UPDATED! Apple banning Saga #12 isn’t about censorship it’s about inconsistency

Saga #12 cover



It turns out it is not that dastardly Apple that is behind all these shenanigans but Comixology themselves! DUN DUN DUUNNNN!!!!

David Steinberger, CEO of ComiXology writes;

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. Vaughn and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.

Still Apple isn’t totally in the clear here. Their guidelines are what has caused confusion here and caused comixology to preemptively withhold the comic from publication. I imagine someone at Apple noticed all the bad press and questioned Comixology about it, who then replied with a “well we figured you would ban it” response.

Part of me wonders why Comixology didn’t say anything sooner like when this whole thing started…


Also Apple are still the ones who have banned over 1500 French comics for sexual imagery and many, many more.


So I was happily minding my own business last night. Just browsing the internet, checking my facebook, replying to emails, etc. etc. Then suddenly out of nowhere my Twitter feed erupted in a flurry of anger and ALL CAPS TYPING. It turned out that something was up with the release of Saga #12 due out later on today (1oth April). Apparantly Apple had found something in the comic they weren’t to happy with and swiftly delivered judgement. Banning it from being sold via in app purchases on the Comixology and Image Comics apps for iOS. This came as little surprise to me as I had been talking about this very thing on twitter with Bleeding Cool‘s Rich Johnston in relation to this piece about Apple censoring/banning French comics on  the day before,

Tweeting my twittersApple have refused to allow the sale of specific comics in the past but never anything as current or popular as Saga. Before we go any further I am going to show you the offending images that have caused all this to kick off,

[Click to embiggen!]

The images on Prince Robot IV’s screen are sexual in nature and do indeed show erect penises and ejaculation. From one point of view it is understandable why Apple have taken the course of action they have. You are allowed to get away with a lot of things in films and TV shows but erect and ejaculating penises are a big no no. Fair enough you might say, especially when you take into account Apple’s terms and conditions regarding sexual imagery in apps. Sadly Apple’s grounds of defence fall flat when you take into account what they have already allowed to be published in comic book related apps and in particular previous issues of Saga.

Here is a selection of sexual imagery and nudity featured in previous issues of Saga that I personally feel are on the same level of “adultness” as the banned imagery in Saga #12

[Click to embiggen!]

You have quite a variety there. From the usual conveniently angled shots of couples having sex, to a horrific giant pair of giant balls, to full on penetration happening in the background of some of the panels. Like I said I don’t think this is any better or worse than the imagery in Saga #12 and many other people agree with me. So why did Saga #12 get banned while all previous issues of Saga featuring sexual imagery get a pass?

Well the main point of contention with this particular issue is that the banned imagery in Saga #12 is homosexual in nature. Many are saying they have been banned due to some sort of companywide homophobia on Apple’s part. Others are pointing out that like I said previously the ejaculation imagery may be what has caused Apple to take the course of action they have. Many can and will see it as a step to far and in many cases they are right. People and the wider public in general are very prudish and even the thought of sex drives them into fits of rage that begin and end with people shouting, “Somebody think of the children!”

Sadly the actual fact of the matter is that Apple’s approval process for content is incredibly inconsistant. This is due to content reviewers having to work from very basic guidelines with their own views informing the final decision more often than not. So could the guy or girl who gets the enviable task of reading through all of the week’s worth of comics each week have taken offence to the gay imagery and flagged it? Yes most likely. Are they the same person or people who let all previous issues of Saga through approval? No most likely not, do you know how many apps, in-app purchases, magazines, comics and books are submitted to the app store each week?! (The answer is A LOT!)

It also gets even more ridiculous when Brian K Vaughan, Saga’s writer, points out that readers will most likely be able to still buy the book on their iPad and iPhones via the iBookstore rather than the Comixology and Image Comics apps. Simply because they have more leeway for adult content on there.

Seriously? WTF APPLE?! Sort your shit out!

Gay porn and pooping Prince Robot IV you saucy devil!

Saga is clearly marketed as a comic for adults and Comixology/Image regularly highlight its more adult and sexual content in each issue’s description before you buy the book. They also use the regular 17+ age check box where appropriate. Also allowing more adult content to be sold via one method over another on your devices shows you have no idea what you are doing.

To put it simply: You can write a super graphic gay sex scene and sell it via the iBookstore but if you want to visualise it and sell it as a comic via the biggest digital comics distributor in the world were you are going to make the most money you are shit out of luck.

It isn’t all doom and gloom however. If like me you, still want to buy and read Saga #12 on your iPad/iPhone and not use the iBookstore because you rightly buy all your digital comics via Comixology and their partners because that makes sense! Then you can. All you have to do is buy the book via the Comixology website then just go to your purchases tab in the Comixology or Image Comics apps and it will be there waiting for you. The Comixology site works on most iOS web browsers too so you don’t even have to blow the dust off your computer to do it.

It is just a woeful, terrible and pointless inconvenience. Hopefully all the chatter and press about Saga #12 will cause Apple to re-evaluate their approval process because the Comixology app continually goes up and down the top 30 Top Grossing Apps list on the App Store (in the UK at least) so it makes them a large amount of money on a regular basis. Also and perhaps most importantly, it will get more people to check out Saga either in print or digitally and give it a boost in sales. Also if you are reading this and haven’t read any of Saga: do yourself a favour and check it out, it is one of the best comics currently being published.

Run away!



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