Fumetto has grown from a regional event into one of the most important platforms for the art form of comics. Crucial stages in its 30-year history were:
The first Fumetto edition took place in 1992 in the former Wärchhof Youth Cultural Centre and was mostly aimed at young people and art students from Lucerne. Right from the start, the comic competition was a central part of the programme. At the time, of course no one had any idea that this small event would become one of the most important comic festivals in Europe. The concept for the festival came from René Fuhrimann, the first festival director was Robi Müller, in 1993. This second edition took place at the Boa Cultural Centre with guest cartoonist Ralf König among others. The same year, Lucerne’s wooden Chapel Bridge burned partly down, with it, many of the historic paintings perished. In 1994, Fumetto had the chance to temporarily replace them with comics. The festival attracted a great deal of media attention and became known to a wider audience. The international star guest was Lorenzo Mattotti. In 1995, the «Zack-Schwitz-Buff-Poing Comix boxing show» takes place in the Schüür concert hall with animator Jonas Raeber and real boxers in the ring. For the first time, there’s a programme for children – the Fumettino is born.
More and more important international comic artists are being attracted to Fumetto, which increasingly expands across the entire city. The decentralised concept proves its worth up to this day and contributes to the charm of the entire festival, which is visible in pubs and shop windows and invites visitors to take a stroll around town. In 1996, Fumetto was given an Internet presence and in 1999 Sabine Witkowski became the new festival director.
Each year, Fumetto Comic Festival Lucerne holds a competition to give comic creators the opportunity to compare their work, present it to a broader public and to exchange views with others.
The Kornschütte, an exhibition space in the centre of Lucerne’s old town becomes the new festival centre in 2001, two years later the new international orientation is reflected in a new name – the «Lucerne Comix Festival Fumetto» is now called «Fumetto – International Comic Festival Lucerne» and lasts a full nine days. 2004 sees the start of a collaboration with the Fantoche animation film festival in Baden, 2005 sees the launch of the Artist in Residence series; the first guest to stay and work in Lucerne during the festival is Edmond Baudoin. 2006 sees a change in management: Lynn Kost takes over as the new director and the festival continues to grow, hosting now up to 18 exhibitions. It also merges more strongly with illustrative and avant-garde art. The festival not only wants to show the current developments in the comic scene, but also actively pushes young artists in the programme. The «Fumetto Slingshot» programme, launched in 2007, promotes promising but still unknown talents with a solo exhibition and first publication. Laura Jurt is the first laureate. Art education and mediation for different needs and age groups is also becoming increasingly important – this includes tools such as handouts, guided tours, apps, talks by the artists or workshops for school classes.
Over the years, Fumetto has shown many stars of the comic art world, such as Jack Kirby, Daniel Clowes, Anke Feuchtenbeger, Ulli Lust, Robert Crumb, Jacques Tardi and Emil Ferris. It has established itself as a platform for cartoonists that, in addition to sophisticated and contemporary comics, increasingly shows other art forms such as illustration, visual art, graphic art, performance and animation. In 2011 – on the occasion of its 20th anniversary – Fumetto was given a management team of three people for the first time. The artistic director to this day is Jana Novotny. The event itself gets resized to its current form, the digital part becomes more important and in 2012 the Fumetto app is introduced. Since 2013, Small Press Heaven offers independent publishers from all over the world a sales and presentation opportunity, in the same year, the festival takes place at Lucerne’s old indoor swimming hall, which later opens its doors as the Neubad cultural centre. In 2016, the competition sets a new record with 1100 works submitted from all over the world. In 2017, Fumetto co-founded Réseau BD Suisse, Switzerland’s first comics network, which aims to strengthen the interregional scene at home and abroad. From 2018 on, the now named «Fumetto Comic Festival Luzern» remains focused on art, not on commercial interests. Instead of a star guest, luminaries from distant places are invited – for example from India or South America. Experimental works, games, independent publishers and new media, augmented and virtual reality start to play an important role. In 2020, the festival was cancelled for the first time, due to Corona, and in 2021, Fumetto’s 30th birthday, the team – with Christine Portmann (Head of Administration), Stefan Chiovelli (Head of Communication and Fundraising), Jana Novotny (Artistic Director), Lotte Greber (Production Director) and Elena Rast (Assistant) – organised a hybrid festival, as the pandemic was still spreading. In this hybrid form, the Comic Chat Cafe and other exciting projects such as Gassetto – a portable exhibition – were created. For the first time in Fumetto’s history, the opening was to be online only. With around 40,000 visitors, Fumetto is now one of the biggest events in the festival city of Lucerne. Following a reorganisation in 2022, Fumettos first two-person management team was Susann Wintsch, artistic director a.i. and operational director, Andrea Stammbach. Starting in 2023 the artistic director Lea Willimann and operational director Oliver Kielmayer will take Fumetto Comic Festival into a new era.
9–17 of March 24