Sweet Paprika the comic series was announced way back in October after it was revealed an animated show was in the works. In a sense, this series was a success before it even reached comic book shops, but it’s finally out this week. Mirka Andolfo writes and draws the issue with colors by Simon Tessuto and it’s filled with sexual humor, a manga-like art style, and a strong message.
This issue opens with Paprika playing with her dolls in a conventional dollhouse only to slap her male and female characters together to make the dolls have babies. She’s baby crazy, so to speak, and her father refuses to allow this behavior. Cut to Paprika as an adult in a board room being a total psycho to her employees throwing around her power. She’s the C.O.O. at a majorly successful publishing company and doesn’t take any insubordinate behavior from anybody. In these two opening scenes we learn a lot about Paprika and how a childhood of subverting sexual feelings may have brought her to the top, but at what price?
Enter a big dumb delivery boy who Paprika rejects overtly. This leads to a great scene juxtaposing two people open about their sexuality and Paprika subverting her own. She’s all alone and thinks she’s got it all, but does she really? Andolfo does a good job establishing how Paprika isn’t her true self and needs a change, but how do you undo your upbringing? In this way, the first issue signals this book is about sexual freedom and being okay with who you really are.
The cliffhanger adds heaps of more pressure on Paprika and bookends with the opening well. Essentially you’ll be rooting for Paprika to wake up and find her sexual awakening, but with death and a history of tamping down those feelings, how can she ever find her true self?
It’s an intriguing premise aided by some fun manga-style scenes of nudity and sexual daydreaming. Mirka’s ability to add intense kinetic energy and have it make sense is unparalleled, with interesting layout designs adding to the chaotic energy. The manga elements shine through via twinkles, hearts, or sweat spilling out of faces in close-ups. Tessuto helps add distinction between the characters piling into panels, good blush to skin tones, and the glow of lights. It’s a cartoony style overall which helps sell the over-the-top humor and animal characters.
Sweet Paprika is a great start to a series that has a unique story about sexual discovery and the modern problem of being addicted to work. It’s a comic that confronts the very human nature to tamp down our true selves with satirical and sometimes sensitive character writing.
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