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Apple Bans ‘Saga #12’ From App Store Over Graphic Gay Sex Scenes [Updated]
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Saga #12 Image Comics banner

If you’re currently reading the Image comic book series Saga and you enjoy the convenience of getting your comics digitally through Apple’s iOS apps, make some alternate plans to obtain Saga #12 when it’s released tomorrow, as Apple has banned the sale of the issue through their apps because it contains graphic sexual content.

Saga writer and co-creator Brian K. Vaughan issued a press release today regarding the ban, noting that Saga #12 contains “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex,” and that previous installments of the series featured what he considered to be much more graphic imagery.

The former Lost writer explained that everything that goes into the comic is there to advance the story and that they’re “not changing shit.”

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.

Image Comics stated that they support the rights of the book’s creators – Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, who posted Vaughan’s statement on her Tumblr page – and did not press for them to change or remove the explicit artwork, especially since Saga is a creator-owned series. Unfortunately, Apple’s ban means that the publisher will not be able to sell the issue through their Image Comics app; it also won’t be available through digital comics giant ComiXology or other platforms for iOS devices, including iPad and iPhone.

If you want a sneak peek at some of the content in question, click on the thumbnail at the bottom of this post; it’s NSFW, so head’s up on that (and get ready to do penance).

I read my advanced review copy of Saga #12 the other day, and I’ll be honest – I didn’t even notice the graphic images! Saga is one of the best creator-owned series to come out in recent years; it’s one of those titles that should (and hopefully will) be right up there in people’s minds one day with Sandman, Watchmen, and Vaughan’s own Y: The Last Man. It’s an epic space opera, but with political intrigue, race wars, romance, a robot kingdom, and overall scifi goodness, and oh so much more – it’s just friggin’ awesome. So, anyhow, yeah, while reading the issue, I don’t even notice what turned out to be graphic full-on oral sex among several men right there on the first two pages of the story and, yes, said images are about the size of a postage stamp. After reading Vaughan’s press release, I was baffled, as I didn’t recall anything like that in the issue, so I reread it, then looked through it again, and by the fourth time, it finally caught my eye! I’m guessing because the story itself is so engrossing and the graphic images so subtle, that it didn’t stand out to me as a red flag – and it’s not meant to either. This isn’t a shock and awe series; there’s a reason for everything, even if you don’t know what that reason is until much later on.

Look, I get it if Apple wants to keep their apps clean or what have you, but it’s as if they’ve never even looked at another issue of Saga, which has previously displayed on full panels various sexual acts, female breasts, full-frontal male nudity, orgies, and should I even bother to mention the violence and bloodshed? So the fact that they’ve honed in on the tiniest of images depicting a man giving oral sex to other men – subtly displayed, by the way, on the television head of one of the characters – makes it seem like it’s not the graphic imagery Apple has an issue with, but the fact that it’s male homosexual acts that’s the problem.

Like I mentioned, this is a great series, and it’s well-done and definitely doesn’t deserved to be banned (what is this, Walmart?), so I encourage you while you still have some freedoms, grab Saga #12 and enjoy! For those of you reading the series – or if you’re intrigued enough now to jump on – you can order a print copy of Saga #12 online or grab one at your local comic book shop (they’ll love the business!), because while we all love the convenience of a digital world, at least with a physical copy, no one can take it away from you (that is, until the firemen of Fahrenheit 451 are hired, which is seemingly inevitable at this point, right?). You can also help keep print alive by starting at the beginning of the series with the Saga, Vol. 1 trade paperback, which collects issues #1-6. Saga, Vol. 2 won’t be released til July 2013, but you can order print single issues through TFAW.

If you must go digital, then you can download Saga #12 directly through https://comics.imagecomics.com or on a non-Apple smartphone or tablet. Also, it’s possible that the issue will actually be available through Apple’s iBookstore, which sells more graphic content, and I guess one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. Update: The issue is up at the Comixology website at http://www.comixology.com/Saga-12/digital-comic/FEB130461, so you can purchase it from there, then download it to your iphone or ipad.

Saga #12 – Image below NSFW (or for anyone, apparently). Click the thumbnail for larger view and be prepared to do 10 Our Fathers and 6 Hail Marys.

Saga #12 comic book page 1 panel

UPDATE: April 10, 2013: Check That: Apple Didn’t Ban ‘Saga #12′; ComiXology Takes The Rap.

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