[Update] Following the uproar over the supposed banning of Saga #12, comic publishing app Comixology has stepped forward to take the blame. In a letter published by Kotaku, Comixology stated that it had preemptively held back publication of Saga #12 in anticipation that the issue's graphic content would be in violation of Apple's App Store rules.
"Given this, it should be clear that Apple did not reject Saga #12," Comixology's letter states. The issue will be available for purchase in the app in the near future.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga released its twelfth issue this week, and contained within it are what Vaughan describes as "two postage stamp-sized images of gay sex." The postage stamp-sized images were enough to get the comic banned, though, as Vaughan noted (via Newsarama) in a letter to readers on Staples' Tumblr page.
When the issue did not show up in popular comic publishing app Comixology, observers jumped to the conclusion that Apple had censored it over its depiction of sex.
Marketed from its first issue as a title for "mature readers," Saga has never shied away from graphic depictions of sex and violence. The images in question depict a sex act between two men. Apple's App Store regulations prohibit any such depiction, and the company has barred all apps from selling the comic. Saga has in the past, though, shown rather graphic depictions of heterosexual sex acts.
Image PR director Jennifer de Guzman told The Beat that the sex in previous issues didn't show genitalia, and thus wasn't unacceptable by Apple's standards. Comics writer Matt Fraction, though, took to Twitter [Warning: links to illustrated sexual content] to note that Apple was apparently okay with the heterosexual acts depicted in issue number four of Saga.
"Heteronormative penetration in SAGA #4," reads Fraction's post, implying that Apple's issue is not with the depiction of sex, but with the genders of the illustrated persons involved.
Image representatives have suggested that readers pick up the issue directly from Image's site or from their local comic store.
This is not the first time that Apple has come under fire for alleged censorship of material involving same-sex couples. In 2010, Apple reportedly censored a gay kiss in Tom Bouden's graphic novel adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest. While the app contained no full nudity, it was initially rejected, only to be approved when resubmitted with the gay kiss covered by black blocks.
Outside the confines of the App Store, Apple appears to have no problem with same-sex relationships, having donated $100,000 to fight California's anti-same-sex marriage Proposition 8 in 2008. In February of this year, Apple joined along with other large corporations expressing support for same-sex marriage as the issue moves before the United States Supreme Court.