Master of the Revels

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Zine
Title: Master of the Revels
Publisher: Uzi Press
Editor:
Author(s): HG
Cover Artist(s): Suzan Lovett
Illustrator(s): Suzan Lovett
Date(s): July 1990
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: slash
Fandom: Facelift
Language: English
External Links: online at AO3
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Master of the Revels is a gorgeous and impressive perfect-bound 215-page slash novel by HG. It has extensive colour and black-and-white illustrations on both covers and throughout the interior by Suzan Lovett, though the type is a fairly harsh-appearing small font justified two column.

front cover by Suzan Lovett: "Zax's Theatre of Mystery and Magic."


back cover by Suzan Lovett: "Sanctuary" -- the photo reference for this illo was supposedly an ad for home pregnancy test kits
frontispiece/title page

On the cover: "Zax's Theatre of Mystery and Magic."
On the back cover: "Sanctuary" by Suzan Lovett.

The zine was was first published as a circuit story (appearing bit by bit as it was finished in chunks) and was later retyped and published as a non-circuit novel with illos by Suzan Lovett. The theory, which seems to have been correct, was that even though it was freely available on the circuit, people would be willing to pay for a cleanly-printed copy with Suzie's art.

A portfolio of art for this fanwork was sold as Zax's Theatre of Glamour and Magic.

The story often appears on fan's Desert Island lists.[1]

It is also story on The 1985 Hatstand Express Top Ten Lists.

One of the illustrations by Suzan Lovett for this story was printed in as a full page in Textual Poachers. It has the caption: "Fluid Identity and Androgynous Possibility: Master of the Revels, and alternative universe involving characters from The Professionals. Artwork by Suzan Lovett."

Print Reprints

I understand 'authorised' copies of the zine of Master of the Revels are being sold. Given that no one has ever had the courtesy to contact me on the subject I'm at a loss to understand who took it upon themselves to authorise this. The text for that production is obsolete.[2]

Defining Its Format

In December 1995, fans began debating on Virgule-L whether the novel Master of the Revels could be considered part of the circuit library and was therefore eligible to be retyped electronically. Confusing matters was that there were two different versions of the novel: one published in fanzine format in the US with color art and another version published in the UK without art and which was part of the UK circuit library. Even after fans confirm that the novel was typed and release chapter by chapter to the UK circuit and then, only later, was it put into a more legible zine format with color art, other fans insisted that the story should not be returned to the circuit. Complicating matters is the fact that the US publisher announced the zine would remain out of print (although she would sell photocopies at full price). The matter was finally resolved in early 1996 when the UK circuit librarian announced that she pulled the story from circulation after it was published in zine format. This exchange once again illustrated that the debate over who defined "circuit stories" could not be easily resolved.[3]

Story Summary

This is not a Professionals novel, but Pros-related:
This is a story about Zax, the character MS played in the futuristic British TV movie Facelift, and a Bodie-clone called Galen. Beginning immediately after the end of the movie, the novel resurrects Zax and brings Bodie into his life. Bodie has been sent to get the magician safely out of a dystopian England to a centre in China. What Galen doesn't expect is to discover that where Zax goes, so goeth also his entire troupe. And so begins a long set of adventures as Galen shepherds his unwieldy group through a dangerous landscape while simultaneously going through an angsty evolving relationship with the moody and temperous Zax. [4]

The Author Commented on This Fic in 1988

In 1988, HG commented extensively on this novel in an interview for The Hatstand Express. See Hatstand Express Interview with HG.

What stories do fans compliment you on the most; what stories have you received the most comment on?

"Master of the Revels" and "Master of the Revels." There were times when it felt like an albatross around my neck - for better or worse the bird has flown and I'm having fun rediscovering B and D.

What was your inspiration for "Master of the Revels?"

It stood 5'8," half bare, had an icy stare, chancy temper, dodgy morals and a painted face. It was lust at first sight.

In fact I didn't particularly enjoy "Facelift" as a whole; while I taped it, I had no urge to re-watch it as I disliked a lot of the music as sung by the Numbers and found the script unsatisfactory. At Sebastian's urging I scribbled a couple of pages (scene where Bob discovers Zax isn't dead) which faded for lack of inspiration. Two or three months later while staying with Sebastian I saw the video she and ET had made of Zax and the Names. Renewed lust apart (I also have a very soft spot for Bob) I suddenly had various questions about Zax and his world I would have liked to see answered. ET and Sebastian nodded understandingly, and suggested I write my own answers. I made rude noises but found myself back at home doing just that. By the time I'd written a few key scenes, still without much of an idea of what was going on (Zax in the cave, Zax handing Galen the stone and then collapsing after he'd tried to make fire for Galen) I was hooked myself.

No one will ever know the relief with which I typed END [to "Master of the Revels"], when I finally got there. It was hard to say goodbye; over the years I got very fond of everyone as I came to know them, but it was a natural conclusion. The moment that Galen's powers became evident - disconcerting everyone but himself - was always intended to be the ending. Before that point - at the stage where Galen returns home having disposed of some would-be kidnappers - I had to make a conscious effort not to be side-tracked just for the sake of it.

I know the ending leaves a lot of ends loosely tied at best; that was intentional. It's obvious they'll have a settled if sometimes tempestuous relationship but I've no intention of writing Zax and Galen from the cradle to the grave (probably mine after the time "Master of the Revels" took). At the moment the reader is free to speculate on developments rather than having my vision imposed on them.

There are still things I want to explore in Zax and Galen's relationship and I now have a 'plot' to hang them round. Whether I will be able to do a decent job of a sequel I don't know, I've no idea when I'll be free to start writing it because I'm involved in two lengthy B/D projects. Self-indulgence is still the main rationale for writing one at the moment.

Did you find it disconcerting to release "Master of the Revels" tbe way you did a few chapters at a time?

It wasn't so much disconcerting as a mistake. There was no conscious decision involved, it happened by accident. For one thing I had no idea in the early stages of how long "Master of the Revels'* would take to finish, or how lengthy it would be. I'm no masochist.

Distribution to the States happened by chance - almost. Lainie Stone visited England and we swapped notebooks, promising each other typed copies when they were done (I'm still waiting, dear heart). She asked if she could share her copy around, I said yes. It snowballed due to the tine "Master of the Revels" took to finish due to the fact it was written in spasms.

Never again. While it was great that people enjoyed the story and wanted to read it as it was typed up, it created a lot of pressure on me, the more as I became aware of people's expectations and had to try and ignore them for the most part.

Because "Master of the Revels" appeared in virtual serial form (natural writing breaks tended to come at moments of crisis because I needed a chance to catch up with what was going on) it attracted more interest than it would have done otherwise. I'm just grateful people were so patient.

Series and Other Inspired Works

  • Master of the Revels: an Alternative Prologue by HG - in the paper circuit
  • Bringer of Light and Magic by Jane - in Proslib and published in The Hatstand Express 13
  • Patterns of Life by Jenny Parkinson - in the paper circuit
  • Another Time, Another Place by Jenny Parkinson - direct sequel to Patterns of Life - in the paper circuit
  • Jane Mailander wrote a Blake's 7 spoof with the title Master of the Rebels. It was published in Compounded Interest 4.
  • Who Gave Us Delight by Sebastian ("A post-Facelift story. I fell in love with Zax - so beautiful! so flawed... ! and so in need of a partner for this strange universe he seemed to have ended up in. A story simply had to be written to put right his solitude. HG did it longer and much better, but mine was faster ;)")
update printed in The Hatstand Express #20 -- "For those of you in these fannish wood (although we think 'fannish virgin' is a definite oxymoron), this soul-satisfying saga comes to from the talented typewriter of "H.G." (Take a bow, H.G.) It will be lavishly, lovingly , lustfully illustrated by the award-winning Suzan Lovett. IF YOU WANT THIS ZINE TO BE PRINTED, SAY IT WITH MONEY. We need 150 fully paid pre-orders to take this zine to the printer. And, just to take the stress out of your life, we will give you a deadline for sending your orders in: postmarked no later than February 28, 1990." [5]

Other Contributors

A Piece of Art that isn't in the Zine

For a work-in-progress that, in the end, wasn't used, see Cold Fish and Stale Chips #7.

Sample Interior Gallery

The zine version contains extensive interior art. Below is a sample.

Reactions and Reviews

1985

Oh boy. I can't praise this one highly enough. You don't have to be a fan of Bodie and Doyle, or of Lew and Martin, to enjoy this -- you don't have to have seen FACELIFT -- this one can stand alone. It's good enough to be a pro novel (questions of copyright infringement being ignored for the moment). And while it's frustrating as hell to have it doled out in bits, I don't want it to end. Ever. This may well be the best piece of writing to come out of B/D to date. It's excellent. [6]
"Master Of The Revels" is such a fine, fine, VERY fine piece of writing...it is not done yet, but it has me hooked and I LOVE IT. It may not be B/D, but so what, its B/D in another existence anyway. MORE...MORE... [7]
Some things are good enough they stand in a class by themselves, this is one. I can sympathise with the author's dislike of being bugged for more, but Zax has gotten himself so deeply Into a hole I can't see how he's going to get out. I am dying to find out. [8]

1988

I enjoy rereading: "Master of the Revels" because it's a great example of how a good writer can go beyond the bounds of any given universe and create something bigger, more interesting. I didn't find "Facelift" particularly inspiring, but I really enjoy MotR. [9]
In working my way through "Master of the Revels", I found I desperately wanted to cuff Zax all the way through the first third of the story, he was so dozy; then the middle third plodded slightly, but the final portion was magnificent, all the earlier pacing and characterization foibles remedied, and the story came to a terrific conclusion. [10]
Of her two long efforts, one can only say that they are among the best in fandom because of her strengths as mentioned above. "Rediscovered" is my favorite historical because it feels so complete. As a reader I understood why the characters acted as they did. All too often, significant motivation is ignored, but not here. The story is also complete; there is plot and some lovely scenes. The tenderness and love the main characters as well as the nicely drawn ancillary characters feel toward ne another is evident, giving the story a warm feel. "Master of the Revels" is a fine extrapolation of the characters from FACELIFT. In addition, it demonstrates H.G.'s skill as a writer as she crafts and fleshes out a world for her characters to inhabit and react to. The story line is good, although the ending creates more questions than it answers. (Though this is the sign of a well done piece - it leaves the reader wanting, begging for, more.) The way it was distributed, however, was a detriment as the story occasionally became repetitious and the writing itself was not always as smooth as it should have been. That perhaps, is H.G.'s worst problem - her work could sometime stand polishing from a grammatical point of view. And yet, such is the strength of her story line and characterization that often grammatical problems seem less significant than they would in lesser works. [11]
It would be impossible to talk about H.G.'s work and not mention "Master of the Revels." It is a most remarkable work and well worth the wait, even if the method of distribution did send fans into frenzies of frustration. I must admit I felt at times the story rambled a bit too much and could have used an editor's sharp red pencil, but the ending is simply wonderful. All the threads are drawn back together and the author manages to leave us crying out for more (those last few pages are terrific and terrificly frustrating!) even while being very satisfied with all that we have - quite an accomplishment. [12]

1991

"Master of the Revels" by H.G. is one of the longest and most complex stories in B/D fandom. Emily Ross and Rita Schmaltz (recently published this as a zine but most of the copies were pre-ordered. It is also available from the lending library. Set aside time to read this. It will take a while. [13]

1993

A number of fans admit they were not "into the fandom" but bought the zine because of the art. [14] "Okay, okay, I bought this for Suzi Lovett's art. It's gorgeous... The story's okay; it was serialized on the circuit, so it doesn't build the way a novel should. but each chapter is a solid short story on its own, and each one has a climax to itself. Highly recommended if anyone ever decides to part with it. [15]

1996

On a different subject, I just want to say that this zine contains my all time favorite Suzi Lovett drawings and has what I still consider my absolute favorite Pros-ish picture of the two of them. And am I the only one who finds the b&w prints far superior in both content and style than the color prints for this?" ...[Among my favorite pieces is the one] ...where Bodie is holding Doyle and all you see is their upper bodies. Bodie seems so possessive and marvelously protecting in that picture. Then there's the one of the two of them in the straight back chair. Personally, I find the view of muscles under sleek backs and arms much more erotic than all the dangly bits blowing in the breeze. I also love the one with the view of Zax through the broken door. (It also happens to be one of my favorite scenes in the novel; angst and pure emotional [not to mention, deliberate] h/c, I love it!) I actually picked up a picture for my mother that was of Zax, but not from MOR. It seems to me a very striking picture though it's mostly in shadows. It simply shows Zax with his hands over his face, covering everything that isn't in shadows except for his right eye and side of his forehead. Very interesting. [16]

2000

"There are probably a few of you out there who remember Facelift, the Play for Today that Martin Shaw appeared back in 1984. I wasn't terribly impressed at the time but after reading Master of the Revels, my interest has definitely rekindled. MS plays Zax, a stage magician in a future where society is divided into Names (the lower end) and Numbers (the ruling elite). At the end of the play Zax has unwittingly killed a number and is mobbed by an angry crowd and left for dead. Master of the Revels takes up where the play ends and Zax is rescued, barely alive, by a mysteriously man called Galen. A very long and convoluted story follows, which eventually has the two of them together and happy far away from the city of the play. The only slight problem that I have with the story is that I can't take Bodie seriously being called Galen. Pictures of Roddy McDowall and chimpanzees keep coming to mind! Ignoring this, however, this is a zine to get your teeth into and with pictures by Susan Lovett, it's pretty to look at too."[17]

2001

Then, of course, there's Master of the Revels which I love because everything turns out OK so it's comforting and a great read when the world is out to get you. What's more, I love Zax and really want magic in my life and Harry Potter just isn't enough. [18]

2007

I know lots of people don't seem to like it, and I was wondering - do you think it might be because you've not seen the film? Might that help? ('cos, honestly, anything's got to be good after that..!) Or is there something else about the zine (without spoilering me too much, cos I'm barely a third into it!) that puts you off? And there are people out there who liked it, right? Apart from the gorgeous art? [19]
I've heard [the movie, Facelift is] appallingly bad, but it's all taste, right? I'd love to see it since I love the zine. I have about twenty more pages of that tiny, itty-bitty print and I'm finished, but I was suck in immediately....The zine is beautiful. I bought it for the art and after hearing how people hated the story, I thought a few times I wouldn't read it, but what the heck. It's right here, next to me. So I started in... I can tell if I like a story within the first few pages. Next thing I know, it's two hours later and I'm happy. The secondary characters are very lifelike, as is the "nemesis" to Zax. So all in all, I like it very much. [20]
I don't normally have a problem with AUs. But I find I have a hard time liking a story when one of the characters isn't Bodie or Doyle. I don't want to read about Cade or Deed or whoever. Those are totally different characters. Bodie or Doyle in a different setting, like Cook and the Warehouseman, I can deal with. It's a different place. But the underlining characters are still supposed to be Bodie and Doyle. I haven't read MotR, though I have the zine, mainly because of this. Is Zak Doyle? And, if so, what does that say about the Zak character? Or Cade, or whoever they use? Is there so little in these other characters that Doyle, or Bodie, can be so easily overlaid on them? [21]
But I find I have a hard time liking a story when one of the characters isn't Bodie or Doyle.

That's exactly how I feel - I'm very wary of Cade and Deed fic, I want Doyle to be around as well, and I don't want Cade/Bodie or Deed/Bodie, I only want Doyle/Bodie (*stamps foot petulantly*)

The thing about Zax in the film is that, to me anyway, he totally had no personality, so he can be completely overlaid with Doyle-persona, with no effort at all. And that's one reason I'd argue it's not a good movie - not only do I have no sympathy for what Zax does in the movie but there's no aspect of a personality in him that I can latch onto as motivation unless I make up my own backstory for him, which pretty much negates the whole point of watching a movie imho.

I'm reading Zax as Doyle with a different name, and although that usually throws me too (I search and replace alternative names that authors have used when I can - I know, I'm bad...), in this case it works just fine, and I'm really enjoying the world and the situation that HG has created for them. [22]
Which leads me to MotR. I like it very much. I've burned out on some of HG, but this one still grabs me. I like the serialized way in which it appears to have been written--as if bits and pieces of it were appearing in public--so there are lots of cliffhangers. It just...takes you along for the ride. I'm not surprised it kept you up! It did the same with me. Enjoy! Oh, and I do very much see them as an AU version of Bodie and Doyle. *g* [23]
I really liked MotR, I have it and read it a few times. Galen is certainly Bodie-esque enough to keep me reading ;) And I like the fact that there's a whole world-building in the novel, I'm a sucker for that :D [24]
Master of the Revels...which I've started with only the first half in my hand until next month - ack! - not only brings in Bodie and Cowley (okay, Galen and the Controller, but they so are Bodie and Cowley), but it's started to flesh out the world of names and numbers and Regulators a bit more, and I stayed up way too late last night reading it when I meant to go straight to sleep... And Zax in the film just has no personality that I can see, so I can totally believe that he might yet turn out to be Doyle in a he's-been-terribly-traumatised kind of way. Which means that it really is an AU, and as we know I've gone from hating them to adoring them over the last eighteen months or so... Usually I hate it when AUs use names other than Bodie/Doyle too, but maybe because I've seen the film now I can deal with it in this one. I know lots of people don't seem to like it, and I was wondering - do you think it might be because you've not seen the film? Might that help? ('cos, honestly, anything's got to be good after that..!) Or is there something else about the zine (without spoilering me too much, cos I'm barely a third into it!) that puts you off? And there are people out there who liked it, right? Apart from the gorgeous art? [25]
Now there's an AU! In fact I rather think it's already several AUs... But I love the idea of the lads having to cover their face with glop to go undercover... Doyle'd do it, and Bodie'd take the piss, unmercifully! [26]

2016

Written in the 1980s and distributed on the Pros Circuit, zine-published in 1990, written by "H.G." and illustrated by Suzan Lovett, published by the late Rita Schmaltz and Emily Ross) - Another AU tale (a combination of a non-Pros program and an original character). It is at times heart-warming, heart-rending, and heart-stopping. And then there's the artwork. I have two copies of this zine, just because of the artwork—glorious full-page illustrations (both b/w and color), wrap-around color covers.[27]

Unknown Date

Master of the Revels aka the zine I almost went blind on. Story by HG. Art by Suzan Lovett. Press, dead and gone. It's basically the same people who brought out Harlequin Airs. This is 200+ pages of tiny and tight text. The art is amazing, and the story is pretty amazing too. It probably could have been edited a bit. All right, the story probably could have been trimmed in several places, and minor characters could have been give more detail. That minor gripe of mine having been aired, I rank this zine as another masterwork. [28]
It's basically the same people who brought out Harlequin Airs. This is 200+ pages of tiny and tight text. The art is amazing, and the story is pretty amazing too. It probably could have been edited a bit. All right, the story probably could have been trimmed in several places, and minor characters could have been give more detail. That minor gripe of mine having been aired, I rank this zine as another masterwork. [29]

References

  1. Close Quarters Desert Island Episode/Zine/Fic dated July 18, 2009; reference link.
  2. from the author's notes on AO3
  3. Source: Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed March 29, 2012.
  4. from Hatstand
  5. printed in The Hatstand Express #20
  6. In The Hatstand Express #6 from a fan listing what was supposed to be her top 10 Pros stories; the list turned out to be 50 stories long
  7. from The Hatstand Express #7
  8. from The Hatstand Express #7
  9. from The Hatstand Express #16
  10. from The Hatstand Express #18 (1988)
  11. from The Hatstand Express #18
  12. from The Hatstand Express #18 (1988)
  13. from Cold Fish and Stale Chips #9
  14. see Cold Fish and Stale Chips #8
  15. from a fan's top five favorite zine list in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4
  16. Michelle Christian's review of the zine posted to the Virgule-L mailing list dated Jan 1996, quoted with permission.
  17. Pillow Talk no.6
  18. from DIAL #20
  19. byslantedlight led a discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community on June 29, 2007; WebCite
  20. sc fossil at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community on June 29, 2007; archive is
  21. gilda elise at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community on June 29, 2007; archive is
  22. byslantedlight at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community on June 29, 2007; archive is
  23. msmoat at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community on June 29, 2007; archive is
  24. phantomas at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community on June 29, 2007; archive is
  25. 2007 comments at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community; archive is
  26. 2007 comments at discussion of the zine at the ci5hq LJ community; archive is
  27. comment by kslangley at What was your first fandom?, August 28, 2016
  28. The Professionals Fanzines, Archived version
  29. here