The BBC Arts web site’s planning producer quickly picked up on the concerns I voiced last Friday about a lack of comics coverage on their shiny new web site, launched last week, and has told us that they hope to make up for the lack very soon – and they have already rolled out of some archive comic creator-related documentary material, via iPlayer.
My concerns included, you may recall, the fact that the new British Library’s “Comics Unmasked” exhibition was not covered, despite coverage elsewhere by the BBC and in many national newspapers. (Including, as an aside, a pretty fatuous review just this weekend by Waldemar Januszczak in The Sunday Times – subscription required – a less than favourable review that was reported by Bleeding Cool and roundly condemned by ex Time Out editor Dominic Wells).
Of the BBC Arts site I said I knew that it had only just launched, but was suspicious of a web site’s mission statement that stated “We will showcase performance of all types, along with events and festival coverage ranging from Hay Festival to the Edinburgh Festivals, Shakespeare’s Globe to Glyndebourne” – and then singularly failed to feature anything about one of the biggest, best-promoted comics exhibitions Britain has ever seen.
“I spotted your blog post on Twitter this morning and just had a read,” wrote BBC Arts Planning Producer Tom Churchill in response. “It’s always good to see constructive feedback and you raise some very good points!
“It’s true that there’s a lack of comics coverage on the site at the moment,” he continued, ” and that’s mainly due to having very limited time and resources to put the launch offering together. It would have been great to produce an in-depth feature on the Comics Unmasked exhibition but we had to work to a fairly tight brief and it just wasn’t possible.
“One issue we have is that we’re working independently of the Arts and Entertainment team within BBC News,” he reveals. “They’ll tend to feature the day-to-day arts news stories while we focus more on more in-depth features, films, archive stuff etc, and we have links to the best of their stuff from our Arts homepage. I’m not sure whether you spotted them but they have already produced a couple of great features about Comics Unmasked – but as these date back to early May and mid-March, respectively, they weren’t quite up-to-date enough to make it on to our homepage yesterday.
“Something that might interest you, though, is that we’re making available again on iPlayer the episode of BBC Four’s What Do Artists Do All Day? featuring Frank Quitely, along with a dedicated page about him on the new Arts site, and we’ll be republishing the in-depth interview/feature we did around the time of its original transmission, where he talks about his work with Grant Morrison, his early life etc. – so keep an eye out for that.
“Hopefully that will pave the way for a bit more coverage of comics in general – please rest assured that the subject is very much on our radar, and there is generally a lot more content to come on Arts Online beyond the initial offering that we’ve launched with, so please don’t judge us too harshly on what’s up there at the moment.”
It was great to get such a great reply, and I’d like to thank Tom for being fine with us to post his reponse here. He also says that any more feedback, suggestions etc will always be welcome.
Check out the BBC Arts site here: www.bbc.co.uk/arts