We’ve got a rundown of some of the biggest comics industry stories for the week, including a breakdown of the whole Saga #12/comiXology/Apple kerfuffle, an early look at the comics exclusives for next week’s Fan Expo Vancouver, and more!
Straightening out the Saga #12 kerfuffle
By now, you’ve probably heard the digital retail hullabaloo over the twelfth issue of Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ mature readers action/romance/comedy space opera published by Image Comics. For those of you who’ve already forgotten, or somehow never got wind of the story in the first place, here’s the recap: On Tuesday, word had gotten around that Apple had banned Saga #12 from being sold through any iOS apps, apparently because the inclusion of two, postage stamp-sized images of—we’re using Rich Johnston’s turn of phrase here—”erect, jizzing cocks” violated some set of content guidelines or other. In response, Vaughan wrote that:
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.
Anyway, torches were lit and condemnations of corporate-sponsored censorship were aired, charges that made sense in light of Apple’s recent banning of Joe Casey and Peter Kowalski’s mature readers Image Comics title Sex and a blanket ban on French comics that showed anything “revealing a breast, causing cleavage, curve, or evoking a suggestive gesture” from the iOS app system. And guess what? We all went and picked up copies of Saga #12 on Wednesday, anyway, either picking them up in brick-and-mortar stores or using alternative digital retail methods such as getting the comics directly from the Image Comics digital store. And it was pretty damn good. Funny, too. And now, thanks to the Streisand Effect, it’s quite likely that this clumsy attempt at censorship will draw even more attention to the content it was supposed to suppress. Case closed, and just about everyone—except folks who don’t understand that comics labeled for mature readers are just that and whose knee-jerk reaction to any portrayal of sex in comics is to go into “won’t anyone think of the children?” rant mode—is happy or at least inclined to forget the whole thing and get back to reading, making, and selling comics.
Except it’s not that simple.
As it turns out, it wasn’t Apple that made the call to take Saga #12 off the iOS app ecosystem but digital comics distributor comiXology, who preemptively took the issue off its iOS-based virtual distribution channels. As comiXology CEO David Steinberger explained in a press release issued on Wednesday:
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. Vaughan and Image Comics for any confusion this may have caused.
So there you go. Still, we’re not exactly thrilled with the idea of entities like Apple and comiXology acting as the de facto moral arbiters of what is acceptable reading material for adults, and we imagine comics publishers aren’t very happy with it either. Image Comics Executive Director Eric Stephenson weighed in on the whole affair in an interview with Heidi McDonald and expressed some frustration over how the whole thing was handled by comiXology, although it’s clear he’s just ready to move forward from the incident.
By the way, here are the two “offending images” from Saga #12. Click on them to view the uncensored, NSFW versions that will no doubt bring about the downfall of Western civilization as we know it and are so much, much more harmful to society than the many, many images of gore and violence that thankfully go uncensored on comiXology’s iOS apps and website:
UPDATE: Image Comics Director of Business Development Ron Richards has just revealed that mature readers-rated Image Comics publications previously banned from iOS apps and comiXology such as Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss II, Rick Remender’s XXXombies, and Casey and Kowalski’s Sex #1 are now available on the comiXology app and the Image Comics iOS app. Is it fair to assume then, that as with Saga #12, the previous iOS bans on those comics were not directly promulgated by Apple but were actually instigated by comiXology based on an overly-conservative reading of Apple’s guidelines?
ComiXology finally sorts out the whole “Marvel #1″ promo
Oh, and speaking of comiXology, if you signed up and took advantage of the distributor’s free comics promotion with Marvel Comics last month (you know, the one that led to a server crash that lasted a few days and drew attention to the folly of DRM), the comics are finally available now. So get to downloading/reading. Just don’t go doing it all at once.
Fan Expo Vancouver 2013 comics exclusives announced
Event organizers recently revealed the exclusive comics that will be available at next week’s Fan Expo Vancouver (April 20–21, Vancouver Convention Centre, Vancouver, BC). Check out the images below:
For the latest on guest confirmations and cancellations, check out our visual guide to the Fan Expo Vancouver 2013 guest list.
For the Fan Expo Vancouver schedule and a list of exhibitors and artist alley participants, click here.
Oblivion, based on the graphic novel-that-never-was
If you’ve been to the cinema in the past few weeks, you’ve no doubt seen the trailer for Oblivion, the sci-fi action movie that has little Tom Cruise running around like a fleshy Wall-E on an abandoned Earth and doing action hero-type stuff against aliens and whatnot. And it has Olga Kurylenko in it, always a good thing for a film, if you ask us. But if the title and premise sounds vaguely like a comic you might have heard of before, it’s because Oblivion first became known in the pop culture newsmedia as a graphic novel that was supposed to be published by Radical Publishing last year (operative word being “supposed”). An ashcan was actually produced and shown to movie studio execs and agency reps during SDCC 2010. The Comics Beat’s Heidi McDonald has an excellent summary of what happened to the graphic novel, shares her thoughts on the short-lived success of comics-to-movie publishers like Radical and Virgin Comics, and has the latest word on whether or not the Oblivion graphic novel (or illustrated novel, it’s not clear at this point what it actually is) will actually see the light of day.
Faith Erin Hicks talks The Last of Us: American Dreams
Artist and co-writer Faith Erin Hicks (The Adventures of Superhero Girl) has been doing the media rounds and promoting her work on Dark Horse’s upcoming The Last of Us: American Dreams miniseries, a prequel to the PS3-exclusive video game developed by Naughty Dog Studios (makers of the best-selling Uncharted series of games). There’s an interview on the Dark Horse blog here and a joint interview featuring Hicks and Naughty Dog Studios Creative Director/The Last of Us: American Dreams co-writer Neil Druckmann here. Video game comic tie-ins have gotten a (justifiably?) bad rap over the years, but we’re actually looking forward to American Dreams, as Hicks looks to be in fine, fine form on the title, showcasing her talent for depicting emotion and mood using quiet, expertly-staged moments in these pages from The Last of Us: American Dreams #1 (released last week):
The Last of Us: American Dreams is a four-issue monthly miniseries that runs through July. The Last of Us is the latest video game from developers Naughty Dog Studios, and is due out exclusively for the Playstation 3 console on 14 June 2013.
J.W. Rinzler on interpreting the original The Star Wars screenplay
CBR’s Jeffrey Renaud scored an exclusive interview with writer and LucasBooks executive editor J.W. Rinzler, who is doing an eight-issue comics miniseries adaptation of George Lucas’ original The Star Wars screenplay (you know, the one with “Luke Starkiller” instead of “Luke Skywalker”) with artist Mike Mayhew, to be published by Dark Horse Comics beginning in September. We won’t reveal much more here but before clicking on the interview link above, be warned that there are a significant number of spoilers in the interview.
In case you missed them…
As per usual, here are links to the newest trade paperback and hardcover previews we’ve compiled:
- Judge Dredd: The Complete Carlos Ezquerra, Vol. 1 (IDW Publishing)
- Judge Dredd, Vol. 1 (IDW Publishing)
- Star Trek: Countdown to Darkness (IDW Publishing)
- Star Trek Space-Spanning Treasury Edition (IDW Publishing)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimate Collection, Vol. 4 (IDW Publishing)
- Angel & Faith, Vol. 3: Family Reunion (Dark Horse Books) [17 pages!]
- Dragon Age: The World of Thedas, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse Books)
- Star Wars: Knight Errant, Vol. 3—Escape (Dark Horse Books) [31 pages!]
Also, check out the latest Leaving Proof, where we break down the 12-issue revival of Image Comics/Extreme Studios’ Glory by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell as well as do a mini-review of G.I. Joe: Retaliation.