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Mirka Andolfo talks her bittersweet (and sexy) comedy animated project ‘Sweet Paprika’

Mirka Andolfo discusses the development of her upcoming animated project, ‘Sweet Paprika’.

Mirka Andolfo is one of the most compelling creators in comics today. Her art is instantly recognizable, her projects curious and tantalizing, and they cover a lot of different genres. There is perhaps no better example of this than her upcoming project, Sweet Paprika. The upcoming animated series is based on Andolfo’s sketches and it follows the “erotic misadventures of a career-driven woman—Paprika—who reluctantly engages a charming, if immature, delivery boy named Dill.”

The project is in collaboration with Italian media company Arancia Studio and CEO Davide G.G. Caci, and has been optioned by Alessandro Regaldo at Grey Ladder Productions.

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I recently had the chance to ask Andolfo a few questions about the upcoming series, which is still in the early stages of development.

AIPT: Congrats on the amazing opportunity to turn one of your works into an animated show! What a dream come true to have something you created from scratch be turned into a living, breathing, animated production.

Mirka Andolfo discusses the development of her upcoming animated project, 'Sweet Paprika'.

Mirka Andolfo: Thank you for your kind words. And… yes, it’s a real dream come true. Of course, we are just in a development phase, so most of the work has yet to be done, and the timing, compared to the publishing world, is so long. But I’m so thrilled, and I can’t wait to share something new about Sweet Paprika!

AIPT: Adult animation seems to be in a golden age of development (BoJack Horseman, Big Mouth, etc.). Do you have any favorite animated shows, and more specifically, adult animated shows?

MA: I won’t quote the obvious shows like Family Guy, which is already a classic. As for the recent ones, probably my favorite adult animated show is BoJack Horseman. I adore the humor and the depth the stories reach. It’s a layered story, with multiple levels, and a fair balance between depression and fun. Then, I’m not sure we can name it among the “adult” shows, but I also adore Aggretsuko!, a perfect connecting point between Western and Eastern cultures. And she’s SO badass!

AIPT: What would you say is the most fun in creating Sweet Paprika, the world, its characters, or its story?

MA: I would say the characters, because they’re the way I always start creating a new story. I start sketching, and little by little the main character (and, then, the other ones) comes to me, and then I start creating a story. In the case of Sweet Paprika, I started with some quick gags (Paprika and Dill—she’s very bossy, whereas Dill is naive and a little bit silly), and then I realized I wanted to build a universe around them.

Looking back, I don’t know if the right answer is “characters,” just because it’s the first (and more creative) part of my job… Maybe “all those phases” is a good reply?

AIPT: Your style is so fluid and kinetic. When designing something, where does your mind go before you begin?

MA: My answer is going to be very silly, so forgive me: I have no idea. I usually start sketching when I have (pretty rarely) some free time from the job, so the main purpose of my sketching sessions is relaxing and “disconnecting the brain.” What I realized, during the last [few] years, is that in those moments I find better ideas, even graphic ideas, and unconsciously I put those inside the sketches as a mashup of what I love/enjoyed.

Sweet Paprika by Mirka Andolfo

Character designs by Andolfo.

AIPT: I might be looking into the name too deeply, but paprika is a ground down red pepper. Could one surmise Sweet Paprika is about a character who is worn down, or am I way off?

MA: Disclaimer: my English is SO poor, so I checked an online translator to see if I understood the meaning of the question (sorry!).

So, if I got the meaning: yes. Paprika is a very successful businesswoman who has an extraordinary resistance to all of the pressures put on her from her job. On the other hand, she’s had to sacrifice a large slice of her personal life to be so successful and work-focused. Is that a good choice? Probably not. And her relationship with Dill teaches her, little by little, that there is also something that is not “work,” and that if she can slow down and rest, she’ll be better both with herself, her loved ones, and in her job! But as with any teaching, there’s effort, and the risk of failure is very high…

In short, they are not a perfect couple.

Sweet Paprika Mirka Andolfo

Art by Andolfo for the upcoming series.

AIPT: If you were to boil down Sweet Paprika into its essence, what would it be its main goal when in its final form?

MA: Again, I have to make a premise: I know that my stories are often full of social issues and important topics. But when I write a story, my first purpose is to entertain. Then, of course, I see the themes I put inside, but that’s after. So, to summarize, when I write my final goal it is to entertain, and this applies to a romantic comedy (like Sweet Paprika) as well as a dystopian story (think Unnatural) or horror (Mercy).

Digging deep, I would say that Sweet Paprika is a story about a woman who has to find the right balance for her life, which is not easy (she’s a boss in a male-dominated world, this is the first —but not the only— challenge). Her personal story brings us to a bittersweet (and sexy) comedy, which alternates work situations with couple situations.

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