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Posted at 07:13 PM ET, 04/09/2013

APPLE vs. SAGA #12: ComiXology blocks sale of Image comic over ‘images of gay sex’; artist Staples reacts [UPDATED]

Update: Responding to news coverage since Tuesday, ComiXology, the digital content provider, has issued a statement Wednesday afternoon to clarify that it was ComiXology — and not Apple — that blocked the sale of ‘SAGA’ #12. Click here for ComiXology’s statement.

WHEN SAGA #12 hits shops and digital shelves tomorrow, you won’t be able to buy the book through iOS apps.

The reason, the comic’s creators say, is because of “images of gay sex.”

“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,” writer Brian K. Vaughan said Tuesday in a release via artist Fiona Staples’s Tumblr. “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.”


From SAGA #12. (courtesy of IMAGE COMICS - .)
Image Comics confirms to Comic Riffs that Apple won’t sell the new issue, while saying that it respects both Apple’s business decision and Vaughan and Staples’s creative one.

“We regret that Apple won’t allow us to sell ‘SAGA’ #12 on the Image Comics app, but that is Apple’s decision and it would be inappropriate for us to tell another company how to run its business,” Image Comics says Tuesday in a statement.

“At the same time, though, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples own their work 100-percent and they call the shots on ‘SAGA.’ “ Image Publisher Eric Stephenson continues. “It would be equally inappropriate for us to censor their vision.”

Fiona Staples tells Comic Riffs she felt supported by Image during a Monday discussion.

“Eric Stephenson e-mailed Brian and I about the issue [Monday] night — he offered us the chance to do a censored version, but none of us really felt that was the way to go,” Staples tells us.

The Shuster Award-winning artist didn’t anticipate the ban — but it didn’t catch her off-guard, either. 

“If I had any foresight at all, I would’ve seen it coming!” Staples tells Comic Riffs. “But I don't think about that kind of thing when I'm working on the book; I'm pretty much just focused on the task at hand.

“I'm not surprised, though. I knew Apple had fairly strict content guidelines — although I hadn't studied up on the specifics — and ‘SAGA’ is frequently pretty explicit,” the Canadian creator says.

The acclaimed hit comic, which Image launched last year, has routinely featured mature content, including some NSFW panels.

Of the two images explicitly depicting sex in the new issue, Staples says: “I knew it wouldn't be an issue for ‘SAGA’ readers. After everything we've thrown at them in issues No.-1 through 11, I knew they wouldn't be fazed by a couple of tiny porno images on a robot's face-screen. And I guess I didn't think anyone outside our readership would notice or care.”

Apple did not return a call seeking comment about its decision.

[THE APP-STORY RANT: Why does Apple hate political satire?]

“I haven't heard from Apple, and I still haven't read up on what exactly their content guidelines are,” Staples tells Comic Riffs, “but I suspect we've quietly been in violation of them since issue No.-1.”

The digital provider ComiXology told Comic Riffs that it could not comment on the matter because of its business relationship with Apple. (Starting Wednesday, though, comiXology users will be able to buy the new ‘SAGA’ book on its website and synch it to their devices, including Apple products.)

In suggesting alternative means of purchase, Vaughan and Staples note in their release: “Download the issue directly through sites like https://comics.imagecomics.com or on your non-Apple smartphone or tablet.” The comic is also being previewed on CBR.

And Staples notes of her publisher: “Image has been wonderfully supportive of their creators, as always.” 

[SAME-SEX PAIRINGS IN COMICS: From Marvel to Archie, gay couples gain resonance amid election-year politics]

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By  |  07:13 PM ET, 04/09/2013

Tags:  image comics, gay comics

 
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