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Wet Zebra: What's in a name?

10/28/2016
WZ editor and co-founder Martin Baker lets us in on the story behind the Wet Zebra name. Here's where it all began...

The idea of the Wet Zebra is a creature of considerable antiquity.

Back in the swirling mists of time, I was in the process of qualifying as a solicitor with a big City firm. I was all set to become a corporate lawyer – indeed, I became one. Which made me sad, angry, and really quite depressed.

Growing-a-very-bushy (alarmingly ginger)-beard (and this, decades before Hipsterism) depressed; wanting-to-shave-my-head (when only alopecia victims did) depressed; suppressing-a-massive-urge-to-scream-random-profanities-on-the-Underground depressed. You know the kind of thing, right? But I was saved by the subversiveness of the Wet Zebra.

A poster campaign was running on the Underground. It was one of those campaigns whereby the copywriters must have triumphed over the account managers. The image of a wet zebra, running out of the poster towards the viewer, eyes rolling piebald with fear and anger, certainly spoke to me.

A lovely, arresting tableau, redolent of rebellion and dangerous muscularity (well done that copywriter). Though I can’t remember for the life of me what product or service the wet zebra was promoting (sack the account manager).

There was a line in there somewhere along the lines of it being a bad idea to be a pedestrian around a wet zebra. Lots of accidents occurred on pedestrian crossings in the rain back then - still true today.

In a publishing context, our Wet Zebra is a simple beast. Boring, pedestrian books aren't going to make it onto our list. Break out of the picture, be yourself is our motto.

Run free, run wild, even in the rain. Express yourself: be a Wet Zebra.