The Apple iOS app store has banned the latest edition of the Saga comic by Brian K. Vaughan because of “two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex.” According to U.K. paper The Guardian, the adult comic’s author and artist are furious.
“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 No. 12 from being sold through any iOS apps,” wrote Vaughan on the Image Comics’ Tumblr. Image is the imprint that publishes Saga, as well as the Mice Templar series and the film noir-style thriller comic Point of Impact.
Vaughan continued, “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.”
Additionally, Vaughan encouraged comics fans to get involved with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), an organization dedicated to defending retailers that stock controversial works.
Apple is acquiring a reputation for prudishness in some circles, with its decisions (which some call wildly arbitrary) to block certain apps and publications it deems too sexually explicit. Among apps it has declined to carry the year is “the Predicktor,” a penis-size guessing app created by a physician to de-stigmatize discussion of sexual health and clear up misconceptions created by pornographic images and videos.
UPDATE: ComiXology CEO David Steinberger released a statement about the controversy Wednesday afternoon that read in part:
“To our customers,” wrote Steinberger. “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,” he continued, “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 No. 12,” he wrote.
Steinberger apologized to author Brian K. Vaughan and said that Saga No. 12 is now available from the app’s store.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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