And maybe comics will save us! The Sicilian author Marco Rizzo speaks from Lucca


By John

Beyond controversy and exploitation, Lucca Comics & Games (which will close tomorrow) is a powerful cultural machine, which allows a glimpse into the state of a very popular, beloved art, which goes beyond ages, genres and alignments. Even this year, one of the protagonists is a formidable Sicilian intellectual: Marco Rizzo, Ericino, born in ’83, writer, journalist, editor, translator, has written many comic book scripts – at the moment he is the only Italian who writes Spider-Man stories (and one of the three Italians who have done so in 60 years ) – and in particular with the Messina artist Lelio Bonaccorso he created, among other things, the biographies of Peppino Impastato (BeccoGiallo, 2009) and Che Guevara (Feltrinelli Comics, 2021), the beautiful «Salvezza» (Feltrinelli Comics, 2018), reportage from the Aquarius ship engaged in rescuing migrants at sea, and «… our home: Cronaca di Riace» (Feltrinelli Comics, 2019), two very successful examples of graphic journalism. Between a copy signing and a panel, between a meeting and a speech, he told us what Lucca Comics is, and what atmosphere can be felt in this edition which is, together, that of the record attendance (280 thousand tickets were sold) and that of the record of preventive controversy, after Zerocalcare’s decision not to participate.

But Lucca is Lucca…
«A party, the usual one for a transgenerational and transmedia party. Yesterday I saw fathers and sons in themed costumes, entire families at the stands finding what they wanted regardless of age and passion: this is the outlet for many but also the point of arrival for the work of artists, authors , editors. Of course, there is tension and evident strengthened security measures, but Lucca Comics remains a special place, where among other things there is also space for discussion and debate. I will participate in a panel on the theme of war, in progress for two years, with a Ukrainian author, representatives of Emergency, Gianluca Costantini: we are not separated from the world, on the contrary…”.

Because comics, with its narrative flexibility, its enormous popularity, its “form” of mixed, narrative and figurative art, perhaps lends itself even better than other forms to the story of contemporaneity.
«It is an area in turmoil, where today healthy debates can be found, although poisoned by social media, but that is a problem that does not concern comics, but society, and its polarizations, as it is reflected by social media. A sector where there is a debate, not just today but always, on major issues, carried out by people who are often competent, often with artistic abilities that make them particularly sensitive to certain issues. People like me, who are also potentially involved in social issues, in the story of society. So this is the sign that it is a sector where today there are really, I will say a perhaps uncomfortable word, intellectuals. People who contribute to the country’s cultural debate…”.

And therefore positions and dialogue are always welcome…
«Art is political, because it is made by human beings, and human beings have ideas, ideologies, they take part, they take positions. And this is inevitable: we are not the Artificial Intelligence to give orders to. Art influences politics and politics influences art: it has always been like this, from the first graffiti on the walls. There is politics in what I do both in the more explicit books and volumes, in which I deal with migrants or reception or the mafia, but if they are volumes on the side of those who are drowning, or of those who fight against the mafia and malfeasance, they are undoubtedly on the right side, without the need for political flags.”

And there are no doubts about this, just look at his vast bibliography, which is continually being enriched.
«This year – he says – I have a story in an all-star anthology, with novelists like Francesco Piccolo and Fabio Stassi, cartoonists like Milo Manara or even Zerocalcare. I made a short story with Lelio Bonaccorso which is a bit like the sequel to “Salvezza”, and is called “Anti fake news comic guide on migrants”: a bittersweet story where we listed the things we have heard in these years after the our experience on the Aquarius, and we tried to disprove them with data, with journalistic work. Other new features are here: a volume of Spider-Man, because I like to range from one world to another, stories in which the character has been reinvented for a transgenerational audience, and deals with issues such as ecology and the environment, toxic social media and etc. Although they may be lighter approaches to language, as always, as in the comics we grew up with, there are lessons, morals, examples of life that will hopefully contribute to making future citizens better citizens.”

The anthological volume that Marco Rizzo talks about (extra issue of the magazine “Sotto il vulcano”, Feltrinelli, edited by Tito Faraci) is entitled: “Comics will save us”. Can you ask for more from an art?