Creating the Friend


And do thou grant, Holy Father, that all … may be taught words of wisdom (D&C 109:14).

Have you ever wondered how the Friend is created? How long does it take to make a magazine issue? One month? Two or three months? Much time is needed to make a Friend magazine that is full of fun crafts and games and good stories with gospel messages. In fact, because it takes about eight months for each issue to be completed and delivered to your house, many magazines are being worked on at any one time. This October magazine was started last March.

The first step is planning what themes and topics will be covered. The Friend staff gets about a thousand stories and articles written by other people each month—a lot of people want you to read their stories! Since all the stories can’t be used, only a few are chosen and put into a file to use later. After the editors and designers choose the stories and articles that will go into an issue and decide where to put them, their selections are reviewed, then approved by General Authority advisors. All the contents for each issue, including Making Friends, Funstuf, and Exploring, need to be ready for approval six months before the issue is printed.

During all the months it takes to create a Friend magazine, the editors are constantly proofreading and correcting the stories and articles. It’s important that story details are accurate and true to gospel principles. Every story is usually edited three or four times before the artwork is added.

Each issue has an article called Making Friends, which features a child from around the world. The editors keep track of which states and countries have been written about so that children from as many places as possible can be in the Friend. It’s the same for the Friends in the News and Our Creative Friends sections. The editors try to publish drawings, pictures, and writings from an equal number of boys and girls, of different ages, and from different places.

The Friend staff likes to get letters telling what readers like and don’t like about the magazine. The editors also read other magazines published for young readers to see what children are interested in. Many books are read by the editors in order to suggest good-to-read books twice a year.

There’s more to do with the Friend than just read it. Each month there’s a calendar you can use to keep track of important events. The Book of Mormon stories can be collected and placed in a file or notebook. There are tasty recipes you can make by yourself or with an older person, crafts to make, songs to sing and play, and, of course, stories that can be used for giving talks or family home evening lessons.

Painting or drawing pictures, taking photographs, doing needlework, and making three-dimensional dolls or scenes are all ways the designers bring stories to life. Reverent Ralph and Rachel on the January 1992 cover are made of clay and have yarn hair. Some dolls or animals are made of felt and stuffed. First the designers draw their ideas and show them to the editors for any suggestions. Then a computer printout is made to show how the art fits with the story. Sometimes the art or the stories need to be changed because they don’t match. For example, in the February 1992 folktale called “Sentar’s Burden,” eye goggles had to be added to the drawings because they are mentioned in the story for safety.

The computer printouts, art, and computer discs are taken to the Salt Lake Printing Center, where both black-and-white and color proofs are made. These proofs are looked at by the editors and designers for any last-minute corrections. Then the printing begins!

Did you know that more than 240,000 Friend magazines are printed each month and sent to English-speaking children around the world? Each month the International Magazines division of the Church Curriculum Department also publishes selected Friend stories and articles in twenty-two different languages.

The Friend is printed on a huge printing press. It’s almost the length of half a football field, and it can print about 35,000 magazines an hour. An editor and a designer go to the press at least three times each month to make sure that the magazine is being printed correctly. Sometimes the color needs to be adjusted, or a picture is blurry and the register needs to be changed. When all the magazines for an issue have been printed, each is trimmed, stapled, addressed, and wrapped. Then your issue is sent right to your mailbox.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Susan Curtis