The Ganja Grind: RIP “Transworld,” But Print Skate Mags Still Live On
The legacy skate magazine bit the dust this month, but there are several other print publications focused on the subculture that will continue to hold the torch.
Published on March 14, 2019

Next month, for the first time in more than 30 years, subscribers to Transworld Skateboarding magazine will not find a pile of skate photos, pro interviews, and ad spreads in their mailbox. Instead, they’ll find a brand new edition of Men’s Journal magazine, whether they like it or not.

Started in the early ‘80s as a positive ray of print skateboarding sunshine to offset Thrasher’s “skate and destroy” mentality with some “skate and create” optimism, Transworld eventually turned into the world’s biggest print skate mag — both in Vogue-style thickness and international distribution.

Like all things, though — and with increasing haste for print periodicals — Transworld’s run had to come to an end sometime. And thanks to a new acquisition by American Media Inc., that time has officially come, with every subscription now immediately supplanted with a men’s health and fitness magazine.


Above, the first issue of "Transworld" from '83

With a focus on Southern California skating and miles of advertising that, at times, included military recruitment spreads alongside groundbreaking tricks, Transworld lost traction as skateboard media moved online. The publication also went through multiple corporate buyouts before last month’s final print issue.

For most modern-era skaters, though, Transworld will be remembered for its prolific video output, especially at the turn of the millenium, when filmers Jon Holland, Ty Evans, Greg Hunt, and others pumped out classics like Feedback, Modus Operandi, and Sight Unseen. The videos stand out for featuring skaters from across the sponsor landscape to create cohesive cinematic masterpieces.

Transworld will continue to publish as an online magazine, posting original and aggregated content from around the skate world. But as print editions come to an end with issue 397 — featuring Lance Mountain on its cover — and the skate industry goes full-on nostalgia trip, we thought it would be appropriate to look towards the future of print skate magazines, and highlight some of our favorite outlets that will continue releasing glossy pages into 2019 and beyond.

Skate Jawn

From the streets of New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York City to skate shop counters and mailboxes around the world, Skate Jawn is a home for all things East Coast skateboarding. Printed in the classic folded-over 8.5 x 11 zine format, Skate Jawn showcases local photographers, skaters, artists, writers, skate scenes, and backyard ramps. Since its inception, the outlet has worked to combine the delinquency and comradery of documenting your own local skate crew with a scale that has grown to cover not only the Eastern seaboard, but skaters and scenes in San Francisco, Spain, Berlin, and more.

Published bi-monthly, Skate Jawn is free at skate shops around the world, with $30 annual subscriptions available for anyone who can’t find an issue, or doesn’t feel like getting vibed by the local shop lurkers. 


Free Skate Mag

Birthed from the print demise of Europe’s two most popular skate monthlies, Sidewalk and Kingpin, Free Skate Mag debuted in 2015 and has since printed 23 issues of pan-European skate brilliance. Focusing almost entirely on the other side of the pond, Free gives U.S. skaters a taste of skate scenes in London, Berlin, Malmo, Holland, rural France, and more.

Outside of the standard fare of interviews and photo captions, Free also features in-depth and creative articles from writers like James Davis and pros like Rick McCrank. You can read articles from Free on their website, and you can buy hard copies of the magazine for the low low price of $2, courtesy of New York-based skate distributor Theories of Atlantis.


Jenkem Books

When Jenkem Magazine launched online in early 2011, the whole point was to live on the internet and avoid being beholden to the classic ad-fueled, pay-to-play, two-hand touch editorial restrictions that often come with traditional print media (I’m looking at you, Thrasher). But after five years of success and a growing cult following, that plan went out the window.

In 2016 the Jenky crew published Jenkem Book Vol. 1, a large-format hardcover coffee table book featuring essays, interviews, photography, a pull-out poster, and of course, skating. In 2018, Jenkem followed up with Vol. 2, featuring a photo essay about pro skaters’ bedrooms, a look at the Bay Area’s growing LGBTQ skate scene, and more. 

Jenkem hasn’t announced whether or not they’ll be publishing a Vol. 3, but for the sake of skateboarding in print, we sure hope so. In the meantime, you can buy a copy of Vol. 2 for $40 over at the Jenkem webstore.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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