Yesterday’s La Nazione newspaper opened with the headlines “one hundred thousand” – one hundred thousand tickets had already been sold this year for the one event that makes Lucca an international centre known and appreciated in the farthest corner of the globe: Lucca comics and games – an annual comic book and gaming convention. It’s incredible to think that this wonderfully exhilarating happening should have started from humblest beginnings in 1966 with a comics exhibition held in a sports hall on the outskirts of the city…
In 1993 the event was revamped as Lucca Comics and really began to take off. To celebrate the fortieth Anniversary of its foundation in 2006 the event moved back to Lucca’s city centre, with exhibitions, film shows, tents and pavilions arranged in different locations within its walls. This added to the special feel-good atmosphere of the festival. Indeed, Lucca Comics and Games is the second most popular comics fair in Europe (The first is at Angoulême, France) and the third in the world (the first is the Comiket held in Tokyo). I haven’t been to the other festivals but I doubt they would top Lucca’s offering in sheer setting and fun…
Incidentally, if anyone still thinks comics and games has anything to do with reading the Beano when a kid or gaming on a play station they should think again. Lucca Comics and Games is much, much more than that and has something for everyone – if anyone ponders in giving it a miss they are giving a miss to one of the biggest and best festival events in Italy.
Every year Lucca Comics and Games has a theme. For example, last year the theme was “Are you sitting comfortably? The show begins!” This year’s theme was titled “A Question of Style”. We soon realised why.
There are the beautifully arranged exhibitions in the glorious state rooms of the Palazzo Ducale where many manifestations of style were displayed:
There are great book illustrator’s works:
The festival is one of the best occasions for people-watching in Italy and Cosplay (literally “costume play” originating from the Japanese kosupure demonstrations where people interpret specific comics characters) abounds. There is even a dedicated Japanese Hall where the great tradition of Manga, now over two hundred years old is on show with lots of other things Japanese.
For me the “question of style” reached its apogee in the stunning Ferragamo exhibition in the Chiesa de Servi. Italy’s greatest stylist was revealed through extraordinary exhibits of shoes designed for the likes of Judy Garland and Audrey Hepburn and explained through a “comics” sequence created by winners of Ferragamo’s own comics competition and sponsorship.
Two warnings about the festival of the usual kind: first, traffic can be a problem – and it was! Fortunately we’ve learnt the short-cuts and back-routes into Lucca and were able to park in a secret location within easy walking distance of the main events. Second, the queues for certain events can be long. The programme is very well organised and, if properly planned, the day can run very smoothly. There is so much happening during the four days festival it would require several visits to fit it all in. We’ll be back today, no doubt, weather permitting,
Some kill-joys locals would like the festival to move out of the city to the circus and sports area. I hope this never happens since the atmosphere of the event would be totally destroyed and visitors would not experience the world of comics and games alongside the historical monuments and fabulous restaurants of lovely Lucca. After all, last year this event, apart from giving delight to thousands, generated well over a hundred million Euros for the comune of Lucca – great when considering where the money for repairing roads and providing good care services will come from!