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Comic book 'Saga' blocked on iOS over gay sex displayed on alien robot's TV screen head (updated)

Image Comics

From the cover to Image Comics' Saga #12.

The critically acclaimed comic book “Saga” is a sci-fi big idea book meant for mature readers, but this week’s Saga #12 took things too far for leading digital comics retailer Comixology. Thanks to a couple small but explicit depictions of gay sex, Comixology banned the Image Comics book from being sold through their iOS apps.

The book’s Los Angeles-based writer Brian K. Vaughan issued a statement on the decision to block sales of the book he makes with artist Fiona Staples, which he originally attributed to parent company Apple before Comixology revealed it was their decision in order to stay within Apple's content guidelines.

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 s---.

The images appear on the screen of a character from an alien race with TVs for heads. His name is Prince Robot IV. True story. (As the Mary Sue notes, “Prince Robot’s people have television heads that flash images when they are undergoing shock, intense emotions, or mental trauma.”) Comic Book Resources has the full-size versions of the pages in question.

The book has featured explicit imagery before, with the depiction of various body parts and sexual acts, though you could argue that this is the most extreme. That’s apparently how Comixology is interpreting it.

In his full statement, Vaughan apologized to those who read the book on iPads or iPhones, and suggested buying a physical copy or downloading the issue direction from the Image Comics site. He also noted that the Apple iBookstore sometimes allows more adult content and said it might be available there.

This is the second time Image has faced this problem with a high-profile book recently. Sex #1, which sold out and went to a second printing, was also blocked.

If you’re interested in checking out the book, you can read the first issue of “Saga” for free. You can also check out Vaughan’s book depicting a future Los Angeles, “The Private Eye,” which is being sold with a pay-what-you-want model.

This story has been updated.

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