Sad to lose this surfing Institution
By Corky Carroll
woke up this morning to the sad news that SURFER Magazine was shutting down after an amazing 60 years in business. Another one of those things that I had thought was “forever,” until it wasn’t. Way too many of those things these days and I don’t like it. This is coming from a dude who has gone far beyond his expiration date and is only showing faint signs of decay and premature decomposition.
I grew up with SURFER magazine. When the first issue came out in 1960, I was a fully stoked surf gremlin attending seventh grade at J.H. McGaw Intermediate School in Seal Beach. One day a pal of mine showed up at school with a copy. He said that Robert August was selling them out of his house and had a few more copies. After school I begged my mom for some money and rode the mile from our house in Surfside Colony to Robert’s in Seal Beach to buy my copy. The price was $1.50, but Robert gave me the “bro” deal of only $5.00. It was well worth it. I read and reread that thing until the pages were faded from being over read. I cut out my favorite photos and pasted them on my bedroom walls, the same walls that soon would be totally covered with surf photos and posters.
The first issue was an “Annual.” The second year it went to a “Quarterly,” and eventually “Bimonthly.” The publisher was a great artist and surfer named John Severson who had gained recognition for making 16mm surf movies. His 1958 “Surf Safari” was the first surf movie that I ever saw. I am pretty sure the first issue of SURFER was originally meant to be a program for his second movie, “Surf Fever.” But it was so good and complete that he decided to put it out as a magazine instead.
By the early to mid 1960’s I was starting to win surfing events and would become pals with John Severson. He is the one who recommended me to Jantzen Swimwear for a surfing endorsement. This led to an almost 10-year sponsorship and being on the back cover of SURFER of every issue during that run. By the later 1960’s John would occasionally hire me to write stories for the magazine, usually technical stuff about surfing technique.
In 1976 then Ad Director Don Kremmers hired me to assist him in the Advertising Department as Ad Manager. Shortly after that Don left SURFER to pursue other interests and Steve Pezman, who was publisher at that time, promoted me to Ad Director. I worked there from Oct 1, 1976 to Oct 1, 1986. It was a great job that I loved, and we had an incredible staff there at that time. SURFER Publishing also put out POWDER magazine (Skiing), SKATEBOARDER Magazine and for a short time ROLLER SKATING Magazine. During my stay there we took the magazine to being a “Monthly.” Some of my favorite times were during those years working there. I left because an opportunity came up to do my own clothing and surfboard line and this gave me a great income without having to be committed to any type of working schedule. I really missed working at SURFER though. Along with working in the Ad Department I also wrote the occasional surf comedy column and had a comedy spot called “Corkys' Corner” on the SURFER MAGAZINE T.V. show that was on ESPN back then. It was a great ten years in my life. Just the impromptu staff interactions in the coffee room were more than priceless. Working with people like Denise Bashem, Michele Jenson, Bob Bailey, Jim Kempton and all the others was so much fun.
Through the years I still read the magazine and have remained friends with a lot of the staff from those days. Steve Pezman and his wife Debbee went on to publish SURFERS JOURNAL, which is still going strong. My great graphic artist in the Ad Department, Mark Samuels, now has his own MultimediaGraphics Business in Capistrano Beach called SDA Creative Inc. He has done a couple of my album covers. All of the great surf photographers are well known as the best in the field. Art Brewer, Jeff Devine, Tom Servais, Guy Motil, Warren Bolster, Bernie Baker and so on.
SURFER was known as “the Bible of Surfing.” Really sad to hear that it’s done and over with, happy that I had a part in its history and going to toast John Severson tonight for launching that wonderful publication. RIP SURFER MAGAZINE…you rocked.