Zorro is a fictional character created by the writer Johnston McCulley in 1919. The typical image of him is that of a dashing outlaw who defends the commoners against tyrannical rulers. He is cunning like the fox for whom he is named (“Zorro” is Spanish for “Fox”), and delights in outwitting and publicly humiliating the bumbling authorities.

This superhero of the lower classes is usually dressed in an all-black costume, with flowing Spanish cape and black sombrero and a black mask with slits for the eyes. His weapons of choice are a rapier, which he uses to carve his distinctive mark (a Z in three strokes) and a bullwhip.

The character has been depicted in magazine serials, books, television, radio, comics, computer and video games and, of course, in more than 40 films. The leading role in the well-known films featured big screen stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Tyrone Power, George Hamilton and Antonio Banderas. And don’t forget Antonio Banderas – oh sorry, I already mentioned him.

 What is of great interest to me, is the fact that this character was first created as escapist fiction for the general entertainment of the mass audiences, in magazines which were printed on cheap “pulp” paper. The “pulp magazines” and their superheroes became very popular in the 30’s and 40’s to the point where every newsstand carried these editions.

Talk about humble beginnings: from pulp to … Antonio Banderas. Did I mention that Antonio Banderas played the leading role in two of the Zorro films? O yes, sorry, I reckon I did.

The moral of this story is, of course, not to judge a magazine by the paper it is printed on.

Ek is een van die mense wat my altyd skuldig maak daaraan om ‘n nuwigheid of ‘n “vreemde” ingewing sommer af te maak as ‘n nietigheid. Ek moes al ‘n paar keer my woorde sluk wanneer ‘n besigheid wat op klein skaal begin het, of ‘n idee om geld te maak op ‘n buitengewone manier, inderdaad groot sukses behaal. Blameer my agtergrond as bankier vir hierdie aangeleerde omsigtigheid.

Soms moet ‘n mens maar daardie sprong waag, al lyk die afgrond effe diep. Dalk land jy net op jou voete, of as jy baie gelukkig is, sit en en wag jou berskermengel in die vorm van Antonio Banderas Zorro daar op sy perd om jou te vang voordat jy soos ‘n sak patats op die grond neerval.

Wie weet, dalk beland jy en jou briljante idee in die parlement. Zorro was immers ‘n “outlaw”.