Once a year, the Tuscan city of Lucca assists to the peaceful invasion of thousands young people (this year was 135,000, ie 1.6 times the resident population) readers of comics and players of role-plays.
This because the city birthplace of the composer Giacomo Puccini hosts, between late October and early November, within the walls of his Gothic-Renaissance downtown, Lucca Comics & Games, the most important Italian convention and the third of the world (after the Comiket in Tokyo and the Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d’Angoulême, France), dedicated to comics, animation movies, games, video games and cosplay.
This year, Anna and I have gone there too.
It ‘was a real challenge to move in the middle of thousands of visitors who, despite the rain, were there to visit the stands of the publishers, comics shop and the exhibitions, to attend anime screenings and conferences, to participate in role-games and, above all, to have an autograph from their favorite illustrator.
We have lined up too for a sketch signed by James Gurney, the american illustrator of the Dinotopia’s saga. Gurney is a real gentleman: although there were a large number of people who wanted his autograph, he had time for everyone, responding with kidness to every question. The most I appreciated, is that he did not just limited to sign, but has a different drawing for each one, carefully choosing the right page in the book, the correct position on the page and the right pen or pencil from his aluminium pencil-box.
Seeing that he had some water-brushes, I told him that I using them too, and I made a small cahier de voyage during my honeymoon. Then he pulled out his cahier de voyage and gave it to me to browse.
I and the bystanders remained amazed for the beauty of his sketches.
Among other things, one of the exhibitions staged at the Lucca’s Palazzo Ducale was just dedicated to Gurney, who set out forty beautiful oil paintings by the last dinotopian volume: “Journey to Chandara”. Looking at the original illustrations, you can see that the talent of this author is indebted to his scientific illustrator background: a great attention to detail and the lighting (about which Gurney is an expert), along with mastery of the oil painting technique.
Alongside, another important show in the same building, was dedicated to the italian artist Massimiliano Frezzato, creator of the graphic novel “I Custodi del Maser,” and here he demonstrates its creativity and versatility, showing comic page, next to large oil paintings, pencil sketches, character models.
After a due visit to the Torre Guinigi, where a rich display of original drawings by Sergio Bonelli Editore – a publishing house which in Italy is synonymous with “Comic”, it has shown us that for 70 years selling to Italian readers the same product, we landed at Lucca Center of Contemporary Art, housed in the sixteenth century Palazzo Boccella. The Lu.C.C.A. hosted an exhibition of concept artworks by the artists of the French-Canadian video-game company Ubisoft, for the pre-production of its last video-game starring the assassin Ezio Auditore, which moves in the Baroque Rome of the popes.
Leaving aside to speaking about the ethics of this game – where the aim of the player is mainly to kill other characters, in the most brutal ways – the method by which artworks are made raises any questions.
In recent years, the production times of the entertaiment industry have pushed to the computer graphics. If at beginning these pictures had a somewhat of “artificial”, now the new graphic softwares releases allowing to produce images – beautiful it must be said – that mimic the oil painting effect.
I wonder why you should use a computer to imitate a painting technique, which, like all “traditional” artistic techniques owes its strength to the gesture of the artist impressed in the colour material too. But that’s another story and maybe we’ll talk again.
Finally, a word should be said in favor of all the cosplayers who have welcomed the event with their costumes, with a kind of contemporary carnival where the masks are no longer traditional, but the characters of the film, manga, animation movies and video game. Indeed, the principle is always to change the own appearance to take on the qualities of a hero.
Too bad that this coloured players stood among the narrow streets of Lucca every ten seconds to pose for photos. Multiply this by tens of thousands of cosplayers and you’ll see that the result was a walking speed of 100m / h.
But just when I was cursing to be in this situation, I and Anna met the Watchmen. And at that point, I also couldn’t resist to the temptation to be photographed with them. Please, you note that, as the cosplayers posed just like the Alan Moore’s characters in the comic story, I find myself in the same position of Dr. Manhattan.