Monday, June 11, 2012

Mag Review: S&M Frontier

The Showa period began on Christmas day in 1926 and lasted until January 8, 1989 when the new (and current) emperor ushered in the Heisei period.

It doesn't seem likely to me that many SM fans will wax nostalgic about the Heisei period a few decades from now -- but the Showa period? That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

The Showa period (due in no small part to its longevity) saw the rise of iconic SM magazines such as Kitan Club, which got going shortly after the war, and personalities such as Ito Seiu who, while actually born in the Meiji period, made significant contributions to the canon of SM art during Showa.

Full page photo from S&M Frontier
Another cool thing about Showa was the architecture: wooden structures with tile roofs; creaky wooden floors; thick dark beams and posts; shoji. Pro photographers stalk these places like a big game hunter and, like an endangered species, each day brings extinction that much closer.

An outdoors shot from the pages of S&M Frontier
Of course, Showa also witnessed the beginning of the pink film phenomenon -- but the subject today is magazines.

A huge list of magazines can be found at SMpedia and one of those Showa classics was S&M Frontier (SMフロンティア).

And some great artwork from S&M Frontier
I don't know if many folks have actually heard of S&M Frontier, but it had the look and feel of many of the great magazines of the 1970s. Saddle-stitched and a little larger than digest-sized, S&M Frontier seduced with provocative and colorful hand-painted covers which, by themselves, did not necessarily portend kinky sadomasochistic content. The title and cover blurbs saw to that.

More artwork from S&M Frontier
The magazine was thick with a mix of glossy and pulp paper, a common feature of these types of periodicals. The pulp paper, besides saving money, seemed sufficient for the black and white drawings and photos, the manga and the articles (fiction and non-fiction).

A page of manga from S&M Frontier
The glossy paper, of course, was mostly reserved for the beautiful color photographs, the likes of which, I regret to say, have not been equaled, let alone surpassed, by today's cold digital aesthetic.

A review in S&M Frontier
S&M Frontier was first published in June 1974, but I can't tell exactly when it stopped publishing.

From the pages of S&M Frontier magazine
They don't make 'em like this anymore. We are diminished.

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