Sweet Paprika #1 Debuts Its Spicy Devil With Hilarious & Poignant Results
Hannah Rose
It takes a lot of work, sweat, and tears to climb the social ladder. For Sweet Paprika's title character, falling in love is even harder, and getting laid is practically impossible. The latest in Image Comics' more irreverent entries, Sweet Paprika #1 kickstarts a comic series written and drawn by artistic powerhouse Mirka Andolfo and colored by Simon Tessuto. Part Sex and the City, part The Devil Wears Prada, with an unapologetic tone, Sweet Paprika #1 revels in showing comic readers that even sexy devils have a hard time finding a little love and sex.
Self-proclaimed "super bitch" Paprika seemingly has it all. In a world of devils and angels scrambling for success, she's at the CCO of a company. She's wealthy, beautiful, and has the unconditional respect and fear of her employees. However, she's missing both a love life and a sex life. Thanks to her neurotic and sex-phobic father haunting her waking life, those needs are put on indefinite hold. Sweet Paprika #1, however, introduces some obstacles that will force Paprika to come out of her armored luxury penthouse with hilarious results.
If it's not obvious from its description, Sweet Paprika #1 is for an 18+ audience. Much of Paprika's character arc revolves around her attitude towards intimate relationships, starting with her childhood under the thumb of her manically puritanical father. While Sweet Paprika #1 is a "mature" read, it's not a mature read. In fact, it's gloriously silly.
Andolfo's debut issue quickly establishes Paprika's character. She's someone who's pricklier than a hedgehog while harboring deeply rooted fears around intimacy and sexual desires. Additionally, Andolfo knows just when to insert Paprika's father's melodramatic disapproval, which creates hilarious and tragic moments. The dichotomy of Paprika's personality highlights her own conflicted feelings towards herself and overall makes a poignant and relatable backbone for a story rife with swearing and sexual innuendo-laden silliness.
The story's supporting characters are equally eccentric. Most notable is Paprika's possible love interest -- the extroverted sex-machine delivery boy Dill and his adorable dog sidekick. Dill has every woman swooning except for Paprika, who, in his words, "doth protest too much." Everything from his design to his dialogue and color palette pits him as Paprika's opposite -- a universally adored, blue-collar angel with an active sex life. To the creator's credit, Andolfo lays enough groundwork to foreshadow an intriguing, future relationship between them.
Sweet Paprika #1 reads like a twisted, grown-up shoujo manga warped by a funhouse mirror. The setting is both otherworldly and familiar with beautiful and fantastical characters. Her lush environment and costume designs, and dramatic, exaggerated facial expressions all feel true to Andolfo's manga inspiration. Of course, the vulgar dialogue and jovial eroticism add a fun and fresh spin to the rom-com genre without subverting it too harshly.
While Sweet Paprika #1 may not be the most family-friendly comic Image has to offer, it's certainly one of the most fun. Oftentimes hysterical, sometimes steamy, and, at times, even poignant, Sweet Paprika #1 is one hell of a twisted romantic comedy about the allure of sex and the obstacles that people -- whether they're angels or devils -- put in their own way.