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Fumetto Comic Festival

Over the course of its almost 27-year history, Fumetto has grown from a small, regional event into one of the most important international comic festivals in Europe. The special stamps are the result of a joint competition organized by Swiss Post and the festival.

The nine-day festival was established in 1992 and presents works by the world’s leading comic illustrators, while also promoting talented young people. Run on a not-for-profit basis, Fumetto is currently one of the biggest events in the festival city of Lucerne and attracts around 50,000 visitors.

During the 2018 event, a competition to design a special stamp was launched. Participants were asked to depict the theme of Switzerland on the space available, while also capturing the essence of comics – the use of drawings to present a story in a sequence of pictures, usually combined with text.

The winning design was “Helvetia, where is that (country)?” by Geneva-based Arnaud Tosi. The special stamp consists of three related items on a sheet of 15. Even the value of CHF 1.00 is depicted in typical comic-book fashion.

Jürg Freudiger

Interview with Geesa Tuch, Director of Communication & Fundraising at Fumetto

What does the word “Fumetto” mean and what is its origin?
Fumetto is the Italian word for comic. It is derived from the verb “fumare” (to smoke), because little cartoon strips used to be inserted into cigarette packets. The festival aims to discover and promote young talent.

Is Switzerland a comic nation?
The comic scene here is very diverse. Lots of the work is innovative and artistically sophisticated. Comics were a niche market for a long time – at least in German-speaking Switzerland. Nowadays, comics and graphic novels are found in highbrow book stores and NZZ reviews the latest publications by leading comic authors. But unfortunately, Switzerland is not yet a comic nation like France.

Are there training institutions and schools where the “craft” is taught?
EPAC in Valais and the Geneva University of Art and Design run comic courses. Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts also organizes some comic workshops in conjunction with Fumetto. Comics are regarded as the ninth art form.

However, laypeople don’t differentiate between comics, caricatures and cartoons. Is there a difference, and if so, what?
Caricatures deal with real-life events such as politics. The illustration is a comically distorted commentary. Cartoons are closely related to this and also use visual punchlines. Comics tell stories that generally develop from one panel to the next.

In 2019, Fumetto welcomes the popular French comic author Joann Sfar. He is the creator of “The Rabbi’s Cat” and is regarded as one of the most influential illustrators of our time. The 82-year-old Japanese pop art pioneer Keiichi Tanaami will also exhibit his brightly coloured works at the festival. An exhibition featuring Indian comic artists showcases the contribution that comics can make to social change. There is an element of motion in the comic competition exhibition, as this year’s theme is the bicycle. In addition to the nine main exhibitions, over 40 satellite exhibitions in cafés and shops will turn Lucerne into the comic capital for nine days. Visitors will also be able to watch artists drawing live or demonstrate their own creative flair.