Surfer (magazine)

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Surfer (magazine) 2011 April.jpg
Surfer Magazine Cover April, 2011
EditorTodd Prodanovich
CategoriesSports magazine
Total circulation
(December 2011)
FounderJohn Severson
Year founded1962; 58 years ago (1962)
CompanyAmerican Media
CountryUnited States
Based inCarlsbad, California, U.S.

Surfer is 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 has changed ownership and management numerous times over its history and is currently published by American Media (AMI). AMI purchased the magazine in 2019[4] from TEN: Publishing, a division of Adventure Sports Network (ASN).

Surfer began as a quarterly, subsequently becoming a monthly.[3] When Severson sold Surfer in the late 1960s to For Better Living,[5] the magazine had around 100,000 readers.[2]

The magazine's editor-in-chief is Todd Prodanovich and its photo editor is 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.

Severson sold Surfer, the date reported variously as "in 1970;"[3] alternately "in 1971" directly to Steve Pezman;[6] and also alternately "in the late 1960s" to For Better Living, an Auburn, California-based company founded by F.G. 'Bud' Fabian.[5] Bud Fabian had retired from For Better Living in 1996, a company whose primary business was precast concrete.[5] 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.[5]

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.[7] At Surfer, Warshaw mentored numerous journalists, giving them a place on the editorial staff and connecting independent authors with editors and surfing personalities.[8]

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."[6]


  1. ^ "eCirc for Consumer Magazines". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved April 28, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d Goldstein, Richard (2017-05-29). "John Severson, trailblazer of surf media and culture, dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2017-05-30.
  3. ^ a b c Magazine Publishing. Clinton Gilkie. p. 16. GGKEY:84J4SXB4BU6. Retrieved 30 November 2015.}
  4. ^ "American Media buys Surfer Magazine". Surfing Today. February 4, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d ROSE APODACA JONES (June 30, 1998). "Surfer Magazine Owners Are Considering a Sale". Los Angelas Times.
  6. ^ a b Derek Reilly. "Warshaw on Slow Death of SURFER: "Surf media is always 95% crap and 5% great!"". Beach Grit, February 2019.
  7. ^ "Surfer found his big break in S.F." SFGate. Retrieved 2016-05-10.
  8. ^ Lukach, Mark. "The Glory of the Digital Encyclopedia of Surfing". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-05-10.

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