This week Zag completed our 40th Anniversary Issue (Vol. 40.1). The amount of effort put in to make sure that this milestone edition served the magazine’s longevity justice, meant that sending it off to the printers felt like sending baby Moses down the river. Instead of papaya leaves and a basket, with Egyptian royalty awaiting, he was wrapped in a humble zip file, ready to be nurtured into his full potential by Paarl Media’s finest ink cartridges.
The first editions of Zag back in ’76 in their original tabloid size, shadowing today’s Vol. 39.8.
When I first laid eyes on the golden box (okay it’s more of a faded brown cardboard box) which housed the mag’s first copies from 1976, the words ‘massive’ and ‘epic’ were the first to come out of my mouth. Comparing them with today’s mags is like comparing records to CDs. And in my opinion, there’s no substitute for old school quality. The phrase “they just don’t make ’em like they used to” comes to mind. However, Zag is turning that cliche on its head with the latest 40th Anniversary Issue, which is being printed in the original tabloid size. So get ready for some of the finest selection of surf photographs and articles in all their ‘massive’ and ‘epic’ glory.
The evolution of the Zag, soon to hit a one-time-only reverse.
While we’re on the topic, this method of “looking back to move forward,” which is essentially what’s happening when you look at the decision to print our 40th Issue in its original tabloid size, is pretty much evident throughout the surfing world at the moment. Just look at board design. We’ve gone full swing from chunky single fins, to twinnies, to the modern day thruster, and back to chunky single fins (and other retro shapes). Then there’s the traction pad situation. A few years ago, seeing an old picture of a surfer cruising down the line with a grip pad in the centre of his board looked old-school and almost kookish, maybe I’m wrong? But these days, you might have noticed that many of the top shredders are reviving this style.
It’s no secret that a lot of surfers are over standard performance thrusters, meaning that old school retro shapes are coming back in demand.
What does all this mean? Is surfing devolving? Definitely not. But the trend does illuminate the soul of our ‘sport’ and how it’s not like any other out there. Professional competitive surfing aside, the act of riding a wave with a board and the culture it breeds will hopefully always retain some of it’s counter-culture rebelliousness, which doesn’t care for capitalism or the constant upgrades and technological advancement that goes with that school of thought. In forty more years you might see golf clubs that swing for you, flying cars and androids. Who knows, but hopefully the core of surfing will still be much the same. Zag’s 40th Issue is an ode to this, remembering our roots. Let’s hope they stay grounded.
In conclusion, here’s the very first page of the first Zag ever printed, from Vol. 1.1 back in ’76, thanks to a handful of old surfers including Mike Larmont, Paul Naude and Doug Macdonald, who thankfully saw a need to publicise the fast growing surf culture of SA at the time.