Every single comic collector has heard it at least once in their lives, the most dreaded of all phrases. The phrase that sends a shiver up our spines! The phrase that shrivels our souls and haunts our nightmares!
“Shipped via Media Mail!”
Second to that, the most hated phrase in the comic community is often “But aren’t comics for kids?”
Now, usually the people saying this have themselves not looked at a comic book since childhood, and can usually be forgiven for their ignorance. Often times this question is asked out of genuine curiosity, but sadly, more often than not, it is asked out of malice.
Kids today are growing up in a golden age of nerd culture acceptance. As a teacher, and a life long comic/ cartoon/ action figure/ and all around geek, I constantly marvel at how many students I see walking around proudly in geek apparel. When I was in high school I once wore a Wolverine T-shirt to school, and was mocked unceasingly for it. Now everyone from the most popular girls to the most bro-dude boys will wear Marvel, DC, even anime and manga clothing without anyone batting an eye.
Am I jealous? Of course! But at the same time I can have nerdy posters up in my classroom and no one cares. In fact, a lot of students actually connect with me because of our love of geek culture.
But still, there are people out there that think comics are for children first, and emotionally stunted adults second. Heck, look at the uproar that followed the infamous Bat-Wang controversy and almost killed DC’s entire Black Label line. The driving force behind it was a fear that a child would pick up that book and be traumatized by seeing the shadowy outline of Bruce Wayne’s little robin, despite the fact that Black Label was specifically marketed as a mature readers title for adults only.
(Also, I love that Batman repeatedly going out to pummel the mentally ill, while accompanied by an array of orphaned minors isn’t an issue to these folks, but him having reproductive organs is.)
The simple fact of the matter is, most comics today are not for kids, or, to be more specific, most are not specifically geared towards younger readers. I’d say the average target demographic for most comic readers is somewhere in the 15-25 age range, with more and more titles geared towards older readers like yours truly. While DC has not repeated the terrible crime of partial nudity in any future Black Label series, they have allowed the line to continue with increasing graphic violence and more mature themes, and more and more books from both of the big two continue to follow suit, since, let’s be honest, the majority of comic readers are older, have more disposable income, and want more mature and realistic themes in their reading materials.
Which brings us to today’s book, Sweet Paprika Volume 1 from Image Comics. This book is not for children, at all, in any way. It is, however, a very funny, very mature, and surprisingly very heartwarming book about a sexually repressed demon who just wants to find love.
So let’s dive into volume one and see just what it is that makes this book so great, and why you shouldn’t be ashamed to buy a mature title from your LCS!
Here’s the blurb:
Paprika is a successful businesswoman, a New Yorker of Italian origin. Job and career consume her, forcing her to neglect her personal needs as well as her friends and family. Her heart is broken from a previous relationship and its consequences, and a rigid upbringing has made her a very introverted person. She wants a romantic relationship, but she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Not like Dill, a naïve and suave delivery boy with an angelic attitude, handsome, and always surrounded by beautiful women falling for him. He doesn’t have a worry in the world, and this makes Paprika very nervous. But he’s the guy who could help her with her feelings (and with…sex).
Bridget Jones’s Diary meets Sex and the City, with a pinch of The Devil Wears Prada in the new international hit by acclaimed creator MIRKA ANDOLFO (UNNATURAL, MERCY).
Full disclosure: I have never seen Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sex in the City, or The Devil Wears Prada, so I cannot speak to the veracity of that description. What I can attest to is the fact that Sweet Paprika is not only incredibly beautiful, it’s also one of the funniest and most heart warming books I read this year.
Sweet Paprika Volume 1, masterfully scripted and drawn by the exceptional Mirka Andolfo (more on her in a bit) follows a female demon in a world where everyone is either demon or angel, but far from being at war with each other, both sides live together in a sort of perpetual harmony that is never really addressed in any significant way. Both the angels and the demons are very human in their approaches, and while the demons are certainly more prone to infernal reactions, and the angels are a bit more even tempered, making any assumptions about a characters disposition based on their character design is not a good idea with this book.
Case in point, our heroine Paprika, a young woman who has grown up incredibly repressed by her insanely overbearing father. Shamed relentlessly for any hint of sexuality her whole life, Paprika has grown into a seemingly cold and monstrous woman, who ruthlessly climbs the corporate ladder and inspires fear and dread from everyone around her. However, deep inside, hidden from everyone, even herself, there is a passionate dreamer that just wants to be free.
As I said, Sweet Paprika is written and drawn by the incredibly talented Mirka Andolfo, who grew up in Italy and was heavily influenced by Italian comic styles. If you know anything about European comics, you know they are much less prudish about sexuality that their American counterparts, and it shows in this book.
Andolfo is perhaps best known in America for her book Unnatural, and its series of racy covers. The success of that title in the US lead to her getting more work, and releasing more series such as Mercy, and another one of my current favorites, Deep Beyond.
Andolfo is an incredibly talents artist who is clearly have a blast with Sweet Paprika. As I said, there is some nudity, and definitely a lot of adult situations, so you’ll want to keep the younger readers away from it, but if you’re looking for something different, with a little spice and a little zest, this book might be right up your alley.
Plus Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. This might be the perfect gift for that special someone in your life.
Until next time friends, stay safe.