Update, 4/10/2013, 5:50 p.m.: As contributor Lance Manion pointed out in the comments, it turns out that Apple isn’t the party that censored Saga #12. It was Comixology themselves. Details at the end of the original story, after the jump.
The Internet is an interesting place. It’s a place where, by simply closing your eyes, pounding on your keyboard with your fist and pressing the Enter key, you can see pictures, in living color, of a woman with a substance abuse problem blowing a horse.
It is also a place where you can obtain anything that can be turned into ones and zeroes that you want, completely for free, much to the consternation of major media producers. But thankfully, most of those media producers have embraced the possibilities of the Internet, making their content instantly available to anyone with a credit card – you know, adults – instantly, and at a reasonable price. And all across a medium that only fifteen years ago was best known as a delivery vector for animal pornography and autopsy photos.
Well, unless you’re trying to ply your wares through Apple’s App Store. A company and a store who have, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to accept Image Comics’s Saga #12 for sale via the iOS Comixology app due to two images of gay sex. Because God forbid that a consenting adult be allowed to decide to purchase a cartoon that includes two panels of sex acts on their iPad – a device widely used to make it possible to view and masturbate to high-definition pornography in a public toilet stall.
So, what with Apple acting in a manner similar to Wal-Mart and other prudish, yet powerful, corporate overlords who want to tell you what you can and can’t read or watch, I imagine Saga creators Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, and their little publisher Image, have agreed to self-censor their book in order to gain access to iPads, yes?
Here’s the official statement on the situation from Vaughan:
As has hopefully been clear from the first page of our first issue, SAGA is a series for the proverbial “mature reader.” Unfortunately, because of two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex, Apple is banning tomorrow’s SAGA #12 from being sold through any iOS apps. This is a drag, especially because our book has featured what I would consider much more graphic imagery in the past, but there you go. Fiona and I could always edit the images in question, but everything we put into the book is there to advance our story, not (just) to shock or titillate, so we’re not changing shit.
Apologies to everyone who reads our series on iPads or iPhones, but here are your alternatives for Wednesday:
1) Head over to you [sic] friendly neighborhood comics shop and pick up a physical copy of our issue that you can have and hold forever.
2) While you’re at it, don’t forget to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which helps protect retailers who are brave enough to carry work that some in their communities might consider offensive. You can find signed copies of Saga at the CBLDF site right now.
3) Download the issue directly through sites like https://comics.imagecomics.com or on your non-Apple smartphone or tablet.
4) If all else fails, you might be able to find SAGA #12 in Apple’s iBookstore, which apparently sometimes allows more adult material to be sold than through its apps. Crazy, right?
Anyway, special thanks to Eric Stephenson and everyone at Image for supporting our decision, and for always being so supportive of creators. Sorry again to readers for the inconvenience, but I hope everyone will be able to find an issue that Fiona and I are particularly proud of. And after you do, please check out PanelSyndicate.com , the new digital comics site I own with artist Marcos Martin, which remains 100% uncensored by corporate overlords.
Now that is how you handle some soul-dead corporate entity fucking with your Kool-Aid.
Oh, I can hear what you’re saying. “Rob,” you’re saying, “It’s all well and good to talk about the reasons that Apple refused to sell Saga #12. I, however, would like to see what the fuss is about! Goddammit, show me some hot, sweet, man-on-man action!” To which I would normally say: stop coming to my Web site, Mr. Liefeld… but in the interest of full disclosure about what the fuss is all about, here are the two pages that contain the images that Apple is tightening their sphincters over (Click each for full size):
Wow. A space guy sucking another space guy’s dick on the flickering television face of a cyborg. Truly, this realistic sexual behavior will pervert our children. Our children who have no access to this material without their parents’ credit cards. Surely, we are doomed as a nation.
Look: Apple is a non-government entity, and, like Wal-Mart and Blockbuster Video and every other corporation that makes the conscious decision to block the sales of material meant for adults, they can do whatever the hell they want. And God knows that I have always made the assumption that, when it comes to digital comics, the ability to get what you want isn’t something you should take for granted. But if freedom of speech is something that you value, just remember, the next time you find yourself outside of an Apple Store, that Steve Jobs was an imperious capitalist, Apple products are produced with the use of child labor, and that Samsung phones and Asus tablets are very, very decent.
Vote with your dollars, kids. The way I will tomorrow when I go to my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to stop showing the paying clientele my “pornoface funny books,” and where they will also sell me, well, a pornoface funny book.
God bless America.
(via Comic Book Resources)
Update: So yeah: after a good 24 hours of allowing Vaughan, Image Comics and the entire comics Internet rail against the unfairness of Apple and their censoring ways… turns out (funny story!) that Comixology themselves made the command decision to not even submit Saga #12 to Apple’s App Store for possible sale. Here’s the blog post from Comixology CEO David Steinberger:
To our customers –
In the last 24 hours there has been a lot of chatter about Apple banning Saga #12 from our Comics App on the Apple App Store due to depictions of gay sex. This is simply not true, and we’d like to clarify.
As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps. Based on our understanding of those policies, we believed that Saga #12 could not be made available in our app, and so we did not release it today.
We did not interpret the content in question as involving any particular sexual orientation, and frankly that would have been a completely irrelevant consideration under any circumstance.
Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12.
After hearing from Apple this morning, we can say that our interpretation of its policies was mistaken. You’ll be glad to know that Saga #12 will be available on our App Store app soon.
We apologize to Saga creator Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.
All the best,
CEO and co-founder
[UPDATED with addition of Fiona Staples to the final sentence of the post.]
So, in my opinion, we’ve taken a bad situation – a retail seller of comic books denying to sell a book due to some wonky policy about sexual material – and made it worse – a distributor of comic books deciding to not even try to sell a book out of fear of some wonky policy about sexual material, and then spending an entire day letting the retailer take the shitstorm for no reason at all.
As I wrote yesterday: we’re talking about a corporation, and that corporation can make any decision they want about what, and what not, to sell. But for Comixology to not even try to submit the issue to Apple, and then somehow let the entire world think that it was Apple who was the dick in this situation, well, that’s just not cool.
You can say what you want about Diamond, the company who distributes most of the print comics in America, but I am guaranteed a copy of Saga #12 when I get to my local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to stop asking their child customers if the “wanna see a funny book about a Black Kiss,” just like I was guaranteed copies of, well, Black Kiss 2, which had more dicks than word balloons.