Apple SAGA #12 banned due to gay sex scenes

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201304091429 <S>Apple</s> SAGA #12 banned due to gay sex scenes
Update 4/10/13: It has now been revealed that comiXology banned the issue believing Apple wouldn’t approve it. Stranger and stranger.

Apple has refused to carry Saga #12 via any of its app-based platforms because of two small gay sex scenes, writer Brian K. Vaughan has written in a press release. The issue goes on sale tomorrow and will not be available through anything that goes through the App store. However, as Vaughan explains, the issue will still be available through Image and Android apps.

Update, I just flipped through the PDF preview of the book and couldn’t even find the scenes…unless they were removed from the PDF?

Meanwhile, just pick out the violent content that goes through Apple every day and get back to me.

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.  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.    

Apologies to everyone who reads our series on iPads or iPhones, but here are your alternatives for Wednesday:

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.

4) If all else fails, you might be able to find SAGA #12 in Apple’s iBookstore, which apparently sometimes allows more adult material to be sold than through its apps.  Crazy, right?

Anyway, special thanks to Eric Stephenson and everyone at Image for supporting our decision, and for always being so supportive of creators.  Sorry again to readers for the inconvenience, but I hope everyone will be able to find an issue that Fiona and I are particularly proud of.  And after you do, please check out PanelSyndicate.com, the new digital comics site I own with artist Marcos Martin, which remains 100% uncensored by corporate overlords. 

UPDATE UPDATE: Okay, after it was explained, I did find these, but they are hard to spot but adult in nature for sure. But small.

EDIT: Click on the thumbs for the unexpurgated images.
saga 12 review1 <S>Apple</s> SAGA #12 banned due to gay sex scenes

saga 12 review2 <S>Apple</s> SAGA #12 banned due to gay sex scenes

Comments

  1. Did they have any objections to the straight sex scenes in previous issues?

  2. They’re on Prince Robot IV’s screen/face in the opening scene when he is wounded.

  3. Zeparu says:

    So why exactly is a hint at gay sex more problematic than a huge, disgusting splashpage of mutated male genitalia? Apple just went bananas, it seems.

  4. Wow. Seriously. That’s bs. Unbelievable. Just. Wow.

  5. Yeah, I’d like to know why gay sex is banned while straight sex is fine.

    Because this seems pretty damn homophobic.

  6. I suspect it has to do with there being an actual erect penis. There was sex in earlier issues, but no genitalia shown. SEX #1 was also banned, maybe for the same reason, though in that case if was female genitalia.

  7. Eva Hopkins says:

    I am typing this on an Apple computer, but this post makes me very pleased w/ myself that I have an Android phone. :(

    Apple has run into gay-censoring trouble before.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/15/apple-censors-gay-kiss-in_n_611553.html

    http://mangabookshelf.com/25280/apple-censors-still-targeting-lgbtq-content/

  8. People, just buy all your ComiXology stuff on the web. Apple doesn’t want our business on this, I don’t see a reason to give them a cut on any comic.

  9. Yep, you can buy it from Image on our website: https://comics.imagecomics.com

  10. Lindazilla says:

    This is ridiculous. But, hey. Congrats to Apple for getting me to give Saga a second look. Better late than never.

  11. Here are the stated Comixology ratings guidelines separating what IS and ISN’T acceptable (based primarily on iOS guidelines.) :

    Guidelines for Determining Age Ratings
    17+
    – 3 or more uses of “fuck” as an expletive.
    – Any use of “fuck” as a verb
    – Frequent and explicit sexual activity with NO graphic penetration or depiction of genitals with pornographic intent.
    – Gore and/or pervasive bloodshed.
    – Extensive or glorifying alcohol or tobacco use.
    – Any depiction of drug use.

    Adult
    Under the following conditions, a comic can only be published to the Web.
    – Explicit pornographic depiction of sexual activity or genitalia.
    – Pervasive explicit gore
    – Explicit sadistic violence, especially of a sexual nature.

  12. If memory serves correct, Apple has done stupid things like this in the past and reversed itself soon after a big dust-up. It’s a big giant company with many people working at it and they sometimes make decisions that are not in our best interest or even the company’s. This isn’t going to just go away and I bet Apple will correct the problem. But yes, it is disturbing. Stay on them!

  13. Chris says:

    Ya, this isn’t the first time Apple has prevented gay-related content to their App store, they’ve also reversed their decision calling it a mistake. They’ve also removed previously approved homophobic apps from their store.

    Apple’s review process is shoddy when it comes to apps getting approved, why is it so sensational that it should happen with your reading material as well?

    Also, why is it appropriate to call this outright homophobia? Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is openly gay. Apple is one of HRC’s highest rated companies for equality. Apple publicly opposed Prop 8 and supported its LGBT employees.

    However, they’re fallible. Clearly. And so is the process of buying digital content if the system can reject some material, or worse recall previously purchased books (in Amazon’s case).

    I’m picking up my copy of Saga at my comic book shop. Enjoy your eventual download.

  14. Apple threatened a French/Belgian comic app earlier this week, too– almost half of their titles were removed. 1500 of 4000. It’s outrageous.

    I wish the panels were shown here (or at least linked to) uncensored, so we could actually see what the problem is. Black boxes don’t help.

  15. How about option 5) Stop using stupid Apple products…

  16. How l950’s. Come on Apple – join the present.

  17. Eva Hopkins says:

    I’m an LGBT rights activist/writer. & yet, I *love* my Apple shinies. Which are mostly approaching old enough that I need to start thinking about their eventual replacements.

    The most 1st world problem, ever. I know it. This really has me torn. & Chris’s points, above, about how overall equality-friendly Apple seems to be otherwise..

    Damn you Chris. ;D Nuanced thought on the ‘net..? C’mon now.

  18. Thomas Wayne says:

    I think you guys are missing the obvious here….this is not about gay sex…its about overly explicit sex.

    No one can say for sure if the person receiving the “facial” is a man or a woman with short hair. What is certain is it is very explicit.

    Now, should Apple ban this and show extreme or explicit violence or sex in other forms? That’s for Apple to decide, its their company and their decision.

    But the base idea that it was “banned” because it was homosexual in nature is all wrong. That could be a long haired woman getting a face full of joy juice and they would have done the same thing.

    And the word “banned” is really going out on a limb as well. They aren’t banning it….they are simply choosing not to sell this particular issue. Business’ make decisions like this all the time. My guess is they are doing it before some 12 year old kid downloads it and Mom catches a glimpse of it and we have a shit storm of negative press from all kinds of sources.

    Selective retail is not a ban people. Its just Apple making a choice. This issue of Saga will be available in print and digital all over the place. Just not Apple.

  19. Thomas Wayne says:

    This is no different than the comic consumer nation “choosing” to not purchase that Superman comic written by O. Scott Card.

    DC chose to avoid any problems and went with an issue that didn’t carry the story. Business decision – plain and simple. It clearly had nothing to do with Scott’s viewpoint or politics (which are well known) – had that been the case they wouldn’t have hired him in the first place. It all comes down to what negative publicity worth and the battle with the media that ensues with such publicity. They chose to avoid it…as did Apple with this issue of Saga.

  20. It’s the best thing that could have happened to Brian. Look at all these people on all these comic sites talking about his book. He knows what he’s doing. He should teach a marketing comics class.

  21. Folks,

    This has NOTHING to do with gay sex. This has everything to do with GRAPHIC SEX (straight or gay). Ejaculation isn’t going to be allowed on iTunes, that’s nothing new.

    Apple doesn’t carry books like Black Kiss II (Chaykin), and they don’t allow subscriptions to erotic magazines like Penthouse. This is standard procedure for them.

    We can debate whether things like graphic sex SHOULD be censored, but that’s not what this conversation has become. Somehow people have taken BKV’s very poor choice of words in his press release and run with it like there’s some homophobic double standard at play.

    I BEG of journalists, Heidi included, to do your homework before giving fuel to something so off base.

    Debating sexual censorship is MUCH different than debating bigotry and homosexual bias.

  22. @The apologist hiding behind the name “Thomas Wayne”. This is very different from consumers choosing not to buy a book written by someone they don’t like. This is a distributor (the one that dominates the digital realm) refusing to sell a book to people who would choose to buy it. Diamond didn’t refuse to distribute Card’s issues, just individual customers and a few local shops refused to buy them.

    Apple has age ratings, and parental controls: an excellent infrastructure for preventing 12-year-olds from “accidentally” downloading things their parents don’t don’t want them to be exposed to. For Apple to instead institute a blanket ban on selling the book altogether, is irrational, and doesn’t deserve your excuses. It may or may not be homophobic (Apple has a historical pattern of being more prudish about gay content than hetero content), but it is certainly arbitrary. And your attempt to excuse it it shows a feeble understanding of history or the power of big businesses to control the media would insist that it should be considered harmless simply because it wasn’t done by the government. Hint: The Comics Code was not instituted by the government.

  23. @ Jason A. Quest…

    The book is available in iBooks, where Apple DOES have explicit parental controls. It’s just not available direct, where they do NOT have the ability to screen out content. Again, you want to argue a technology powerhouse like Apple should be able to layer in parental controls in all of its distribution models? I agree. But that’s not the same as suggesting it’s censorship for the sake of any grand political statement.

  24. It shows a penis, which a previous issue has also done, going into a mouth. Big whoop. It’s an adult comic right? So mark it as “adult” and sell it. If a kid is online I can say with fair confidence that there is a lot more penis-in-mouth content online for free – you don’t have to pay to see cartoon ones if that’s your goal.

    I can guarantee you no book chain will take the copy of the shelves of every branch because of some oral sex scenes. And FYI, you can buy erotic art books (yay!) and 50 Shades of Grey (erk!) at most book stores too.

    If Apple didn’t want people suspecting bigotry they should maybe have cleaned up their approval system a long time ago. Being accused of homophobia is far from the worst thing about this story…

  25. Thomas Wayne says:

    Hey…Jason A Quest….Im not hiding behind anything…my name is Thomas Wayne McFall….and I am not an apologist…I’m stating facts that Jason Wood understood…and apparently you don’t. This is all about choice…period. There is NO BAN. A BAN would mean it was not available anywhere. Apple has chosen not to sell it at this time. People chose to stand up to DC about Card and DC chose to pull his story. CHOICE…plan and simple. No bans. No gay sex prejudice…just plain and simple business decisions.
    On another note…Im just really glad my parents didn’t name me Clark Kent McFall…..the confusion among the crazies would be even greater.

  26. Because an erect penis or ejaculation is SO AWFUL AND SHOULDN’T BE SEEN as opposed to decapitation, beatings, murder, blood and guts, and violence ad nauseam. Typical American bullshit: addicted to violence, and sex is “bad”. Disgusting.

  27. Jason Wood: I just looked and Saga 12 is not availible in iBooks though Saga 11 is. What makes you think it was there?

    Apple, and I own a number of Apple products so I like their tech, is hopelessly conflicted on what is allowed and what is now.

    It is certainly true that they are far more restrictive on visual erotica than they are are on written or audio erotica.

  28. Thomas Wayne says:

    One more time into the breach to get the real point across….and I will use O.S. Card’s not-to-be-published Superman story as my point…

    Let’s say DC went ahead and printed the issue of Adventures of Superman with Card’s story. Would anyone here say a comic shop that chose not to sell it has banned it? No, you would say they made the smart choice based on their business/political beliefs in not carrying the book.

    A customer comes in and politely asks if you carry the book…shop owner politely responds “no, we have chosen not to sell it for INSERT REASON HERE”. The customer politely says thank you and goes to another comic shop and buys the issue there. Or goes online and buys it there. But the original shop that sold the book has not banned it – they chose not to make it available for personal/business reasons. If the book was banned it would not be available anywhere.

    Why is this so hard to understand for some folks?

    If everyone everywhere had refused to sell this in print or digital form I’d be the first in line to cry foul. However, this is not one of those times.

    Chances are Apple will decide to sell it sooner than later and it was all a fuss for nothing. People love to label and jump the gun over much ado about nothing.

  29. Pathetic. Apple is being paid to distribute content, not to be the frigging morality police.

  30. This is NOT Apple being homophobic or anti-gay or discriminatory. (Their CFO is gay for chrissakes.) They ban apps with sex of ANY type – straight or gay. Period. Always. Sex in apps is explicitly against App Store guidelines, specifically section 18.1 (“Apps containing pornographic material, defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “explicit descriptions or displays of sexual organs or activities intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings”, will be rejected.”)

  31. @Jim
    If this isn’t discriminatory, then what would be?

    What’s wrong with sex?

  32. David D. says:

    @Jim then why wasn’t the earlier issue of Saga that had exponentially more graphic sex in it not banned? In that case the sex may have seemed to be all straight (albeit between paying customers and slaves forced into prostitution), but there was a lot more of it on display. And none of the stated app guidelines seemed to ban it.

    Therefore I can understand where Vaughan might think that the “gay” part had something to do with it. As the prior, more abundant, straight sex did not seem to be a problem for Apple.

  33. Whatever says:

    Nice reactionary witchhunt. It’s cool how The Beat expressly stresses GAY to get everyone up in arms. Apple does not distribute adult content / porn it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. In fact Apple as a corporation has a long history of being gay friendly and hiring LBGT employees. It’s awesome that you took the time to slander a company.

  34. Whatever says:

    Excuse me LGBT, apologies.

  35. This is akin to when pharmacists get all Jesusy about selling the morning after pill. If you don’t want to sell, don’t be in the business of selling.

  36. just read this story, then I checked the Apple Store. No Saga, but guess what you can buy?

    50 Shades of Grey.

    This is fucking ludicrous.

  37. John Gregory says:

    I’ve got to agree with the posters calling out the Beat for this very misleading story. As a journalist, your clearly-biased story doesn’t hold up.

    This isn’t just a small depiction of sex. This is a blowjob and a cumshot. Not even HBO would broadcast that. So we’re calling Apple homophobes for not selling a comic with someone sucking down semen?

    NOW-the point that a previous issue had far more graphic straight sex scenes, THEN a question of why its worse with gay sex would be valid. But if it comes down to Apple just not allowing exposed male genitalia in material sold on their platforms-well, it’d be a bigger story if they DID allow that.

    And please, comparisons to Fifty Shades of Gray are ridiculous. You’re talking written word vs. images.

  38. Knowing that the issue broke Apple’s Terms of Service, which expressly bans pornographic material like this, Image shouldn’t have submitted the issue for sale. And they shouldn’t have done so for previous issues which also showed penetration, even though they got away with it when they did.

    This has proven that the person responsible for checking the content of comics submitted to Apple ‘skim-reads’ and only blocks objectionable content when it’s on the opening splash page, rather than tucked into the background of page 14.

  39. The Freaky Tiki says:

    Ironically the beat blacks out the image.

  40. You can still buy and download this on Comixology straight in a browser, then have it available on your iPad or other device.

    When you purchase the book, go to the app and go to the ‘Purchases’ section of the app and press ‘restore’ and your new purchases appear.

    If you see that there’s a price on the book when its under your purchases, hit restore again, or close and restart the app to fix that.

    I just did this and have Saga #12 on my iPad.

  41. Furthermore, if you don’t want Apple to have your money you can buy your comics straight in the website like this and still read them on your iPad and still have your library nicely organized in that same app. And, from what I understand, the publisher and Comixology both get a larger cut of the money in this case. Cuts out the middleman, Apple in this case.

  42. “seriously, Apple seriously? ” (face palm). “I will so not buy an Iphone now.”

    Iphone Boycott Tumblr (TM).

    Mobilize comic nerd Internet.

    And Comic Contracted Talent Vs. Comic Nerds on Bleeding Cool about political issues not remotely related to the story being reported.

  43. Richard Watson says:

    So where are all the people lining up to apologise to Apple then?

    Maybe later?

  44. Rush to judgement. Get the facts first before forwarding unsubstantiated hearsay. Blogs cannot do real reporting. What if was an individual rather than a big company you just slandered without knowing the facts. Witch hunt. Homophobe is the new “yelling fire in a crowded theater.” Check the update on newsarama . Kisses.

  45. Don’t get it.
    If apple banned saga 12 then why is it for sale in the comixology app on my idevice?

    Looks like the beat fucked up again!

    Try and check your facts first. It’s not rocket science.

  46. Protest damn it. Buy the print version, from me.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] to release tomorrow’s Saga issue number 12 on any of their apps because it features gay sex. The Beat reports that Vaughan has released a press release about the [...]

  2. [...] news comes from an announcement made by Brian K. Vaughn, the writer of the [...]

  3. [...] Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog [...]

  4. iWyre says:

    [...] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments [...]

  5. [...] Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments └ Tags: News, Social News [...]

  6. [...] Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments [...]

  7. [...] 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 [...]

  8. [...] news in the comics world was that Saga [Vaughan/Staples/Image] issue #12 was banned from Apple’s apps due to 2 tiny panels depicting homosexual sex acts. I still don’t understand the context of why these two sex acts were depicted, but from what [...]

  9. [...] It’s a good thing iPhones and iPads don’t have web browsers on them because do you know how much porn could get on them then? [...]

  10. [...] Source | Permalink | Email this | Comments TUAW – The Unofficial Apple Weblog [...]

  11. [...] We should see an answer within the next couple of weeks as more mature-themed comics are scheduled for release.  If the comments posted over on The Beat are any indication, expect even more upset people. [...]

  12. [...] PR director Jennifer de Guzman told The Beat that the sex in previous issues didn’t show genitalia, and thus wasn’t [...]

  13. [...] PR director Jennifer de Guzman told The Beat that the sex in previous issues didn’t show genitalia, and thus wasn’t [...]

  14. [...] and nudity have been allowed within the app — and in earlier issues of the same comic. [via Comics Beat, The [...]

  15. [...] and nudity have been allowed within the app — and in earlier issues of the same comic. [via Comics Beat, The [...]

  16. [...] PR director Jennifer de Guzman told The Beat that the sex in previous issues didn’t show genitalia, and thus wasn’t [...]

  17. [...] Image Comics. Unedited version available here. [...]

  18. [...] matter of “Who censored Saga #12?” has been termed a fiasco by some, and that’s probably [...]

  19. [...] and nudity have been allowed within the app — and in earlier issues of the same comic. [via Comics Beat, The [...]

  20. [...] The comics blogosphere blew up after issue 12 came out for certain small sexual images on Prince Robot IV’s TV faceplate. [...]

  21. [...] The comics blogosphere blew up after emanate 12 came out for certain tiny passionate images on Prince Robot IV’s TV [...]

  22. […] of the App Store limiting and boring, it carries a number of social consequences too.  In April 2013, the readers of the comic book Saga learned that they would not be able to access the ….  As you can imagine, this came as quite a disappointment, especially if you consider that the […]

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