You’ve heard it before: Print is dead or dying – being killed off by the uber-democratic internet and online publications. This sucks for skateboarders since one of the best ways to take in the culture (other than actually doing it) is to see it on paper, in photos, something the print magazine was made for.
Luckily Kevin Marks put us on to the Look Back Library, a non-profit he’d started to collect and preserve print skateboarding magazines from around the world. He has gems: the entire collection of “Thrasher,” every “Skateboarder Magazine,” a huge assortment of “Big Brother”, all neatly organized in his home library and a few other places around California. Since then, Kevin’s taken his library on the road, driving over 13,000 miles across the country and back again in a big blue van, setting up pop-up galleries and even putting up 16 new permanent mag libraries at some of the skate shops that hosted him.
We know that most of you out there may not be lucky enough to live near one of these newly installed skate mag libraries, so we put on our archivist’s gloves and scanned a few of these paper relics in their entirety to give a taste of the past. Below, you’ll find eight fully downloadable files of hard-to-find issues the Look Back Library let us scan for you.
If you want to join in on the cause, email Kevin to donate old issues you have laying around or to find out about setting up a library near you. Though they might not yet know it, the future generations will (hopefully) appreciate it.
Transworld Skateboarding (June 1996)
Highlights: Here’s a Transworld cover that seems to be trying to be Big Brother, but within the pages of the mag Steve Caballero gets the profile treatment (need more of those in skateboarding!), and NorCal gets a deep dive with a bunch of photos from the region’s best, including Keith Hufnagel, Karl Watson, and Mike Carroll.
Transworld Skateboarding (February 1997)
Highlights: This Transworld cover of Cardiel frontside ollieing on some impossibly steep bank is lit, literally. Also in this thick mag are some beautiful shots by legendary photog Tobin Yelland, and a pro spotlight of Peter Hewitt.
Big Brother (October 1997)
Highlights: Check out the Caine Gayle interview that opens with a shot of him getting road head and ends with his advice on how to get a threesome going. This issue also has an inexplicable amount of vert coverage, which was still acceptable in 1997 I guess. And of course, the legendary DC Euro Super Tour is given a lengthy feature.
Big Brother (March 1998)
Highlights: This mag is an obvious progenitor (big word!) to Jenkem, and this issue gives a few great examples of why we love Big Brother so much. There’s a book review of “The Joint Rolling Handbook” alongside a how-to guide illustrating the technique to rolling the fanciful windmill joint, an Ed Templeton interview conducted by Sean Cliver that opens up with the question, “Are you gay?,” and also an incredible two-page spread Rob Welsh ad for Duff shoes towards the back.
SLAP Skateboard Magazine (May 1998)
Highlights: Take a trip with Anthony Correa down to the ditches of Houston, Texas, and check out the ever-timely ad for a softgoods brand calling itself “Label Whore Clothing Co.” in this slim issue of SLAP.
Big Brother (March 1999)
Highlights: BB really was just the greatest skate mag of all time. This issue has an interview with Ethan Fowler that gets into chugging Robitussin, getting clean, and reading James Joyce. Also of interest is a Matt Beach double-page ad for adidas, back from one of their earlier attempts at breaking into the skate market; a Josh Kasper 20-stair-ollie for the back cover; and a video review of “Transmission” that calls Transworld out for being “pretentious.”
Concussion Skateboarding (Issue 29, 2005)
Highlights: Concussion, although now defunct, was a mag that catered to the hesh heads. In this Creature Blowout Issue, we get some epic shots of the team skating some real crust, tour stories and photos from road tripping to SoCal, and some reviews of a couple of the shittiest skate tattoos I’ve ever seen—all in glossy black and white.
SLAP Skateboard Magazine (December 2000)
Highlights: A frontside salad grind on the cover? Must be 2000, and must be Louie Barletta! Check this issue for an interview with Louie conducted by some of his Tilt Mode Army brethren, and also see the highlight of Alex “Trainwreck” Gall that calls him the “Rail God of Tomorrow.”