Lucca Comics & Games 2023 | Where Pop Culture Meets Art

Posted on 03 November, 2023

Lucca Comics & Games is back! The theme for the 2023 edition, November 1-5, is TOGETHER and its goal is to promote sharing and community as core values.

By overcoming individualism and the self-worship, that already prevails in the social media culture, Lucca Comics & Games (LC&G) offers a haven for connection and sharing passions. The fair celebrates collective collaboration, involving authors, artists, and directors in the creation of exciting stories.

Created by Israeli artists Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka, the theme is also mentioned in the poster.

By welcoming fans from all around the world in an inclusive environment, Lucca Comics & Games is an opportunity to break through the barriers of virtual isolation and reclaim social potential.  

Happiness is real only if it’s shared, and together we can make the unexpected possible.

Lev Tolstoj

Together, in the comics universe

For five days Lucca becomes the world capital of pop culture. One of the most highly awaited events, each year LC&G manages to attract an increasing audience: the 2023 edition plans more than 45,000 square meters of exhibition area (+10% compared to 2022), and accomplice to the Homeric program is expected to break all records.

Lucca like a modern Babel of comics hosts more than 300 artists, including 45 that are international. Not only Japan and the United States, but there are visitors from China, South Korea, Spain, France, Canada, England, Argentina, Israel, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Belgium. Among the names that make up the constellation of LC&G 2023 are Masaaki Ninomiya, Usamaru Furuya (also present with the exhibition This Time is Different at Palazzo Ducale), Eldo Yoshimizu, Garth Ennis, Joe Kelly, Jim Lee, Don Rosa, the duo Bastien Vivès and Martin Quenehen (with the new Corto Maltese adventure, The Queen of Babylon).

Lucca Comics & Games 2023 | Dove la Cultura Pop incontra l'Arte - Il pubblico a Lucca
Image courtesy of Lucca Comics & Games

Despite the absence of well-known names, such as Zerocalcare – who explained his decision in a Facebook post a few days before the event – the Tuscan city hosts a large number of Italian artists, many of whom are now household names: Gipi, Milo Manara, Leo Ortolani, Sio (and the Gigaciao group), Pera Toons, Silvia Ziche, Igort, Werther Dell’Edera, Barbara Baraldi, Simone Bianchi, and Max Pezzali.

Self-production, alternative productions, and underground comics are featured in the Self Area, while the former Comic Book Museum is home to the Pro Area – a place for professional meetings between publishers and aspiring comic book artists – where sessions with international editors such as CB Cebulski (Editor in Chief of Marvel), Jim Lee (President, Publisher and Chief Creative Officer of DC) and Shunsuke Tanaka (Kodansha) take place. 

The first 30 years of Lucca Games

At the Lucca Games 30th anniversary celebrations, there are many new projects and events. Starting from the restyle of the mascot, the Grog by Karl Kopinski, whom the organization calls “the artist who has perhaps most represented the last decade of the festival’s history and in particular the Games world”, to the presence of one of the event’s milestones: Magic: The Gathering. An exhibition at Palazzo Arnolfini is dedicated to the community-based game of choice, while the Magic Alley space welcomes internationally renowned artists, and audiences can attend the Italian premiere of the documentary Magic: The Gathering “Igniting the Spark”.

Spotlight on works with the Lucca Games 30 stamp, such as The Company of the Gallows (CMON), and 30th anniversary celebration projects, from a 300-piece limited edition of the game Undead or Alive (Scribabs) to the Carcassonne Mini Game (Giochi Uniti).

Shapes of the game

For the enthusiasts or those who want to be introduced to the world of role-playing games, there are many opportunities: from The Citadel, the program of tournaments, live shows, parades, and interactive events on the walls and in the dungeon, to Chamber Larp by the Chaos League collective, which offers six immersive experiences, for which no preparation is required and there are no age or access limits.

Lucca Comics & Games 2023 | Dove la Cultura Pop incontra l'Arte - Giochi di Ruolo
Image courtesy of Lucca Comics & Games

Several previews to aim for. Visitors coming to Lucca can receive exclusive Star Wars: Unlimited cards as gifts, before the global launch set for 2024, and can meet the founder and CEO of the role-playing game Free League, Tomas Härenstam, and the author of Vaesen – Seasons of Mystery, Kiku Pukk Härenstam, winner of the 2023 ENNIE Awards for Best Adventure.

On Saturday the 4th we celebrate Catan Day, with activities to remember the recently deceased creator of Settlers of Catan, Klaus Teuber.

Not only cards, planks, and dice, this edition is for all gamebook and video-game lovers too: starting from the participation of Sir Ian Livingstone to Edward T. Riker (editor of Choose Cthulhu II 6 – The Shadow Out of Time), and challenges at Riot Stadium to the latest Nintendo releases in the dedicated booth, LC&G confirms itself as an event where it’s impossible to get bored. 

LC&G conquers other arts

Comics, games, but also cinema, TV shows, and art: the universe of Lucca Comics & Games is expanding.

With the participation of Netflix and Prime Video, audiences can delve into the cinematic world with preview screenings, such as the first episode of the series All the Light We Cannot See, based on Anthony Doerr‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name and directed by Shawn Levy (Stranger Things), or to celebrate anniversaries of beloved titles, such as Jurassic Park now in its 30th year.

One of the six programs dedicated to games and fantasy is Frazetta’s Legacy: Art on Art. The event features the artist’s granddaughter, Sara Frazetta, who created the Frazetta Girls portal that collects and promotes her grandfather’s legacy.

In the halls of the Ducal Palace, the audience can visit seven exhibitions, including Luis Royo & Romulo Royo: Art of Generations, which marks the return to Lucca of one of the most influential European artists bringing his fantastical art, and Amélie Fléchais: The Lost Path in which the multifaceted French artist enchants visitors for the first time at LC&G with a series of personal and unpublished stories and illustrations.

Among the international guests related to the art world, Benjamin Lacombe, after the successful exhibitions at Tenoha in Milan, returns to Lucca for L’Ippocampo with the new illustrated volumes of The Monsters, The Dragons, and Stories of Samurai Women.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s death, this edition pays tribute to one of the LC&G community’s most beloved authors through the exhibition Other Minds and Hands: JRRT50 in Time and Space, Play and Comic book at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, and with the participation of Brian Sibley, one of the foremost experts on international fantasy and author of texts on the Oxford Professor and Peter Jackson’s trilogies.

Here is the full agenda for the 2023 edition

What is Lucca Comics & Games?

Lucca Comics & Games is an international festival dedicated to comics and gaming that is held annually in the Tuscan city. One of the largest events dedicated to pop culture in Europe, it’s renowned for attracting enthusiasts of comics, cosplay, board games, video games, animation, and more. The festival offers a wide range of activities, such as exhibitions, role-playing sessions, film screenings, and meetings with authors and artists, as well as numerous opportunities to purchase comics, merchandise, and collectibles.

One of the most iconic features is cosplay: participants of all ages dress up as characters from comics, video games, animation, and film, sporting elaborate costumes and makeup.

Lucca Comics & Games 2023 | Dove la Cultura Pop incontra l'Arte - Cosplayer
Image courtesy of Lucca Comics & Games

Lucca Comics & Games is a unique opportunity to explore pop culture in all its forms and is an important event for the lovers of this world. The event is held in late October and lasts for five days. Lucca becomes a lively and crowded place where creativity and passion for pop culture are celebrated.

Cosplay, between passion and craft

Cosplay, short for “costume play,” is not just a hobby, it’s an art form. Its enthusiasts, cosplayers, dress up and play characters from fictional works. These include characters from anime, manga, comic books, video games, movies, TV series, and more. Cosplaying involves creating detailed costumes and accurately imitating the character’s behavior. Indeed, the cosplayer must replicate all the characteristics, including gestures, facial expressions, and posture. 

Therefore, it’s not just about dressing up, but it’s a way to express one’s creativity. Cosplayers strive to create elaborate costumes, make-up, and hairstyles as closely as possible to the character they are playing.

Cosplayers attend conventions, comic book fairs, and other geek events where they can show off their costumes, compete in contests, and interact with other enthusiasts.

When art and pop culture come together

Lucca Comics & Games is also a place where art plays a significant role. Many exhibitions display the work of well-known and emerging artists. They may include original artwork, illustrations, and sculptures, most often related to comics and animation.

Among these initiatives is the Comics in Museums project, conceived and edited by the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This initiative involves the exhibition in Italian museums of 51 comic books created by some of the most renowned authors on the national scene. Thus, comics are fully taken on as an art form and cartoonists as artists who use drawing and visual storytelling to tell stories.

LC&G is an opportunity where art and pop culture come together in a unique setting. Artists and art enthusiasts find fertile ground to express their creativity and share their passion with an international audience. This combination of art and pop culture makes the event an extraordinary experience for all who attend.

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From a small gathering of enthusiasts to an international event

The history of Lucca Comics & Games began in the 1960s and is a testament to how a small gathering of comic book fans turned into one of the largest pop culture events in Europe. In 1964, during the annual International Humor Festival, a group of young people including Romano Calisi, Claudio Bertieri and Umberto Eco came together to conceive an event dedicated to comics.

The following year, the first International Comics Festival was held in the Ligurian town of Bordighera. It is the first international comics festival in the world: it is an instant success, earning a tribute from U.S. cartoonist Al Capp on the cover of Life magazine.

In 1966 the festival moved to Lucca. Sponsored by the University of Rome, two years later the cultural association Immagine-Centro di Studi Iconografici was founded with the aim of organizing the Festival, which in 1968 is being held between late October and early November.

The spring and fall exhibitions were replicated in the following two years, and in 1992, the 19th edition devoted special attention to Walt Disney productions. In April, however, there was held one of the first national tournaments of Dungeons & Dragons, the legendary fantasy role-playing game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. This ended the Lucca editions of the International Comics Festival, as the city council, despite the success of the market exhibitions, was unable to cover its expenses.

Meeting the gaming world

Regardless of the economic difficulties, the City Council decided to continue organizing semi-annual market exhibitions through the institution Max Massimino Garnier. Thus came Lucca Comics, which adopted its current name only in 1995. Opened in 1993, it grows in importance from year to year. Already by the launch year, the Games area was born within Lucca Comics to house a commercial sector close to comics. From the beginning, the Games area is characterized by offering entertainment to the public beyond the commercial exhibitors. But over the years also enters competitions, tournaments, and dedicated areas, managed directly by the organization.

In 2000, Lucca Comics & Games changed management, passing directly to the City Council. Renato Genovese, one of the creators of the Games area, is entrusted to lead the event. The festival became annual, eliminating the spring edition, and since 2006 it relocated within the historic walls.

In 2016 the 50th edition was celebrated with a stamp by Zerocalcare, and the festival was extended to five days, a formula maintained to this day.

In the summer of 2020, the coronavirus pandemic transformed the event into Lucca Changes, with a limited number of events streamed on different media platforms. Lucca Comics & Games continues to evolve and grow each year. The festival has become a highly anticipated annual event for fans and professionals – a place where creativity flourishes.

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