Mike Dormer’s surf art came from an era that essentially saw the establishment of the genre. Along with contemporaries like Rick Griffin, Dormer helped to depict the emerging counter culture scene in California during the 1960s. In 1963, he and his friend, Lee Teacher, sculpted a 400-pound concrete statue and installed it on the rocks near the surf shack at Windansea. The sculpture of a shaggy-haired, 6-foot-tall surfer gazed out at the sea, holding a beer. “Hot Curl” as he came to be known, quickly became a nationwide sensation, appearing in SurfToons comics and as a plastic model kit.
Dormer’s artwork continued to circulate during the course of the 1960s, appearing in the opening credits of the film Muscle Beach Party and featured in an LA-based television series called Shrimpenstein. Over the course of the rest of his career, Dormer remained a working artist, continuing to paint and sculpt. In 2007, Hot Curl reappeared in a series of cartoons Dormer drew for SURFER, which blended 1960s cartooning with satirical commentary on the contemporary state of modern surfing.
SURFER was saddened to learn Dormer passed away in San Diego on September 10 in his home in Ocean Beach. He was 77 years old. His sense of humor and talent will be missed.