The news spread quickly yesterday that late, lamented Arthur Magazine has been resurrected. Arthur was a free, bimonthly music and culture publication that also dabbled in incisive political commentary, and when it departed the physical plane—it ceased publication in 2008 and existed on the web for a few years, before publisher Jay Babcock officially pronounced it dead in 2011—a gaping, literate hole was left in the landscape of music discourse. (That last, terrible sentence reminds us of why Arthur was so important.)
Now Arthur is back! (Arthur 2: On the Rocks, perhaps?... hello?) It ain't free anymore ($5), and it will be on newsprint instead of sleek, paper-cutty magazine stock, and its publication costs will be predominantly reliant on the purchase price rather than advertisors to stay afloat. The new version of Arthur is due in large part to a new partnership forged with Portland's own Floating World Comics and its proprietor Jason Leivian. We asked Leivian about the new Arthur, and how both he and Portland will be involved in the new incarnation.
The new Arthur (Issue No. 33) will be available December 22, and can be pre-ordered now. There will be a First Thursday release party for the new issue at Floating World Comics (400 NW Couch) on Thursday, January 3 at 6-10 pm. Leivian says Babcock may fly up to make an appearance, although that is not yet confirmed.
MERCURY: How did you get involved?
JASON LEIVIAN: I am really excited about Arthur's comeback. It was such an influential and important magazine to me when I used to find them at Jackpot Records (usually) back in the day.
It's interesting for me to recall the steps that brought Floating World and Arthur together. I discovered this bizarre Steve Aylett project 'The Caterer' in the pages of Arthur. I went on to reprint that comic. I was publishing a newsprint anthology called Diamond. I submitted an issue to Bull Tongue and they reviewed it. I was so stoked! So Jay knew who I was just from those two projects.
When the magazine was online only I took over as the comics editor for Arthur Magazine. That was how I first started working with Jay. That was a fun gig. It led to more publishing on my end and I think Jay was looking at the newspapers I was publishing as a potential format for Arthur's resurrection.
Will Arthur be markedly different from its first incarnation?
The first few issues of Arthur were on newsprint, so this is a return to that form in some ways. Although you'll see the dimensions and format of the new issue are larger and laid out differently. I haven't seen the Indesign files yet but I imagine it'll be more like a daily newspaper, the way it folds over, etc... I believe this issue that we're releasing was actually in production before Arthur went on hiatus before. So it will probably have a similar feel to the previous run, but with an all new layout. Anticipate that the next issue after that will be built fresh from the ground up. Jay's handling all the editorial but I suspect I'll be sharing suggestions like "Hey Jay, have you heard this new Psychic Ills record? Hint hint." I want to think of something cool for new comics content.
Will it be published in Portland? Do you know if there will eventually be Arthur CDs/DVDs as well, or other supplements?
I'm using a web press printer in Oregon, the same printers that I've worked with on most of the newspapers I've published. I'll be handling the distribution from Floating World. Jay and I definitely hope to do more, but we'll have to review the sustainability after this issue hits the stands. If we can find a magazine or book distributor to help us with shipping and handling I feel like that would take a huge load off my shoulders.