ZINES: Twelve Ounce Prophet

Twelve Ounce Prophet

Graffiti being the most persecuted (and prosecuted) arm of the hip-hop trinity, its enthusiasts must get by on raw, eye-catching media savvy. Twelve Ounce Prophet may not be the most scholarly of visual-art zines being quietly scuttled about the globe, but it looks damn good--better, certainly, than most civic leaders would care to admit.

Published not-quite-quarterly out of Miami, Prophet has evolved into a glossy, full-color mini-journal whose superior standard nearly betrays its ardently underground ethos. The latest issue--number five, to wit--offers a stunning mélange of flicks (read: photographs of individual graffiti works) sent in from over a dozen countries on four continents. Laid out like a cryptic urban comic book, complete with fold-out poster, its images are expertly cropped and treated to a benevolent color-enhancement: a surrealist rhinoceros cutting it up on turntables (Sweden); an impressionist name-check (Chile); a cartoon superheroine (Tokyo); and a tribute to Godzilla (the Bronx). Soaking up these damp pages, it's easy to forget that what you're looking at are walls, trains, structures, cities.

As for text, less is more. The fifth issue features a labored-yet-heartfelt essay chronicling a night in the life of a train-tagger; previous issues contain articles about graff on the Internet and interviews with such pertinent artists as Wizart, Twist, and the vice president of Krylon. Prophet also functions as a gateway into the working graff community: Everything from educational videos to custom spray-can tips can be obtained via mail order--a real hook for writers (read: graffiti artists) in states or nations where such stuff is considered contraband.

To the average cop, this is brain candy for vandals. For the hip-hop nation, it's closer to Newsweek. P.O. Box 160601, Miami, FL 33116-0601.

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