In the last few years, Italian artist Mirka Andolfo has created a suite of interesting projects for Image Comics. That list includes Mercy, Unnatural, and the more recent Deep Beyond. Now, she adds another to that list with Sweet Paprika. Due out July 28, the title originally started as an animated project, but was then announced as a comics series back in October 2020.
Affectionately dubbed Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Sex and the City, the series follows the erotic misadventures of a career-driven woman — the titular Paprika — who reluctantly engages a charming, if not somewhat immature delivery boy named Dill. Themes of sex positivity, workaholism, and more abound in a series that looks as pleasing as it reads.
Ahead of the book’s release, Andolfo was gracious enough to speak with AIPT one more time. For this Q&A, we discussed how she balances writing and drawing, her work in creating an animated show, her approach to themes and art style, and so much more.
AIPT: I wanted to start by asking about the journey this series has taken! First announced as an animated project, then announced by Image back in October, how has this project differed from other projects?
Mirka Andolfo: Hello, David, and thank you to you and the whole AIPT crew! Like every project of mine, Sweet Paprika was born just as “some sketches I did for fun,” and it got a lot of attention from many people on my social media. Little by little, I started working on it, creating the characters and the universe.
While I was at a very early stage on the comic, Alessandro Regaldo at Grey Ladder and Davide Caci at Arancia (the studio where I work) proposed to me to work on an animated project based upon this universe and these characters. We immediately had the enthusiastic attachment from the 2019 Emmy Award’s winner Gabriele Pennacchioli, and then from Erik Barmack (former VP Netflix International Originals): now we’re in a development stage.
Then, the comic happened (and it’ll be out in many countries, in Europe, and in the rest of the world). If compared to my other projects, Sweet Paprika seems to be born “already in many forms”, with much other stuff coming (for instance, in Italy, Baladin – a company famous for its brewer beers and sodas – produced a paprika-flavored tonic water, too!). If you wish to know about my feelings, to be honest, I feel blessed and honored for having attention.
AIPT: How much did the animated show development affect the comic, or vice versa?
MA: They are two different projects, based on the same characters and the same universe, but with different features. With the comic, basically, I have to discuss with just a couple of people (my editor and my publishers), whereas an animated show is a choral project. And I think it’s exciting to see other people’s vision of something I created.
Also, the timing is very different for each medium. With animation, we’re now at a developing stage: probably, something will happen when I will be already done with the books…
AIPT: Having had a look at the first issue, it’s packed with content and entertainment! How do you know you’ve got enough comedy and plot or too much?
MA: I honestly don’t know. I try to find a good balance among all the elements, but I’m a very undecided person. I talk very often to my editor (Cristian Posocco), my mates at the studio (my pal Luca Blengino and Davide, who I mentioned earlier), and I always have doubts… In general, I keep strongly in mind my mantra about doing comics: my main goal is to have fun and hope readers will be entertained. This means that I try to pack a good comic, which knows how to entertain and amuse the reader. Too many gags/comedy would unbalance the story too much, and the same problem would be the other way around if there weren’t enough mild moments.
AIPT: What sort of themes are you going for with Sweet Paprika. Sex positivity comes to mind as one!
MA: I know I probably wouldn’t be supposed to say that, but themes always come “after” for me. When I started working on Sweet Paprika, the themes weren’t exactly as they are now. Then, the characters and their “natural” evolution, brought me to the final result. Sex positivity is an important theme, you’re right. Then I would say there is the theme of the contrast (which is quite common in my series), and some problems that are related to our contemporary society, in particular the perception of “success”, and the great difficulty in balancing life and work. And, last but not least, the importance of self-consciousness.
AIPT: Did you approach the art differently with this project versus previous projects?
MA: Yes, but we could say this for every project of mine. I must say that I get bored very easily (that’s why all my series are “limited”), and I love to experiment. So, every project of mine is usually very different – both on themes and on artwork – from the previous one.
In particular, with Sweet Paprika, I wanted to pay off my debt with Japanese manga. Let me be clear: I’m not saying that Sweet Paprika is a manga because it’s not. But, if it’s true that my art style is very influenced by the Japanese manga in general, in Sweet Paprika this aspect is very pronounced, especially in facial expressions and in some exaggerated poses. And I’m having so much fun.
AIPT: If readers took away just one thing from Sweet Paprika, what would it be?
MA: I would say the importance of being yourself, of giving the right weight to every component of your life, and of taking care of yourself. And also the importance of thinking for yourself, managing to get out of the patterns that are imposed on us, both by the family and by society, and do not fear the judgment of others.
Or, more simply… have some fun! :)
AIPT: What comics are you reading right now?
MA: Too few, compared to what I would like because there’s just not enough time! Some of the recent comics I’m reading now (I’m late. I know so!) are Millar’s and Scalera’s Space Bandits, and Sejic’s Harleen. But the stack of comics next to my desk is getting taller and taller! Sooner or later I’ll take a vacation just to read!
Sweet Paprika #1 will be available in comic book shops everywhere on July 28.
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