ACME Speaker Series : Lukas Etter on Jazzy Notes in Hergé’s Tintin

ACME Speaker Series

Mardi 21 novembre 2017 – 14h30
Salle de réunion du Décanat (bât. A1)

On the More Jazzy and Less Jazzy Notes in Hergé’s Early Tintin Albums


Tintin au Congo ©Hergé/Moulinsart 2012

‘Jazzy’ or not, the close intermedial encounter of jazz and comics (both defined in a broad sense here), i.e., of two by themselves medially and semiotically complex forms of expression, asks for a general reflection on the nature of sound in combination with notes, partitions, movement, and performance in the comics medium. This paper is interested in how such encounters are produced, received, and institutionalized in the 1920s and 1930s in Francophone Europe; it consists of a close reading of musical and sound notation in Hergé’s early Les Aventures de Tintin albums. The paper ultimately pursues the questions of why a jazz aficionado like Hergé would shy away from making allusion to the heterosexual dancing and African American musicians so important for the popular imagination in these decades; whether this should be closely linked to or, conversely, contrasted from the white, colonialist gaze on the black body which Hergé participates in especially in his early albums; and to what degree allusions to the jazz age and American music may be read between the lines in some Tintin adventures all the same.

Lukas Etter holds a PhD from the University of Bern, where he defended a thesis on the question of style in black-and-white alternative comics in 2014, which should be published shortly. He has since been working as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Siegen, where he works on school mathematics in XIXth-century American literature.