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Radio 4′s Book Programming To Shun Comics?

Radio 4′s Book Programming To Shun Comics? BBC Radio 4 have a number of book review programmes, which takes a relatively highbrow approach to modern literature.

Last year Radio 4's Saturday Review ran a thorough roundtable piece on Bryan Talbot's Grandville, so publishers got in touch with another show, wondering if they might like to look at the sequel.

And were told, point blank, that it was not interested in covering graphic novels as they are not best served by the medium of radio.

As a radio writer for twenty years, I was rather taken aback by that. My own graphic novella, The Flying Friar, was featured by Radio 4's Today Programme and they found very imaginative ways to approach it. The work Maus was defended as a high point of literature by the station just last week. And the station continues to cover the likes of sculpture, painting and visual design as it ever has.

As a radio advertising writer, I am often faced with clients who simply cannot imagine how their visual based product or campaign could be advertised on the radio and I have dazzled them by the simple task of writing a script. It's really not that hard. It's just there's an audio illiteracy of assumption at large, over what you can and cannot do with radio, something I spend half my day fighting against.

But the place I didn't expct to come across it was on BBC Radio 4, the place that has done more for audio expression than anywhere else. And frankly I'm disgusted.

This is not about the rejection of Bryan Talbot's work for artistic consideration. It's about a fundamental misunderstanding of both media – comics and radio. From somewhere that should not be quite so ignorant.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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