Let us go over the facts of the thing.
Saga #12, from Image Comics, Brian K. Vaughan, and Fiona Staples features a small yet graphic image of two men having sex with one another. This is one of them. And look, I censored it.
Yesterday, Brian K. Vaughan, writer of the book, issued this statement. Including this business:
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.
Vaughan, though we love his work very dearly, was quite wrong. In multiple ways.
He presumed that the issue was unable to be purchased from all iOS apps (Comixology, Image Comics) where it was not available today (more on that in a moment). The book was available, however, through the iBookstore, all along. We’ve seen this happen before with the recent Sex #1, Black Kiss II, and even XXX Zombies. No cry was shouted for those books, and it certainly wasn’t because of gay sex per se, but just what Apple considers pornographic content, which is fairly normal industry standard in the big name eBook game.
I should note here that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple has been called the Most Powerful Gay Man in America. Make of that what you will.
So right away, the comics internet community, fans and pros, who really love to find a reason to start a virtual bonfire, starts going off about how Apple hates gay people and their sex, and blah blah blah blah.
Turns out none of it even happened.
Today, Comixology released this statement:
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. Vaughn [sic] and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.
All the best,
CEO and co-founder
So, to summarize, Apple didn’t ban anything. Apple has a set of standards which Comixology presumed to apply, and they didn’t submit it in the first place. The problem, which wasn’t really much of a problem to begin with, seems to have been one more of communications and mismanagement than anything else.
You know what I’m tired of hearing about? Censorship. When the United Kingdom banned A Clockwork Orange for 30 years, that was censorship (or maybe it wasn’t. We all make mistakes.). When Wal-Mart doesn’t sell Hustler, that’s different. If you couldn’t get Saga #12 by clicking over 2 more pecks on your iPad, or by going to an actual comic shop, there would have been an argument, but that just wasn’t the case. Instead, the hew and cry went out, and no one looked into a damn thing. That was before Comixology waved the “my bad” flag.
It seems like every week, there’s some “this is the evil thing in comics”. Yes, there is sexism, and homophobia, and there is a preponderance of dumbasses, and they are the people running comics. But if we need to throw a virtual protest march every time someone makes a societal misstep, we’re gonna be wasting a lot of keystrokes.
If you don’t like how a company is doing business, don’t do business with that company. If you’re going to label them the Great Satan, check your facts. I’m mostly down with political correctness, but at a certain point in the echo chamber, we’re pointing out massive digressions of conduct left and right. I’ve met an enormous cross section of people who make their living from comics, and these are not the lunkheads you need to be worrying about. Write letters to your congressmen instead of online petitions about what’s happening to a fictional character.
It’s exhausting. We’ve got more gatekeepers than we do gates.
I know one thing. Saga #12 is going to sell a lot of books now.
Here’s Brian K. Vaughan’s statement on the situation as of now:
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.
There you have it folks. I still think Vaughan jumped up the charges a little faster than would be advisable, but he was under a misapprehension, and took it to the streets before sorting it out internally. Then you get what we had here today. Which is the way he wants it.
I wasn’t referring to Vaughan as much as quoting Cool Hand Luke at the end there.