Yesterday, we reported that, according to writer Brian K. Vaughan, Apple had banned the sale of Saga #12 from their apps store because of explicit sexual content, which thereby prevented ComiXology, a partner of Apple, from selling the comic through their app.
This sent shockwaves through the comics community and through the internet in general, since equally as graphic previous issues of Saga had been sold through Apple’s app store. The fact that the content is question, which consisted of two thumbnail-sized depictions of graphic man-on-man oral sex, was of a homosexual nature raised many eyebrows.
Today, ComiXology issued an apology stating that Apple had not actually banned the comic. According to the digital comics giant, they had misinterpreted Apple’s policies and believing they wouldn’t be able to sell the issue through their app, decided on their own not release Saga #12, which is published by Image Comics. The company stressed that their decision had nothing to do with a specific “sexual orientation” and that the issue will be in the app store soon.
Saga writer and co-creator Brian K. Vaughan spoke to The Verge today and issued his own apology, as he had been led to believe that Apple had banned his comic because of what he described as “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex.”
I wanted to apologize to everyone for this entire Saga #12 kerfuffle. Yesterday, I was mistakenly led to believe that this issue was solely with Apple, but it’s now clear that it was only ever Comixology too conservatively interpreting Apple’s rules. I’m truly sorry. I never thought either company was being homophobic, only weirdly inconsistent about what kind of adult material was permissible. I’m grateful that the situation was cleared up so quickly, and I’m delighted I can go back to reading smutty comics on my Retina Display iPad.
While the issue wasn’t available upon release today on Apple iOS devices or through ComiXology and Image comic apps, it was available through Apple’s iBookstore, as well as through online webstores (including ComiXology and Image).
You can read ComiXology’s full statement here below.
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
As The Verge points out, ComiXology waited a full day before making a statement, although that could be because they didn’t see this backlash coming and they probably needed time to find out if they had misread Apple’s guidelines. ComiXology offers tons of comics, many of which have explicit sexual content in it, so it doesn’t seem like they would have have a reason to target Saga #12. For that matter, considering what Apple has sold through their apps (plenty of sexual content in comics, movies, music, etc.), it also seemed odd and inconsistent for them, although in the post-Steve Jobs era, they do appear to be stricter. Basically, this seems like it was an honest mistake on ComiXology’s part — though, what would have been the harm for them to at least try to submit the issue to Apple for approval? Or perhaps confer with Apple beforehand?
I’ve said this before, but with the convenience of digital media comes the possibility of censorship and withholding. With print products, the items you purchase are yours to keep; no one [yet] can come into your home and take that item from you because they feel it should not longer be salable. Saga is a well-done comic book series for mature audiences, so there’s no reason for it to be withheld from digital platforms from consumers because of graphic content. Like with everything else – movies, TV shows, video games, music – put a label on it and let people purchase what they want, without withholding it, without censoring it.
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