Writer Brian K. Vaughan released a statement today saying that the 12th issue of his science fiction series Saga, illustrated by Fiona Staples, will not be available via comics iOS apps such as comiXology because of “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex” that did not make it past Apple’s content reviewers. The comic will be available digitally from the comiXology and Image Comics web stores.
Saga, which launched with a bit of controversy over the cover early last year, is rated for mature readers, and it has featured sex scenes in the past, but it’s possible that it was the graphic nature of these particular images (which are small but quite explicit), rather than who was doing what to whom, that caused Apple to refuse to carry the comic in its apps. Heidi MacDonald posts the unexpurgated images at her site, and in the comments, creator Tyler James posts comiXology’s guidelines, which make it pretty clear why those images won’t be in the app (presumably comiXology’s guidelines reflect Apple’s).
Perhaps the folks behind the French comics app Izneo should have gotten a copy. Two weeks ago—on the eve of the long Easter week-end, the site IDBOOX notes—the Izneo folks got an order from Apple to remove the “pornographic” content from their app. With no clue as to what Apple would judge to be pornographic, the Izneo folks immediately took down 2,800 of the 4,000 comics in their app, cautiously removing anything that could hint of adult content, including Blake and Mortimer and XIII, both of which are published in print in the U.S. without any fuss. Then they reviewed those comics and put about half of them back, but that still leaves 1,500 titles that aren’t in the app any more. Izneo took quite a financial hit on this; turns out comics featuring “Les jolies filles un peu sexy” are their top sellers. (This story, it should be said, came from an anonymous source.)
Later, IDBOOX caught up with Thomas Cadène, one of the creators of the series Les autres gens, which contained all that Apple doesn’t want to see, he said: “Breasts, genitals, people making love, people who are not making love but are nude anyway—in short, life.” Cadène, of course, doesn’t regard his comics as pornographic at all, but he notes that at any rate, Apple is being hypocritical because the comic is still available on iBooks, Apple’s digital bookstore; the Izneo folks were simply told that iBooks was different from the apps. In another interview, Allison Reber of Aquafadas, another digital comics distributor, said that in 2009, Apple’s standards were so strict that an image of a nude man, seen from the rear, in the shower would be enough to scuttle a book, but that they have loosened up considerably; she hopes that the whole episode will turn out to be nothing more than a misunderstanding.