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During the lockdown period, we reached out to Marcus Waldron who is one of the editors of Skate Jawn. Skate Jawn is an East Coast-based skateboard magazine run by Marcus alongside Noah McManus. Pick up a copy of the mag and the passion for the stories they share, and the skateboarder's and photographer they highlight is more than evident. Read on to learn about the mag's beginnings and the stories they tell.
How did Skate Jawn begin?
I feel like I’ve always wanted to make a skate magazine, I definitely talked about it with friends in high school. My older brother studied graphic design and advertising. In 2008 he started Munch Mouth Magazine, a local food magazine as a way to get free food and try to make some bucks. We used to have a magazine meeting every week with my brother, my cousin, and some friends. Munch Mouth lasted about 2 years.
I moved to Philly to go to school in 2010 and moved into a skate house with Conor Prunty and Mitchell Wilson. They knew tons of skaters, photographers, and filmers etc. As soon as I got to that house I said alright, I’m gonna make a skate magazine. It seemed like I found the people and photographers and network I needed.
I also found out I could print for free at school. So that’s how I made the first few issues. I’d print every day after school until they ran out of paper or ink or something, then go home and staple and fold. I was doing about 1,000 copies an issue before we started having them made professionally
Can you tell us a bit about the Philly scene at that time?
I really chose Philly to go to school because I wanted to skate Love. Back then people usually went after the bike cops got off at 10 pm, or on the weekends it would be good, but you’d have to run sometimes. Ishod was starting to blow up. Brian Paniebaino was doing the Sabotage videos and out filming all the time. Paine's Park was just a long talked about idea. I lived a block from Cecil B Moore plaza on Temple campus.
"I never liked the idea of limiting yourself to just covering one place or being hyperlocal"
How has the mag grown over the years, was it something you were really pushing for? Or a more organic thing?
Since the first issue, we’ve really tried to stay on schedule putting out a better magazine than the last one every two months. I’ve learned a lot since I started, it’s gotten easier in some ways, and I hope better. I try to keep it expanding too though which is hard. I didn’t really have a plan when I started or expect anyone to care, but there was a really good response. Everyone said don’t stop, it's rad.
You guys have since relocated to New York, has that changed the focus of the magazine much?
I’m from New Jersey, started the magazine in Philly then moved to New York because so many friends were here and moving here. I never liked the idea of limiting yourself to just covering one place or being hyperlocal. I've always thought travelling was a big part of skating and liked seeing videos and zines from other places.
What kind of skate stories excite you?
I’m always looking for exciting photos and trying to see if there’s a story there. Anything different. Interesting places, people, projects. Skaters that do stuff outside of skating like music and art or whatever it is.
Do you have any favourite features or stories you’ve covered with the mag?
The photographer interviews are usually really fun to do. Lance Dawes is one that sticks out since we got to talk about what it's like to run a magazine then versus now.
We got some photos submitted that a guy shot on assignment at a contest in Philly in 1988 and never turned in. They found the negatives after thinking they were gone forever and we did an article about it.
We made a whole special issue, and video about the trip we took from Madrid to Morocco to help build a skate park. That was one of the best experiences and favorite projects ever by far.
The Bruns videos are two standout East Coast videos in recent memory - any plans for another Skate Jawn backed video?
Shout out Kevin Winters for being a rad filmer and friend, those videos were a lot of fun. We made a video last year for the 50th issue and are just finishing up another one this year to mark our 10th year anniversary. I hope to do more video projects soon.
What’s your take on the current skate media landscape? In Europe, for example, there’s a thriving print mag scene, in the US it seems there’s only you guys and Thrasher?
Yeah, it seems weird there are so many cool independent skate mags in Europe and not so much over here. It’s incredibly hard doing a magazine and keeping it free to skaters, but it seems like it might be easier in Europe for some reason. I’ve never really understood it.
"I don’t care if I bum someone out by talking about what’s important to me, and everyone."
How has it been trying to put together your upcoming issue under the strain of Covid-19? I guess, as skateboarders, we are able to get creative with our approaches.
I feel like I've had plenty of time to work on all the different aspects of the magazine, and had fewer distractions. We were just starting to plan a huge event for our 10 year anniversary but had to scrap that.
We’ve still stayed pretty much on schedule otherwise. My co-editor Noah actually went out of town in early March and decided to stay in Massachusetts for a while. We’ve worked together remotely for years while he was living in S.F. before NY so we're pretty used to working apart.
Everyone will be aware of the powerful protests across the US at the moment. Do you feel any responsibility as editors to highlight the societal issues they’re challenging? Skateboarding, of course, doesn’t exist in a vacuum
The societal issues being challenged by the protest is the racist police. I'm black and have always had to deal with racism and watch every member of my family do the same. I'm not tired of seeing protests and horrible truths.
But some of the posting and support from people and companies seem like just saving face. Some of the companies and people really don't care and you can tell if you know them. This has been a very heavy year and I want people to keep having fun, skate, and not get too depressed, but I also don’t care if I bum someone out by talking about what’s important to me, and everyone.
Usually, I want to keep things strictly skateboarding, and honestly try to make something I think an 18-year-old kid would be hyped on. I’ve made a platform and feel like I have to use it, but I also know I am using it constantly by weeding people out and little things we say or print, so I don’t feel a lot of pressure to say something just because it’s popular right now.
I’ve always loved being able to feature my fellow black skaters and companies. We’ve got photos of people I know are racist and dragged them straight to the trash. Everyone should feel some responsibility to try and do right and speak up when they see shit going on that isn’t.
Thanks to Marcus for taking the time to answer our questions, and to everyone else involved in making Skate Jawn the brilliant publication that it is. Looking forward to the next issue and the ten-year anniversary video.
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