The second issue of Matt Fraction’s acclaimed Image Comics title Sex Criminals is being held for questioning by Apple. Although the book is available elsewhere digitally and has been performing admirably in sales, it isn’t available through the iOS version of ComiXology. The ComiXology Android app and the ComiXology site store both have the issue available, which creates the impression that Apple still continues to struggle with potential censorship issues.
Sex Criminals isn’t quite what it sounds like. Although it is about sex and crime, it’s really a story about two people falling in love. Suzie and Jon both share a unique gift: the ability to stop time post-orgasm. With Suzie in dire need of money to save her local library, the pair decides to put their powers to good use. They have sex in semi-public places and rob banks. The first two issues explore the back story of the charming protagonists, with hilarious coming of age scenarios like discovering porn magazines in the woods, learning about sexual positions via the junior high bully and sneaking around an adult book store. Some of the jokes are raunchy, and the content is labeled for mature readers, but the story is ultimately about the magical connection of two beautifully strange people.
CNET’s Seth Rosenblatt examined this issue further.
Apple has long wrestled with the problem of being both a marketplace and secondary content publisher, something that traditional bookstores don’t have to figure out. The situation so far appears to be different from the App Store’s comic book content scandal earlier this year, when Comixology pre-empted Apple censorship with an issue of the popular book “Saga.” So far, it seems to be more similar to instances when Apple has outright blocked books and comics from being sold in an effort to protect itself from criticism.”
Fraction weighed in on the issue’s status.
“From what I have been told, it’s just pending review. How the first book made it through and the second one didn’t, I don’t know,” Fraction said. “Maybe it was the sales?”
Apple is a private company and is free to develop and apply policies consistent with their business strategy. Although their entitlement to prohibit content based on such policies isn’t illegal, their policies seem to be confusing in ways that expose them to criticism. Earlier this year, fellow Image title Saga #12 wasn’t available via the iOS ComiXology app due to confusion about Apple’s content policy. Although the issue was resolved, it appears that clarity around content is still needed.
Even if Sex Criminals isn’t made available through Apple, Fraction has a plan.
“There are so many other options for people that want to read the book digitally,” Fraction said. “Apple customers tend to be first adopters, so it would it would be nice to be part of iOS and the iOS family, but if it doesn’t happen, I can’t imagine a better cover slug than ‘banned by Apple’. If Apple bans it, I’ll put it out myself for free,” he said with a laugh.
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Casey Gilly is a comics journalist and cat enthusiast living in Oakland, CA, where she eats tacos and plays ukulele.