Image Comics

Relax, Apple can’t ban comics, with or without homosexual content (but they don’t have to sell them)

Relax, Apple can’t ban comics, with or without homosexual content (but they don’t have to sell them)

Update: Apple had nothing to do with this decision, according to Comixology.

The Internet is in an uproar over a report that Apple won't be carrying the most recent issue of the comic book Saga. This isn't the first time this has happened, as Apple also refused to sell Sex #1 due to the book's graphic content. Sexual content is, in fact, forbidden by Apple, but that rule is often flaunted by apps, books, and comics. The fact that the content the writer claims was the cause of the “ban” was both small, and included two people of the same gender, only makes the story harder to resist and the outrage easier to sell.

The conversation online has been intense, but it's important to note that no one is banning the book, nor is the work being censored. “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,” writer Brian K Vaughan posted. There you go.

You can still buy, and read, the comic in question

If you want to read the comic in question, you have many options. You can buy it from your local comic book store. You can buy it direct from the Comixology store and then sync the content to your iPad or iPhone. In fact, the world would be a better place if you did this moving forward anyway; that way more of your money goes to companies that support comics, and Apple doesn't get a cut. You are in no way being kept from this content, and there are multiple ways to buy it, support the creators, and read it.

It's important to keep the conversation in a logical place. The book has not been banned, it has not been censored, it is not being kept off iOS devices, but Apple has declined to offer the comic through one of its official stores. That's it.

You can argue that doing so is bad business, or that the policies aren't enforced on a consistent basis, but one of the advantages of owning the store is that you get to choose what is sold on it, and through it. We can try to make this a big deal, but it's doubtful that Apple cares, or is even aware of the situation. When the solution to their short-sighted policy is simply to buy the book in a way that supports comics, it's hard to get upset about the situation.

In many ways, this controversy is great news for the creators of Saga, a book I hear is wonderful and to my shame I only learned about today. I'm off to grab my iPad and buy a few issues to see what the buzz is about, and I doubt I'm the only one.

It would be upsetting if this decision kept people from reading the book, which was the case years ago when Walmart declined to sell music CDs with parental advisory stickers, and consumers in rural areas had few choices when it came to buying music. But those days are over. Simply use your iPad's browser to buy the book directly from Comixology, sync the content to your device, and you're home free. If anything, the decision is costing Apple money, although it's a very small amount, and it could change the way fans of the series buy their books for the better.

It's a shame that a company the size and power of Apple is so whimsical when it comes to enforcing its own rules, and it's true that the company that Jobs built is now more like Big Brother than the woman who threw the hammer through the screen, but the beauty of the digital age, and devices like iPads, is that we have multiple ways of buying our content. If Apple doesn't want our money anymore, we can simply stop spending it through them. But censorship? Banning? Let's save those words for situations without such easy workarounds, and where content is actually being kept from people.

If anything, this will increase the comic's audience. Hell, I can't wait to start reading!