Skateboard Magazine Archive

August 2022

‘I love re-connecting people with mags that mean something to them.’

Kevin Marks
Look Back Library

You spend your whole career in skateboarding. Where would you be without it you think?
Funny that I’ve never thought of this before. It’s tough to imagine my life without skateboarding.

You worked for Thrasher, Slap and Transworld Skateboarding. What was your role?
For each I was a contributing writer. Never staff.

For which mag did you enjoy working most and why?
Slap – cause the editor was someone I admired and it was my favorite magazine at the time.

You have the world’s largest collection of skate magazines with the aim to preserve skate culture, promote literacy and celebrate the community. Is this statement accurate?
I’ve never made the claim that I have the largest collection. I point to Nico van der Waal in the Netherlands as having the largest. But it’s a tough claim to validate.

What do you like most preserving this part of the skateboard history?
Knowing that the magazines that I grew up with won’t be lost.

What do you like the least?

What is the most exotic skatemag in your collection?
It’s a relative term – we have some Brazillian mags from the 80’s. English and French mags from the 70’s. Most people just want to see Thrasher January 1981 – their first issue.

‘Most people just want to see Thrasher January 1981 – their first issue.’

Sorting mags in 2020_p Kevin Spencer
© Kevin Spencer

You mentioned in an interview that in the early days, you had subscriptions with Thrasher, Transworld and Poweredge which only lasted from 1988 to 1991. However, Poweredge was your favourite. Can you tell us why?
Poweredge is still my overall favorite magazine. It was the Slap of the 80’s. Unique layouts, photos of more of the underdogs or up and comers. Rad photographers. Sin, Sturt, Kosick, Kline!

Can you please answer the below with some brief comments why?
Favourite Editor: Mike Burnett – the humor and I know how hard he works.
Favourite Writer: Mike Burnett – Mike doesn’t write many articles any more but in his hey day of traveling all the time – I loved his articles.
Favourite Designer: Ted Newsome.
Favourite Photographer: Dan Sturt – the mystery has me captivated.
Favourite Skater? Tom Groholski – I’m a liptricks fan.
Favourite VHS? FMII by Rob Hoovis.

I also read that you interest is in the physical archive. Have things changed for you to consider digitized versions?
I consider and just don’t have the skill set to make all the mags we have available digitally. My contribution will be in having the physical archive for the person that wants to make the digital archive.

Have you ever thought about what the physical lifespan of the mags is? 100 years?
I haven’t thought along those lines before. – all depends on how you care for them.

What is your advise for people to properly store their precious mags?
For the older ones that are stapled, I suggest boarding and bagging them and keep them stored vertically.

In the video you have done with Richie Wolfe, you mentioned that you invite people to hit you up if they look for a specific issue. Are many people hitting you where you potentially set up a store for people to buy them online?
We have a growing number of folks that buy mags from us, but it’s all on a case by case basis. I doubt I’d ever set up an online store for the mags.

Do you have a memorable story about a specific request?
Every request is special. Whether it’s a person wanting to reconnect with their first magazine or a skater wanting to get the issue where there name is in the back of the mag in a contest results. I love re-connecting people with mags that mean something to them.

‘Mike Burnett is a huge part of the equation. His work ethic is unparalleled.’

Feeble spine transfer at Blockhead ramp 2016_p Michael Burnett
Feeble spine transfer • Blockhead Ramp • 2016  © Michael Burnett

In your interview Next Up Foundation you said ‘These days “reading” a magazine isn’t quite the same – editorials are cut shorter and more emphasis is placed on photo spreads and advertising.’ Do you think this is also a contributing factor for the decreasing popularity of print?

Is there anything the skatemags can do differently for people to demand printed copies again?
I wish I had the answers. The older I get, the more I realize how little I understand the younger generations.

What is the success of Thrasher to stay on print for all these years?
Mike Burnett is a huge part of the equation. His work ethic is unparalleled. So I point to 3 things. Excellent staff and content – Early adopters of the web – having a logo that kids want to wear on clothes.

When you look at skatemags and printed publications in general, it looks like advertisers become more involved in the editorial aspect. What is your take on this?
I miss the days of Big Brother where opinions could be shared. Advertisers don’t have thick skin.

Do you think there will be revival of printed skatemags at some point?
Hard to say.

What other projects are you working on?
Currently working up a display for the Skateboarding Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Still skating and trying not to lose too many tricks. Anxiously awaiting the call from a shop that is interested in having a library.

Last Question. If you could interview one person, who would it be and what would you ask?
I find that Neil Blender and Dan Sturt are the most mysterious characters in skateboarding but I have to respect their privacy. Sometimes – often times – things are out of our control and we just have to be fine with that.

‘Anxiously awaiting the call from a shop that is interested in having a library.’

photo Jeffrey Halleran
© Jeffrey Halleran