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Kevin Wilkins Interview

Friday, 21 April 2006 15:15
Kevin is the editor of The Skateboard Mag., a publication we dig. We contacted him and asked for a short interview about his home Nebraska, how he got his start in the editorial world and the name of his future dog. Fecal Face, meet Kevin Wilkins. interview by Isaac McKay-Randozzi

Kevin is the editor of The Skateboard Mag., a publication we dig. We contacted him and asked for a short interview about his home Nebraska, how he got his start in the editorial world and the name of his future dog. Fecal Face, meet Kevin Wilkins.

Name: Kevin Wilkins
Occupation: Editor, The Skateboard Mag
Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska? Why there? Why not stay in California?
There was a time, not too long ago, that I said out loud and with some frequency, “I will never move back to Lincoln again. Ever.” And you know how the universe works, right? It conspires against you and your grand statements. That’s one reason I’m here, I’d guess... Our families are here, we have some good old friends, we know where to go and eat, where to go get coffee, where to by inner tubes, and grip tape, and crackers. We’re familiar with the place, and its cycles—for right now—are comforting not tedious.

This last time I left California, I was sick of the guy I was working for and sick of driving an hour a day, and sick of being away from my wife. Now I’m sick of being away from California’s weather and it’s skateparks. I like skateparks. I also miss my friends, but we get to visit with each other pretty often, so it’s okay... Don’t cry for me.

How did you get into the skateboarding editorial business?
The only correct way.

Oh, should I elaborate?
I skateboarded first. That seems to be the proper first step... Then I got hurt. To fill the time healing from injury, I started shooting photos, drawing, writing, and then cutting and pasting stuff in to zines. I traded those zines with a few people through the mail and eventually those people became lifelong friends.

Andy Jenkins was one of the guys I used to correspond with and he eventually offered me some work on the big-format magazine Home Boy, where my friend and fellow zine-ster / Lincolnite Bernie McGinn had just started working as a photographer and darkroom tech.

I moved out to Torrance at the end of December ’89 and three months later Wizard Publications folded the magazine.

TransWorld was looking for an associate editor at the time, and another zine maker friend, Tod Swank, lined up an interview for me. A few days later, Jenkins was driving me down there in his Hyundai, with my futon, a crate of vinyl, and my toiletries in the back. I’ve been doing magazine work, in one form or another ever since.

How do you go about editing Dave Carnie's writing?
I do a word search for “poop” and cut half of the occurrences out.

No, really, I don’t do much of anything do Dave’s writing. He’s a pro in every sense of the word, no matter how he portrays himself. He’s on time, he does his homework, and he’s got what appears to be an effortless talent for typing. He likes what he does. That’s the main reason I think he’s so good.

The Skateboard Mag only allows skate companies to advertise in it. Has this posed any financial problems? Skaters aren't the best about paying their bills on time.
We haven’t really run into any so-called “problems” that you wouldn’t see in any industry, though. The biggest thing we’ve learned is that you can’t just draw a line in the sand and say, “This is it.” Everyone has different needs and different wants and different ways of running their shit. It takes a nation of millions …

That we only allow skateboard companies to advertise is a beautiful myth, though. I love it. There’s really no set definition for what a skateboard company is these days other than varying degrees of the obvious, “they have to keep it real.” That said, from the oldest crusty trog to the youngest shop-lurker kid, “real” skaters know “reaI” skate companies when they see them.

I know it’s kind of boring, but in reality we have a limited amount of space in the book and we try to maintain a ratio of edit to advertising that we think is ideal. Part of this comes from knowing what we’ve always liked to see in magazines, and part of it is protecting the companies who advertise with us from getting lost in a huge mess of page turning and wasted space and demographic farming.

Does living in Nebraska pose any problems when putting The Mag together?
Oh, yeah. A few. Luckily the people I work with are a patient and forward-thinking group.

The nature of making magazines is kind of autonomous, anyway. You know? I mean, usually there are a few people working behind desks, and a ton other people out on the streets skating, shooting photos, writing, and helping to come up with ideas. The fact that my desk is in a basement in the sorrowful Midwest isn’t really that big of a problem—more like a way to keep us engaged and thinking deliberately about what we’re doing. You can never coast, and you shouldn’t be even thinking about coasting anyway, regardless of geography, regardless of where you pay rent.

One thing about being here, though—a justification that I enjoy relating to whoever will listen—is that the things I see in my town and the towns around here are far more representative of what the majority of the world’s skaters experience. I love California. Really. But have you noticed where names like Heck, Kalis, Pratt, McCallum, Buzenitz, Navarrette, Torres, Ramondetta, Berra, Nesser, Allie, Malto, and Peterson, among others, have come from? You have to want to skateboard out here, and in doing so you’re automatically a little out of step. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

Have any pets?
An old border collie / lab named Carl.

If you get another dog, will you name it Lenny?
Oh, like from The Simpsons? Maybe.

Cheryl named her. Yes, a girl dog named Carl. You know how we do.

There are these children’s books—Carl the Dog books— and in all of them, this mother leaves her child alone with a dog named Carl. The dog and the baby have a great time. They’re drawn in a very awkward style and the whole idea behind them is completely psycho. Cheryl thought our Carl looked like the one in the books. I didn’t see them ’til later, but I liked the name

How'd you first find out about Fecal Face Dot Com?
I can’t remember. I can guess, though. Probably through looking at Crownfarmer, the Slap site, or Crailtap right when it started. I think that’d be an interesting path to follow. Maybe it could be an episode of CSI, or something.

Has e-mail made your job easier or harder?
Much easier. Everything we do now is somehow connected to e-mail or the internet. It’s made the world smaller, which most of the time I don’t think is a bad deal. It also has the potential to allow you to do so many things from so many places. I like potential. It’s like the ocean when I’m out west … I may never go out in it, but it’s nice knowing I could if I wanted to.

Ever go cow tipping?
Sure. We live for making the rural myth into non-fiction.

Done any traveling lately, or plan to?
I’m going to Minneapolis in a couple weeks for 3rd Lair’s Top Shop contest. That should be pretty fun. Probably be out in Cali a few times this summer for this and that. We’re taking a little family trip to Colorado in June to skate some parks and camp out. I’m sure there will be some skate centered trip for The Mag that’ll sneak it’s way into my life soon, too. I love the Northwest, I haven’t been to SF forever, I miss NYC. Nothing planned but that’s good, I believe. No plan.

Ever heard of Porous Walker?
Yes, I have. Is he planning on traveling soon, too? {moscomment}

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