Just down the hall from my office, in the room where we meet to brainstorm features and drink beer after finishing particularly taxing issues, sits the entire SURFER Magazine archive. It amounts to 57 years worth of surf history, starting with the 36-page pamphlet that SURFER founder John Severson made to promote his 1960 film, Surf Fever, and ending with whatever the last issue was that we remembered to put on the shelf (seriously, don’t we have an intern for that?).
I often find myself in that room, flipping through the discolored, dog-eared volumes of yesteryear, usually searching for a specific article that may lend context to a current project. But, inevitably, I find myself going down rabbit holes of Severson-painted covers, intricately-drawn Rick Griffin cartoons, oddball articles that were likely typed amid clouds of marijuana smoke, and gorgeous images of now-iconic waves being ridden for the first time by intrepid surf explorers.
Every time I find myself getting sucked into the archive’s powerful nostalgia vortex, I’m struck by how drastically things changed through each iteration of the magazine—the design, the tone, the vernacular (RIP, “hotdogging,” you are dearly missed). Just like our ideas about what boards work best, what waves we should aspire to surf, and what surf culture should be, this magazine has also never stopped evolving.
This issue, which marks the beginning of SURFER’s 58th volume, is all about embracing evolution. You may have noticed the richer, thicker paper sliding between your fingers (feels better than a smartphone screen, doesn’t it?), and the snappy redesign, courtesy of our esteemed art director Donny Stevens. You’ll also find a few sections in the magazine that weren’t here last volume, including “Corndogging,” a satire column where the staff will be cracking wise for many issues to come, and “Our Mother Ocean,” SURFER’s former environmental column, which was long overdue for a resurrection considering the many problems that our aquatic playgrounds are facing.
The contents of this issue also hone in on the idea of evolution. We talked to two recently crowned world champions, John Florence and Tyler Wright, about how they had to grow as surfers and competitors to take the podium and carve their names into surfing history. Features editor Justin Housman investigated the global rise in shark attacks, in an attempt to figure out how surfers can adapt to the frightening new trend. And the staff dissected the concept of the perfect wave, which has undergone its own metamorphosis through the decades alongside surfboard design and our increasing appetite for progression.
One wave that would meet the standards of perfection in any era is on Page 1 of this issue. Truth be told, we don’t know much about it, as Mick Fanning offered precious little information to managing editor Ashton Goggans in “The Serpentine Pact.” But what is clear is that it’s a discovery on par with any found in the hypnotic depths of the SURFER archives, so it should come as no surprise that Fanning wants to keep the details to himself.
“The Serpentine Pact” is a modern twist on a classic SURFER adventure tale, which is why it was a natural fit for the first cover of the new volume. We want this magazine’s 58th trip around the sun to feel fresh, but it’s also important that SURFER always keeps the same spirit that Severson and co. instilled in those early editions. Regardless of design, individual features and columns, whether we print this magazine on gold-leafed parchment paper or recycled birdcage liner, SURFER’s editorial goal will always remain the same: to deepen your love of surfing, give you more reasons to appreciate the ocean, and inspire you to go slide around out there. It’s a hell of a good time, after all.
TODD PRODANOVICH, Editor
Welcome to Volume 58. You’ll notice when you pick up the magazine that some things have changed, from the redesign to the thicker paper stock. The theme of this first issue – filled with rich content, mesmerizing imagery, and a deeper look into the sport we love – could not be more appropriate: Evolution. The funny part is that even in this constantly evolving world, we’re all still chasing the same dream of finding the perfect, untouched, undocumented waves. Swipe right for a look into the start of something new, Volume 58. #Surfer #SurferCovers
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