Avatar no. 13 [The "Obscene" Issue]. Eben GIVEN, Brian KEATING, Mel Lyman, eds.

Avatar no. 13 [The "Obscene" Issue]

Boston: Trust Incorporated, 1967. First Edition. Tabloid (17-1/2" x 12"); 24pp; illus. Horizontal fold (as issued); very mild toning to extremities; a Near Fine example.

The notorious "obscene" issue of cult leader Mel Lyman's idiosyncratic, solipsistic, and generally self-indulgent underground newspaper, issued only in twenty-four issues between June 1967 and April 1968. Despite the paper's (and Lyman's) many failings, Robert Glessing (The Underground Press in America, Bloomington: 1970) notes that The Avatar was "...experimental, innovative, and highly creative" and "...graphically one of the most sophisticated of the underground newspapers."

The current issue is justly famous in the annals of Sixties underground publishing. After the newspaper's staff was harassed on obscenity charges by Cambridge authorities, the editors decided to run a double-page centerfold, drawn by artist Eben Given, made up entirely of obscene words in three-inch high letters. It was not the first or last attack on the censors in The Avatar, but it was certainly the most visible, and helped to increase the magazine's circulation to the mid five-figures. In the end, it was neither a lack of funding or staff dissent that ultimately brought an end to The Avatar, but rather the withdrawal of Lyman's support. By the spring of 1968 Lyman grew dissatisfied with the paper -- largely because the editors did not feature enough of his own writing -- and shut it down at the peak of its popularity.

Price: $200.00

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