Exclusive Preview - Meet The Person Behind The Myths In Mata Hari #1
You might think you already know the tale of Mata Hari, but the new series from Dark Horse looks [...]
You might think you already know the tale of Mata Hari, but the new series from Dark Horse looks to reveal a whole new side to the long-told story.
The new Mata Hari series is being written by Emma Beeby with art by Ariela Kristantina and Pat Masioni, all of whom are intent on delivering a story that sheds new light on who this woman really was. She's been known as a spy, a courtesan, a dancer, and more, but all of those are only slivers of the incredibly interesting whole, and you can get an exclusive preview of the upcoming first issue in the gallery.
Beeby is very familiar with the assumptions that come with a story about Mata Hari, but this story won't be what some expect.
"When I tell people that I'm writing a series about Mata Hari, they often assume I mean I'm writing a sexy high-octane World War I thriller about the most calculating femme fatale in modern history—a double agent and exotic dancer who died the queen of spies! …And then I have to tell them that's not really it at all," Beeby said."
In fact, she wasn't actually that great of a spy it turns out.
Mata Hari #1 Preview Gallery
"She wasn't much of a spy," Beeby said. "She was kind of a terrible spy, with very little interest in or understanding of the Great War going on around her. She was a great seducer of men, but that was one of the only ways she could access money. The men who were supposed to support her left her destitute, violently abused, her reputation in ruins, her children lost to her. Becoming Mata Hari gave her security. She took off her clothes for money, in the guise of classical performance as a Royal temple dancer, knowing her other choice was prostitution, which she had previously turned to in desperation. It worked better than she ever dreamed, and as she put it, "This way, no one has to lie to their wives."
"Her story is ultimately a survival story about what happens in a highly patriarchal society when you have almost no power over your life, and your only asset is your desirability to those with power. It's not the story most are expecting, nor what I was expecting when I first read about her seven years ago. I confront the fear every time I explain about it that I'll disappoint by not telling the obvious story, but so far no one has appeared to be put off."
Beeby knows how easy it is to dip into the legend aspects of the character, but she made a point to focus on the person behind those stories.
"Anyone wanting to tell the Mata Hari story has to face the temptation to tell the myth and not the facts; to show a persona rather than a real, flawed woman who lied about being a Javanese princess and made a living taking off her clothes," Beeby said. "Films, TV series, even comics—there's been dozens of adaptations in the hundred years since her execution—it's interesting how many started with the stated intention of telling the true story and end up with the sexy spy in some form. It's easy to understand that there's a lot of pressure to give audiences the expected guilty pleasure that the name evokes. It's hard to resist. No one knew that better than Mata Hari herself."
"It resonates because it fits with the myth of female sexuality being dangerous, evil, and corrupting, something that must be controlled—whereas the reality confronts that," Beeby said. "So I couldn't be more grateful to Karen Berger, because she got it right away, and to Dark Horse for being on board for this approach. Karen's been amazing in developing the story with me, and brought in the incredibly talented artist Ariela Kristantina, colorist Pat Misioni, and letterer Sal Cipriano to make this comic happen, and be so beautiful, while confronting some ugly things."
Mata Hari #1 is written by Emma Beeby with art by Ariela Kristantina and Pat Masioni. The official description can be found below.
"Dancer. Courtesan. Spy. Executed by a French firing squad in 1917. 100 years on from her death, questions are still raised about her conviction.
Now, the lesser-known, often tragic story of the woman who claimed she was born a princess, and died a figure of public hatred with no one to claim her body, is told by breakout talent writer Emma Beeby (Judge Dredd), artist Ariela Kristantina (Insexts), and colorist Pat Masioni drawing on biographies and released MI5 files."
Mata Hari #1 is in comic shops on February 21.0comments