The Magnus Archives
|Name:||The Magnus Archives|
|Abbreviation(s):||TMA, MAG, MagnusPod|
|Creator:||Rusty Quill Ltd.|
|Date(s):||March 23, 2016 - present|
|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.
- Jonathan Sims
- Martin Blackwood
- Elias Bouchard
- Basira Hussain
- Alice "Daisy" Tonner
- Melanie King
- Tim Stoker
- Sasha James
- Peter Lukas
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. 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.
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 (despite backlash from The Mechs fandom). The Mechanisms fandom has also increased a lot in popularity due to TMA, often experiencing rushes of new members during TMA hiatuses.
Despite The Mechs and The Magnus Archives being sister fandoms however, Mechs fans have a tendency to want nothing to do with the TMA fandom, despite most having listened to and enjoyed the podcast. Mechs fans express discomfort with the popular college band aus, viewing them as rpf, and TMA fans' comfort with using Mechs tags for only tangentially Mechs content (such as using lyrics from The Bifrost Incident in a TMA art piece). Another common crossover AU is the Lyf is Jon AU, which is commonly made by TMA fans with a deeper knowledge of The Mechs than most, but Mechs fans who are more into the band still dislike any crossover of the two. The TMA fandom is frequently viewed as toxic by surrounding fandoms but the Mechs fandom are the most vocal about it.
A common source of contention between the two (on top of missuse of Mechs tags) is that TMA fans are allegedly under the impression that The Mechs are Jonny Sims' band, undermining the contributions of Jessica Law, Kofi Young, Tim Ledsam, Frank Voss, Morgan Wilkinson, Ben Below, R L Hughes and Nastya's anonymous performer.
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. 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.
Tropes and Headcanons
- 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.
- 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.
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 
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.
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.
More fandom discourse includes a vocal part of the fandom objecting to darkfic, even when properly tagged, despite the source material frequently exploring incredibly dark topics. This was particularly sparked by the Jon and Daisy kidnapping AU, in which a newly-sectioned Daisy gets all of her memories from the series back pre-canon, and then kidnaps 15-year old Jon.
Another one is the Quimcourse, where a 19 year old tumblr user expressed discomfort with and made an (untagged) joke about a "bad smut fic" he read featuring Cishet Mike Crew, a character frequently headcanoned as trans, wearing a turtleneck during sex, and pan Elias Bouchard, referring to the self-insert mc's genitals as a "quim." The 37 year old author found the post weeks later and became upset, accusing him and all his friends (along with everyone who posted anything vaguely about it) of being a "ageist neurotypical bully". The Quimcourse has recently seen a new revival due to the author attacking a minor over a joke they made to popular blog straighttma. Being blocked by "the quimcourse person", otherwise known as "miss girl", "quimberleigh" or her url, is commonly viewed as a badge of honor.
- “Can I have a cigarette?” The Magnus Archives is a horror anthology audio drama by Rusty Quill, written by Jonathan Sims, an animatic by digitalintrovert on Tumblr
- jon goes feral // the magnus archives animatic, by ACEbunny on Youtube
- The Magnus Archives - Season 3 Finale Animatic, by Bradley on Youtube
- The Magnus Archives Animatic: Martin Commits Arson (episode 118), by beans bees on Youtube
- it's been a while, here's an eye to Behold by praggmatic on Tumblr
- the magnus archive podcast really has me by the throat by domirine on Tumblr
- daisies! i reckon the hunt gives her those cool reflective eyes that nocturnal animals have. also big teeth and claws! for ripping apart cockney deliverymen. by dirigibird on Tumblr
- Master’s Studies x Magnus Archives by kingcael on Twitter
- Sasha James, Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute. by Dreworks on Instagram
- fearful daemons by Prim_the_Amazing on AO3, a Daemon AU.
- Good Omens/The Magnus Archives by Handful_of_Silence on AO3, a crossover series with Good Omens.
- hello my old heart by firebirdsuite on AO3.
- the umbrella by Wildehack (tyleet) on AO3, a fix-it fic for the end of season 4.
- "Seeing fan interpretations of Jon change over the last two years has been such a weird thing to witness, but especially in regards to his hair." by radiosandrecordings on Tumblr
- VISITOR'S PASS - "A fanzine dedicated to the inner workings of The Magnus Institute."
- Avatar of Fear - "A collaborative project to highlight fanworks depicting both artist’s and writer’s own avatar OCs and sonas from The Magnus Archives".
Links & Resources
- The Magnus Archives works on AO3
- The Magnus Archives Transcripts Archives, a mix of official and unofficial transcripts
- The Magnus Archives Wiki