October’s story on the rise of digital comic sales over the past three years along with Comixology’s growing reach has assured its place within the publishing market. Readers love the look of comics on the iPad screen and they also love the convenience of in-app purchasing, which allows consumers to buy and store their comics within a single app. However, such a vast amount of content must have some sort of monitoring system in place. When Apple bans a comic—usually because of sexual or mature material or nudity – it is a big deal, and so far it has happened to 59 comics this year.
Publishers blame Apple’s inability to clarify what criteria they [Apple] use to judge whether a title should be banned. The most recent case of banned comics involves writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky’s series Sex Criminals, published by Image Comics. Sex Criminals is a comedy about a couple who can stop time when they have sex—and use that power to rob a bank. Apple approved the first issue, published in September, for in-app purchase. The second issue was rejected. Last week, Image Comics was notified that the third issue had also been rejected—and now the first issue has been retroactively banned as well. Image publisher Eric Stephenson said that no reason was given for the rejection. “We received notification from Comixology, not directly from Apple, but they give us no explanation whatsoever,” he said. “They just say they’ve rejected it.”
When Apple rejects a comic it means readers can’t buy them from within an iOS app, however, they can still buy the comics on the Comixology or Comics Plus Web storefront or Android platform and sync them on to their iOS devices from there. Banned comics also are available in the Apple iBookstore, but the iBookstore doesn’t sync with Comixology or other comics apps.
Being excluded from the Comixology app is serious business for publishers. The digital distributor was the third highest grossing iPad app in 2012, and in September they reported that comic downloads had reached the 200 million mark.
Stephenson said when Image comics are banned from in-app purchase, “we make sure people are aware of what’s going on and all the various alternatives.”
Asked whether he thinks editors and creators are keeping Apple’s standards in mind as they create or edit a comic, Stephenson responded, “I guess they might, but we certainly aren’t telling people to change anything. I mean, we’re doing the Black Kiss II Christmas Special, and I guarantee you Howard Chaykin isn’t toning anything down to suit Apple’s prudish tastes.”
As for whether the standards will affect Image’s digital strategy going forward, he said, “Not immediately, but it’s certainly an incentive to broaden our efforts.”
Related Sources: http://bit.ly/17UmAM9