Last night we reported the disappointing news that issue #12 of Brian K. Vaughan’s brilliant space opera comic series, Saga, would not be available in its digital version on iOS devices. The ban was allegedly due to two small panels within the book which depicted gay sex…in spite of the earlier issues of the series, which is not intended for children, having included sexual scenes before without any problems. Creator Brian K. Vaughan spoke out about the ban, standing behind his work and pointing out other ways readers could get their grubby mitts on a copy. Now, the very next day, Saga #12 will be coming to iOS devices after all, and it also turns out that Apple wasn’t the culprit behind this after all.
According to Cult of Mac, digital comics distributor Comixology — an otherwise great company, and the one I purchase all my comics from these days — made the decision to keep the Saga issue off of iOS devices on their own, following what they believed to be Apple’s policies for content released in apps. Comixology CEO David Steinberger released a statement that said the following:
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.
It’s good to hear that Apple wasn’t behind this mess, but is it just me or does this still not make any sense? The original news about the ban came from Vaughan himself, and you’d think he would have the inside scoop about this sort of situation, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt and assume he was just misinformed. But if it wasn’t about the comic’s depiction of gay sex, then what was it about?
I’ve read Steinberger’s statement up there several times now, and I’ll be damned if I can figure out what actually was behind the decision not to release the comic. He specifically says it had nothing to do with depictions of homosexuality, but then doesn’t provide any further explanations, sticking with the vague explanation that their “understanding of [Apple’s] policies” convinced them not to release the latest issue of the comic. If that’s true, given how hot-button a topic this is, you’d think they would be swift to explain what actually was considered objectionable. Otherwise it just begs the question, and leaves his response seeming like a PR tapdance to calm irate fans.
At any rate, Saga #12 is now available via Comixology. All’s well that ends well, I suppose…