And whether any actual thieves wore a mask similar to Zorro.

Photo by Rodrigo Rodriguez on Unsplash

Zorro has worn several different styles of masks in his 101-year history. The character was created in 1919 by pulp fiction writer, Johnston McCulley (1883–1958). Zorro, which of course is the Spanish word for “fox,” appeared first in a serialized novel, published by All-Story Weekly, a pulp magazine owned by Frank Munsey. It was called The Curse of Capistrano.

10 Ways Policing in America Got it Wrong with Maurice Gordon. And Extra Credit.

Maurice Gordon, 28, an unarmed man killed by police on May 23, 2020.

Dude this is all kinds of messed up. I watched the whole video. Here are my thoughts and how this reveals institutional racism in policing and how this tragedy is part of Anti-Blackness in America.

-1. Maurice Gordon wasn’t under arrest. -2. The cop knew he wasn’t armed bc he frisked him before getting into the squad car. -3. The cop was clearly trying to help in some way (in a very cop way — with one stink eye of suspicion) and Maurice wasn’t responding, but…

Baton Rouge Activist Myra Richardson’s Quest to Create a Movement.

Myra Richardson speaks to the crowd at the Black Lives Matter March in Baton Rouge, LA. May 31, 2020. (Used with Permission)

[Author’s Note: Black and Brown readers — please feel free to skip this first part. It simply provides the (obvious) rationale for why I decided to drop my white thinkpiece in favor of amplifying Black voices — and in this case, amplifying the work and activism in Baton Rouge of Myra Richardson.]

For what it’s worth, here’s how my thinkpiece — my white thinkpiece centering my white feelings about my white reactions to the murder of George Floyd — was gonna start.

Picture me in my kitchen. I’m busy with…

Sometimes Books Talk Back.

Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

The writer is sad.

He’s refreshed his email twenty-five times in the last five minutes. He sits at a small wood desk. He doesn’t know it, but the desk has been there, in what is now his cramped university office, since 1976. There’s a Venn Diagram of un-coastered rings, a fine layer of dust, and mostly neglected piles of books on the Ford-era desk. The desk will still be there when he’s gone.

He refreshes his email.

Revealing the Latinx Origins to America’s Original Caped Crusader

Vintage Guy Williams

Was there ever a guy who galavanted around Old California wearing a mask and black cape, who went by the moniker “Zorro”?

Short answer: No.

Zorro is fiction. Don Diego de la Vega, the true identity of Zorro, was a product of the pulp fiction writer, Johnston McCulley (1883–1958). The first Zorro tale appeared in the pulps in 1919. Zorro went on to become the star of more pulp stories, feature films, film serials, comics, spoofs, pornos, and reboots.

And, of course, Antonio Banderas.

But, have no fear. Zorro — zft…

Antiracism Begins with Telling the Truth about American Slavery.

The entrance to my neighborhood. Baton Rouge, LA. Notice the distressed chic in full effect. (Photo by the author).

My house is located in what used to be a forced labor camp. I live in the deep south. Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There’s no escape, it seems, from the landscapes of slavery.

Consider my daily commute to work. I drive 1.9 miles from my subdivision to my office at Louisiana State University. In that circa 2 mile journey I drive out of my subdivision on a road called “Duplantier Blvd.” (I should mention that my subdivision is called “Plantation Trace,” see picture). …

As Zorro turns 100, a look at the Portland, Oregon years of Johnston McCulley, Alias Convicted Rapist.

Johnston McCulley (1883–1958), right. Writer and creator of the pop culture icon known as Zorro.

There are many legends behind the mask of Zorro. There are also real flesh-and-blood men and women. It was my intention in writing a book about Zorro to discover the Latinx origins to the character. I wanted to expose how Hollywood and pop culture at large whitewashed Zorro, making him palatable to a dominant white, middle class audience. I discovered that story and describe it in detail in the forthcoming book: Zorro’s Ghost: How a Mexican Legend Became America’s First Superhero.

It’s important…

In the Series Finale, the Time Team Meets the Gold Rush Bandit

The NBC show Timeless follows a group of time travelers who are desperately trying to stop a shadowy organization named Rittenhouse from changing history for the worse. In the series finale the Time Team visits the Old West, and there they encounter the Gold Rush Bandit known as Joaquin Murrieta.

Recently, a community of Timeless fans (#SaveTimeless) reached out to me to answer some historical questions that the show brought up. They asked about Joaquin Murrieta and the elements of his story that relate to the inspiration of…

Before Superman, before Batman, before Wonder Woman there was Zorro. And Zorro was the product of Latinx culture.

Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash

Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in April 1938. Batman first started skulking around Gotham in 1939. Wonder Woman flew in from mythical Themyscira in 1941. But even before that, there were others. A decade before, in 1930, we can find The Shadow. Mandrake the Magician started mind control in 1934. And, of course, there’s even the very early comic strip from 1902–1903 with Hugo Hercules.

These, and others, certainly deserve their place as “America’s First Superheroes.”

But, we can point…

Zorro: Swords of Hell, Part II offers a realistic portrait of Zorro’s World — All while battling undead Zombies!

Main Cover Art: Roy Allan Martinez and Gwenaelle Daligault. Published by American Mythology Productions.

A horde of the undead is not the only enemy Zorro faces in a new comic, issue #2 of American Mythology Production’s Zorro: Swords of Hell four-part series. (A review of Issue #1 is here).

The myth of forced diversity — it’s the other important, and perhaps even more insidious, villain Zorro battles in the new issue. It’s also an important enemy for the book’s writer, David Avallone.

“There is no such thing as forced diversity,” Avallone told me in a…

Stephen Andes

Pop Culture is everywhere. And all of it has a history. It tells us who we are and who we want to be. My current project is Zorro.

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