The Magnus Archives

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Fandom
Name: The Magnus Archives
Abbreviation(s): TMA, MAG, MagnusPod
Creator: Rusty Quill Ltd.
Date(s): March 23, 2016 - present
Medium: podcast
Country of Origin: England
External Links: Official Site
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The Magnus Archives is an audio drama horror podcast centered on Jonathan Sims, Head Archivist of the Magnus Archives, recording the testimonials of people's encounters with the potentially supernaturally strange after the previous Archivist, Gertrude Robinson, disappeared. The podcast loosely follows an anthology format, with the over-arching meta-plot gradually gaining significance over the seasons. It has five seasons, each 40 episodes long, as well as additional content such as Q&As, non-canon fan-submitted statements and one-off episodes that tie in with Rusty Quill's other podcasts.

Canon

Characters:

Fandom

TMA has a fairly significant Tumblr fandom for an audio drama. In 2019, TMA was the 9th most popular "Web Series" according to Tumblr Fandometrics' Year in Review 2019. The shows popularity spiked as the fourth season came to a close, around November of 2019.

Early fandom seems to have been mostly on reddit and the now defunct Rusty Quill forums.. As it grew in popularity, it became popular on Tumblr and AO3. From April 2020, over 800 new works per month were being added to the TMA AO3, compared to under 100 per month for the first 3 years of the podcast. The fandom also has a large presence on Discord, largely due to the company hosting an official server as a replacement for the old forums.

Much of the fan activity involves fan theories and discussion, as well as fan art, as is common for podcasts. Designs for the main characters tend to be similar-looking, such as Jon as short, skinny and South Asian, Martin as white and fat, Basira as a dark-skinned hijabi, and Elias as having one or two earrings with eye-symbols. Some of these trends can be tracked back to popular fanartists. A fanart trend around the post-S4 hiatus was to re-draw Leyendecker paintings as TMA characters. This started as a TMA trend and then spread to other audio dramas. See Fan Art section for an example.

The fandom has, or at least thinks itself to have, a much higher proportion of asexuals than general fandom, especially amongst older fans. This is due to Jon being Word Of God confirmed asexual, and many asexuals relate to him. New fans tend to be younger and fans of podcasts in general, rather than horror fans, coming from fandoms such as The Adventure Zone or WTNV. This led to jokes along the lines of "that mutual who turns into a tma blog overnight".

The podcast creators, particularly Alexander J Newall (director and voice of Martin), are active on Twitter and in the patron channels of the Rusty Quill Official Discord, interacting with fans.[1] As the fandom grew, the creators scaled back their engagement. Ben Meredith (voice of Elias) and Alasdair Stuart (voice of Peter Lukas) have something of a reputation on Twitter, having collaborated during quarantine to produce the infamous lonelyeyes "big boy man" audio clip, and subsequently the lonelyeyes fan-script, performed by Alasdair and written by his partner.

The Mechs

Podcast creator, writer, and voice of the lead, Jonathan Sims, was previously the lead vocalist in a London-based band, The Mechanisms, whose dark tones, queer representation, and mythic story-telling appeal as well to the audience of the Magnus Archives, or vice versa. A popular headcanon says that the Mechs was protagonist Jon Sims' college band. The Mechanisms fandom has also increased a lot in popularity due to TMA.

The Admiral

The Admiral, the cat of Jon's ex-girlfriend Georgie, is another popular figure in fandom, despite having not appeared in two seasons. Many people realized that Jon's season 3 ability with interpreting languages might extend to animals, and create fanworks of Jon communicating with the Admiral.[2] After a comment from the creators that they would not kill pets in the podcast, people joked that the Admiral was immortal, or would lead the characters into trouble due to his plot armour that other characters lack.

The Scottish Safehouse

Jon and Martin ended S4 in a remote Scottish village, and given that they spent a few weeks there, "off-screen", a lot of the S4 hiatus content was fluffy jonmartin content, exploring their Scottish honeymoon. This also led to Canon-Divergent AUs in which they lived there happily forever, which tied into the Teacher!Jon AU. At first this was about normalcy and happiness for Jon and being able to build a new life, but fandom became amused by the idea of Jon having to explain his oddness to his pupils.[3]

Archivist!Sasha

Some canon-divergent headcanons explore if Sasha James, a co-worker of Jon and a character who was killed relatively early, had become the Archivist instead of/in addition to Jon. They often explore how her tech skills and common sense would lead to a different story. They also explore what Jon's story would have been like if he had had Sasha's storyline and been replaced by the Not!Them. This can sometimes stem out of a desire to have more female characters or female protagonists. See the Fan Art section for an example.

Kayaking

Due to a comment in a post-S3 Q&A from the creators that Tim's favourite holiday would have been kayaking, fans quickly started to use "kayaking" as a slang for "dead". Fans relayed stories, which may or may not have been true, of them convincing their friends who had been spoiled of Tim's death that he was not dead, just on a kayaking holiday. Due to the close interactions between the fans and creators, the "kayaking" joke cropped up again in the S4 blooper episode, where the cast joked that all the dead characters were kayaking in heaven, which led to a resurgence of often fluffy or crack-y fanworks depicting the vast assortment of dead characters on a kayaking holiday together.

Fan Theories

TMA has an active red-string community, mostly on reddit but sometimes on Tumblr as well. Fan speculation often revolves around the involvement of the Web, as (as-of season 4), the Web has been highly foreshadowed and yet hasn't seemed to make any major moves. During season 4, fans often wondered whether Martin would become an avatar of the Web. During season 5, a popular theory is that the series will end with either Jon or the Institute being set alight, as Jon was gifted a lighter with a spiderweb design. Speculation also occurs around the house on Hilltop Road and the unsolved mystery around it, and whether the "alternate universe" that exists in TMA canon will come into play. Before later seasons, fans were gratified to find that their theory that Jonah Magnus was Elias Bouchard was correct.

The Underwood Collection

TUC is a non-canonical TMA fan-podcast that follows the Usher Foundation, the USA version of the Magnus Institute based in Washington, DC. The team that runs TUC is known as Pitch Library and can be found on Tumblr @pitchlibrary. In September 2020, TUC was nominated for an Audioverse Award for New Audio Play Production [4]

Shipping

The most popular pairing is Jonathan Sims/Martin Blackwood (Jonmartin), followed by Elias Bouchard/Jonathan Sims (Jonelias). Also notable are Daisy Tonner/Basira Hussain (Daisira), Elias Bouchard/Peter Lukas (Lonely Eyes), and Georgie Barker/Melanie King (What the Girlfriends or WTGFs). There is also interest in exploring relationships with various more supernatural characters, which often involve Xeno. Jonmartin is by far the most popular pairing. Like most fandoms, the majority of ship content for TMA is M/M.

At the end of season 4, jonmartin became canon. WTGFs was also implied to be canon. There is a fairly common misconception that daisira is canon, due to their close relationship.

A common lonelyeyes trope is the "multiple divorces", which proposes that pre-canon and during canon, Peter and Elias have been married and divorced many times. This has led to most fans regarding lonelyeyes as a crack ship.

Criticism

From the start of S5, as the fandom grew, criticism around the podcast and the fandom became more popular.

Criticism of the podcast commonly includes: the Haan family in MAG 70 being a racist stereotype of Chinese immigrants as cannibals; the characters who were confirmed to be POC being largely antagonists; Basira, one of few women of colour, being a policewoman and covering up police brutality; S5 being too close to real-life issues and including comments that could be interpreted as transphobia or homophobia, when previously the podcast had not included those things; Nikola Orsinov being a transmisogynistic stereotype of a man becoming a painted mannequin that steals people's skin; the use of real-life historical figures as antagonists, or antagonists based upon real-life historical figures, particularly those which were involved in colonialism.

Criticism of the fandom commonly includes: fans focusing on minor white men over women or characters of colour who featured more significantly; fans focusing on non-canon MLM relationships over canon WLW relationships, such as jonelias being more popular than WTGFs; fans not being sensitive in their depiction of characters of colour, or depiction of white or 'aracial' characters as people of colour; fans erasing Jon's asexuality by writing fanfic in which he has sex; fans fetishising trans people by writing fanfic in which trans characters has sex, particularly trans MLM having PIV sex. On the flip-side, fans also complain that people, especially those who are not trans or not asexual, are attacking trans and asexual authors for exploring their own sexuality or Jon's sexuality using fanfic.

Around May 2020, controversy emerged around the official discord's handling of people who wanted to discuss BLM and express anti-police sentiment. The moderators who were active at that time, all of whom were white and untrained fan volunteers, seemed to discourage or actively shut down discussion about police violence and statements like "ACAB". Some people, including fans and cast members of colour, expressed a desire to be able to have a space without being reminded of violence. Others stated that, given TMA itself discusses police brutality, it was unfair to shut down discussion about these topics. In late August, the server was re-vamped, and a paid community moderator was brought on-board. In September, the company released an official statement acknowledging the racism in their portrayal of the Haan family, among other things.

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Animatics

Fan Art

Fanfiction

Meta

Zines

  • VISITOR'S PASS - "A fanzine dedicated to the inner workings of The Magnus Institute."

Links & Resources

References

  1. ^ Alexander J Newall's twitter
  2. ^ "i know Jon doesn't get the whole 'understand all languages' power until after The Thing but can you imagine" by everchased
  3. ^ finally the teacher!jon comic i've been hyping for like a week by foxguardian
  4. ^ Audioverse awards list of nominees