Apple Censoring Comics? Not So Fast… by Glenn Hauman
There’s a lot of chatter on the net, probably starting from Rich Johnston’s column and now working its way up to Fortune magazine, about how Apple (the computer company, not the comic company of the 90’s– hi, Mike Catron!) has declined to sell P.J. Holden’s Murderdrome comic, which was submitted as an application to be sold via iTunes and designed to be read on an iPhone.
Many people, including many commenters on the company’s web site, are calling this censorship. To which I reply, bullshit.
Look, I know censorship. I was an original plaintiff in ACLU v. Reno, the lawsuit that overturned the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives me the legal right to type the word "bullshit" on the internet. I’ve been a member of the CBLDF for years (and you should be too). I published a poem by Neil Gaiman about erotic cannibalism, written in strict iambic pentameter, just to prove the point. And I’m telling you, what Apple’s doing ain’t censorship.
Apple has declined to carry this product for sale in their store. Is that censorship? If it is, so is the comic store I frequent most for not carrying the latest works of Milo Manera. He’s decided not to carry it. He feels it doesn’t fit in with his customer base, he’s just not interested. Does he carry comics that feature bare breasts? Yep. This is like saying that it’s censorship for a store to not stock Eros Comics when the store doesn’t even carry Fantagraphics.
I will grant that because of Apple’s market power in this case, they are wielding a big club here. But Apple isn’t preventing the book from getting out at all. If Holden wants to put the book up on the Internet for free, he’s more than welcome to do so. I can think of ten places to post the comic on the web right now, for free. And you know what? If it’s on the web, it can be read via an iPhone.
Here, got an iPhone? Take a look at Jon Sable Freelance: Ashes of Eden, page 62. Look! A naked woman! And you can read it on your iPhone! Hubba-hubba!
No, I’m not guaranteeing that he’s going to make money off of it if he can’t sell it through iTunes. But just because he doesn’t want to make it available unless he thinks he’s going to get cash doesn’t make it censorship.
ComicMix co-founder and production master Glenn Hauman is a veteran of Apple… Apple Comics… and has been working on an Apple since he stopped teething. This column is written whenever the spirit moves him.