Back To The Future: The Birth Of Mr. Magazine™… Memoirs From Lebanon.

August 5, 2019

A Mr. Magazine™ Musing

At age 10 when I bought my first magazine: Superman

Recently, I returned from a visit to Lebanon, my birthplace and where most of my relatives live. It’s always a touching and memorable reunion with family and old friends. And besides the human version of that term, “old friends” can also include memorabilia that takes you back to a different time. A time when your world was younger and just beginning. And in my case, a time (unbeknownst to me then) when Mr. Magazine™ was born.

The first issue of Superman magazine published in Jan. 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon

While I was in Lebanon, I was gifted the first 13 issues of the Arabic Superman (1964) by one of those “old” and dear friends I mentioned above. These issues are so important to me as they started this relationship I have with ink on paper. It was so much fun rereading those magazines that got me hooked on the feel and smell of ink on paper, storytelling, and journalism. They’re still as amazing today as they were 55 years ago, if not even more.

Being back where it all began, this magazine journey that I love so much and have such a vibrant  passion for, my mind shifted into reverse and the years began to unravel and fall away.

My name for the first time in a magazine masthead.

After my journey with Superman, my memories went to Music magazine. For the first time in my journalism career my name had appeared on the masthead of Music magazine (circa 1972 /1973). I was so excited to be on an actual masthead of a magazine that I did not even ask to be paid (and, for that matter, I was not paid). A great training experience in which I was translating, editing, and designing the pages of the magazine. My first editorial appeared in issue 18. Needless to say, I was on cloud nine. (I circled my name in red for illustration purposes only… the magazine was in Arabic).

I ended up being the managing editor of Film magazine.

Film magazine was my second stop on my journey of journalism. After almost a year at Music magazine, I was offered a job later in 1973 at the new movie magazine Film. I started as a reporter and editor and ended up being the managing editor of the Arabic edition of the magazine in 1974.

For Film, I created the people’s opinion page in which I took a photographer with me every week to a different movie theater and asked people as they exited their opinions about the movie.

It was a great job that lasted 30 weeks, when the magazine’s owner decided to suspend the publication in search of more funding. Nothing new under the sun when it comes to the folding of most magazines; the number one reason for magazine failure was, is, and will continue to be money.

First job as editor in chief…

During my sophomore year in college, and among the many journalistic jobs I was involved in, I edited a weekly 4-page tabloid newspaper Sout Al-Bilad (the Voice Of the Country) devoted to college news. The paper was published from November 1974 until the beginning of the civil war in April 1975.

It was my first experience in being an editor in chief and learning the entire process of publishing from letterpress and typesetting to printing and distribution.

My journalism ventures continued in Lebanon between my home town, Tripoli, and the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, where I was attending college. My hobby was already changing to my profession before it was my education.

Reporting for the daily newspaper Al-Kifah Al-Arabi, at a news conference with the Lebanese and Syrian prime ministers in Damascus, Syria, 1976.

Next in my Lebanese journalistic journey was a daily newspaper Al-Kifah Al-Arabi that was launched on March 25, 1975. I was a junior in college and assumed the role of managing editor for design, with a few reporting jobs here and there. The Lebanese civil war broke out on April 13, less than three weeks from the launch of the paper.

Needless to say journalism at a daily newspaper during a civil war makes for a very intriguing job. Single and loving what I did, who could ask for a better way to make a living?

As the war raged on, so did the work. In 1976, a cease fire took place and I was able to finish my last year in college and ended up the number one student in my class.

The daily paper changed to a weekly magazine in 1978 and I continued my work there, in addition to being a reporter and designer at another weekly and an art director for a monthly, The Arab Economist, which was published both in English and French.

Upon graduating from the Lebanese University in 1977, I ended up being the top student in my class and in 1978 I was offered a scholarship to come to the United States to pursue  a Ph.D. in journalism.  On August 31, 1978, my wife and I left Lebanon and came to the United States of America.  And, now you know the rest of the story….

One comment

  1. Wonderful story. Wonderful life. Thank you for sharing, Samir.

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