A somewhat mixed bag this month from FRONT. It was always going to be hard to follow issue 164, it being a magnificent offering headlined by Alysha and Arabella’s tattoo feature. This month however will forever be special in my time following FRONT, as it saw the release of the new FRONT forum, a place I have spent many years enjoying, until it was recently overrun with spammers. Steve and Matt over at FRONT towers have done some incredible work to get a new forum established, and it’s kicked off with a terrific bang, focussing more on established forum females, and encouraging new blood to get involved. But I digress, let’s talk about the magazine…
Adorning the cover this month is the lovely Danielle. A model that is completely new to me, and a lady who I had no idea what to expect from. Her cover image is a bit of a Seren Gibson classic. Breasts peaking out from below a hiked up t-shirt (large breasts at that) and piercing eyes. Having said it’s a Seren classic pose, I don’t mean any negativity by this. Danielle looks wonderful on the cover, and I couldn’t wait to check out her feature. I could have done without the beanie hat though. You’ve got a gorgeous, sexy and new cover model, I know it’s cold this time of year, but there’s no need to slap a “last of the summer wine” style hat on her. The underwear she’s got on is very fun indeed, but the hat just detracts from all notions of feminine allure for me. I was a little vexed by the very large illustration behind Danielle on the cover as well. I get the plug for the “2000 AD” feature within, but the massive (darker that usual) backdrop to the cover girl made me look twice before I purchased my copy. Was this FRONT I was picking up? Little things like that irk me at times, sad perhaps, but there we have it.
From the inside, we’ll start on page 10, and a letter from very a disgruntled German reader. I have no idea what was accomplished by printing this bloke’s letter. Why showcase your detractors and their very skewed views of a magazine and more importantly it’s readership? Just leave hate mail like this in the bin FRONT, we don’t want to read it. Moving on to page 12, and a marvellous effort from Conor and his mate. Flyer knights! It really made me smile, and a cracking idea for all you students with extra takeaway menus.
From page 16, FRONT’s incredible run of “full frontals” continues. In recent months, the full frontal section of the magazine has shone, and even eclipsed the main feature in some cases. Lucy V’s efforts in issue 165 are no exception, and it is a brilliant few pages of imagery. Lucy’s first picture on page 17 sums up the whole section. It’s an attitude rich photograph, filled with cheek, fun and sex appeal. The red hair, lipstick and nail polish against her milky skin is so vibrant, and it’s a composition that works well. An Elvis curl to her upper lip exudes personality, and her breasts and hand placement hint at an extroverted confident model. It’s a real “check me out” picture. A double page sequence on 18 and 19 was a little disappointing. Not due to Lucy’s work, but what she’s wearing. I vividly remember Kate Lynch wearing something very similar in a shoot with FRONT a few months ago, and I am always knocked back slightly when I see something regurgitated. Lucy works the clothing very well though, and even with such a psychedelic pattern, Lucy is the focus. Pages 18 and 19 also show off Lucy’s incredible figure, and the four different shots of her depict a very skilled model offering so much variety in one feature. The versatility continues on pages 20 and 21. A contentious picture on page 20 perhaps. It’s not normal for FRONT to depict a smoking model (in the literal sense), but the smoulder in Lucy’s eyes matches the curls of smoke from her lips perfectly. It’s almost a fetish photograph, and the deviation away from FRONT’s usual style is a tribute to Lucy and photographer Jay Mawson. Finishing on page 21 Lucy’s feature ends on an absolute high. It’s my favourite image in the entire issue by a mile. Maybe disappointing coming only on page 21 out of 146, but I can’t get past how awesome a shot it is. There’s so many qualities in this picture of Lucy that’s it’s hard to pinpoint ones thoughts and feelings adequately. Her red hair is perfectly tousled, and her face the ultimate visage of nonchalant beauty and sexual magnetism. The stance/position Lucy takes up on the arm of a sofa is pretty special. It’s like a superhero perched on a building, and the green tights and red hair continue comic book connotations with a Poison Ivy-esque appeal. I can’t speak highly enough of this image of Lucy, and it made the issue for me. But that’s not to say there weren’t other things to get excited about on the pages that followed.
The top of page 28 held my attention particularly. The “king of killer fonts” half page interview with Josh Owen was nice. I actually spent quite a bit of time enjoying his illustration of the word “FRONT”, and it did the job of getting me very interested in Josh’s work. However the main illustration feature on pages 30 and 31 didn’t resonate with me again. I had the same problem getting on with Jack Teagle’s feature in issue 164. This time it’s Drew Millward’s turn to headline, but again I was left less than thrilled by the feature. I must reiterate, I have no problem with the artist in question, just as I didn’t with Jack last month. But they both happen to be styles that I don’t click with, no matter how popular they are at the moment. I wish Drew every success, and am sure he’s rightfully and deservedly amassed quite a loyal fan base.
This month’s “20 questions” on pages 42 and 43 was a master stroke may I say. Bruce Campbell is a hero for a lot of people my age, and having him in FRONT just fitted perfectly. Dan Hipp’s illustration on page 42 is awesome, and the questions are expertly answered by Bruce. I’m glad they didn’t focus on his TV show Burn Notice, as it’s not a favourite of mine, but they could have focussed more on his Evil Dead work for it to be the perfect chat for me. But seeing Mr Campbell in FRONT was delightful, and the two just go hand in hand for me. Very cool indeed!
Issue 165’s Alt Girl is Natalia Kalashnikov. An exotic and very lovely choice from the guys at FRONT. Maybe her name is offset a little by her coming from Reading, but her look certainly goes along with such a moniker. Her striptease style shoot was a transition of talent if not totally tantalising. Starting off on page 54 with cool trainers and a cheeky thumb pulling down her jeans, it seems Natalia knows what she’s doing. On page 55 we get another glimpse of her kick ass Nikes at the top of the page, and her kick ass…ass, at the bottom of the page. Natalia is resplendent with a nose ring and devilish eyes in the bottom image of 55. It’s a very sexual pose, and it works magnificently in her favour. The rest of Natalia’s images on pages 56 and 57 continues the strip down, and continues her flirtatious relationship with the camera. Natalia works the lens (and us) very well, but I did find myself wanting more once I shook off the affects of her mesmerising eyes.
Exciting indeed was the extension of the Alt Girl D.I.Y section this month. I must say that after I wrote FRONT a letter asking them to extend the D.I.Y section last month, I had no idea they would act so quickly. Of course I’m not enough of an egomaniac to believe my request had anything to do with the decision to increase the number of girls mentioned in the D.I.Y section, but it was a welcome move, if a little heavy handed in the way it was done. Ladies of note from the enlarged D.I.Y section were Vixin, Nicole Vaunt and Hannah, who all exhibited classic FRONT capabilities, and could be featured again in the future (not that anyone else couldn’t of course). But I wanted to give special mention to Abbie Mac and Valentine. These two women really represented for the vamps of the world, and brought a real vaudeville quality and variation to the section. I do like that FRONT included two ladies so different in look and style. Abbie Mac in particular had a very fabulous aura, and her hair was classic and vamp-tastic. Cracking job. One last little mention to Katie Jane also, she had something quirky about her images, a very nice hairstyle, and a sex appeal I could definitely see in an Alt Girl shoot. She would be my dark horse from the ladies featured. On the whole though, it was great to see an extra page of D.I.Y pictures, but I thought it was very unsubtle the way FRONT jammed in an advert for “Oceans Ate Alaska”. I felt it cut off the extra page from the rest of the D.I.Y section, and kind of left it floating out there as a random inclusion in the magazine. But I won’t complain too vigorously, I was just happy to see more photos from FRONT readers.
I must admit, for a FRONT feature, the piece on 2000 AD was superbly engrossing. I loved that the comic got such attention from the guys over at FRONT towers, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not being as clued up as I should be on 2000 AD, I found the article was not condescending in the slightest, and yet didn’t handle the material with kid gloves. The four pages of content on 2000 AD had the traditional FRONT sense of humour, but got to the point and shared some cracking information about the comic, it’s origins and it’s future. I must draw attention to the advert on page 86 as well though. It’s for “Broken Girls Club” and depicts one of their models in a sublime Boba Fett sweater. Broken Girls has been well known to me for a number of months now, and it is my opinion that this company hires some of the most attractive models working today. Simply going to their website will expose you to sheer beauty, and it’s so engaging you’ll be buying something before you know it. Of course the goods are top quality too, but they won’t hire me in the slightest, which is a frustration. But I digress…
Moving on to the cover girl, and Danielle’s feature. It begins on page 88, and at first I have to admit I was worried. Not at the girl chosen for this month’s feature, but it’s subject. I was worried “sexy t-shirt party” would just mean a fourteen page advert for some of FRONT’s contributors. How wrong I was. There was a little of that, but on the whole Danielle’s feature actually featured Danielle. It just so happened that she was wearing a different t-shirt now and again. Her first image on 88 involved the hat that irked me from her cover shot. I don’t see the need for it. Maybe it’s one more logo in shot to charge for, but it took something away for me weirdly, and at the risk of dwelling on it, I have to vent. Thankfully it’s the last we see of the offending item in this shoot. Page 90 brings my favourite shot of the set. Danielle stands in a revealingly cut “Exhumed” t-shirt, hands upon her volumised, choppy hair, and she looks exquisite! I love the pose, I love the cut of the t-shirt, I love the implied nude, I love the hair. Everything in this images screams gorgeous. The three pictures on page 91 accompany perfectly, and from top to bottom Danielle migrates from sultry pose to sultry pose. The t-shirts, happily, take second stage to Danielle’s work on camera, and mustard leggings just add yet another reveal to her incredible body. A double page spread on 92 and 93 is all about Danielle. Not a t-shirt in sight, just a close-up of her face and heaving bosoms. It’s a poster if ever I saw one, and this is probably the purest example of Danielle on camera we see. No t-shirts, no silly hats, just an attractive lady working it.
Turning the page to 94 and we are reminded of a tool FRONT has used on many occasions with established stars. For now we’ll call it “the four boxes of excellence”. Here is where we see Danielle in four small photos side by side in a square. I believe Vikki Blows did it best while eating a Twister lolly pop in one shoot, but this is a good effort from Danielle, and shows off lots of personality. Opposite on 95 is a fully nude, back to camera image of Danielle. It’s not the best shot of the bunch, but you can’t argue with her tremendous figure and knowing turn to camera.
There was a danger of this piece falling into a tired repetition of “rock chick” style photographs, however nothing of the sort happens. There are a variety of shots, only one hinting at a “rock chick” vibe. That one photo is a double on pages 96 and 97. There’s nothing tired about this images though, and Danielle does superbly well in the picture. She is a vision in black suspenders, and the whole rock chick image is turned on it’s head. We’re not paying attention to the t-shirt or the hints of a trashed room, instead, we look deep into Danielle’s eyes, and marvel at her wondrous black clad legs.
The final pages go some way to cementing Danielle as a successful FRONT cover debutant. While the feature and spread doesn’t smack you around the face with it’s fantasticality (the way Alysha and Arabella’s did), there is a subtly to the work that is classic FRONT. The t-shirt thing was a bit weak I must say, but Danielle did well with it, and I hope they give her a chance to show what she can do in a future full frontal set.
Lastly I have to mention a few things that actually jumped out of the magazine and impressed me. The “Extreme Romance” piece for Valentines Day was hilarious, and I loved the “Surprise Her” suggestion at number 1. I laughed out loud at points, and can’t remember a better FRONT feature off the top of my head. Another thing that I took from this month’s issue of FRONT was being introduced to “Listener” on page 136. It’s a band I’m not ashamed to say I had never heard of, and after reading the piece in FRONT, I hit YouTube and was blown away. They’re such a special band, and an experience to listen to. I felt the same way about their extreme wordsmithery as I did the first time I heard an Eminem track. Raw emotion and unbridled performance. I’m happily getting better acquainted with their work now.
Other things I wanted to mention: Von is looking fantastic on page 129. Not that she doesn’t always, but I had to mention her this month because she stopped me in my tracks. I always enjoy Von and Sim Wise, but I don’t really feel qualified to comment on their contributions to FRONT. Intimidation by their awesomeness I’m blaming. Also, page 130, the Choc Ice Clothing advert. This model is beautiful, and I couldn’t get her out of my head for a good hour after seeing the ad. Had to mention that unexpected treat.
Finally, a very general comment about FRONT and its offerings this year so far. It’s plain to see that FRONT are looking towards new talent to fill their pages, and they must be applauded for that. I’m not sure the reasons behind this, maybe just for the sake of finding new models, maybe because a lot of FRONT’s previous models are going more mainstream and they want to distance themselves from that. I’m not sure. But I’m very happy with what FRONT has been doing. This month I was introduced to a new model in Danielle, and was wowed by the contribution of Lucy V (especially page 21 as previously mentioned). While I can see them returning to their established models, I hope they keep this trend going. I envisage Vikki or Rosie reappearing next month, but perhaps in the future they could indulge some of the forum girls with magazine time? I think their appeal on the forum demonstrates their fan base, and I know they would fit into the magazine seamlessly. They are all fresh new models, with the FRONT ethos at heart. Speaking of the forum, I must applaud FRONT for breathing new life into it, and thanks to Yaz, Bow, Stripey and all the wonderful forum people for getting the new online home of FRONT jumping again. I hope you enjoyed your copy of this month’s FRONT, and I hope you enjoyed what I had to share here. All the very best!