website on his notebook and put it up for the cameras. Both men assured the audience that this was a real website and the first page that was displayed was the main page; back then it still featured Mulder and Krycek as Greek style marble statues. After that they showed a few mostly harmless manips. One where Kycek carries Mulder in his arms, one where he takes off Mulder's shirt and one fantasy picture where Mulder and Krycek are both centaurs. They joked about the pictures, especially about the last one (JK: So when did you shoot this - you and Krycek? / DD: Well, let me see the background again. It looked like Canada and I looked young. Probably somewhere outside Vancouver.) and Jimmy declared the centaur picture his favorite. The section concluded with JK addressing the TV audience:
- Let me tell you this. If you're gay and you loved the X-Files this is the site for you. Right.
In contrast to the Graham Norton show, the Theban Band here only learned about the TV appearance of their website from other people after the show had already aired and no permission was asked. At least the website must have left an impression because years later David Duchovny still referred to it. In an interview with the gay magazine Advocate he answered the question of whether he read any of the erotic gay fan fiction involving Mulder and Krycek with: "I never read it, but Nick Lea, who played Krycek, showed me this website with head-replacement pictures of him and me in various homosexual acts, looking at each other adoringly. We enjoyed that."
A Fish Called Krycek, fanfic cover
button from wings page of TB site
contest art for the
Thin Blue Line Contest
Hardened Criminal, fanfic cover
Hardened Criminal II, fanfic cover
Hardened Criminal III, fanfic cover
Hardened Criminal IV, fanfic cover
Hardened Criminal V, fanfic cover
For Gondor!, interior art
Aragorn/Boromir FellowShip archive banner
Den of Sin banner
Carpe Noctem cover
Cover of an X-Files custom zine, using a Theban Band manip.
- Mark Mardon. Yaoi/slash approaches - A homoerotic subculture goes global, in Bay Area Reporter, February (?) 2004. Offline saved .jpg, accessed 24 December 2008.
- TER/MA - Fan Fiction Pages of Featured Authors, October 1999 via Wayback. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- FOX Awards 2000 Winners, via Wayback. (Accessed 13 January 2009)
- The Theban Band. Green Eyed Monster - Cover.
- The Theban Band. Jade - Cover.
- The Theban Band. Pulped - Cover.
- The Theban Band. Heroin - Cover.
- Leny. Theban Band response to a question about software, 12 July 2001. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- Leny. Theban Band response to a question about bodies, 06 February 2001. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- Leny. Manipulating, 04 February 2001. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- The Theban Band - Fantasy, via Wayback, archived 2000. (Accessed 08 November 2008)
- anya14. Sparrow/Norrington - Dangerous, 11 August 2007. (Accessed 25 December 2008)
- YuinaLucreciaMalfoy. LOTR-SLASH Vol. 2 Boromir & Aragorn - I'll be there for you, 30 January 2008. (Accessed 25 December 2008)
- AgentAlexKrycek. Hey Ned and Leny, you guys are in a Magazine!, 14 February 2004. Entry refers to a quarter page blurb titled "Homo Hobbit Lovin'" with link, review and art in Cybersocket Web Magazine, Issue 6.2 February 2004 - Page 10, February 2004. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- Sandra S. Ertappt: Agent Mulder's geheimes Sex Leben, in Hinnerk April 2001.
- Ann Ford. To Mordor and Back, in: Chicago Reader, 07 October 2005. (Accessed 28 December 2008)
- Milly Chen. When Frodo Met Sam, in Sunday Times Magazine, July 2004. (Accessed via TheOneRing.net, 25 December 2008)
- Cheeky! Pictures of a fan showing a Theban Band manip to the LotR actors Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd at the Wellington, New Zealand premiere of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", December 2002. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- TheOneRing.net - Scrapbook - 'I wonder who took that picture'. Ring*Con 2004, 29. - 31. October, Maritim Hotel Bonn, Germany. Picture description: Craig Parker tries to talk his way out of a picture that appeared on the big screen, much to the amusement of the crowds. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- gorgidas. WTF?, 05 November 2004. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- Susanne S. and Andrea B. Conbericht Ring Con 2004. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- John Naughton. Icon: Sir Ian McKellen, Occupation: The new Olivier, Rings master, X-Man manager, in: UK GQ, January 2004. (Accessed 27 December 2008)
- Elijah Wood on Graham Norton 1, 12 March 2004. Clip on YouTube, the Theban Band part starts at 3:10. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- gorgidas. NY Graham Norton, 13 March 2004. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- justinetre. Lij knows Theban Band!, 13 March 2004. Transcript of the part of the interview where they show the Theban Band website. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- Duchovny.net - David Duchovny Multimedia Video Clips. David on Jimmy Kimmel Live promoting Connie and Carla in April, 2004. The part about The Theban Band is in Part 1: An interview with Jimmy Zipped Real Media file, 12.9 Mb. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- jowrites. Transcript - Jimmy Kimmel Live April 28, 2004. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- gorgidas. On TV again. 29 April 2004. (Accessed 24 December 2008)
- Advocate.com. Big Gay Following: David Duchovny, issue #1011, July 2008. (Accessed 24 December 2008)