maryrenaultfics Banners

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Creator: my_cnnr
Date(s): 2004 – 2015
Medium: banners
Fandom: Mary Renault
External Links: maryrenaultfics LiveJournal community
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

In the course of its existence, the maryrenaultfics LiveJournal Community page was headed by a variety of different banners.

Special banners also often headed specific series of posts.

These banners were created by my_cnnr, one of the moderators of the community. Over time the creation and use of the banners became a key factor to the fans of the community, generating commentary from time to time and creating a sense of identity.

The strong focus on the banners as an expression of community identity is one of the differentiating factors from the many other banners created by and used by other LiveJournal fandom communities of the time.

One member explained what the banners came to mean to her:

I felt very comfortable and got quite attached to seeing [the banner] cosily there at the top of the page. I was particularly taken with the winged horses, which I now know to be an Etruscan terracotta piece, but at that time had never seen before: to me, they quickly came to represent maryrenaultfics itself to me--not just as a place for discussion, but also the sense of *community* that I had found there.[1]

Art Traditions Before The Banners

At first, even though my_cnnr created a header for the community, she did not make any special banners to use at the top of posts. Nevertheless, she did engage in some artistic creation during this period. For example, she created a header for mapmakerfic, the small community on LJ where trueriver and poicale posted their Mary Renault fanfic; and she composited illustrations for some of the stories there. Examples of these include a title banner for TrueRiver's "A Very Thin Armour" and an illustration for the Sunday Tea stories written to the prompt "propelling pencil". In each case, the illustrations also appeared on the MRF announcement linking to the story ("A Very Thin Armour" and the "propelling pencil" stories.[2]) There were also occasional seasonal illustrations posted to MRF—for example, "Christmas cards" (of a sort) from the moderators to the members. Such things were, however, sporadic. Significantly, major events such as the second chapter-by-chapter (CBC) discussion of The Charioteer (in 2007) and the CBC of The Persian Boy (in 2008-9), each of which lasted for weeks and was a major community activity involving considerable discussion, had no especial artwork employed to head each post.

Main Banner

The first banner created by my_cnnr composited cropped images from antiquity that were selected to represent major fan interests in the community.

Banner created by my_cnnr, in use until 2008. This banner is stripped down to 4 essential elements: Greek columns draw the eye towards a bust of Alexander the Great, the subject of many of Mary Renault's works. To the right gold statues of winged horses evoke one of Renault's works The Charioteer. And in the middle is a stylized version of Mary Renault's signature. Compare this original banner with those used in later years to get a sense for how the artist and the community developed its identity over time. See additional banner commentary in the article below.

On the left, Renault's historical novels were represented by a bust of Alexander the Great and a section of Greek architecture; on the right, The Charioteer was represented by two sculpted winged horses, signifying the imagery (drawn from Plato's Phaedrus) that had inspired the title of the book. Across the centre of the banner was a reproduction of Mary Renault's signature.

Banner created by my_cnnr, used in 2008. This banner was the final version, replacing two earlier versions, and was created after discussion and commentary. While examples of these two earlier versions are not available, the March 2008 banner has been re-tinted so that the whole header has a golden shade. The background has the look of a palimpsest, with faint typing and a vague impression of architecture. For the first time the title "Mary's Handmaiden's" is placed front and center signaling an increased awareness of community. See the text of the article for additional commentary

On 6 March 2008, the banner was briefly changed to one in blue tones with Mary Renault’s handwriting.[3] The new banner had a picture of Renault, at the typewriter. The background had a pattern of typing running across and there were no statues or architecture or other classical Greek references: it was quite different from any version before or after. The new banner was spotted almost immediately, to negative feedback, and removed within hours.[2] Not everyone objected to the new blue tinted banner, with one community member commenting: "....the blue is quite nice too. Very soothing and classy."[4] After a short while, a temporary replacement was offered, also in blue tones.[4] Shortly thereafter a new header appeared, to the approval of community members. This again composited a bust of Alexander and the winged horses, but against a background of faded typing on parchment, like a palimpsest.

Members of the community showed their approval of the new March 2008 banner mixed in with a tinge of nostalgia for the older version. The inclusion of references to Renault's classical works seemed to be an important motif:

"What a masterpiece - all the important topics condenced in this art, but you can as well see into the perspective, the burnt Persepolis, the two horses, and the vast empire of Alexander, and Athens... and MR's genius."[5]

"Nice. Distinctly nice. (But I still want a copy of the old one!)"[5]

"Beautifully and thoughtfully done like everthing on this site!"[5]

"I like it a lot. When I think of Mary, I think first and foremost of her Greek stories like LOTW and the Alexander Trilogy. Well done :)"[5]

"There is no question that the background is superior on the new one. I'm not so much thinking of the subtle type that textures the...what is it? a parchment graphic? Anyway, that is not unattractive—though a bit busy. Yes, it is a bit busy. Which may, of course, help to cover any flaws in the compositing.

I am, however, quite taken by the delicate skyline glimpse of ruins. I like that a lot. It is more effective and natural looking than the bit of building we had on the original. Very subtle and attractive.

On the other hand....

We do get more of the horses in the first header. And I don't just say that because I like that part of the composition (though I do); but also because it means that the balance between the left and right sides of the header is more equal in the old header.

Also the fact that you used a grey stone tint on the bust of Alexander, combined with the use of a blue-grey Greek façade (however inadequately composited, and I see what you mean there), provides a variation in colour.

Is that the original colour of the picture of the bust you used? It has a variation in hue that suggests so. One of the problems with retinting things is the fact that the result is going to be monochrome, or, at best, duochrome.

In consequence, the new header is effectively all gold, though with some variation in actual shade. I like this better than the all-blue header you made; but this is at least partly a subjective preference for gold over blue.

However, I don't think the preference for a two-hue header is quite so subjective. The result is an impression of full spectrum colour variation—as in nature—rather than a relative monochromaticity. Tinted, of course: it's not b&w. Still, the illusion of a natural range of hues was aesthetically pleasing in the original header.

The signature is in both headers. You have now added the name and description of the community. This makes sense: the mere browser of sites might not immediately interpret the signature on its own, and the fuller information has to be helpful.

On the other hand, I'm not quite so keen on the typeface employed. It looks like typing—which, given that the original books would have been written on a typewriter is probably intended as a nice touch. However, it means that there is a rough look to the letters, which is a consequence of enlargement. When this is added to the busy background (from the texture), it becomes rather distracting.

More seriously: it actually means that the two texts, background texture and foreground title, tend to blend together to the eye. Perversely, this actually makes the name of the community harder to read—which I don't imagine was actually the intention!

So, on balance, I still prefer the composition of the original—but only on balance, since there are definitely bad points to take with the good. In particular, the bit of building composited in the original header is not as attractive as the new skyline of ruins. And the addition of the title of the community is a definite improvement."[5]

Banner created by my_cnnr, debuted 2009. One member noted that "The 'Wavy Navy' crest is now featured prominently, and, with the bull dancer, we seem now to have reference to two more Ancient Greece novels.And, of course, the lovely winged horses remain prominent (which definitely gets my vote). Many thanks to our Moderators for their hard work!"[6]

In June 2009, around the time of the community's 5th Anniversary, a third replacement was greeted with even greater enthusiasm[6]; and members were encouraged to add it to their own LiveJournal profile pages as a way of advertising the community to people with similar interests.[7] In one variant or another, this is the banner that has remained in use since.

The new banner is a better compositing job from a technical perspective. It retains the winged horses on the right, and adds the insignia of the RNVR bottom centre (also referencing The Charioteer), and a bull-leaper on the left (referencing The King Must Die) over the name of the community. In addition (though, on some browsers, rather light in colour and easily overlooked), a profile of Alexander can be seen in the top centre, and a Persian carving (referencing The Persian Boy) can be seen top left, behind the bull-leaper.

The artist was pleased with the banner reception and invited fans to share the image:

I've had the bull dancer for a couple of years now - the line is gorgeous, isn't it? One of my favourite pics. And the RNVR...well - that just needed doing, ya know? ;) Thanks for calling it out, F. If you want to update your page to match, the code for a new version of the small banner is available on the Profile Page (but I left the old link active, too - just in case...)."[6]

Seasonal Banners

In 2009-10, the moderators took to marking changing seasons and community activities by temporarily altering some aspect of the main banner—for example, adding snowmen and snowflakes at Christmas, and spiders at Hallowe’en.

One of the Halloween 2009 variant headers, showing the spiders in the process of spinning webs; a later header included finished spiderwebs.

Members of the community were amused by the rotating banners. For example, regarding the Halloween banners (one of which is included to the right), one member wrote:

"Has anyone else noticed the way our community header keeps changing every few days?

• First we started with one spider dangling from a thread. • Then another joined it (seemed very interested in Ralph's crest). • Then a couple of them congregated at the left side of the header. • And now they appear to be spinning webs across Theseus-the-bull-leaper (hope they don't stop him seeing where he is going)."

What WILL they be doing by Halloween?![8]

Another commented:

"I had indeed noticed. I suspect we'll be all webbed up like Spidey-villains come Halloween."[8]

Many of these special banners were anticipated by the commentary. Compare the discussions about the 2009 Holiday banner below and note the byplay as well as the discussion of design features that shows that the seasonal banners had become a part of MRF culture. The Christmas 2009 banner has a flying Canada goose appearing in the centre of the header, somewhat overlapping the RNVR badge. There is also a skein of geese added to the top left of the header, flying over the bull leaper. All geese face to the left. Again, the dates 2004-2009 appear with the name of the community.

Dec 2, 2009

Goosey, Goosey! I see we are marking the change in seasons again. Presumably the goose flying south for winter points the way to Mary's home in South Africa! (Very nice)"[9]

"Apparently the MRF House is on the migration route. We stepped out onto the veranda the other day to find the grounds just covered in geese..."[9]

"In fact, am I imagining things, or are there a few advent candles shadowing Theseus...."[9]

"There are indeed some very transparent candles on the header, though they weren't intended as Advent candles as much as an acknowledgment of the lights of Hanukkah. I *do* have some holly garland for later in the month, but was thinking it might be interpreted as Christmas-sy, rather than Winter-y, and was trying to be (from my own apparently blunderingly secular perspective) inclusive. Perhaps the addition of Olive's knickers will reduce Christmas associations. Inspiration from the strangest places....

Now I'm a bit worried and think I should have gone for icicles. My intent wasn't to offend or divide, of course, but to acknowledge. Having had a total miss on Eid (and been counseled by a friend that decorations - a small new moon and stars - would be inappropriate, anyway) and another now on the lights, I think I should have just left it with the migrating geese. Everybody likes geese.

I hope."[9]

Additional season banners began appearing in 2009-2010. Descriptions are given below; and a few images have been included as exempla.

It should be noted that, except in the early months of 2009 when seasonal banners were a novelty, the regular header was employed. Over time, it was seen more often than any variant.

  • December 2009 saw yet another Christmas banner (friendslocked) with stylized holly. The leaves are a bit lighter and less spiny than the traditional holly images but the red berries are present. A swag runs down the left side of the header, with a longer swag stretching across the top. In addition, a sprig of holly is tucked in the collar of the near horse. As with the previous banners, the celebratory dates 2004-2009 appear.
Variant community header from the early months of 2010. Piles of snow fill the bottom of the header, partly obscuring its lower elements, while snowflakes are dotted over the upper section. In addition, striped dark red & white scarves have been carefully added around the necks of the two horses.
  • In the New Year of 2010, a new banner was swapped in, now friendslocked. (This does not have the dates as the year was now 2010.) Large swags of ivy were added to the basic header, one running across the top of the header and the other across the bottom.
  • Shortly thereafter, the New Year banner was replaced by a general winter header (shown to the right). Piles of snow fill the bottom of the header, partly obscuring its lower elements, while snowflakes are dotted over the upper section. In addition, striped dark red & white scarves have been carefully added around the necks of the two horses.[10]
  • In the spring of 2010, a variant appeared which has a large snowdrop on the lower left side, slightly overlapping the bull leaper (and almost obscuring the name of the community).[11]
  • In 2010, there was a summer variant with a row of flowers along the bottom of the header.
  • A second autumn variant appeared in Fall 2010, and now friendslocked. It has a pile of autumn leaves on the left, into which the bull leaper appears to be jumping; and a maple leaf is tucked into the collar of the near horse.
  • A second winter variant appeared in Winter 2010 in which the usual white background is replaced by a backdrop showing an icy lake with overhanging ice-coated branches. The usual pictures representing Renault's novels are superimposed (some in white squares).

This sequence of rapidly changing headers set the course for the future, though at no other time did so many appear in quick succession.

The practice of varying the banners was stopped temporarily after the community was closed to public readership in Autumn 2010. The moderators decided that it would not be right for a non-member curious about the community to be presented with a modified header. However, a variant header did appear in the fall of 2011:

  • a "back-to-school" banner (early September 2011, now friendslocked): Green school caps were put on each of the horses, which also had blue & white striped ties on their collars—imitating a school uniform, in other words. Also, an apple was placed on the heels of the bull leaper, as if it were being juggled.

After that, seasonal swapping resumed, at least to a degree. Rather than create entirely new banners, my_cnnr tended to reuse older ones, sometimes with minor alterations; and there were times when the seasonal swapping-out did not occur, possibly due to time constraints and waning interest. Nevertheless, in 2014 (the year of Maryrenaultfics' tenth anniversary), there were a pair of new variants:

  • And for the ten year anniversary gold-leaved wreaths were placed around the necks of the horses, and the dates 2004-2014 added. This went up in the summer of 2014 and remained until mid October, when it was succeeded by Halloween and winter banners. However, the tenth-anniversary banner was put up again after Maryrenaultfics was closed in January 2015; and it has remained the community's header since.

Special Banners

One of the earliest special banners, created for a Sunday Tea Challenge in 2007, which became the Spooky Challenge. This banner uses Classical Greek art, The Head of Orpheus (ca 440 BCE).

Separate smaller banners have been developed for key community activities, including some of the scheduled book discussions and challenges, and have been used on posts about them.

Spooky Challenges

In 2007, the moderators hosted a "Sunday Tea Challenge" that focused on the upcoming Halloween holiday: "A few weeks ago we got to talking about Michael Odell and the wedding reception in TC. During the conversation greerwatson mentioned what a kerfluffle his presence would have created, him being dead and all."[13] The banner design did not seem to connect to the challenge theme as Grecian urn imagery has no connection to Halloween. In addition, the title of the challenge (the "Tea" Challenge) lacked both ghostly and Halloween connections. Still the challenge was very popular and became the template for many additional Halloween challenges down the years.

Banner for the 2008 Halloween fic challenge.

The 2008 Halloween challenge was introduced with the banner to the left. This banner offers up simple stylistic choices by using only text and faded background paper to advertise the challenge. However, the offset angle of the paper and text does signal a "Halloween" element where the worlds of the living and the dead are imagined to intersect. Look at the 2008 banner in contrast with the more complex and thought out banner used in the 2009 Halloween Challenge, below.

Banner for the 2009 Halloween fic challenge.

The 2009 challenge banner (on the right) featured a more sophisticated design. The top of the banner is meant to evoke a spider in its web looking down as a smaller spider dangles from a thread. This dangling spider is meant to draw the eye to the text announcing the challenge and it is only after some perusal that the viewer absorbs the outline of the larger spider above. The four smaller spiders at the bottom of the banner serve as cute non-threatening counterpoints to the larger spiders above. An excellent mix of the spooky and charming.

The 2009 banner was also presented with a matching prompt banner, and was also stylistically coordinated with the seasonal community header used during October.

Future Spooky Challenges followed this pattern of matching challenge banners and community headers, as well as (in many cases) additional matching banners. See Spooky Challenge for more information and context.

World Poetry Day

When the community participated in World Poetry Day in March 2009, my_cnnr created classical themed banners. The first banner was topped by a picture of Sappho, taken from a Pompeiian fresco. (This has not been uploaded to Fanlore, but can be seen here.) This was later used as the basis for a second banner, which topped the reveal post, which garnered over twenty poems.[14] However, neither banner was used on other World Poetry Day activities that year.

As poetry challenges had proved popular, World Poetry Day celebrations were expanded in 2010 to a series of challenges in which members wrote dirty limericks, completed haiku (by filling in the second line), cooperated on writing a renga, and created original poetry. These activities were spread out through March, starting on the 1st and culminating on the 21st, i.e. World Poetry Day itself, with the reveal of the original poems. By this time, special banners had become the norm on the community. A whole matching series of banners was therefore created, based on the same picture of Sappho as had been used the previous year.

Basic banner:
On the left side of the banner is the painting of Sappho. The right side is a pale yellow-green, with the words "maryrenaultfics" on top and "World Poetry Day 2010" underneath in a loose, informal script font. (Note that the official name of the comm, "Mary's Handmaidens" has been dropped. From now on, the more usual "maryrenaultfics" is employed on banners.) This basic banner appeared on the opening announcement[15] and the announcement on the 21st itself.[16] Neither banner has been uploaded to Fanlore, but can be seen on the respective announcement pages.

Variants (not uploaded to Fanlore):

  • "MRF Word Bank": The basic banner, with "Word Bank" written beside the picture of Sappho.[17]
  • "The Below Decks Challenge": The basic banner, with a thought balloon beside the picture of Sappho, with the word "Seriously?" inside. (This one was used for the dirty limericks.)[18]
  • "Project Half Haiku": The basic banner, with "Haiku" and a scribbly underline written beside the picture of Sappho.[15]
  • "Renga": The basic banner, with "Renga" and a scribbly underline written beside the picture of Sappho.[19]

CBC Discussions & the Tomb of the Diver

Banner for the 2010 chapter-by-chapter discussion of The Last of the Wine. This banner features Classical Greek art from the Tomb of the Diver (5th c. BCE), which was discussed within the community in a separate post.

In the fall of 2009, another Chapter By Chapter (CBC) group reading was held, this time for The Last of the Wine. For this my_cnnr created a special banner[20] using a Greek wall painting from the Tomb of the Diver, 5th c. B.C., with the name of the novel underneath. This banner was used on almost every post. As many of the CBC posts were made by members, who often wrote quite long introductions, it means that she must have provided them with the URL of the graphic so that they could add it. Fairly early in the discussion, a special post was made discussing the artwork.[21].

Another wall painting from the same tomb was used in August 2010 to make the banner for that year's Summer Prompt ("swim").[22] The artist commented on the original tomb painting she incorporated into her banner: "The diver scene has been interpreted in various ways. Death and diving were connected in the Greek mind. It is suggested that the dive is meant to depict the moment of death. “the diver dives alone,isolated against the sky. There is present all the intensity of the moment of death.” It is also suggested that the individual was the member of a family group that was not integrated amongst the citizens of Poseidonia."[21]

A chapter-by-chapter (CBC) discussion of Renault's Fire from Heaven was announced on 11 April, 2010, headed by a banner that was then used on each of the actual CBC posts, which ran weekly from 18 April until 11 July. (Some of these posts were introduced by members; so the URL of the banner must have been provided to them.) The banner is in discreet brown tones, except for the title of the book, which is in a yellowish shade, giving an antique effect. On the left is a large slice horizontally across a bust of Alexander, showing eye and nose. Centrally is a sunburst (looking like a bas relief) with the title of the book above; the image presumably references the title of the book. On the right is a small section of bas relief showing a battle scene, specifically a mounted soldier leaning down to strike at a foot soldier with a shield. This references the heavy focus on Alexander's youthful military campaigns within the novel. A few members commented on the "creepy" composition.[23] This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore.

The Lost Man Booker Prize

Variant of the community header after the announcement of the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize. Pennons with "Team FFH" in support of Fire from Heaven's nomination, plus a sheet of paper demanding a recount (in the mouth of one of the horses). Note that this is a simpler variation on the existing banner of the time

In 2010, the book Fire from Heaven (FFH) was first longlisted[24] and then shortlisted[25] for the Lost Man Booker Prize. At that point, there were several events on the community, not least of which were exhortations to go and vote. (An ITOW ficlet was written in which the Greek characters from Renault's books tried to fix the vote.)[26] There was a challenge to create fannish bookcovers. There was a chapter-by-chapter (CBC) discussion of the book. There were icons, including versions of members' usual ones with the logo "Team FFH", variously positioned along with a header[27]. In this variant, a dark blue horse blanket was put over the near horse, with a star on it and the words "Team FFH"; also a triangular banner was hung from the feet of the bull leaper. (If you read the comments, you will notice references to "Team Blue" and "Team Grey". This references an on-going discussion of the colour of Alexander the Great's eyes, which are inconsistently referred to in Renault's books as either blue or grey.) This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore.

After the winner was announced and when Fire from Heaven did *not* win the prize[28], a satirical variant was immediately put up. Almost the same as the first version, it adds a piece of paper held in the mouth of the near horse: it bears the words, "Demand a recount".

Design-a-Cover Challenge

On 4 April, 2010 in "FFH - The MRF Edition", members were challenged to create their own fannish bookcovers for Fire from Heaven. Two rather different banners, similar in theme, were created to head posts in which members were reminded of the challenge.[27].

The first banner was made for a reminder of the challenge, posted 4 May 2010.[29] This is a satirical variant on the banner that was used for the previous year's CBC of The Last of the Wine, i.e. a section of Greek wall painting from the Tomb of the Diver showing a drinking party (or "symposium"). On this variant, the two figures in the middle have been edited to 'dress' them in Team FFH t-shirts, i.e. dark blue t-shirts with "Team FFH" printed on them in white. (my_cnnr also made variants of some of the members' usual icons with similar t-shirts. Not all members used them, but some did. The icon can be seen on various LiveJournal pages linked in this article.

A second reminder of the challenge ("Design-a-Cover") was posted on 17 May 2010 with another satirical banner in which a Team FFH t-shirt has been added to a bookcover (specifically, the cover art for the 1972 Popular Library edition, with the words removed, see this link for the original cover).[30]

The reveal was on 18 May 2010, one day before the Booker announcement.[31] The post included a clip of the cover art for the first American edition of the novel, but did not use any of the banners that my_cnnr had created.

2010 & 2012 Sunday Tea Challenges

On June 6th 2010, there was a Sunday Tea challenge.[32] This was not a new activity: there had been several Tea Challenges before. The term refers to a recurring type of small ficlet challenge, i.e. to write to a short prompt, sometimes with a time limit. These were not associated with any special occasion or holiday, but were created on an occasional basis.

For the first time, my_cnnr created a special banner; and this was used on subsequent Sunday Tea challenges. The small, squarish banner composits a logo with a duochrome (blue & black) line drawing of a steaming teacup, plate of cake, and vase of flowers. This is probably clipart from a mid-20th c. source, possibly an advertisement. The banner was next used on 31 March 2012, which was the next time there was a Sunday Tea. These banners have not been uploaded to Fanlore.[33]

Third CBC Discussion

Starting in January 2011, there was a third CBC discussion of The Charioteer. For this, there were multiple banners since, besides the CBC itself, some of the chapters had ancillary writing activities.

For the design of these banners, it is necessary to go back to Christmas 2010. On 23 December, the moderators posted a "present" to the comm in the form of Cubee[34] designs for several of the popular characters. This was illustrated by examples in various combinations, plus the designs for people to print out and assemble. The banners incorporated some of these cubees.

The CBC banner has a light green background, with cubee Ralph and Laurie on the left. On the right is "The Charioteer", with "@ maryrenaultfics" underneath, both done in a script font. This banner was employed on the original announcement (made 2 January) and most of the CBC posts (running from 9 January to 8 May), including many—though not all—that were made by members (who must therefore have been given the URL of the graphic).[33]

There were also two banners for the writing activities. For Chapter One, there was a version with a light yellow background, a large cubee of Andrew (?) on the left, and the Ralph and Laurie cubees (together) small on the right. For the remaining chapters, however, a version was used with a light blue background and a cubee of a woman in pink (probably a nurse in an anachronistic uniform design) on the left, again with Ralph and Laurie on the right. The logo was "TUC @ MRF". The "TUC" refers to the name given to this particular CBC to distinguish it from the previous ones: "The Unwritten Charioteer" (i.e. dealing with historical background, authorial assumptions, and the like as a focus for the discussion). NOTE that "MRF" had not, up till now, been a very common abbreviation for the community. It had, however, appeared on a Yuletide icon the previous Christmas. In addition, My_Cnnr made herself a matching icon. This had a light green background, the Ralph and Laurie cubees, and the logo "TUC @ MRF".

(During the CBC, My_Cnnr made a special graphic to illustrate one of TrueRiver's stories. This is not a banner, but a facsimile letter; and it appears towards the end of the story.)[33]

Later Banners

Thereafter (until the 10YO celebrations), the appearance of new headers and banners was inconsistent. Certainly, clipart was sometimes posted. Other banners, however, are relatively simple and often seem to have been assembled in relative haste. The exception here (and it is a major exception) was the Spooky Challenge, which always had new and attractive banners and headers.[33]

Banners and headers from this period include the following:

On 9 February 2012, a Valentine's Day prompt was posted. It had a banner of three matching antique playing cards with no logo, and no manip.

On 7 June 2012, a "spring jumble sale" of plot ideas was proposed, i.e. people could post plot bunnies they'd got stuck on, so other people could finish them. It was headed by a photo of a large sign on a stick, with "Spring Jumble Sale" written on the sign.

On 16 December 2012, in "The Holidays at mrf", the mods suggested that MRF members make holiday food and post pictures. A banner is posted at the top. It composits a large piece of black-and-white clipart, probably originally an advertisement from between the wars. This shows two women seated at a nicely set table with silverware and flowers. Word balloons have been added (or the words within them altered): one says to the other, "Oh dear, not the Macedonians again?" and the other responds, "All of them. Where shall we hide the spoons?" Below the picture is the logo: Holiday Dinner at MaryRenaultFics, with a spray of b & w holly below that.[35][33]

Although there were scheduled events early in 2013, notably a discussion of Purposes of Love led by queen_ypolita, the first banner came on 9 February with the announcement of another Valentine's Day challenge. This was followed (not headed) by a banner based on clipart of three servicemen (navy and army) and a nurse in uniform. This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore.[33]

"Mix the Six" was a challenge posted 21 March 2013. Options were offered under six headings (character, time, setting, aspect, object, ending) from which people were to write mix'n'match fanfic. For this post, a banner was created in an op art style. A large aquamarine oval in the centre has the title in a modern font whose skinny serif letters, coloured sea green outlined in yellow, are in different sizes and angles with asterisk "dots" over the i's. A thin olive/lime line delineates a surrounding rectangle with a white ground, crossed on the left by a large rainbow-striped swoop that runs under the central oval, while small multi-coloured dots are scattered on the right. This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore.[33]

The Summer Challenge for 2013 went up on 3 July and it was accompanied only by a clipart sun.

On 6 October 2013 came the reveal for the MRF Charioteer bookcover challenge, i.e. to create fannish bookcovers. This had been inspired by the recent release of a new paperback edition. The post was headed by a banner comprising black & white userpic-sized crops from five different actual covers, including the much-favoured original Longman edition of 1953. The five crops are arranged horizontally on white, with a black line around to create a long bar. (Except for being b&w, the appearance is similar to that of an icon bar, such as was once common on LJ for showing screencaps and the like.) This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore.[33]

The annual Spooky Challenge went up on the 10 October 2013 with banners by My_Cnnr, and is discussed in the relevant Fanlore article.

a banner from the last year that the LJ community was active. By 2014, the moderators had reduced their participation in the community and the number of challenges and banners and headers dropped off. This gafiating may have led to the decision to close the community in Jan 2015. However, a few community members still attempted to participate in challenges. This banner was created by greerwatson.

Over its last year, the number of banners and fan art noticeably declined.

There was a Valentine's Day Challenge in 2014 led by fawatson. It did not have a banner but was decorated with a clipart posy. On 16 February, fawatson posted a Sunday Tea Challenge; and a banner provided by My_Cnnr was used to head the post.[36]

However, on 7 March, 2014 a banner was created for International Women's Day, which was headed with a period b&w photograph of nurses in uniform.[33]

On 20th March, World Poetry Day was celebrated with a rather general poetry challenge. my_cnnr headed the post with a banner. This was a modification of the banner from 2010, i.e. with the picture of Sappho, but the words "maryrenaultfics" (underlined with a scrawl) and "Poetry Day 2014". This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore.

Additional posts over the rest of 2014 (including the Summer Challenge and Autumn Challenge) were occasionally headed with clipart or photos of WW2 posters.

In "Autumn 2014 Fic Challenge", fawatson posted an Autumn Challenge for which greerwatson made a banner (seen on the right). This was in honor of the 75th Anniversary of World War II, which fawatson discussed a bit in terms of how war had affected characters in so many of Renault's books. The challenge was to write "something about war". The background is cropped from a painting of the retreat at Dunkirk.[33]

In the community's final year, a few Special occasion banners were still being posted. In September 2014, the 10YO header was replaced by an Autumn header—the same one with piles of leaves that was used in 2013. However, after only a couple of weeks or so, it was replaced on 12 October by the latest Spooky Challenge header, which was posted at the same time as the challenge, which had its own new matching banner. These are discussed in the Spooky Challenge Fanlore article.[33]

The Spooky banner remained up until late in November 2014 when it was replaced by a winter header. This had the 10YO logo, but was otherwise the version with piles of snow and scarves on the horses. The piles of snow almost cover the logo; but enough of the gold lettering is visible to make it clear that the header is a combination. It was the final header as of Feb 2014.

Five Years On Graphics (5YO)

Banner for the invitation fics written for characters from Renault's modern novels. The banner was revealed with the second ficlet[37], which featured Ralph and Laurie, characters from The Charioteer. The basis for this banner seems to have been a matchbook cover for a nightclub. The original text was removed and the 5YO information substituted. There were also changes to the picture, which originally showed a man and a woman at a bar, but the woman was removed in order to better fit in with the theme of the Charioteer. The banner was used on over 20 ficlets.

The Five Year On Celebrations were designed to celebrate the community's fifth anniversary in June 2009. The plan was to have a lead-in to the celebrations in the form of a series of "invitations" to various of Renault's characters. In actuality, they were ficlets describing how each of the characters, in their books, received an invitation to come to the 5YO Celebrations. The idea was that posting these would take a couple of weeks; and, halfway through, they would make an announcement to the community explaining that they were also invited—to write something "fivish" for the actual day itself (June 12th). Then the last few invitations would be posted, giving people time to write. On the 12th, everyone would post their five-themed stories. However, members began tossing in so many ideas, and then sending so many little ficlets, that the schedule had to be rearranged. To fit everything in, the first story had to be posted to the community on May 3rd: there were more than five *weeks* worth of ficlets. To create a visual flow and a sense of separation for the many posts, my_cnnr started making graphics which were only revealed on the community when the posts went up.

In addition to the banner for the anniversary itself, my cnnr also created two graphics to head the ITOWverse "invitations" (one for the Ancients (Renault's classical/historical novels) and one for Moderns (Renault's contemporary novels), a banner for the Bake-Off, and graphics showing the actual invitations received by several key characters in The Charioteer (see samples below).

The banner for the Ancients was revealed with the first ficlet, featuring Bagoas, a character from The Persian Boy. It was basically white-on-white, with a relief picture of Alexander the Great and the words "5 Years On" (in blue) with "Mary's Handmaidens 2004-2009" underneath (in black), i.e. the same logo that appears on the 5YO header. It was used on over 13 ficlets. This banner has not been uploaded to Fanlore, but can be seen here.[38]

The Moderns banner then followed (see the banner to the right for further discussion).

These graphics show how much care and focus that went into creating art that matched both the theme (invitations to the Five Year event) as well as the characters themselves. For example, in another Moderns graphic, Olive's looks like a present day invitation. The RNVR crest appears at the top of the sheet (referencing the wartime commission of Ralph Lanyon, a character from The Charioteer who is a fan favourite). The text is written in a script font, and reads "TrueRiver, My_Cnnr and the Membership of Maryrenaultfics request the pleasure of the company of ............... at The Celebration of their Fifth Anniversary to be held upon the grounds of the Maryrenaultfics Clubhouse 12 June 2009;" and below, "Owing to the difficulties of rationing, guests are requested to make their own arrangements for lunch." The blank has been filled in with the name "Olive Lethbridge". (This graphic has *not* been uploaded to Fanlore.)[39]

The Ancient's Alexander and Hephaistion's invitation appears on a parchment or papyrus background with images of chariot teams at the top, one on the left and one on the right. The text is done in the same font used for the earlier Ancients' banner. Text: "We're having a party! MaryRenaultfics will be celebrating our fifth Anniversary and you're invited! 12 June 2009 at the MaryRenaultfics Clubhouse." Ostensibly hand-written at the bottom (i.e. in a script font, slanted, in a different colour): "Dogs welcome, but the Bodyguard should be leashed. Donations to the buffet (i.e. WINE!) would be appreciated. See you there! TR + MC :)" Additional illustrations accompanied other invitations: Nabarzanes (clipart of camels), Bim (photo of crater where RAF plane crashed). Mary Renault (photo of her at her typewriter), an Art Deco angel was used to illustrate Michael Odell's invitation. These were posted near or at the end of the ficlet.[40] These graphics have *not* been uploaded to Fanlore.

Variations of the community header were also created for the event, including a very simple variant of the basic banner with an altered title with the dates. Later banners and graphics were more customized and elaborate, possibly showing the growing popularity of the challenge.


For a few of the "invitations", my_cnnr prepared additional graphics. These are not banners, but illustrations designed to represent the actual invitations received by the characters. An example of two of the graphics are included in this section with more context.

Bake Off (Five Years On Great Cake Challenge)

In early May 2009 greerwatson and fawaston, two community members, discussed what type of cake might be baked for the five year anniversary. This grew into a series of ficlets about the baking of a giant cake for the festivities. The series appeared from 17-24 May 2009, and inspired the moderators to add another festive activity. On 24 May, they posted the "Five Years On Great Cake Challenge", and asked members to bake cakes (or other foods), photograph them, and post the photos on June 12th.[42] At that time, my_cnnr had not created a special banner for the bake-off; so the announcement was illustrated with clip art—specifically World War 2 pictures relating to wartime flourless, eggless, or fatless cake recipes. (This references the time period of Renault's modern novels, particularly her most popular, The Charioteer, which is set in Britain in 1940.)

The post "Dinner is Served" went up on June 11th along with a special banner to head the post. The banner composites a mid-20th-century black-and-white photograph of cooks in a kitchen with a close-up view of a contemporary kitchen utensil, referencing the time period of Renault's modern novels.[43] The logo, "maryrenaultfics "Five Years On" Bake-Off (and Pot Luck Supper)" indicates a new name for the festivity: not all members had wanted to bake cakes, nor indeed make desserts; and the photographs they posted of their cooking therefore represent quite a variety of types of food. This banner can be seen here.

"Five Years On"

Banner for the fifth anniversary announcement, with a picture of Mary Renault and a facsimile signature. The shift from the general community banner with variations to something more modern and contemporary may have been an acknowledgment of the inclusion of both Renault's classical and modern works in the Five Year festivities.

The cue for community writers to post their "five-themed" fics and for the cooks to post their photos was given in "Five Years On"[7] For this post, too, my_cnnr created a special banner which has a black-and-white photograph of Renault on the left, with the words "maryrenaultfics Five Years On 2004-2009" on the right, with a replica of Renault's signature (or rather her first name) underneath. The shift from the general community banner with variations to something more modern and contemporary may have been an acknowledgment of the inclusion of both Renault's classical and modern works in the Five Year festivities.

Ten Year On Celebration Graphics

The "Ten Years On" festivities started on 20 April, 2014 but went largely unheralded with a vague post with a "ten" theme. Quite soon, though, the term"10YO" was being freely used, and discussions began over whether this might lead to a revitalization of the flagging community.[33]

Amid the "ten-themed" posts, the cubees theme from Christmas 2010 was resurrected and templates were made available for community use. One post was headed by a photograph of three of the cubees (Ralph, Laurie, and Mary Renault herself), the former pair standing on a pair of Navy-related handbooks, and all three in front of a shelf of Renault's books.

On 11 May, 2014 fawatson posted the first 10YO ITOWverse ficlet with others to follow. Similarly, members made icon posts and, as with 5YO, they posted photographs of Renault-themed food they had made. fawatson also posted multiple reminders, heading them with photos of some of the food that she had been baking herself. At this point, no "official" 10YO banners had been created.[33]

Eventually, a 10YO header was put up which was a variant on the usual artwork: this time with gold laurel leaves in wreaths around the necks of the two winged horses, the far one also having a gold-leaved branch in its mouth. In addition, the logo was altered to read, "MaryRenaultFics" in dark peacock using the Papyrus font, with a gold scroll underneath. Under all of this, the words "Ten Years On" appeared with "2004-2014" below that in gold. The zeros had bars diagonally across them. This header remained up until September 2014.

On 1 June, 2014 the first actual 10YO banner debuted; and many more quickly followed. All had a "modern" look, in one way or another. In general, the background colours were in fairly light colours, though they might have bright or dark borders. Photographs, sketches, and clipart were often added. Fonts used were modern in appearance.[33]

On May 11, 2014, a cooking challenge was announced. The rectangular banner had a light yellow textured background with a broad orange-red border. On either side was a "photo" in brown/gold/white tones, each with a white deckle edge. On the right was a mid-century photo of two cooks in a contemporary kitchen. On the left was a "photo" of two ancient Greek women stirring a cauldron, presumably taken from classical art. The logo read, "A Taste" "of" "Mary Renault Fics" in turquoise script on white, arranged to look like three quadrilaterally cut pieces of paper. Underneath was "A Ten Years On Celebration" in small red script letters. The same banner was used to head the actual post to which people commented with their photos.[33]

On June 8, 2014, another banner was used midway down the post. It was also rectangular, with a background in a gold-and-cream pattern like the rays of a rising sun. The gold had yellow bursts on it like fireworks. Around the banner was a broad turquoise border. The logo read, "Mary Renault Fics" "Ten Years On" "Prompt-a-Palooza". As with the previous banner, this was presented in three rows on white, with slanted edges to look like cut pieces of paper.[33]

That same day, a rectangular banner was used to head the post. It had a textured mid-muted-green background with a cream border. A b&w photo of Renault was positioned at an angle on the left. The logo read, "Mary Renault Fics" "List Ten" "My Headcanon" (again on three diagonally cut white sections), in turquoise, in a modern-style font with letters of irregular size, skinny lines, with large serifs. The last one is largest, spangled with blue, and underlined with a narrow red line. At the bottom, in small letters in a fat even script, is "A Ten Years On Celebration".[33]

A few days later, on June 14, a rectangular banner/header was used. It had a light creamy yellow background with a broad light green border. On either side are stacks of hand-drawn books: four on the left, three on the right, each with ten to fifteen books per stack, in multi-colours. The logo is "Mary Renault Fics" "Ten Years On" "Stack Ten", each on a separate white rectangle with irregular angles. The first two are small, positioned at the top, with turquoise lettering in a fat, even script font. The words "Stack Ten" are written much larger, in an irregular version of a typical print font, coloured bright red; the rectangle for these words has a double light green and blue edge on the bottom and right sides. The idea was to inspire members to post photographs of their stacked Renault books[33]

Also on June 14, another type of rectangular banner/header was used. It had a light creamy yellow background with a broad brownish charcoal border lined with a narrow line of lime green. On either side were stylized blue birds (mirror images). The logo was "Mary Renault Fics" "Short and Tweet" "Ten Word Novels", again on separate white backgrounds. The first was done at the top, small, in gold letters in a fat script font, with the rectangle having a light green outline on the bottom and left sides. The other two had red letters in a modern font, with narrow lines and large serifs, where the letters are different sizes and angles. "Short and Tweet" (in the middle) was middling large, with a brown border under the rectangle. "Ten Word Novels" (at the bottom) was large, with a double gold and green border on the bottom and right sides, and a few red spangles dotted.[33]

This was then followed by a banner/header with a textured turquoise background, with a broad teal border lined with a narrow red line. On the right side was a large stylized alarm clock, in brown, with a naturalistic dial and two tiny stick legs. The logo was "Mary Renault Fics" "Ten Years On" "Ten Minute Fics", all with their own white irregular quadrilateral backgrounds. The first two, set at slight angles to one another, were written in charcoal in a fat regular script font, with a gold border at the bottom-and-left and bottom-and-right sides respectively. The words "Ten Minute Fics" is in a larger font, in red, in a font with a modern style script; its rectangle has a double border in light green and teal on the bottom and right sides.[33]

Yet a third rectangular banner/header was created. It had a lime green background, with jigsaw pattern lines over it in a slightly darker shade; it had a broad cream border. On the left side was a black-and-white hand-drawn picture of a camera. The logo was "Mary Renault Fics" "Ten Years On" "Get the Picture", on the usual quadrilateral white backgrounds. The first two were written in teal in a fat regular script, with yellow borders on respectively the bottom & left, and the bottom & right sides. The words "Get the Picture" were written larger, in orange-red, in an irregular modern font, in a rectangle bordered with a double border of cream and teal on the bottom & left sides. The idea behind the banner was to create a picture game where the pictures make a word or phrase that members had to guess.[33]

On June 19, 2014 a rectangular banner was used to head the post. It had a cream background with a broad turquoise border. The centre was dominated by a record: black with slight highlights to suggest shine, and a large orange centre in two tones with radial stripes. On the latter, curved to the record, was written "MARYRENAULTFICS" around the top, in dark blue block capitals. Across the bottom, not curved, was written "Play Ten" in black, with the letters not quite lined up. On either side are four stylized records in various colours and sizes, each in the form of multiple concentric circles of different thicknesses of line. The idea behind this banner was to solicit post playlists to accompany Renault's books.[33]

All in all, over ten different banners and headers were created by and for community members in celebration of their Ten Year Anniversary.[44]


  1. ^ Greer Watson email dated Jan 17, 2015, quoted with permission.
  2. ^ a b The Charioteer fic - A Very Thin Armour, Archived version and tea? or perhaps a mint julep?, Archived version
  3. ^ It was later referenced by some community members as the Mary Typing banner.
  4. ^ a b "Header? What header? - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2008-03-08. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  5. ^ a b c d e "*unveils* *ta-dah!* - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2008-03-21. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  6. ^ a b c "The New Look! - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-06-15. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  7. ^ a b "Five Years On - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  8. ^ a b "Spiders! - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-10-21. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  9. ^ a b c d "Goosey, Goosey! - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-12-02. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "mrf-318629" defined multiple times with different content
  10. ^ "Another Banner! - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-01-07. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  11. ^ "Community Banner - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-02-15. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  12. ^ "FFH - The MRF Edition - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-10-04. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  13. ^ "Sunday Tea Fic Challenge - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2007-10-21. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  14. ^ "World Poetry Day at maryrenaultfics - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-03-03. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  15. ^ a b "Project Half-Haiku - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-03-01. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  16. ^ "World Poetry Day 2010 at maryrenaultfics - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJ…". 2010-03-21. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  17. ^ "MRF Word Bank - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-03-01. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  18. ^ "The Below Decks Challenge - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-03-01. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  19. ^ "< The Never Ending Renga Welcome to another MRF WPD… - Mary's Handmai…". 2010-03-14. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  20. ^ "THE LAST OF THE WINE - CBC Discussion - Chapters 1-3 - Mary's Handmai…". 2009-09-20. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  21. ^ a b "The Tomb of the Diver - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-09-30. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  22. ^ "MRF Summer Short Fiction - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-08-01. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  23. ^ "Fire From Heaven...and Us! - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-04-11. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  24. ^ "The Booker Prize - 'Lost' Classics of the 1970s - Mary's Handmaidens …". 2010-02-01. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  25. ^ "Mary's Handmaidens - More about the Lost Booker thing: FFH shortlisted". 2010-03-25. Archived from the original on 2012-12-02.
  26. ^ "The Blue and the Grey - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-04-05. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  27. ^ a b "FFH - The MRF Edition - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-04-04. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  28. ^ "Troubles wins Lost Man Booker Prize - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-05-19. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  29. ^ "FFH, the MRF Edition - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-05-04. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  30. ^ "Design-a-Cover - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-05-17. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  31. ^ "Fire From Heaven - the MRF Edition - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-05-18. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  32. ^ "Sunday Tea Challenge - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2010-06-06. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Source: greerwatson's emails dated Jan 2015, used with permission.
  34. ^ Cubeepedia.
  35. ^ See Scrapbook:ucy-and-Olive-Post 2 (friendslocked not archived).
  36. ^ Source: fawatson, Feb 2015 emails.
  37. ^ Mary's Handmaidens - Five Years On: Ralph and Laurie, Archived version dated May 4, 2009
  38. ^ "And so it begins.....Five Years On: Bagoas - Mary's Handmaidens — Liv…". 2009-05-03. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  39. ^ "Five Years On: Olive's Cake (01):Olive's Invitation - Mary's Handmaid…". 2009-05-17. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  40. ^ "Five Years On: Alexander and Hephaistion - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJ…". 2009-06-07. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  41. ^ Five Years On: Andrew - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal, Archived version dated: 2009-06-09
  42. ^ "The "Five Years On" Great Cake Challenge - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJ…". 2009-05-24. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  43. ^ "Dinner is Served - Mary's Handmaidens — LiveJournal". 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2022-04-28.
  44. ^ Most of the art that appeared during the Ten Year celebrations of the community appeared in locked posts.