John Slaby doing a noseslide on a skateboard

Remembering John Slaby: The Artist and Skateboarder Who Invented the Half Slab

Yesterday, I got the unfortunate news that my friend and skatecrew brother, John Slaby, passed away. While John is widely known for the incredible album art he did for bands like Title Fight, Turnover, Tigers Jaw, and Tiny Moving Parts, he was also a lifelong fan of skateboarding. 

Here is a collection of John Slaby’s North East Skate Crew video parts. 

John Slaby Purple (2016)

John Slaby Blowin’ It (2012)

John Slaby Two Weeks Notice (2005)

John Slaby The Sons of Manute (2002)

John Slaby Noreaster (2001)

John Slaby Young Gunz (2000)

I met John while skating a curb behind a supermarket in Shavertown, PA, in 1997. We spent countless hours learning to skate and just enjoying the warmer Pennsylvanian months outdoors. While my interest in skateboarding faded and then later returned, John’s interest never faded. He skated in full force from 1996 or 1997 until he passed from cancer in 2024.

There are two gigantic details I’ll remember about John Slaby’s skating. 

  1. He could do a trick we called the “half slab.” Many years later, we learned this trick became called a forward flip (or dolphin flip). Since I saw John do it first, he will always be known as the inventor of the “half slab” to me.

    You can see John do a half slab right at the 4:16 mark in his 2002 The Sons of Manute skate part.

  2. John could ollie impressively far. He was able to clear gaps that none of us even saw as gaps. He would simply charge at them, pop, and the clip was captured. 

I’ll take that as my lesson to be more like him and try to remember to charge full speed at the gaps that others don’t.

John’s passing is a reminder to please tell all of your friends and family that they matter and to keep skating as long as your aging body allows.

I am sending my deepest condolences out to his fiancé, his family, and all of his friends.

John’s official obituary can be read in full here.

john garret slaby obituary
John Slaby Obituary (Title Fight Turnover artist)


  1. As each year, I get older and am now watching my sons grow. I can’t help but feel so fortunate that I had the chance in my youth to share moments with all the guys from NESC with the common bond of skateboarding, including John Slaby and you, Steve. Even though I was an angsty Kingston kid with a nub, all the Dallas guys always made me feel welcome to skate with them regardless of skill level.

    I just wanted to send you much love and positive vibes, Steve! Long live NESC And John Slaby, the ultimate legend!


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