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Italy’s Lucca Comics and Games Festival Celebrates 50 Years

Based in a Tuscan town, the massive event will draw 220,000 gamers and comic book fans

Over the past five decades Lucca Comics & Games, held within the medieval walls of the Tuscan town, has rolled with the times and expanded exponentially to become the largest geek meet in Europe. But the philosophy at its core hasn’t changed much.

“It’s a big community event where everyone who attends almost automatically also becomes an aspiring storyteller,” says Emanuele Vietina, deputy director of the unique five-day convention that started with comic books and is now dedicated to fandom, cosplay, role-playing games, and the whole universe of comics — including movies, TV, and music.

Some 220,000 ticket-buying fans descended last year upon this medieval architectural gem surrounded by perfectly preserved 16th and 17th century ramparts to celebrate and re-enact the esoteric worlds of “Star Wars,” “Resident Evil,” “Monster Hunt,” “The Hunger Games,” “Harry Potter,” and many other global fantasy franchises. That’s around 90,000 more attendees than Comic-Con in San Diego.

For its 50th outing, Lucca is pulling out all the stops, starting with the linuep of its guests of honor. Seminal writer-graphic artist Frank Miller, creator of the “Dark Knight” Batman comics series, will be returning after many years.

Also making his return will be Terry Brooks, author of best-selling book series “The Shannara Chronicles,” on which the eponymous MTV skein is based.

Other heavyweights making the Tuscan trek include bestselling fantasy/fiction author Brandon Sanderson (the “Mistborn” series “The Reckoners”); “The Spiderwick Chronicles” co-creator Tony DiTerlizzi; artist Steve Argyle (“Dungeons & Dragons”); Charlie Adlard, a chief author of “The Walking Dead” comic book series; Wonder Woman comic-book artist Frank Cho; and Spanish superstar cartoonist Joan Cornellà, known for his surreal black humor and sometimes disturbing drawings and cartoon strips.

Tip Sheet
What:  LUCCA COMICS AND GAMES
When: Oct. 28 – Nov. 1
Where: Lucca, Italy
Web: luccacomicsandgames.com

Lucca six years ago started a movie section, also dedicated to TV shows, to which the Hollywood studios have been very responsive.

Besides feting Miller, Warner Bros. will be riding the re-explosion of Harry Potter-mania prompted by spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — which author J.K. Rowling recently announced will be a five-film franchise — with a dedicated Potter pavilion.

Fox TV will have a large “The Walking Dead” zone with a baseball field where teams of fans can go to bat against zombies. They are also treating Lucca fans to the world premiere of an episode of the series just a few hours ahead of its U.S. airing.

Comedy Central will celebrate the 20th anniversary of “South Park” with a special stand where video-game maker Ubisoft will premiere its new “South Park: The Fractured but Whole” role-playing video game. Also, fans will be able to take selfies with life-size cardboard cutouts of Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman.

But the pop culture strand that historically holds court in Lucca is Japanese manga mania, repped this year by “One Piece Film: Gold,” the 13th installment in the megahit anime pirates saga about the adventures of the rubber-bodied Monkey D. “Gold” recently smashed 2016 opening-day box office records in Japan. A gigantic replica of the mainmast and sail of the Straw Hat Pirates’ Thousand Sunny sloop-type ship will be placed in front of the Palazzo Pretorio, which was the governor’s residence during the Renaissance.

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