Digital comics news and notes; comics on iPhone, Wowio

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§ An iPhone ad running throughout the UK includes the comics app Comixology right there on TV. We can’t embed the ad, but it is another sign that comics are a key part of the Apple experience.

§ Speaking of Apple, they’ve been cracking down on some of the more sexually provocative iPhone apps, most of which have a kind of mid-century naughtiness centering on the possibility of seeing a lady’s bosoms as opposed to anything explicit:

Apple may have just made a major change to the App Store that could render many developers’ applications worthless. We’ve just heard from Jon Atherton, the developer behind Wobble iBoobs, who says that he just received an Email from Apple indicating that his application was being removed from the App Store because of a new policy change: Apple has apparently decided “to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store.”



We asked around a bit, and this doesn’t seem to have had any effect on comics being sold on iPhones — yet. While comics sold directly on the iPhone — as IDW does with their various stores for GI Joe and Transformers — may be subject to more scrutiny, Apple seems to be more forgiving about material sold through apps such as Panelfly and Comixology.

That doesn’t mean Apple isn’t still very very strict about what is being sold, however. We hear a few comics have been taken down for non-smut related reasons — for instance, Bluewater’s political bios aren’t sold on iPhones, despite being little more than repackaged speeches in some cases. (And yet you can download, say the G. Gordon Liddy show on podcast. Hello, weird standards…)

§ Remember Wowio, the ad-supported downloadable content company? After its purchase by Platinum, there were some hiccups, and now Platinum President Brian Altounian has purchased the company with an eye to possibly going public. Sean Kleefeld has an interview with Altounian on the move.

Altounian started, “First of all, when I talk of going public, I am not talking in the traditional sense of an IPO like the average public understands.” Rather, he’s got a small group of individual investors providing backing. This will actually be a second round of financing since he bought the company in July of last year. The first round — which he didn’t elaborate on, but sounded to me more like some type of loan process — raised $1,000,000 with which “every publisher was paid entirely and I even added an interest payment on top of it as a good-faith gesture to apologize for the delays in payment.” He also used some of those funds to bring back much of the original technology team out of Houston. To my understanding, Wowio is now debt-free.


BTW, although Altounian’s Linked-in page still lists him as being president of Platinum, he doesn’t mention it much in his current activities. Huh.

Comments

  1. Interesting. This has been an issue for some folks.
    Apple’s iPhone/iPad may have built a bridge that are getting people to come, but just who’s coming to dinner is the question.

    As Dirk Depey said:
    “It occurs to me that watching publishers and creators salivating for the iPad, a device controlled by a company determined to keep its apps store free of anything that might possibly offend parents, is like watching Frank Miller praying for the Comics Code Authority to return.”

    My current book would have such problems with Apple.
    Right now there is a host of salacious material beyond Wobble iBoobs (unfortunate name for an application that can be used for anything from rated G to rated X).

    Still, I see this as early days, eventually the range will open up.

  2. hmmmmmm….. so is Wowio now “creator safe” or still bad news? i was talking with some friends this weekend and we were trying to figure out all the good sites for selling digital comics. someone said Wowio but all i could think of was all the controversy from a couple years back.

    as for the iPhone/iTouch comics readers, is anyone out there using any of these and liking them? i looked up a bunch of them around the time of my Wowio convo and it seemed like some have flashy designed sites but little content, while others have the content (or, like Comic Reader Mobi, are basically .zip file readers) but are less user-enticing.

  3. timothycat says:

    This needs to be watched very closely. I suspect that a lot of Apple fans like myself are starting to get a wee bit nervous about the approach Apple seems to be taking on content censorship.

  4. Synsidar says:

    I suspect that a lot of Apple fans like myself are starting to get a wee bit nervous about the approach Apple seems to be taking on content censorship.

    I don’t consider that censorship. Any company should be able to define standards for the products sold through its store. The fact that a software developer chooses to write an iPhone app shouldn’t mean that Apple is required to make it available. His rights aren’t being infringed, any more than an advertiser with a racy ad has its rights infringed if broadcasters refuse to air it.

    SRS

  5. Synsidar is right, this isn’t cencorship, but it is opportunity and favorable positioning.

    I think the field will open up, plus I’m sure there will be ways around Apple’s gatekeepers. Just as it is now — reading Playboy and Penthouse apps on the iPhone, or some saucy prose with the Kindle app. There are several ways to skin this cat, but most of us would just like to use the front door like everyone else and not wiggle in through the bedroom window.

  6. Tad Stones says:

    If I was trying to position a device as THE ebook reader, I wouldn’t want the first news out of the gate to be about censorship and freedom of speech. Weird move by Apple.

  7. The requirement to wiggle through the bedroom window will kill the viability of a lot of material being ported to the iPad. The whole reason iTunes/iPod has been so successful and reaches a wide audience is because it makes it so easy to buy music.

    Do you have time to convert Bomb Queen into an iPad-compatible format… for a small handful of jailbreakers to pass around the net without paying for it?

    Apple was perfectly right to serve as “gatekeeper” to keep the iPhone free of viruses, crashing programs, etc. And they could justify forbidding outright porn, especially when there were no parental controls. But they shouldn’t be in the content-approval business for a device that offers no legitimate alternative distribution network.

  8. I can only guess that since App development is such an open community that they need to act as gatekeepers to keep more and more graphic material from showing up.

    I’m not too worried about content through the apps though, they sell explicit songs and movies through itunes, and they will sell adult reading though the ibook platform, presumably. My comics, House of Twelve, have never shied away from vulgar content, hell, we bathe in it, and when we joined up with Comixology to do a book with them we were given some ground rules, but truth be told they were pretty lax, I was expecting much worse. (News about the new Ho12 next week!)

  9. timothycat says:

    You are right, censorship is the wrong word. I have no desire to look at what’s being removed but in principle I don’t want to see Apple being the arbiter of what kind of content can easily be accessed on my device. Am very curious how Jobs is going to navigate this issue

  10. bad wolf says:

    Seriously, the stuff removed was like girls in bikinis. That’s only violating community standards if your neighbors are the Taliban.

  11. Originally Apple had rules not to have any apps with sexual content. Then Apple brought in parental controls and said sexual content is okay. This is still not pornographic, there’s no nudity allowed, just women in skimpy clothes. All sorts of apps showed up exploiting this (as they exploited women) but Apple changed their mind and pulled the plug. Lots of developers are pissed off that Apple allowed all these apps through, causing people in invest more money into these applications, only for Apple to turn around and change their mind.

    Plus it’s proven to be a double-standard, as the Sport’s Illustrator Swimsuit app is not only still in the iTunes store, but a featured application. On top of that the Playboy application was never pulled.

    So likely DC likely has nothing to worry about if say they put out any mature material from Vertigo. However, for any smaller company wanted to publish material this way, hopefully they won’t invest too much money into it as, they could get pulled.

  12. Synsidar says:

    The iPhone app appeared on Greta Van Susteren’s show tonight (I do not watch Fox News regularly; I didn’t want to stop pedaling just to change the channel); from what I saw, the app was pretty kinky — clothes appearing and disappearing, a computerized version of playing with lifelike paper dolls. Put the clothes on, take ‘em off.

    SRS

  13. Apple simply removed tons of cheesecake masquerading as apps, probably most of it repackaged from some website or another. This is not censorship, this is a clean-up. What is important is to understand what is available on iPhone/iPad and what is an app on iPhone/iPad. Whatever comes through Safari/Internet is different from what comes through the iTunes store. Being angry at Apple for not allowing smut apps but smut on the internet would be like being mad at Best Buy for selling TVs on which you can watch porn but not selling porn DVDs. It’s a pretty moot point.
    As for comics censorship on iTunes in my experience it is limited to the portrayal or caricature of famous people, logos and products owned by a company, pornography, extreme violence. I don’t think that’s being too hard.

  14. http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/02/24/apple_creates_explicit_category_for_app_store_software.html

    “Though it is not yet in use, Apple has added a category for developers to label their applications as “explicit” software in the App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch.”

  15. This should make everybody happy then! :)

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