Comic book fans downloading comics through iOS apps cannot download issue No. 12 of Saga, Brian K. Vaughan‘s critically acclaimed series with Image Comics.
UPDATE: comiXology CEO David Steinberger has responded to the controversy (read his complete statement below): “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.”
Yesterday, Vaughan issued this statement:
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. 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 s***.
comiXology CEO David Steinberger had this response:
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 and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.
All the best,
CEO and co-founder
Writers around the Internet have protested Apple’s move, and the statement has been reposted on Tumblr nearly 300 times. Novelist Joe Hill collected the coverage on his Twitter feed and added: “No comment on the subject from @HuffPostBooks, @pageturner, @nprbooks, @GalleyCat. Message? Comics isn’t lit. & isn’t worth defending.”
Over at the Comic Book Defense League, Charles Brownstein posted this First Amendment defense of the comic:
it is within Apple’s rights as a private company to refuse to carry the comic. The same is true of any brick and mortar retailer who refuses to carry the book — it’s their business prerogative to determine what they choose to offer. That said, it’s important to note that while the images are sexually explicit, they and the issue that contains them are protected by the First Amendment. Retailers have a right to sell Saga #12, readers have a right to possess it, and the creators and publisher had the right to create it.
Vaughan also explained how readers with iOS devices can get a copy of Saga No. 12:
1) Head over to you friendly neighborhood comics shop and pick up a physical copy of our issue that you can have and hold forever.
2) While you’re at it, don’t forget to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which helps protect retailers who are brave enough to carry work that some in their communities might consider offensive. You can find signed copies of Saga at the CBLDF site right now.
3) Download the issue directly through sites like https://comics.imagecomics.com or on your non-Apple smartphone or tablet.