FW Presents: The Mirror Factory #5 — The Mark of Zorro

Sharpen your swords and don your capes — it's time to ride the dusty roads of Los Angeles with El Zorro!

In this first in a series of episodes celebrating Zorro Month on the Fire and Water Podcast Network, Max is joined by special guest Ryan Daly to talk about the original tale written by Johnston McCulley 101 years ago! The enemy of tyranny first appeared in serial form in "The Curse of Capistrano," which was quickly collected and republished as "The Mark of Zorro." The book was a sensation, launching a legend that still leaves it's mark on pop culture today! Max and Ryan discuss the timelessness of the original novel, the lasting appeal of the dashing character, and why Zorro could be even more relevant today than when he debuted more than a century ago.

Then, Ryan will read a passage from "The Mark of Zorro" featuring Zorro's thrilling call to arms and the formation of ... a League of Avengers?


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Music/audio credits

  • Intro theme: “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors,” by Moxy Fruvous
  • Clip from "To Tell the Truth," originally aired on Sept. 2, 1958, CBS
  • Original music from "The Mark of Zorro," composed for the silent film by Mortimer Wilson
  • Closing music: “Zorro's Ascent,” by Alice Cooper

Want to be a guest on a future episode? E-MAIL – mirrorfactorypodcast.gmail.com

Support us on PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/fwpodcasts

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK.

Leave us a comment, and remember — read a book!

12 responses to “FW Presents: The Mirror Factory #5 — The Mark of Zorro

  1. Great intro to Zorro month fellas! I am woefully ashamed I have never read this or any of McCully’s Zorro tales. I definitely need to rectify that. I had no idea Zorro literally formed “The Avengers”! I wonder if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby remembered that? Zorro’s family tree sprouted all our super heroes in one way or another, not just the obvious Batman, as you two pointed out.

    Great discussion, great reading Ryan, and great needle drops Max!


  2. It’s great to have the Mirror Factory back! I really enjoyed this episode. Though I’m familiar with the character, I have never read the original novel, but your discussion definitely makes me want to check it out!

    Like Ryan, my first experience was with the first Antonio Banderas movie, The Mask of Zorro. It turned out when that movie came out, some friends and I went to the movie theatre and we were to choose what to see when we got there. The Mask of Zorro was out and I really wanted to see it, but everyone else wanted to see this little comedy called There’s Something About Mary. Needless to say, that is about the farthest thing from Zorro and I didn’t like the movie at all (arms crossed and pout-y face the entire time!). Now, I’m not sure if it was the anticipation or what, but when I finally saw the The Mask of Zorro, I enjoyed it immensely! I even bought the move novelization!

    I’m pretty sure that enjoyment led me to buy the comic series by John Cassaday from Dynamite when that came out in the 2000’s. Now that I think about, with all this enjoyment, I have no idea why I’ve never read the original book?!

    I really like both of your discussion about Don Diego’s secret identity and why the author “kept” it secret until the end of the book. I’m wondering if the secret identity trope was fairly underused at this time? Do you think it was a surprise for the general public? I just think with all our experiences with comics that this seems a lot more obvious to us now than it did back then.

    Anyways, you guys had a fantastic discussion (and I liked Ryan’s choice of passage to read) and I can’t wait to hear what book you have up next! Keep up the great work!

  3. Great episode, guys!

    My intro to Zorro was through my dad. Like Ryan, I had no idea how I knew about it, I just always did. I seem to remember my Grandma seeing some old b&w Zorro movie or serial when I was very young.And I think I caught some of the Filmation cartoon, but I can’t be positive….

    And then came the Gay Blade movie – even then, I thought, “Isn’t Zorro supposed to be serious?” Never saw it,though.

    But for me, Zorro was always a dude in the desert who might have been Brown like me and fought against corruption with pizzaz and gusto. And for that, I was always appreciative. I don’t normally get into this, but as a Brown kid, I didn’t have many media role models. I remember being thrilled to find out Welcome Back, Kotter had a kid named “Juan”. And then there was El Dorado, who was the vision of panadera and automotive calendars everywhere… But there was always Zorro, the template for a lot of what came after, and badass.

    I assume Toth will be covered, because that is THE Zorro to check out.

    ANd Ryan, great reading. I met with the Browncil (the Brown Council) and you’re in! Honorarily. Max is still on probation. He knows why. HE KNOWS WHY.

  4. My introduction to Zorro was a display in one of the attractions at Walt Disney World. There was a gallery on Main Street. and The Display in question had a photo of Zorro on the White horse he rode in season two and a display case that had Zorro’s Hat, Mask, Cape and sword.
    I didn’t really became invested in the character until I watched the Filmation New Adventures of Zorro that was on Saturday mornings in 1981. At around that same time I was able to catch the Frank Langella/Ricardo Mantalban remake of the Mark of Zorro on a sick-day. (Not to mention Zorro the Gay Blade which I saw in the theater.)
    After all that I became a serious fan of the character and watched anything I could. (The Disney series is still my personal favorite!) I never really read the Mark of Zorro or saw the Silent Film until almost around the time the Antonio Banderas Movies came out.
    Nowadays it’s much easier to find the original Johnston McCulley Stories. I actually got a collection for my birthday last year and I just read them all the time!

  5. Impressive podcast. Most impressive. I always liked Zorro. I remember the filmation cartoon. Which was why I got into fencing. As well of the Disney TV show. Huh Benardo wasn’t in the book much? Weird. I read the Isabella book…it was fine. There was a second Zorro tv show in the 90s that was pretty good. Staring Duncan Regehr . (Yeah Dracula from the Monster Squad was Zorro.)

    I think Antonio Banderas is the only Hispanic man to play Zorro. And he’s Spanish not Mexican. Also those were good movies…. even though they change the sex of the kid between movies. At the end of the first movie They have a daughter and by the second their a boy.

    Though He’s playing Alejandro Murrieta Not Diego. Tony Hopkins is playing him. So Ryan’s son dressing as Zorro not a big thing. Also as a kid I dressed as Zorro. And I don’t think that would have bothered my Cousins. Magie and Tomas whom are part Mexican. I’m not Hispanic, but they are. Zorro is a classic pulp hero. Is it sad that only one known Hispanic played him in movies? Yep. But, maybe the next time they’ll get it right. Though interesting Antonio’s character in named after a fake brother of Joaquin Murrieta Carrillo the may Zorro is suspected of being based on. And funnly that’s the guy whom gets killed in the movie that makes Antonio’s Charter become Zorro.

    Though it’s a hypothetic that Johnston McCulley did that. He never said so we don’t know.

    Any way moving on Zorro the Gay Blade was also a fun movie. Ware Zorros look from the book is used by Deigo’s dad. On the image before Hamilton wares the traditional Zorro mask. Though as Bunny Wigglesworth George Hamilton wares a very less traditional mask. Many masks. It was a fun movie and fun.

    I even played the WII Zorro game that came out at the time of The Mask of Zorro. Or may have been from the time of the Legend of Zorro. It was fun enough.

    Wait why would he fight ICE? Trump said the Left states could have all the immigrants if they took care of them locally. He dropped them in LA. And Cher and others said no thanks. We have to take of our own homeless first. Funny how their riotous indignation colipases when it became their problem? Ware was Oprha to give them houses and jobs? Trump said they could have them as long as the rest of us didn’t have to take carte of them. They wanted them… fine it could be a local government problem.

    Funny how quick the left foled on that. Yeah haven’t forgot. Thery were told yo want illegal’s here. Fine you take care of them. Leave the rest of us out of it. And quickly they folded. Till ya know they thought we forgot and tried to make it everyone elses problem again. Cause, when you can make it some one elses fault it’s easy to be a righter of wrongs. K. How about no.

    Moving on. The comics look cool. I read a few when Tops had him. As well as Lady Raugh hide when they made her threw the liseons. I remeber another cartoon, but couldn’t tell you whom made it or what is was called. I didn’t even know about the Mego action figure till later. I saw one of the old black and white Zorro films late one night as a kid. Ware Deigo is a solder at first and as he leaves he throws his saber into a celling saying there it will stand and he was done with fighting… till he gets home and sees How LA is.

    I feel asleep so can’t tell ya much more than that.

    1. Bernardo was in the book/silent film, just in a small role.

      You are correct about Antonio being the only Hispanic Zorro, but the baby in both films was a boy. Alejandro name-dropped the baby’s name as Joaquin to honor his dead brother.

    2. Liz Anne, thanks to you, I just went down the Wikipedia rabbit hole looking up Joaquin Murrietta and Captain Harry Love. He was not nearly so aptly named as I am. Now I know where the Hopkins Zorro movie got its plot, and even better, some really interesting California history. Thanks!

  6. I loved this podcast, I am so happy to have heard this one. I love reading The Curse of Capistrano and watching the silent film.

    I got into Zorro at a pretty young age in 2010, when my mother introduced me to The Mask of Zorro. I absolutely loved the character, Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan. I saw your link on the Zorro Facebook group and was so excited to see people in a podcast talking about Zorro. He is a character who deserves so much more.

    I would like to clarify that Zorro, while he does fight for the Mexican people, isn’t exactly Mexican himself. It is shown throughout the story that Diego is European, with a family lineage coming from Spain. Does this mean that Zorro cannot be Latino? No, there’s been latino Zorros before, and I encourage it. However Diego himself is European, although recently in the 2004 book he was also secretly part Native American.

    TL;DR it’s perfectly fine for your kid to dress as Zorro. He’s has multiple ethnicities over the century.

    I’m really excited to see the one about comic books, as I believe that’s where some of Zorro’s best tales come from. If you ever need a guest next year as a Zorro expert, I’d love to come on. I run a show where I review Zorro stuff, and know a Hell of a lot about the character. Cheers!

  7. I’m pretty sure my Zorro origin story begins with watching the Disney series as a kid. This point was driven home for me when I found myself singing the refrain from the show’s theme song, while listening to this podcast, and I haven’t seen that show or heard that song in decades. Now that was a catchy tune.

    As a result of my initial exposure to the character, I just assumed Zorro was created by Disney, and it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that he got his start in serials and novels. So, it was good to learn more about the story that started it all.

    I’m looking forward to the next installment of Zorro Month.

  8. Hey, what if “de la Vega” was actually a reference to the Vega star system? Think of the possibilities! “Zorro: First of the Omega Men”

    Well, anyway, I’d watch it.

  9. Despite not having seen the movies, TV shows, or bread the various books, I was always aware of Zorro as a kid! Frankly, until this month, I was unaware that he debuted in a 20th century book! I supposed the story was older, probably because of the setting.
    This was a great look at the book, and what it established. It’s amazing that a movie was made so quickly! I liked the conversation about a contemporary Zorro. It got me to thinking about a story where there are two Zorros, one on each side of the border, independently messing with the corrupt authorities. However, in this age of high-powered automatic weapons and no sense of “honorable combat,” I don’t think it would end well for a masked weapon-wielder.
    I am honestly interested in Max’s personal view of Zorro. I’ve heard Max self-identify as “Hispanic,” but how does he view Don Diego? As Spanish? Mexican? Other? Does Max relate to one heritage more than another? Can “the other” be a hero for “us?” Where does Zorro fit in? Is Zorro a Mexican hero? A Spanish hero of Mexico? A Hispanic hero of North America? The fox is a slippery one to define!
    Looking forward to more Zorro this month!

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