Cover of the first issue of Avatar (1967)
|Type||Biweekly underground newspaper|
|Publisher||The Lyman Family / Fort Hill Community|
|Founded||June 9, 1967|
|Ceased publication||April 26, 1968|
Avatar was an American underground newspaper published in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1967-1968. The newspaper's first issues were published from the headquarters of Broadside magazine in Cambridge. During its brief existence Avatar was considered one of the best underground papers in the country, largely for its excellent content, layout, printing, and design.
Avatar was started by a varied group of people from different parts of the Boston countercultural scene, but quickly came to be dominated by the Fort Hill Community, led by Mel Lyman, a charismatic banjo and harmonica-playing folk musician who had, over some years in Boston and Cambridge, become the center of a group called the Lyman Family. Owing to their work ethic and dependability, the Lyman Family (aka the Fort Hill Community) and many sympathetic to its ethos became the core of the production, distribution, and content of the paper.
Over time, disputes between the Fort Hill Community and other factions involved in putting out the paper led to an irreconcilable split, which ended that cycle of the paper.
A total of 24 issues were printed bi-weekly from June 9, 1967, through April 26, 1968. Toward the end of its run, six issues (nos. 18-23) were published in large-size broadsheet newspaper format, with a tabloid size magazine insert. A "25th issue," dated May 9, 1968, was haphazardly assembled and printed by opposition factions, but all but 1,000 copies of the 45,000-copy press run were sequestered and disposed of.
There were three short-lived spinoffs of Avatar:
- New York Avatar (7 issues, March 29 – August 1968) — edited by Brian Keating out of a SoHo loft and featuring contributions by Paul Williams and Peter Stafford of Crawdaddy magazine and underground cartoonist The Mad Peck. Print run of 7,500.
- Boston Avatar a.k.a. Avatar Vol. II (6 issues, July – August 1968) — edited by Dave Wilson of Broadside magazine and produced by the opposition faction.
- American Avatar (4 issues, October 1968 – Summer 1969) — beautifully printed tabloid magazine version under the direction of The Fort Hill Community.
- "Incident in Harvard Square". Boston Magazine. January 1968. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- Vrabel, Jim (2004). When in Boston. Bostonian Society. p. 415. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- McCleary, John Bassett. Hippie Dictionary. Ten Speed Press. p. 676. ISBN 978-1-58008-547-2. Retrieved 2009-07-25.