The third issue of The Surfer (Surfer Magazine’s original title) was published in the summer of 1961. Founder John Severson shot the cover image of Reynolds Yater, stating that he snapped “the-difficult-to-get underneath shot” just before Yater ran over him.
After only two published issues, Severson already knew his audience loved deconstructing his magazine for the photos. Severson provides a giant two-page spread in this issue sarcastically framed as “suitable for tearing out and glassing on your board, wall, or you.”
Throughout the issue, Severson doesn’t hold back in giving an honest assessment of contemporary surf culture. At the time, beaches were being shut-down and/or considered for closure due to disrespectful behavior by, who Severson refers to as, “gremlins” and “ho-daddies”-the equivalent to kooks and barneys. He offers a satirical checklist of bad behaviors for these “surfers” lacking in actual talent to obtain “their strong need of recognition.” Mixed among the suggestions to “destroy” and “undress in public” was “flip bottle caps and make lewd remarks at surfing movies.” The latter was especially annoying to Severson because the growing negative reputation of surfers as a whole was making it difficult for him to find venues willing to let him screen his surf films.
In a feature about Peru, Severson gives great insight on how he discovered exotic waves to travel to. While surfers today are able to look for potential swell magnets using Google Maps, Severson used a more analogue approach to surf discovery. He reports spending hours in his college library flipping through encyclopedias looking for photos of waves captured by photographers on accident. “Usually I had to settle for distant shots of surf lines behind some peasant tending flocks on the coast of somewhere,” he writes on page three.
One of the more interesting things about this issue is the debut of the comic strip Murphy, illustrated by the newly hired cartoonist, Rick Griffin. Murphy was an instant hit with Surfer’s audience and would appear regularly in future issues. This issue’s comic strip, titled “Murphy and the Surfing Contest,” breaks down different varieties of surfers with tongue-in-cheek illustrations. It’s funny, identifiable and clear to see why Murphy was a success, the cliff-hanging “to-be-continued…” conclusion built anticipation for the next issue.
Click here to watch The Surfer Archives, Volume 1, Issue 1.
Click here to watch The Surfer Archives, Volume 2, Issue 1.