Mirka Andolfo has a very particular art style that feels right at home both on the comics page and in animation. It’s not often we see this type of overlap. As great as a lot of comic book art is and looks, it’s not a given it would translate as smoothly into another medium. Andolfo doesn’t really have to worry about this, as her illustrations already seem as if they’re just a panel or two away from full motion. As such, the recent announcement that one of her works, Sweet Paprika, will be making the jump into animation felt like a natural next step, and one that’s very easy to get hyped about.
Sweet Paprika is a story about a career-driven woman—the titular Paprika—who falls for an innocent, immature, but irresistibly charming delivery boy called Dill. What’s interesting about their dynamic is that Andolfo has decided to portray them as an angel (Dill) and a devil (Paprika) respectively, revealing a bit more about who they are not only personality-wise but also sex-wise. The sexual energy between them is basically a character unto itself. It jumps from the page.
The story itself comes from a series of erotic illustrations Andolfo has been posting on her social media. The fan response was so overwhelmingly positive that it essentially demanded a comic (that launches in July), an animated adaptation, and a 7-inch statue of Paprika, sculpted by Andrew Hickinbottom, currently being funded on Kickstarter. The statue’s crowdfunding campaign reached its goal just 12 minutes after it went live, a testament to the popularity of these characters despite the fact the comic and the animation are still in the oven and not coming out for some time yet.
The Sweet Paprika animated series, which is in pre-production as of the time of this writing, counts Gabriele Pennacchioli, Primetime Emmy-award winner for his supervising role in Netflix’s Love + Robots, as its executive producer with Tommaso Triolo, of the Italian comedy troupe The Jackal, helming the script.
All of this comes on top of working for DC Comics’ Punchline one-shot, her best-selling creator-owned books Mercy, Unnatural, and Un/Sacred, and being featured as a cover artist in various big name projects.
The Beat had a chance to catch up with Andolfo via email interview to talk all things Sweet Paprika and how her devil/angel couple have managed to hit it off so well with audiences. It follows below.
(Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.)
Ricardo Serrano: Your quickly-growing body of work has a very unique feel to it that comes off as extensively developed but readily accessible. The very first issue of Mercy, for instance, presented this lived-in world that I felt I knew about for longer than I’ve actually spent with the comic. The same happens with Unnatural. What made you land on Sweet Paprika for an animation project rather than one of your other stories?
Mirka Andolfo: While I started thinking about Paprika (originally, the idea started only as a comic) I found my friends at Grey Ladder Productions and Arancia Studio seemed to be really interested in this project. They suggested to work on it for an animation project. The humoristic and sexy nature of the characters would work nicely as an animation for adults…honestly, I can’t wait! Also, I would love to see my other IP as animation or live-action (for example, I think Mercy would work well with live-action actors).
In general, with Sweet Paprika I’m working on many different domains. Right now we have the announced comic series and the development of the animated series, but also a 7″ statue of Paprika (the Kickstarter campaign is still going but it was funded in 12 minutes, and I couldn’t be happier, especially because I adore the work of the 3D sculptor who worked on it, Andrew Hickinbottom).
Serrano: Erotic comics and stories have been on the rise as of late and your work stands amongst the most recognizable. But it’s a different kind of erotica. More playful but also more intent on character development and storytelling. What are you always on the lookout for with your approach to erotic storytelling?
Andolfo: When I work on erotic stuff I always try to create sexy characters that are happy to explore their sensuality, with confidence. Or they’ll try to become more confident. For example, Paprika is not confident at all, at the beginning of the story. But things will change, and she’ll discover what she really wants from life, love, and herself.
Serrano: What do you think attracted so many people to your Sweet Paprika illustrations on social media? To the point of turning it into both a comic and an animated series?
Andolfo: People often tell me how they like the “reverse role” dynamic (usually you see more devil men or angelic girls, as is the case in my oldest comic Un/Sacred!), plus the fact that Paprika’s sexy and nice but not in the most ”common way” really drew me to it. Paprika has funny expressions, a grumpy face, and her curves are exaggeratedly “gummy” (especially on some of the curves). Very often, people think about their relationship, when onepart of the couple is more relaxed (as is Dill, the angel) and the other one is super stressed and “on fire” (as is Paprika). I think it’s nice and it makes me happy!
Serrano: What inspired the characters behind Sweet Paprika?
Andolfo: Nothing in particular. I just wanted to create a funny devil girl (I always love to draw devils and angels in general, in a humoristic way). I thought it was nice to create a devil character with a “sweet side” (and also a spicy side). She looks bossy at first sight, but she’s really sweet in her heart.
Serrano: What do you think are some of the challenges, differences or similarities even, that’ll come from adapting erotic comic book storytelling into animation?
Andolfo: The most difficult part will be to have the same spirit found in the comic come through in animation. Something funny on paper is not necessarily funny on screen. But we’re working hard on it, and I can’t wait to show you more!
The Kickstarter campaign for Sweet Paprika statue runs until Monday, December 21st, at 12:57 PM Eastern.