Zerocalcare, Amnesty International Italy Withdraw From Lucca Comics Over Israeli Embassy Sponsorship


As Israel intensifies its bombardment of 2.3 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip, artists are withdrawing from Europe’s top comics festival, Lucca Comics, over Israeli government sponsorship.

Bestselling cartoonist and author of the Netflix series Tear Along the Dotted Line Zerocalcare withdrew from the festival on Saturday. In a statement Zerocalcare said, “Unfortunately, the Israeli embassy sponsorship of Lucca Comics represents a problem for me. … I know that the logo on the poster is just a symbol, but that symbol for many people dear to me represents the fear of not seeing the sun rise tomorrow, the rubble under which their loved ones are buried, the threat of dying trapped in an open-air prison.”

Lucca Comics, which is set to run November 1-5, is the second biggest comics festival in the world after Tokyo’s Comiket.

Amnesty International Italy also withdrew from the festival, stating that the “Israeli embassy sponsorship of Lucca Comics forces us to renounce our presence. We understand that it is a consolidated practice to have the sponsorship of the embassies of countries of origin of the artists who create the image of the festival, but we cannot ignore the fact that the Israeli forces are incessantly besieging and bombing the Gaza Strip, with enormous losses of civilian lives.”

Amnesty International released a detailed report in February last year finding Israel guilty of the crime against humanity of apartheid.

Italian singer-songwriter Giancane and the band Gli Ultimi, who were to perform together at Lucca Comics, have also withdrawn from the festival. Gli Ultimi stated that their decision not to perform was taken “in solidarity with the Palestinian population, under heavy attack in recent days, as in recent decades.”

Trilogia esplicita author Fumettibrutti said “I am sorry to write to you that I will not be present during the days of the festival in Lucca, and the reason is precisely the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy. After discovering it, I took some time before deciding what to do, and while we make compromises in life (I’ve made many myself) I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night about this.”

Popular literary tiktoker La Biblioteca di Daphne explained her reason for withdrawing: “At the moment the only thing I can think of is that in a part of the world, which could be ours, people are dying and have no way of being able to call for help, send a final goodbye, know how to move. Associating my image with an event that has the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy, at the moment, I just can’t.”

Alessio Spataro, author of Biliardino, said, “I am no longer going to Lucca Comics due to Israel’s sponsorship. … I only recently learned about the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy at the festival, representing a state that is carrying out an indisputable massacre against the civilian Palestinian population. Today with incredibly greater violence than that already used in the past, for decades.”

The Lucca section of the 5 million member strong CGIL trade uniondecided to renounce participation in this edition of Lucca Comics and Games as a sign of protest against the sponsorship of the Israeli embassy.”

The publishing house Red Star Press withdrew from the festival saying, “Once we learned of the Israeli embassy sponsorship, it was consequential that we abandon plans to participate.”

Eugenio Giani, the president of the Tuscany region, said the Israeli embassy sponsorship of the comics fair was “inopportune.” 

Israel’s military assault on Palestinians in Gaza, which has killed more than 8,000 Palestinians, including at least 3,324 children, has been described as a “textbook case of genocide” by Israeli genocide scholar Raz Segal. The US-based Center for Constitutional Rights drew the same conclusion in a legal brief, noting that genocide is the “gravest of crimes under international law.”

Amnesty International joins the UN General Assemblygovernments, and artists in calling for an immediate ceasefire. Amnesty is also calling for a comprehensive military embargo and for the “root causes of the conflict to be addressed, including through dismantling Israel’s system of apartheid against all Palestinians.”

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, a founding member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, calls to boycott Lucca Comics and all events partnering with the Israeli government. 

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