Surfer Magazine closes after 60 years

October 4, 2020 | Surfing
Surfer Magazine: the final issue features a cover shot by Donald Miralle

Surfer Magazine announced the end of its regular print editions. It's the end of surfing's golden era.

Todd Prodanovich, editor-in-chief of Surfer Magazine, revealed that issue number three of volume 61 will be the legendary publication's farewell issue.

"The whole staff got let go yesterday, but I feel like we're ending on a high note with this one," Prodanovich wrote on his Instagram page.

Surfer Magazine was founded in 1962 by surfer-writer John Severson (1933-2017), a high school teacher from Pasadena.

In 1960, and after shooting two movies, he designed The Surfer, a black-and-white, 36-page booklet that was supposed to be used to promote his latest film, "Surf Fever."

But the marketing book was a success with 5,000 copies sold. The initiative led him to create The Surfer Quarterly in 1961.

One year later, the entrepreneur introduced color pages, and the title increased its publishing schedule to bimonthly.

By the mid-1960s, Surfer was already the authoritative voice in surf media.

An Authoritative Voice

As the magazine grew in popularity, John Severson hired several professionals that would establish the publication as the ultimate surf magazine.

Writers Bill Cleary, Craig Lockwood, Fred Van Dyke, John Witzig, photographers Leroy Grannis and Ron Stoner, and graphic designers John Hamersveld and Mike Salisbury helped boost the title's sales at the time.

In 1968, Surfer's publisher hired editor Drew Kampion, a name that would forever be associated with the magazine.

Four years later, Severson sold the title to For Better Living Inc, and a new editor stepped in.

Steve Pezman, who would later found The Surfer's Journal, remained with Surfer Magazine for two decades.

Throughout its history, "The Bible of the Sport" welcomed several iconic names of the surf media world.

Matt George, Matt Warshaw, Phil Jarratt, Kevin Naughton, Ben Marcus, Derek Hynd wrote legendary stories, while Art Brewer, Jeff Divine, Ted Grambeau, Tom Servais, and Warren Bolster illustrated the magazine with timeless photos.

In the past three decades, Surfer changed ownership several times.

In February 2019, American Media announced the acquisition of Adventure Sports Network (ASN), the owner of Surfer Magazine.

Nevertheless, the iconic surf publication changed ownership and management several times throughout its history.

However, declining sales and the introduction of a global pandemic in an already fragile industry put an end to the longest-running surf magazine.

John Severson: the legendary Surfer Magazine publisher was also a prolific painter

The End of an Era

The final issue features a cover shot by Donald Miralle that was taken during the Encinitas paddle-out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"Inside has some of my all-time favorite features from my all-time favorite surf writers and a piece by me about the LGBTQ+ surf community that was the honor of my career to work on, and I'm so grateful to the subjects for trusting me with their stories," adds Prodanovich.

"It's funny how you can work a job like this for ten years, and each issue is a completely new and different journey. I'll really miss that part, and the mag in general, which ends on this issue after 60 years of publication."

The death of Surfer Magazine is also the death of a vital component of surfing's original essence and culture.

"The Bible of the Sport" kicked off its 58-year-old path as a quarterly publication and played a critical role in developing careers, businesses, and the transformation of the sport itself.

Surfer witnessed the thruster revolution, surfing's earliest stars, the birth of a genuinely competitive and professional world tour, old and new school movements, and the transition from print to digital platforms.

In fact, the advent of digital was the beginning of the end for print publications. The shift of advertising revenues from physical to online channels and the lack of readership changed the paradigm.

Surfing Magazine was the first to perish.

In 2017, Surfer's youngest brother announced it was closing down, leaving readers thinking that the outlook was not bright for surf journalism.

On October 1, 2020, and for the first time in the publication's 60-year history, the Surfer Magazine's editor-in-chief endorsed a presidential ticket - the ticket for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Surfer Magazine will be greatly missed. Hopefully, it will keep its pioneering spirit online.

This is a developing story and will be updated as additional details become available.

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