The story of SkateBoarder magazine

June 9, 2022 | Skateboarding
SkateBoarder: America's first skateboarding magazine

The grandfather of all skateboard magazines was started by Surfer Publications in winter 1964 and was originally called The Quarterly Skateboarder.

The cover of the first issue featured Dave Hilton of the Hobie Super Surfer Skateboard Team.

The California-based The Quarterly Skateboarder was the first American skateboarding magazine, although Surf Guide had already covered the sport.

The following first editorial gives a real insight into the foundations of skateboarding as a sport and where publisher/editor John Severson felt it should and should not go.

The Quarterly Skateboarder: No. 1 and No. 2

"Sidewalk Surfing?" - The 1964 Editorial by John Severson

Whenever a new sport comes into existence, or an existing sport suddenly gains popularity, its thrills are often compared to other sports.

People compare the thrills of surfing to skydiving, bullfighting, skiing, and other exciting individual-participation sports.

These same comparisons will be made and are being made in the sport of skateboarding.

It's similar in many ways to surfing and to skiing, not only in maneuvers and techniques but, in many cases, in terms as well.

Many of the same surfing positions are used in skateboarding, as evidenced in our "Surf/Ski/Skate" article in this issue.

Several months ago, Life Magazine ran an article entitled "Sidewalk Surfing." Sure, that's what it is, but we predict a lot more for skateboarding.

We predict a real future for the sport - a future that could go as far as the Olympics.

It's a much more "measurable" sport than surfing and therefore lends itself more to competition.

In the slalom, there's no question about who the winner is - the fastest time through the gates.

Flatland stunts and performance will be a matter of judgment, but at least the asphalt isn't moving - everyone gets an equal opportunity.

Competition should be big in skateboarding, but it's going to take organization and support from the participants.

Today's skateboarders are founders in this sport - they're pioneers - they are first.

There is no history in skateboarding - it's being made now - by you.

The sport is being molded, and we believe that doing the right thing now will lead to a bright future for the sport.

Already there are storm clouds on the horizon with opponents of the sport talking about ban and restrictions.

Skateboarding is not a sport of speed; it's a sport of skill. It's not a sport of destruction - of others or yourself. It's a sport of control.

It's up to you to see that skateboarding does not become a sport of rebels and radicals.

It's a sport for young sportsmen.

We look forward to a great future in skateboarding, and we ask you, the pioneers, to make it great.

The Quarterly Skateboarder: No. 3 and No. 4

The Second Coming

Unfortunately, this particular incarnation of the publication only ran for four issues and was promptly folded after the first skateboarding boom ended.

In 1975, Steve Pezman, then publisher of Surfer, resurrected The Quarterly Skateboarder as the sport's second wave began to gather steam.

The glossy magazine - now just plain SkateBoarder - covered skateboarding with a great deal of style.

The photographs were often stunning, and the editorial content ranged from brilliant to bizarre.

Although the focus was primarily on California, occasionally, articles would appear on other places in the skate world.

As the sport gained in popularity, the magazine grew in size, hitting a record thickness in 1978.

At one point, SkateBoarder was the most popular action magazine in the 7-Eleven convenience store chain.

Contributing to SkateBoarder's success were a number of talented people such as C. R. Stecyk III, Brian Gillogly, Warren Bolster, and brilliant photographers such as Jim Cassimus, Glen E. Friedman, Craig Fineman, and Jim Goodrich.

While SkateBoarder did much to promote the sport and convey to people outside California what was happening, it had to contend with two key issues.

Firstly, most people who read SkateBoarder were lucky if they lived near a skatepark of the quality featured in the magazine.

In most cases, readers were treated to images that did not reflect their true skating environment.

Secondly, as skateboarding peaked and then started to decline, the magazine had to deal with the attrition of readers.

In trying to combat this problem, SkateBoarder started to include photos and stories on roller skating. It then followed up with articles on BMX.

Managing Skateboarding's Trends

For many skaters, this lack of focus on skateboarding was unacceptable. They wanted SkateBoarder to be only about skateboarding.

As punk and new wave music began to fuse with the "outlaw" or underground image of skateboarding, it started to dramatically change the entire sport.

As skating moved from horizontal (slalom, downhill, and freestyle) to vertical (pools, parks, ramps, and pipes), it assumed a more aggressive style.

There has been much debate about whether this fusion was good or bad, but the fact is that it happened, and SkateBoarder had a hard time deciding how to handle the sport's more aggressive turn, which was unappealing to some advertisers.

As skateboard parks began to close and skaters headed out onto the street or backyard ramps,

SkateBoarder decided to change its direction completely and incorporate a variety of sports.

In August 1980, it renamed itself Action Now.

For many readers, this was the final straw - Action Now lasted until 1982 (Vol. 8, No. 6), then promptly folded.

In 1997, a special, oversized issue relaunch was guest-edited by Tony Hawk, with art direction by Jaimie Muehlhausen.

The successful issue led to another one in 1999, and then bi-monthly (1999) and monthly editions.

In August 2013, the owner of the magazine announced the end of the print and digital issues of SkateBoarder.

GrindMedia shifted its focus to TransWorld Skateboarding, and the legendary magazine ceased to exist after 49 years.


Words by Michael Brooke | Skateboarder and Author of "The Concrete Wave: The History of Skateboarding"

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2022 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers