Cover of the first issue of Avatar (1967)
|Type||Biweekly underground newspaper|
|Editor||Brian Keating (issues 6 to 21)|
|Founded||June 9, 1967|
|Ceased publication||April 26, 1968|
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.
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 assembled and printed by the non-Fort Hill faction, but all but 500 copies of the 35,000-copy press run were sequestered and disposed of by the Fort Hill faction. Michael Kindman, founder of the East Lansing underground newspaper The Paper, briefly worked on Avatar and remained with the group for five years. He later wrote of his experiences, including his participation in the theft, in his book My Odyssey Through the Underground Press.
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 who had also edited editions 1 to 5 of Avatar
- American Avatar (4 issues, October 1968 – Summer 1969) - published by the Fort Hill faction
- "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. ISBN 9781555536213. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- David Felton, "The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America". Originally appeared in Rolling Stone 98, Dec. 23, 1971, pp. 40-60, and Rolling Stone 99, Jan. 6, 1972, pp. 40-60. Reprinted in Mindfuckers: A Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America, David Felton, ed. (San Francisco: Straight Arrow, 1972) and reprinted in its entirety in Steve Trussel's Mel Lyman archive.
- McCleary, John Bassett (2004). Hippie Dictionary. Ten Speed Press. p. 676. ISBN 978-1-58008-547-2. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
- Michael Kindman, My Journey Through the Underground Press. In Ken Wachsberger, ed., Voices from the Underground: Insider Histories of the Vietnam Era Underground Press Vol. 1, pp. 369-478. Mica Press 1993, and Michigan State University Press, June 1, 2011. The chapters from this book describing Kindman's Fort Hill experience are reprinted at Steve Trussel's Mel Lyman archive.