Widely considered to be the biggest pop culture event in Europe, Lucca Comics & Games will be returning to the walled city this year on 1-5 November.
Every year, Lucca Comics & Games has a theme and this year, for the festival’s 57th edition, the theme is ‘Together’, which is highlighted in the 2023 poster for the event (see above), which has been created by twins, Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka.
This year’s event again looks set to be a week of geeky awesomeness with more than 300 artists set to attend the event, including 45 international guests from the United States, Japan, Spain, France, South Korea, China, Canada, England, Argentina, Israel, Turkey, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Belgium.
Festival Director, Emanuele Vietina speaks about what we can look forward to at this year’s event and his future plans…
The theme for Lucca Comics & Games this year is ‘Together’. What does that theme mean to you?
Together, for us, is more than the thematic cover, it’s a value. Together. Together, we play games. Together, we come to a live action show like Lucca Comics & Games.
So for us, it’s very important. It’s like the circle of hope. Last year, we were nurturing the hope to come back to have a show. But of course, it was hard because we were coming out from the pandemic
Now we’ve found hope, we want to live this way of sharing feelings and values together.
Out of all the things that you’re going to have at this year’s event, what one thing excites you the most?
In the Nineties, I was addicted to fighting fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons, but the game of my life was The Middle-Earth roleplay game. I played for years with Pete Felon, the great cartographer and game designer. So what I’m waiting for the most is to have the original art exhibition of Angus McBride, who passed away more than 20 years ago but still remains one of the greatest artists representing Tolkein and to meet Pete Fellow, the game designer of my life, the man behind the game of my life that is the Middle Earth Role Playing Game.
This year’s show includes an eSports expansion – what games or organisations will be that will be participating in it?
eSports is an important new frontier for Lucca. In these last years, we developed what we call the eSports cathedral, which was a smaller venue developed with ESL, the electronic sports league, in a church.
With the eSports movement growing, we decided to move to this big venue.
Lucca is a five day show [and includes] tournaments, pro-gamers and cosplay contests dedicated to League of Legends.
[In regards to] broadcasting plans, the Lucca Twitch channel is going to have specific connections during the most important moments of the tournament, like the award ceremony.
We are also partnering with the Riot Games channel in Italy and in Europe to organise a full screening of the five days of gaming and cosplay show.
What are your future plans for the event?
This year is a very peculiar year because for example, from a movie perspective and TV show perspective, the guild of writers and guild of actors strikes of course makes our international process a little bit slower.
But from our perspective and it’s the reason we are all here is to become more and more international because both Prime Video and Netflix are betting on us and we want to humbly serve this beautiful creative industry, as well as the games one.
So from a show perspective, we want to become as international as possible. In terms of audience, in terms of content, in terms of premieres.
From another perspective, our ambition in three years, for the 60 anniversary of Lucca Comics, is to create a national comics museum in Lucca and also a foundation dedicated to game studies.
So basically, our ambition is to make our show greater and more international, but we also want to create a stable institution in Lucca, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Culture and with the region of Tuscany to create an institution dedicated to the creative industries to serve international journalists that want to dive deep not only into the international pop culture but also in the story of Italian comics and games.
What does it mean to you to have American actor Joe Manganiello and Italian comedian Lillo Petrolo as ambassadors for the show?
I think it’s not only great for Lucca, but it’s great for our movement of passionate gamers and comics [enthusiasts] to have such important people in the movie industry. [They will be] here to represent not only Lucca Comics & Games, but the geek culture, the nerd culture, the pop culture. Showing that behind this passion, there is something even more valuable. So again, it’s a matter of values. I think that it’s important, not only for Lucca Comics & Games to have such a big ambassador in the United States and such an important ambassador in Italy, but it’s also a way to show to all the people that this is not only a profitable industry, but it’s an industry full of value and full of cultural potential.
We know that Marvel has been recruiting at Lucca Comics & Games. Could you to explain a little bit more about how the event’s area Pro works, what the opportunity is, and why so many leaders of industry are coming to recruit and to help young professionals in Italy through this initiative?
I want to leave you with a quote from last year that for us is very, very important from the actor Ismael Cruz Cordova from Ring Of Power. Because it’s very important in terms of ‘together’, and also in terms of perspectives.
Lucca Comics & Games is not only a consumer show, it’s not only a cultural festival, it’s not only a community event – we know that our mission is also to create a bridge for young artists, for all the young people that are dreamers and that want to work in the creative industry.
So every year, we create many programmes to put these young talented women and boys in touch with the creative industries.
One of the programme is the Pro Area, which is a place where you can get in touch with editors or with creators or with the managers of the creative industries.
Last year [Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics] C.B. Cebulski recruited three artists at Lucca Comics & Games. That is the highest number of artists ever recruited by the Marvel editor-in-chief during a convention, so this programme is becoming much more popular.
This year, not only Cebulski, but also Jim Lee, president of DC Comics and the Kodansha editor, Shunsuke Tanaka are going to do a portfolio review, to recruit possible new talent for Kodansha, DC, and Marvel.
These are not only the only programmes to help young, talented people to jump into the creative industries.
We also have contests dedicated to comic art and one dedicated to game design called The Unpublished Game. It’s the chance to propose a prototype and be selected and published by DV Giochi, which is probably one of the foremost Italian publishing game publishing houses, famous for the board game Bang.
Last year in a Variety interview Ismael Cruz Cordo said something very, very beautiful, which for me [represents] the deep sense of working on comics and games. The question was: what do you think about having a large comic con in a medieval town? And he replied that he was appreciative to whoever created it because they created a safe space for difference. So I think that together and with all the rest that we talked about today, it’s that we are trying to create a safe space for the differences.
Lucca Comics & Games 2023 is taking place on 1-5 November. Find out more here.