SAN DIEGO — Surfer Magazine has been around for six decades. What’s considered by many surfers the “bible of surfing” has published its final edition according to its editor in dhief. Surfer Magazine’s final edition was published this month.
Surfer Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Todd Prodanovich, posted last week on Instagram that Issue No. 3, Volume 61 will be the publication’s final issue.
The magazine published its first edition in 1960. It was called The Surfer. It was 36 pages of pictures shot by John Severson, the founder of the magazine. It soon after became Surfer Magazine. It’s a magazine Eric “Bird” Huffman, surfer and owner of Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego, has been reading since as long as he’s been surfing.
“Surfing since about the age of four. And I’ve been reading Surfer Magazine, and anything related to surfing really, probably from about the time I was eight,” said Huffman.
Huffman is now in his 60s, so he says he’s been reading the magazine for a “long time.” The magazine published issues quarterly at first, every four months. Huffman says, “That’s a lot of time in between issues. So those things got dog-eared, and they got shared, and shredded, and hung up on walls.”
Huffman says unlike other surfing publications at the time and that followed, Surfer Magazine initially stuck to the “meat and potatoes” of surfing including, “Technique articles: how to paddle better, how to judge waves better. Things of that sort.”
The magazine eventually went monthly.
Huffman estimates it was around the late 1960s or early 1970s. He says over time, the magazine has changed a bit including more advertising, but he says he still enjoyed reading them. Huffman says Surfer Magazine is a way of documenting history. That’s why he’s collected every issue, not just one copy of each, multiple copies.
He has a book case in his office full of Surfer Magazine and other publications. The book case in his office is just one of several places he keeps his collection.
He says, “Some people might say I’m addicted to it or a fanatic on it. But it’s just my thing. It’s something I’m passionate about. I love the history of surfing in all ways, shapes, and forms.”
Volume 61, Issue No. 3 will be final addition to Huffman’s Surfer Magazine collection. The cover was shot by Donald Miralle, a surfer and long-time reader of Surfer Magazine. He’s also been a contributor of the magazine for about a decade. The cover photo by Miralle features a paddle out in Encinitas, CA held in June of 2020 in support of Black Lives Matters. Miralle says he expected to see several hundred people at the paddle out, but says, “I think it ended up being close to 3,000 people paddling out. And it was just a beautiful testament.”
The image was Miralle’s first and only cover of Surfer Magazine. He says it was amazing news he had landed the cover but that it was, “Bittersweet is the best word, because I was just so stoked and it so awesome to get the cover of the magazine. But at the same time, you realize there will never be another Surfer cover again.”
Surfer Magazine along with Snowboarder, Powder, and Bike have all been shut down. The parent company of the magazines, A360 Media in a statement said:
“Due to the Pandemic's economic impact on the industry and the cancellation of live events, staff furloughs and the suspension of operations for some brands are necessary for the time being."
The news is most especially hard on Huffman. He was close to tears as he spoke about end of an era.
“To know that you’re not going to see it anymore, uhm, it’s hard for me," he said. "It’s very hard. It’s something I’ve grown up with.”
While he says he’ll miss the magazine, he pointed to his book case full of copies and said, “Glad I’m surrounded by it, and for me it will never die. And I’ll do my damn best to make sure that it’s available and never dies for everybody else.”
And it’s not just SoCal surfers who are bummed about the end of an era, with the final edition of Surfer Magazine.
Spectrum New 1 spoke to Jon Coen, an East Coast contributor to Surfer Magazine.
What has magazine meant to the East Coast surfers?
"When I was a kid I got a subscription to Surfer Magazine and then every year for Christmas, my uncle would re-up for me. New Jersey winters are long, dark and cold. No one’s going to drive you to the beach as a kid in the winter and if you can get there, there wasn’t much access to winter wetsuits at that age. So every month, the arrival of Surfer would be this little escape to this blue, exciting world of waves. I would read every mag three times and then flip back through back issues. We absorbed everything we could about surfing until we were old enough to get to the beach, surf in the winter, travel and eventually set our lives up around what we loved. So much of that was influenced by Surfer. It also had an ageless voice. The articles still resonated with me in my 40s the way they did in my teens."
What was your reaction to the news?
"I went to school for communications and journalism, mostly because I was so inspired by Surfer. I had a feature writing class and the professor used to remark at how well I knew the magazine, more so than anyone in the class knew any other periodicals. I’ve written for probably 20 different surf related magazines, but to be published in Surfer after reading every word as a kid was a realization of adolescent dreams. I had two major features — one on the history and fall of the storied town of Seaside Heights, New Jersey and one on the effects of climate change to hurricanes with a look at how it affects waves and damages coastlines. They marked two of the highlights of my career as a writer."