Surfer (magazine)

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Surfer (magazine) 2011 April.jpg
Surfer Magazine Cover April, 2011
EditorTodd Prodanovich
CategoriesSports magazine
Total circulation
FounderJohn Severson
Year founded1962 (1962)
Final issue2020
CompanyAmerican Media
CountryUnited States
Based inCarlsbad, California

Surfer was an American monthly periodical focused on surfing and surf culture, founded in 1962 by noted surfer, writer, photographer, artist and humorist John Severson (1933–2017).[2][3] The magazine folded in 2020.

Surfer began as a quarterly, subsequently becoming a monthly.[3] When Severson sold Surfer in the late 1960s to For Better Living,[4] the magazine had around 100,000 readers.[2]

The magazine changed ownership and management numerous times over its history. American Media (AMI) purchased the magazine in 2019[5] from TEN: Publishing, a division of Adventure Sports Network (ASN).

The magazine's last editor-in-chief was Todd Prodanovich and its photo editor was Grant Ellis.


John Severson created Surfer to counter the depiction of the sport and surf culture in the 1959 film Gidget. In his 2014 book John Severson Surf, he wrote "surfers hated those Hollywood surf films, and I could see that Surfer could create a truer image of the sport."[2] Severson's photography, art and humor set the tone for the future of Surfer, which quickly grew to reflect the sport and the culture, as well as become a voice for surfers and environmental activism.[6]

Severson sold Surfer, the date reported variously as "in 1970;"[3] alternately "in 1971" directly to Steve Pezman;[7] and also alternately "in the late 1960s" to For Better Living, an Auburn, California-based company founded by F.G. 'Bud' Fabian.[4] Bud Fabian had retired from For Better Living in 1996, a company whose primary business was precast concrete.[4] At the time, the magazine was produced by Surfer Publications, a subsidiary of For Better Living and at least the late 1990s, was based in San Juan Capistrano.[4]

Drew Kampion was editor of the magazine from 1968 to 1972.[2] Noted writer and surf historian Matt Warshaw, became a writer for Surfer, beginning in 1984, becoming the publication's editor in 1990.[8] At Surfer, Warshaw mentored numerous journalists, giving them a place on the editorial staff and connecting independent authors with editors and surfing personalities.[9]

In 2019, when asked about 2019 purchase of Surfer by American Media (AMI), widely known for its National Enquirer publication, Warshaw said, "Surfer, best-case scenario, is in for a very rough year or two, then American Media puts it up for sale and it gets bought as a vanity project, the way Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post. Surfer will at that point be reborn in whatever form the rich benefactor dictates."[7]

Editor Todd Prodanovich and the other four full-time staffers were furloughed October 2, 2020 and publication was halted.[10]


  1. ^ "CONSUMER MAGAZINES - SEARCH RESULTS". Alliance for Audited Media. June 30, 2014. Archived from the original on December 23, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Goldstein, Richard (May 29, 2017). "John Severson, trailblazer of surf media and culture, dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Magazine Publishing. Clinton Gilkie. p. 16. GGKEY:84J4SXB4BU6.
  4. ^ a b c d Rose Apodaca Jones (June 30, 1998). "Surfer Magazine Owners Are Considering a Sale". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "American Media buys Surfer Magazine". Surfing Today. February 4, 2019.
  6. ^ Freeman, Mike; Robbins; Gary (October 6, 2020). "Surfer magazine, iconic touchstone of Southern California beach culture, shuts down". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Derek Reilly (February 2019). "Warshaw on Slow Death of SURFER: "Surf media is always 95% crap and 5% great!"". Beach Grit.
  8. ^ "Surfer found his big break in S.F." SFGate. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  9. ^ Lukach, Mark. "The Glory of the Digital Encyclopedia of Surfing". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  10. ^ Martin Wisckol (October 5, 2020). "Iconic SURFER magazine publishes last issue after 60 years". The Orange County Register.

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