After the success of John Severson’s first issue of “The Surfer” in 1960, which sold over 5,000 copies, he decided to go quarterly the following year. Which brings us to the second issue of Surfer: Spring, 1961.
Surfer’s second issue was still mostly a one man show of Severson’s photos, writing and artwork. It’s easy to romanticize surfing as a whole in decades past, but in this issue Severson laments about overcrowded lineups and the homogenization of surf culture even in the early 60s. Ironically, much of this issue’s content is location-oriented with a hand drawn map of Santa Cruz’s surf spots and photo features on Rincon and Swami’s.
Embedded among Severson’s mixed-media content was a comic strip by a “Guest Cartoonist.” That was 16-year-old Rick Griffin. The naturally talented artist’s style would later develop into one of the most recognized of 60s psychedelia. Griffin went on to design the original Rolling Stone magazine logo, a Grateful Dead album cover and much more. His comic strip in this issue, “The Gremies,” pokes fun at surfers’ enthusiasm for big Hawaiian surf and then quickly retreating from it when seeing it in person.
There are significantly more ads for board builders and dive shops than the first issue. There are even a couple of non-endemics like Century Telephoto Lenses and Ed’s Tinder Box; a tobacco and pipe shop.
Enjoy a thumb through of the first issue of Surfer here.