Arthur II: The Resurrection
Look what rose from the grave, just in time for Easter Sunday. Arthur Magazine, pronounced dead by its editor a month ago, announced late last week that it would come back to life in the next few months.
The afterlife for the five-year-old music, culture, politics and drug magazine arrived courtesy of a "trusted intermediary" who got feuding partners Jay Babcock, the LA-based editor, and Laris Kreslins, the Philadelphia-based publisher, back to the negotiating table late last month. Babcock bought out Kreslins' share with the help of loans from friends and family.
The deal marks the end of a tiff that started on Jan. 3, when Kreslins informed Babcock that he could no longer publish the bimonthly magazine, but some hard feelings remain.
"I shouldn't have had to do this," Babcock said. "Now I'm in deeper debt than before."
Kreslins, who runs the tourism website movetophilly.com with his girlfriend, always disputed Babcock's claims that the magazine was finished. His publishing company, Lime Publishing, seized control of Arthur's assets, trademart and website, where it posted news that the bimonthly publication was on "indefinite hiatus."
"I never thought of it as being dead," he said. "But I'm a pretty optimistic person."
Kreslins' bolt for the door locked up the magazine's credit line and killed the momentum of Issue number 26, which was schedule to lead with a feature on Yoko Ono by Thurston Moore and Byron Coley and drop in time for the March South By Southwest Festival. The delay has meant much of that issue’s content was lost.
"Features walked," Babcock said. "It's a total shame."
Some of content wandered over to other websites, such as The Seth Man's piece on Sly and the Family Stone, found its way onto Julian Cope's Head Heritagesite. But others are now posted in blog, form on the magazine's website, now controlled by Babcock.
But the cloud of hiatus had some silver linings. Friends "came out of the woodwork . .. and out of the woods," to offer a hand to the magazine in its time of need, Babcock said. Plans for CD and DVD releases are in the works, as well as a book anthology of the best of the last five years' journalism. The sold-out "Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda" DVD will be back in print June 1, and the next issue of the 50,000-circulation magazine will come out "as soon as necessary financing is in place," he said.
Babcock speaks the language of legend when discussing the publishing pause. For the last few weeks, the magazine’s website has featured an Aubrey Beardley-esqe drawing of the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend with the caption "Arthur is in Avalon." In some versions of the story, he explained, the lady presides over the British island of Avalon, where Arthur is sent to heal his wounds.
"The whole thing is that he will return in our time of need," Babcock said. "He is supposed to die and come back."
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