Avatar (newspaper)

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Cover of the first issue of Avatar (1967)

Avatar was an American underground newspaper published in Boston, Massachusetts in 1967-68. The newspaper's first issues were published from the headquarters of Broadside magazine in Cambridge.[1] The paper was initially 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 very charismatic banjo and harmonica playing folk musician who had, over some years in Boston and Cambridge, become the center of a group called, simply, The Lyman Family.[2] 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. Toward the end of its run 6 issues (nos. 18-23) were published in large size broadsheet newspaper format, with a tabloid size magazine insert.

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.[3] A "25th issue" dated May 9, 1968 was haphazardly assembled and printed by opposition factions, but all but 1000 copies of the 45,000 copy press run were sequestered and disposed of.

There were three brief-lived spinoffs including a New York City edition based on the Boston version called New York Avatar, 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. New York Avatar published 7 issues, with a print run of 7500 copies, between March 29 and August 1968. A reorganized Boston Avatar (also known as Avatar Vol. II), edited by Dave Wilson of Broadside magazine and produced by the opposition faction, published 6 issues between July and August 1968. A beautifully printed tabloid magazine version called American Avatar ran for four issues under the direction of The Fort Hill Community from October 1968 to Summer 1969.


  1. ^ "Incident in Harvard Square". Boston Magazine. January 1968. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  2. ^ Vrabel, Jim (2004). When in Boston. Bostonian Society. p. 415. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  3. ^ McCleary, John Bassett. Hippie Dictionary. Ten Speed Press. p. 676. ISBN 978-1-58008-547-2. Retrieved 2009-07-25.