The inaugural edition of the convention was held in 1965 as the International Congress of Comics (Salone Internazionale del Comics). It was launched by Romano Calisi and Rinaldo Traini and took place in the small town of Bordighera. The next year, the festival moved to Lucca, where it is held to this day right on the city’s main square.
In 1992, the Salone internazionale del Comics moved to another city. However, city leaders didn’t want Lucca to lose its popularity among comics fans and launched a new convention called Lucca Comics. It was modeled after the old one and basically became its successor. In 1996 it expanded to include games and was renamed to Lucca Comics & Games. The popularity of the convention was growing steadily. For instance, in 2002 it attracted about 50,000 visitors.
Meanwhile, the Salone internazionale del Comics was held in Rome from 1995 to 2005. In 2006, it merged with Lucca Comics & Games and moved back to Lucca. The popularity of the united convention and its attendance continued to grow. In 2014, Lucca Comics & Games attracted 240,000 visitors from all over Italy and abroad.
From 1970 to 2005, Lucca Comics & Games presented the Yellow Kid Award named after a lead American comic strip character created by Richard F. Outcault. The prize was awarded in several categories including Best Illustrator, Best Cartoonist, Best Foreign Artist, Best Newcomer, and Lifetime Achievement. Special awards were also given to domestic and foreign publishers. Since 1967, the festival presents the Gran Guingi Award to the best products of Italy’s cartoon industry. It is named after the most important tower of Lucca.
The convention’s program is similar to that of other comics and gaming conventions. It features a trade fair, panel discussions, workshops and seminars, discussions, meet & greets and Q&A session with comic book authors and publishers, cosplay contests and more.
Photo by Daniele Melato