Continued “Censorship” on the iPad – Gay books a no-go

Too racy for Apple? Apparently so... The Importance of Being Ernest, by Tom Bouden.

While I was on my little hiatus, one of the things I did make a point to read was Zan Christiensen’s excellent and lengthy essay on the difficulties that queer creators and queer-themed comics works have had getting accepted into Apple’s iPad app store. I recommend that you go and read it for yourself over at The Prism Comics website, a thriving c0mmunity for queer comics and comics-fans.

In case you don’t make it over there I’ll sum it up for you: There’s a very definite class-system at work in the app-store, and it’s looking very much like queer comics are at the bottom of the heap. The panel to the right there, from Tom Bouden’s adaptation of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Ernest (featuring, naturally, an all-male cast!), was considered too sexy for an 18+ app, and is one of 6 or 7 panels in the book that got it denied from the app-store, all similarly tame (a bare bum, an embrace).

There are lots of examples, plenty of pictures to show just how ‘edgy’ the banned material is (not very much at all), and plenty of the standard Apple denials and non-denials (The Sports Illustrated quote is particularly telling).

The pragmatist in me believes that this isn’t a free speech issue, that this is simply a business making business decisions for itself that I don’t happen to like. But if gay-themed material is being held to a different standard than straight material, particularly if it’s systematic, then it’s both unfair discrimination and quite happily illegal (in most of the world anyway). Looking at the situation, I’d be inclined to start leaning towards the latter. I don’t know why a business would set themselves up as a censor, but if they’re going to, they better start being more transparent and accountable… or it’ll only be a matter of time before they find themselves in a great deal of legal trouble.

Edit: As a brief aside, I would love to hear from publishers if the approval process is the same (or easier) when it comes to getting your comic/graphic novel published through iBooks (Apple’s online bookstore) as getting a stand-alone app published…

– Chris

One thought on “Continued “Censorship” on the iPad – Gay books a no-go”

  1. As an initial test I signed up for the iBookstore and got Nothing Better Vol 2 uploaded and approved. I’ve since pulled it temporarily to fix some formatting issues but the experience of signing up, uploading it and getting it approved was pretty smooth.

    Once you get the book file uploaded it is listed as ‘pending’ for a few days. I’m not sure if a human actually looks at it or not but my guess is that any “controversial” material is a matter of magnitude or obvious-nous. NB Vol2 features some boobs, sex and an implied (silhouetted) gay blow job. At a glance that might not all be noticeable, but if that sort of material were more frequent throughout the book maybe it wouldn’t have passed?

    I’m not really sure what Apple is afraid of. the optimist in me wants to think that they’re just being careful as they wade into the world of print content. the easiest way to make everyone happy would maybe be to note such material as for ‘mature readers’ only. but so far my experience with the process was pretty good.

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