Apple Drops "Saga" #12 Over Sex Scene, Vaughan Responds

UPDATE: 4/10/2013 12:40 PM ComiXology CEO and founder David Steinberger has issued a statement saying that Apple did not reject "Saga" #12.

"As a partner of Apple, we have an obligation to respect its policies for apps and the books offered in apps," Steinberger said. "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."

Brian K. Vaughan has also issued an updated statement.

"I wanted to apologize to everyone for this entire SAGA #12 kerfuffle," Vaughan's statement reads. "Yesterday, I was mistakenly led to believe that this issue was solely with Apple, but it's now clear that it was only ever Comixology too conservatively interpreting Apple's rules. I'm truly sorry. I never thought either company was being homophobic, only weirdly inconsistent about what kind of adult material was permissible. I'm grateful that the situation was cleared up so quickly, and I'm delighted I can go back to reading smutty comics on my Retina Display iPad."

UPDATE: 4/10/2013 8:15 AM ComiXology is reporting a delay in Apple's approval process for a number of this week's new releases.

As for "Saga" #12 being rejected by Apple, comiXology told CBR, "Unfortunately, because of our business relationship with Apple, we can't comment."

UPDATE: 4/10/2013 7:43 AM In addition to being available later today through comiXology's web-based storefront or at https://comics.imagecomics.com, the issue if currently available for download via Apple's iOS-based iBooks storefront.

UPDATE: 4/10/2013 7:00 AM In a statement to Comic Riffs, Image Comics' publisher Eric Stephenson said, "We regret that Apple won't allow us to sell 'SAGA' #12 on the Image Comics app, but that is Apple's decision and it would be inappropriate for us to tell another company how to run its business. At the same time, though, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples own their work 100-percent and they call the shots on 'SAGA.'"

"I haven't heard from Apple, and I still haven't read up on what exactly their content guidelines are," "Saga" artist Fiona Staples said. "But I suspect we've quietly been in violation of them since issue No.-1."

UPDATE 4/9/2013 3:55 PM: comiXology has informed CBR that "Saga" #12 will be available for purchase via the comiXology website.

It seems a "click and read" option for fans of Image Comics "Saga" monthly will be a bit harder this week thanks to Apple. Series writer Brian K. Vaughan announced today that the most recent issue of his and Fiona Staples' sci-fi series has been rejected by the tech giant for sale within comiXology's iOS apps due to its mature content.

Vaughan released the following statement on the move:

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.

Your pal,Brian

This isn't the first headache a comic outfit has suffered at the hands of Apple's very closed system of distributing media to its devices, nor is it the first challenge "Saga" has faced in the modern marketplace. In the early days of their own digital comics app, Dark Horse encountered problems getting a number of their series approved by Apple, and late last year, "Saga" was temporarily banned from sales on Amazon as its content was reviewed by the retailer.

But as Apple continues to be a market leader for digital devices, it's unlikely that this ban or other content issues like it will dissipate any time soon.

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