Comparatively Speaking

I recently got hold of two nice magazines that have come out this year. The first of them is Schönz Züri, which comes from Switzerland and is dedicated to the scene in Zurich, while the second is a French mag called Boogie Woogie which focuses purely on freights. Although they both mainly concentrate on trains the two publications are actually very different from each other. So first I’ll describe each one to give an idea of what they’re about and then end with a brief comparison of the two.

Schönz Züri, currently in its fifth issue, is a fairly typical graffiti magazine – there’s eight sections looking at trains, street pieces, some sketches, and a couple of interviews. The mag starts with some photographs of Zurich S-Bahns. Being double decker trains they have plenty of space for quality artwork even including a few whole cars. Others have more conceptual pieces on them such as a humorous pair of eyeballs or the ‘Shemale’ incorporating a knob. There’s also a couple of unusual paintings that just cover the doors which are reframed as circular pictures with mottos around them. Towards the end of the magazine there’s some mega productions across freight trains such as a pair of skeletal American Indians smoking peace pipes or a copper lying in a coffin. One particularly nice piece is a simple ‘Omega’ covering the side of a tank being transported by rail! The letters incorporate the peace symbol and next to it is written “Against war and hatred! Love for all”.

Meanwhile Boogie Woogie is a specialised publication which focuses on individual freight train writers. The premier issue showcases the work of the French artist Surok. First off there’s a bit of description of what this new magazine is and how the title is inspired by the sound of the freight bogies as they clack along the tracks. This is followed by a biography of Surok’s addiction to freights. He hopes that by having his work published he will help convince readers that the freight scene is worthy of their attention and show that “this medium truly deserves its place in the graffiti movement.” He describes when he first got hooked on freights and then how endless days were spent painting them. This is illustrated with a ton of photos of Surok’s work. On the whole these are uncomplicated yet stylish and colourful letters, a lot of cartoon characters, and the odd roller piece. Elsewhere there’s a few pages representing his crew TWP and later a section titled ‘viewed and validated’ that shows a mixture of freight art. Finally the magazine ends with a sketch by the featured artist.

At first glance these magazines could seem fairly similar. In fact by having a specific focus, in one case geographical and the other restricted by artistic medium, both avoid being generic and instead project their own character. In focusing on the work of a single artist Boogie Woogie takes a novel approach with a subject matter that is less common. On the other hand the spread of content in Schönz Züri is hardly unusual but again there is a different approach taken. The interview sections are a bit offbeat which, alongside the particular focus on the scene in Zurich, lets the mag stand out. Quality-wise both publications contain some impressive graff although the picture size in Boogie Woogie is too small sometimes – the brilliant ‘End to End’ section could’ve done with larger images for example. The magazine does have useful translations from the French into English though which is something that Schönz Züri lacks. Finally the extras that come with both magazines are worth a mention. Schönz Züri wins the competition for nerdiest magazine-insert with a cardboard cut out train to make, while Boogie Woogie comes along with two nice postcard prints featuring Surok. Both these magazines are worth checking out and are good examples of the variety of magazines that can’t necessarily be found in every online shop!

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