web stats

CSBG Archive

The stupid saga of Saga #12

04-10-2013 12;11;05PM (2)

I wonder if I have something to rant about in this post?

By now you may have heard about the idiotic tempest in a teapot that is the “banning” of Saga #12 by Apple. In turns out that Apple didn’t actually ban Saga #12, with its totally-germane-to-the-plot bukkake scene, as much as … well, not know Saga #12 existed. Oh dear.

It started thusly: On Tuesday, 9 April, it was reported that Apple was not offering Saga #12 through any of its iOS apps. As I am an old person who reads comics the way God intended, i.e. by killing a shitload of trees to print pictures on the paper that we make from said trees, I didn’t even know what an iOS app was until I looked it up (well, I knew what an “app” is – I’m not my mother – but I didn’t jump to “Apple Operating System” for “iOS,” which is what it is). So this news had nothing to do with me – I was going to buy an actual, real-world copy of Saga #12 on Wednesday from an actual person, and I could enjoy its absolutely-necessary-and-not-just-for-shock-value-in-any-way ejaculation scene wherever I wanted! But, this being the Internet … well, Shit. Hit. The. Fan.

The Mothership reported this story. Comics Alliance wrote about it. Robot 6 had Brian K. Vaughan’s “quote of the day” in which he said he wouldn’t change a damned thing about the comic. People went nuts and proposed boycotts of Apple. Others pointed out that it really wasn’t that bad. BATTLE LINES WERE MOTHERFUCKING DRAWN!

And then … whoops. It turns out that ComiXology never submitted it to Apple. Oh, shit. Well, that was stupid. All is well in the universe, and everyone who wants to can enjoy Saga #12′s BKV-would-never-do-something-just-to-stir-shit-up gay orgy panels to their heart’s content. Yay, everyone!

This is a pretty stupid story, and everyone comes out looking pretty stupid. I first noticed it on Robot 6, when I read Vaughan’s quote. So I read the CBR story, and I noticed something that it seems like everyone ought to have noticed in the first place. Where did CBR (and, if they weren’t first with the story, any other “news” site) get their information? From a Brian K. Vaughan press release. On Fiona Staples’ tumblr, as Vaughan is fairly notorious for hating the Internet. When I read the story, I wondered where the press release from Apple was. Where was the Apple statement saying, “Due to the fact that Fiona Staples drew a penis spewing cum all over some other dudes and, man, that’s pretty icky, and seriously, BKV, you couldn’t have implied that Robot IV was gay by showing him just hugging some dude? I mean, come on! wait, where were we? Oh yeah – due to that, we’re not putting it on our apps. I mean, Alana talking about shitting while she’s giving birth and that giant with the disgusting testicles – heck, yeah, those are TOTALLY important to the story, even though the giant dies like five minutes after Staples introduced his low-hanging balls to the world, but giving a dude a pearl necklace? Totes gross.”? All we had was Vaughan’s statement, and while that’s fine, you’d think something like banning a super-popular comic from a super-popular app would at least warrant a question to Apple. But no – everyone ran with it, and now they all look pretty dumb.

ComiXology looks stupid, too. It took them 24 hours to admit that, whoops, they just forgot to submit it to Apple? Because they interpreted Apple’s rules for them? Where are the calls to boycott ComiXology for doing the exact same thing that Apple supposedly did? I suppose this has to do with Apple’s rather odd policies about explicit content and the fact that they don’t really explain why some things do actually get banned, but they’re not in the wrong here. It’s like the MPAA – that organization doesn’t want to be seen as “censoring” “art” so they never actually tell people why a movie gets an “R” or “NC-17,” leaving the filmmakers to guess what’s so objectionable. If you say something like “NO SPOOGE – everything else is fair game!” then the pro-spooge lobby will get all up in arms. I mean, who doesn’t love spooge, amirite?

Vaughan comes off looking a bit stupid, but certainly not as much as everyone else. I mean, his statement that the two objectionable panels are completely necessary to the plot is idiotic, but writers are by nature wild egotists, so he gets his name out there for defending his art to the death!!!! and I’m sure that Saga #12 moved a lot of units, so there’s more scratch for Vaughan and Staples … not that I’m cynical about this at all. Maybe he should have asked some questions about this supposed “ban,” but it’s not really on him. I do wonder about his apology – he was “led to believe” that it was Apple’s problem, but by whom was he led to believe? Obviously Apple didn’t contact him directly, so did ComiXology straight up lie to him? I’d be a bit peeved if I was Vaughan.

The reason I call this a “stupid saga” is because of the state of journalism, and not just comics journalism. This is all too common in the world of journalism. How often have you watched a White House press briefing and the press secretary or even the president says something that screams for a follow-up question and none of the “reporters” in the room dare ask it? I first noticed this when Bush was selling his Iraq war, but it’s continued through other press secretaries and a new president. I’ve ranted before about the shoddy state of “sports journalism” that is practiced by the schmucks at ESPN. I don’t care if ESPN wants to broadcast live games and entertain us, but don’t pretend to be a “sports journalism” network until you actually get decent at “sports journalism.” “Comics journalism,” such as it is, is pretty shitty too. Whenever a news site gets a comics executive to sit down and talk to them, it’s almost embarrassing to read the softball questions and weak sauce answers that we get from the participants. I get it, though, and there’s a reason I’m not a “comics journalist” – despite this rant, I’m not really comfortable being a douchebag (YOU COULD HAVE FOOLED ME! shouts every single person reading this), and to be an actual journalist – no matter what you cover – you kind of have to be a douchebag, or at least be comfortable with being one occasionally. You have to ask tough questions and not let people off the hook when they hem and haw. In the comics world, it might be a bit more difficult, because it’s such a small world and everyone knows everyone else, so you really don’t want to piss off Joey Q or, dear Lord, you might not get to show the preview pages for Fuck It, Let’s Call Every Book X-Avengers From Now On #1 next week! And given the nature of a lot of comics fans, if they don’t get their preview pages for that comic, they’ll go somewhere else, by God! I mean, it just wouldn’t do to wait a few days until they read the entire fucking comic, would it?

I really don’t want to pick on Comic Book Resources or Comics Alliance, the two sites where I saw the story. I know that several mainstream news outlets reported it, and they dropped the ball, too. It’s this rush to be the absolute first site to report the news that makes these mistakes inevitable. Maybe if CBR or CA had tried to get in touch with Vaughan to find out where he heard this instead of relying on a press release or tried to contact Apple to find out what they told Vaughan, they might not have been first with the news. But guess what? They would have been right. It seems to me that that’s far more important.

But then again, what the fuck do I know?

54 Comments

Holy cow. I can barely believe I read this on CBR. It is fantastic!!! Please take over the entire site as soon as possible. No joking here either, I love it!

A well written article sir.

I’d second Greg taking over or at least publishing more great columns

Bravo! This is the first write up on this “controversy” (more like a clusterf***) that seems wholly sane, seeing it for what it actually is, rather than treat it as another opportunity to shout “Hey, look at me! Deal with my issues!” Good call on the current state comic book “journalism”, never a particularly distinguished branch to start, but the internet and blog culture has really made it the lowest of the low.

Right on, Greg! I wonder sometimes if all this softball journalism is a kind of diffusion of responsibility coming out of the internet age, “We don’t have to ask the uncomfortable stuff, because some one else is sure to blog about it.” In the comics news especially, “interview” means “free promotion.”

By the way, has everyone seen this video of Tarantino losing his shit?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrsJDy8VjZk

Tarantino comes across as a huge ass, but at the same time, it makes for an interesting critique of journalism on the whole that he EXPECTED the interview to be a commercial for his movie.

Great rant. What really bothered me about this entire situation was Vaughan’s quote that everything in the comic is designed to advance the plot, not just to shock or titillate when in this case the multiple penes in view had absolutely nothing to do with advancing the plot, building the world of Saga, or really any function besides shock and titillation. I certainly don’t think that censorship is a good thing, but this entire debacle really called Vaughan’s bluff and portrayed him not as a stubbornly principled artiste but as somebody who’s writing gratuitous sex for the sake of gratuitous sex. Hopefully, this will encourage other authors to use explicit sex, violence, language, etc. only in the service of their story. Otherwise, gratuitous taboo-breaking will only continue to erode the impact of such content and really devalue sex and violence in comics even further.

Now THIS is an editorial!

Thank for saying this. It is all pervasive in the world of internet ‘journalism’. But nothing gets traffic and the unwashed masses worked up like this kind of ‘journalism’. It’s irresponsibly manipulative, but the bottom line loves it. That’s a pretty hard war to fight …

Justice~!: Ha! Thanks, but I think I’ll stick to ranting every once in a while.

Mrc1214: One of the reasons I don’t write more of these is that I don’t often get too worked up about stuff I see on-line because it’s just not worth it. This seemed like a perfect storm of crap, though!

Jerzy: Hey! Look at me!!!! :)

Cass: I remember that Tarantino thing. Very weird. And I wish I knew why journalism has sunk like this. I think it has something to do with the speed of social media and such, but that might be too easy. It’s annoying.

Roman: I actually started a post showing all the shocking or titillating scenes in Saga that I honestly don’t think advance the plot or reveal very much about the characters. It’s part of my love-hate relationship with the book, and issue #12 is a good example of it. Those two panels do very little, I think, to show us something we haven’t seen before – the implication that Robot IV is gay. But then, after his reverie, the book settles into a very good story, and I think Robot IV’s conversation with Oswald Heist is excellently done, reminiscent of Christoph Waltz’s first appearance in Inglourious Basterds. So why Vaughan seems to really enjoy these “shocking” scenes is beyond me.

Darth: Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be confined to Internet journalism, but “real-world” journalism too. It’s frustrating.

@Roman: I agree that the line they quoted from Vaughn is just a flat out lie on his part, but I think the really embarrassing thing is that he felt the need to cover up that he DID do something for effect, rather than plot development. I haven’t read the issue, but from the description Vaughn gives, it doesn’t sound gratuitous. These gay sex scenes are airing on the head of one his TV-men, while presumably other shit is going on. Seems like atmosphere to me, like it’s supposed to make the reader uncomfortable.

This was awesome! I couldn’t agree more. The breakdown of journalism or the lack thereof that exists in the “first, first” digital hits world was especially on-point.

Comixology pulled the same shit with Joe Casey’s Sex. But he’s not Brian Kocking Vaughn, so he could have never pulled this shit off!

Also, you might say that giant troll testicles are not essential to Saga’s plot, but neither is the gratuitous punching in Hickman’s Avengers.

Bravo. You and Augie also got it right.

I wouldn’t have even noticed the TV screens if I’d not read anything about the controversy on the internet first.

Although I read this book every month, Greg, I too have a love/hate relationship with it. Mostly it’s just when, after all the work that goes in to the world building, the characters so often spout lines that reduce them to mouthpieces for BKV’s societal observations. I get that good sci-fi is meant to reflect our modern society’s hopes and/or fears, but at least try to be subtle about it.

Great editorial, Greg.

Greg I love reading your posts even though I dont always agree with what you say. I Think you are spot on here though, brilliant article, thanks.

[...] book issue temporarily banned from Apple app over ‘postage stamp …New York Daily NewsThe stupid saga of Saga #12Comic Book ResourcesApple Insider -tuaw.com -89.3 KPCC (blog)all 77 news [...]

Reading this was a bit rough, because it felt like a straight up rant…but the message here is good. I agree that this situation was ridiculous, as well as the lack of journalism in…well…journalism…

First off, I’m all for anything that calls out shoddy journalism or lack of diligence in checking facts. But I don’t think that’s the case here. First, looking at the story on several sites, it looks like many of these stories cited at least three of the four major players in this whole controversy, meaning the creators, Image Comics and comixology. In fact, it’s in CBR’s story that you linked to above where comixology is quoted as saying that due to their relationship with apple, they can’t comment on apple’s policies. That statement right there is pretty telling, because it implies that apple had something to do with the decision not to carry Saga, when comixology never even involved them in the decision. If I worked for CBR, I’d be kind of pissed because, well, if that wasn’t an out and out lie, it was a weasel-y way to pass the blame. So I think the press was misled here.

I’m curious, and maybe you know, Greg, since I’m assuming you reached out to the people who reported on this at CBR before you wrote this, but did someone at CBR try to contact Apple? Do you know if they tried? I work in the tech industry and know that they are notorious for not wanting to talk to the press unless its on their terms. I also wonder if they’d even respond to a reporter who said they worked for Comic Book Resources, when they’re probably dealing with press inquiries from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. … “real” media doing stories that affect their bottom line. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, of course, but it doesn’t surprise me that the only media who got something out of Apple were Macworld, since they are a publication that has an established relationship with Apple.

So im not sure how this could have been handled differently, given you have one source that isn’t likely gonna respond, one that Is withholding info and trying to pass the buck, and two who are relying on information about what happened from that same source.

Yeah, the story here is the fact that Comixology, if not LIED, then at the very least misrepresented themselves. As Ivan noted, you had three out of four sources confirming something and the only reason the news was wrong was because one of those sources (a well-regarded source at that) was not telling the truth. Apple does not comment on stuff like this. It is fair to note that the articles could/should have used less definitive statements, but they had more than enough to run with for a story. The issue is that Comixology hid the truth. I’m not seeing anything here that Comic Alliance or CBR or Salon or whoever should feel embarrassed about. Irked at Comixology, sure, but not embarrassed over their reporting.

Read your reactionary tract until you got to the point of describing consensual orgasm as “pretty icky”, realised you’re just a child with a lot of issues regarding sex/homosexuality and not much to offer the blogging word, stopped, left this comment, clocked out.

Before that last one though, I pointed out that every image on that screen is vital in building up a mental profile of the character in question, that is is a comic for mature readers (i.e, apparently, not you) and said something devastatingly on-point about the chilling effects of draconian App Store submission policies.

The important thing is I never read anything you wrote ever again.

We sent off questions to Apple and Comixology, and – as Brian mentions above – received nothing from Apple and a statement from Comixology which misrepresented what happened. We had information from Vaughan, Staples, Image’s PR Jennifer DeGuzman AND Comixology, a notable silence from Apple, and more than enough reason to suggest this was a story worth reporting.

YOU COULD HAVE FOOLED ME!

But seriously…good job revealing what really happened. I look forward to more stories tagged “Tempest in a Stupid Teapot.”

JamesE, thanks very much for clocking out – we are all better for you never commenting on a thread here again.

Still, the press here and elsewhere failed to examine the given reason. Almost everyone jumped on the “gay sex” comment and began talking about Apple’s homophobia. How many reports pointed out that comiXology has previously blocked comics for explicit sexual content that had nothing to do with male on male homosexuality? The Boys: Herogasm, Casey’s new title Sex, Chaykin’s Black Kiss II.

For being comics journalists, the reports showed little awareness of how comiXolgy does business on a day to day basis. Many reports didn’t understand that even if it wasn’t available via the iOS app it would still be available via the website and would sync to iOS devices.

The vast majority jumped on the anti-Apple bandwagon and launched into screeds about censorship and homophobia without evaluating how the digital comics industry actually works or analyzing what other reasons might explain why Saga #12 was marked as problematic while Saga #4 was given a pass. Just because the images in Saga #12 involved male on male homosexuality does not mean that homophobia is the only possible explanation for comiXology thinking they needed to restrict access to the issue.

There was an appalling lack of critical thinking in mad rush to judge and persecute Apple.

Charles J. Baserap

April 12, 2013 at 4:43 am

Michael Kindt, THANK YOU. That was my biggest issue with the whole thing, that it was billed as an attack on gay sex by people who’d never read the series, but had only heard about sexual material in the title beforehand not being banned and weren’t differentiating between implicit and explicit scenes, nor acknowledging hetereosexual sex, of both natures, getting the same treatment. Instead, they decided to make it into an issue that it wasn’t, especially people like Brett Perpetual Victim White who’s seemingly never met a NONtroversy he couldn’t inflame and preach about. There are, unfortunately, plenty of things out there that ARE unfair to homosexuals and those should be called out, in my opinion, as I feel there’s no place for things like bigotry, but I can’t stand faux bigotry and selfrighteous indignation every five seconds anymore. It was poor journalism all around, but sadly indicative of how it works these days on the Internet where the quest for controversy and to be first trumps the quest to be truthful and objective. I applaud Greg for this piece for taking people to task for it.

Heck, Prince Robot being gay has been my running theory for a while now, after he had trouble boning his wife. This was like validation to me.

Who cares about Saga #12? What about the 1500 (yes, that’s FIFTEEN HUNDRED! Each one of them bigger than an US single issue) comics Izneo had to take out of its iOS app because Apple (yes, it’s actually Apple this time!) said so? Or people just don’t care because they are french?

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130404/19021322583/apple-threatens-to-kick-out-comic-book-app-over-adult-content-forcing-publisher-to-pull-40-its-4000-titles.shtml

Nice article. I read Saga #12 (a physical copy) and I did not even notice that till I read this article and went back and sure enough there was man junk on the the characters face/screen. Going back over the previous 11 issues there have been other instanced of adult themed material being displayed. Saga is a series that is not for children. That being said I do not like it when companies that sell and distribute various forms of media take it on themselves to become a morality police. A comic book character can be knee deep in blood and gore doing all kinds of horrible violent things and that is OK to sell but show 2 stamp sized images of gay sex and suddenly it can’t sold. The level of hypocracy here is staggering.

What is this, the 4th or 5th article about this on cbr? Man, you sexless geeks sure love your cartoon porn huh? Well, back to xhamster!

Steve,

The coverage wasn’t identical, but the general trend was a lack of examination of the issue in a timely manner. Most of the questions I pointed to should have been addressed immediately when the story broke. Where were the news reports questioning the claim that it was banned due to “gay sex”? Where were the breakdowns of how comiXology has previously dealt with extreme sexual content? Where were the attempts to get comiXology or Apple on record?

It’s nice that the Beat started to cover these issues 24 hours later when comiXology announced that Apple didn’t ban anything and it was their interpretation of the ToS, but where were these questions and concerns immediately as the story unfolded? Why wasn’t anyone evaluating BKV’s press release? Why wasn’t anyone reporting on how comiXology works with Apple to decide if something needs to be blocked?

It seems now as if comiXoloy has never been instructed to block a specific comic, but acted on their own initiative to try to enforce the ToS. Post Saga #12, comiXology has been quietly making a number of formerly restricted titles available via the iOS store, like TB: Herogasm, Sex, and Black Kiss.

Anyway, it’s been frustrating to see so many reports and commentators that didn’t evaluate the narrative they were being given. “Apple is homophobic” was an easy narrative to sell and almost no one seemed to be interrogating that based upon the evidence to see if it actually made any sense to make that claim.

We never said Apple were homophobic, is the main point I want to express. Our first post followed BKV’s press release, and said “Apple has refused to carry Saga #12 via any of its app-based platforms because of two small gay sex scenes, writer Brian K. Vaughan has written in a press release” – which was true. That’s a dry statement, but one we reported. The mistake sites (like us) made was to not immediately question if BKV was uninformed on the issue.

Our second post came before ComiXology revealed they had never submitted the issue, and questioned Vaughan’s statement and the story in general – that’s the piece linked to above. Apple did not respond to press enquiries, and ComiXology were misleading with their responses. Image, the Saga creative team, and ComiXology had all discussed the story, and we questioned it at this point.

Once ComiXology updated their story, we posted a third update, explaining the situation fully and continuing to point out that BKV’s initial press release – and ComiXology’s reports – had been incorrect. It’s a 24/7 news cycle, and we reported the news on an evolving basis. The original press release was incorrect – but nobody should ignore the fact that it existed.

I haven’t read it yet and that is probably why I don’t know.. isn’t it more correct to say that Robot IV is bisexual? Didn’t we see him having sex with a robot lady before in the book?

Cass: I think Vaughan was implying that “advancing the plot” can also mean character development, so that works. He also added the caveat that they don’t do things “just” to shock or titillate, so that’s an out. But I do think that he does plenty in the book to shock, because there are definitely “non-shocking” ways he could get his point across. But he doesn’t want to. That’s fine, but don’t claim you’re not doing things to shock people, because you are.

Mudassir: But punching is awesome! :)

Ivan: No, I didn’t ask anyone at CBR about that, which probably makes me an example of shoddy journalism, as well! I will point out, though, that in the original story, there was only Vaughan’s statement – nothing from ComiXology or Image, and it appears that Eric Stephenson might have gotten his information from Vaughan, so it’s not like he’s an independent source. There are links in the CBR story I linked to, but they were updates after the original story went up, and it does appear in the original story that Vaughan was the only source. Even if Apple is usually tight-lipped about their policies, there’s no indication of “Apple had no comment on this,” because at least that would have implied that someone talked to them. When I first read the stories on Tuesday morning, I saw one source – Vaughan’s statement. After the fact, we started getting stuff from ComiXology. I agree that the news sites might have been taken in by ComiXology, which is a whole different story, but if ComiXology was lying from the beginning, Apple presumably would have cleared it up because they didn’t want to be the bad guy in this situation.

But yeah – Apple might have been disdainful of a news site called Comic Book Resources (I don’t know, but that’s a good point). In that case, the writers could have written: “We tried to contact Apple, but they didn’t respond.” At least that’s a bit of covering your ass.

JamesE: Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Lighten up, pal. I know sarcasm is tough to get on the Internet, but if you didn’t realize that parts of this, including “Apple’s statement,” were done extremely tongue-in-cheek, you might want to see a doctor because I think someone removed your sense of humor. Plus, you’ve probably never read anything I’ve written before, because I honestly don’t care if Vaughan does 20 pages of the hardest of hardcore sex, no matter what kind. That’s not what this is about, and if you weren’t too busy being self-righteous, perhaps you could see that.

Rob: Given the way the Internet works, I’m sure I’ll have more cause to use that tag!

Pedro: I heard about that in some of the comments sections, and I should have remembered it, but it’s a very good point. I didn’t see anything about Apple doing this to other books except some vague stuff about Sex or Black Kiss II, and if a site had done some examination of the systemic dropping of books from the iOS, maybe the fact that nobody got a comment from Apple wouldn’t be as damning – they did it before, so of course they would do it again! I didn’t hear much about those titles because, yes, they’re French (I’m sure that’s part of the reason) and because I just don’t pay much attention to digital comics, because I don’t read them.

Appleguise: Well, maybe. Comics Should Be Good and Robot 6 are only tangentially related to CBR’s main page, in that we don’t have to coordinate our coverage, so sometimes you get some overlap. I will point out that you’re reading a blog written by “sexless geeks,” so I wonder what that makes you?

Steve: I understand your point about the 24/7 news cycle, but that’s kind of my point. You can say that the Vaughan press release shouldn’t be ignored, and I agree with that. But it became the entire basis of the story, and I just wonder if sites could have posted about it without turning it into a shitstorm. As Ivan points out, it’s tough to figure out what could have been done differently, and Monday morning quarterbacking, like I’m doing, is certainly easy, but I just wish things weren’t always determined by the speed which with things can be reported, which seems to be what’s going on.

Rob T.: Sure, I guess so. But, if you’ll recall, he was having some problems getting it up with his wife. He did get her pregnant, but it seems like Vaughan is implying more that he’s gay.

[...] But it was all over nothing, but people got in a tizzy and started using words like “censorship,” “Apple,” “kafuffle” and “tizzy.” It was a rough week all around. You can read about the whole debacle over at Comic Book Resources. [...]

Greg Burgas

This was a badly written and annoying article. You basically took shots at an easy target. The press has become more lazy and inept since the internet became a household necessity. You called them on it. But does your writing have to be some damned annoying?

“I was going to buy an actual, real-world copy of Saga #12 on Wednesday from an actual person”.
How
many times are you going to write “actual”? I hate that shit. And an online copy of a comic is as real as yours, since the person who read Saga #12 online can tell you everything that happened in the story and everything that is on the page in your comic.

You called everyone “stupid” and included Vaughn in that. All he did was defend his work. Wouldn’t you? As an editor I would want to cut all of your stupid “oh so clever” run on sentences out of your article (actually I would fire you.) Wouldn’t you defend your work to your editor? As for BKV not catching on to what happened with Apple…well, it isn’t his job. He’s not an investigative reporter.

Then you call Comixology stupid for fessing up to their mistake 24 hours after the news broke? Really? One day is a good window of time for them to admit the mistake, since this is not a life or death issue. You just got through pointing out that the reason for all of this inaccuracy in reporting is due to the immediacy of the internet and the need to get the news out first. What is with all of this rushing? The people at Comixology have no need to hurry the story along. They are not reporters. A false report came out and Comixology addressed the situation the next day, when it was time to clock in for work.

BKV and Comiology aren’t to blame at all. Only the comic book “news” sites that reported it are inept here. And even then, it isn’t calamitous. These aren’t real news sites and you aren’t real reporters. And no one is going to learn their lesson about verifying stories before you go to print, because they haven’t learned that lesson in the past 30 years. A similar thing happened in the late 80s: music group Negativland sent out a press release with a made up a story concerning the censorship of one of their songs. Some news outlets across the country picked it up as a news story without verifying the that the story was true. This is only one example of piggyback reporting. This type of thing is always going to happen in the media, because everyone is too arrogant to learn lessons from the past.

As for your article, the only thing it is saying is: “Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah” after the fact. And people are telling you that this is a great article because they think you’ve uncovered something. All you did was call these “news outlets” to the carpet for their mistake, something the readers all wanted to do. That is why people think this is well written. But it isn’t. It is badly and annoyingly written.

Steve wrote:

“The original press release was incorrect – but nobody should ignore the fact that it existed.”

Why not? BKV saying one thing is NOT a news story.

Tim: Well, as for the quality of my writing … feel free to criticize. It’s not going to make everyone happy, and I don’t ever think it will. That’s fine. If others think it’s well written and you don’t … who’s to say you’re right and they’re wrong? This is why we all have our own opinions!

Run-on sentences? Oh, you wound me! Any run-on sentences I put here were very deliberate, but I’m very sorry that I screwed up that. I was being ridiculously over-the-top for a reason, but I guess you didn’t like it. Oh well.

Vaughan has every right to defend his work, and it’s great that he said they weren’t going to change it. I don’t know if you’ve read Saga, but for him to claim he doesn’t do things to shock is ridiculous. I didn’t say he was stupid for that, I said he might have asked whoever told him why Saga wasn’t being offered why Saga wasn’t being offered. If I’m writing a comic book and someone tells me that Apple wasn’t putting Saga on their OS, my first question would be “Why the hell not?” Vaughan seemed to infer a lot in his press release. No, he’s not an investigative reporter, which is why I wrote “it’s not on him,” but if you’re in charge of your own property, which Vaughan is, I think you’d want to know every aspect of what’s going on with it.

Yes, ComiXology is to blame. This story came out in the middle of the day, and it seems pretty clear that someone at ComiXology was lying to Vaughan. You’re right, though – they don’t really have an obligation to come clean, and yes, someone should have asked them about it, but I would think that the people at ComiXology wouldn’t want to get the same ire directed at them that was directed at Apple, and they’d make sure they got the real news out. If it was all a case of miscommunication, it seems even more important that ComiXology get their story out.

What I get from your comment, however, is that journalists suck, they’ve always sucked, and we shouldn’t write about it because they’re always going to suck. I mean, I know I’m not doing anything original here, but shouldn’t someone point out that a lot of people dropped the ball?

Haha, that was awesome.

For the record, Russ Burlingame at ComicBook.com actually reached out to Apple, Google Play, and Comixology for comment.

http://comicbook.com/blog/2013/04/10/saga-12-also-banned-from-comixologys-android-app-not-by-google/

Charles J. Baserap wrote: “Instead, they decided to make it into an issue that it wasn’t, especially people like Brett Perpetual Victim White who’s seemingly never met a NONtroversy he couldn’t inflame and preach about”

Good one! “Brett Perpetual Victim White” ought to be his new column title.

This is great Greg, and I’m happy that you’re outside of the system enough to take people to task, inside the system enough for it to get noticed, and smart enough to do it wisely and responsibly.

I haven’t read the issue yet, but I can’t imagine it’s different than the first 11 issues of Saga, in that it’s an intriguing comic with a good story and good characters that is nearly ruined every issue by a ridiculous effort to seem shocking for utterly no reason whatsoever. The fact that so many comic fans can’t figure out the difference between edgy and something that is just trying way too hard to get reactions out of people is disheartening. It’s one thing to accidentally offend someone. It’s another thing to purposely go out of your way to offend someone and then act shocked and dismayed that they would be offended. This is what Saga has been doing. The sexual content in Saga doesn’t offend me at all, but I do find it bothersome that Vaughan and Staples seem so willing to ruin the story credibility of the book just for the sake of trying to shock people. I hated the way issue 1 opened not because it offended me, but because relying on shock value with page one is just lazy writing. I chalked that up to first issue jitters (have to start with a bang, and all that), but they seem to keep trying to up the ante, and it really is for no reason. If people can’t see that, I just don’t know how to make it clearer. The sex stuff in Saga has just as little narrative value as the torture porn violence of Didio-era DC.

This, of course, doesn’t mean I don’t think shocking sexual displays ever have narrative value. For anyone who watches Girls on HBO (and you should if you like good TV), there was an extremely explicit cum moment a few episodes back, but it clearly wasn’t just there for shock value. It added something to both of the characters involved in the scene, and we understood them better for that moment. But what does any of the sexual explicitness add to any of the characters in Saga? I’m willing to hear out a good argument if anyone can provide one.

But I really feel like Vaughan is specifically trying to get Saga banned from certain platforms, only so he can cry foul about it happening and play the art martyr card. I don’t buy it, and I’m honestly considering dropping Saga over this despite the fact that I do, on the whole, enjoy the comic. But Saga is starting to feel like one of those Vivid video porn spoofs of the non-existent “real” Saga.

To take a 180, I did want to weigh in on Greg’s comment about the role of douchebaggary in journalism, and that I do disagree with this notion. I think the key is to understand that 1) pissing people off isn’t always being a douchebag, and 2) there are good and bad ways to ask uncomfortable questions.

In the Fab Five documentary that ESPN made a year or so ago, in the post-game press conference after Webber’s infamous timeout, someone asked Webber if this was “the worst moment of [his] life.” THAT is being a douchebag. For an alleged professional to ask a 19-year old kid that on national television after he made an accidental mistake that he was already crying over, that is the peak of dishonoring your profession, and whoever it was that said that should have been banned from the entire field of journalism. But my point is that not all questions have to be like that.

Let’s say you’re interviewing Dan Didio. One possibility is to ask “Dan, is it true that you and your editors have a weekly meeting where you try and come up with new ways to run DC into the ground?” That’s being a douchebag. But I do think there are ways to ask pointed questions in responsible ways, and if the subject of those questions squirms, that’s more likely because the truth makes them uncomfortable, and not that your question was unfair. What if you simply asked “Dan, since the New 52 started, DC has had a pretty high amount of major creators leaving books suddenly, and creative team consistency has been a major issue. Do you have any insight into why that is?” Or “Dan, when the New 52 started, some characters maintained their previous continuity, and others didn’t, and fans have been very confused about which backstories are relevant and which aren’t. Were you prepared for this to be an issue, and do you wish you might have handled it differently?” To me, asking those questions isn’t being a douchebag, because you’re asking them in a professional way that doesn’t infer any personal attacks, they are relevant questions to ask, and they aren’t stated in a way to cause discomfort.

So I guess my point is that while a lot of journalists come off as douchebags, that’s not because journalism brings it out in them. More likely it’s because those people are simply douchebags, and they just chose a field that allows them to be who they are. But it’s eminently possible to be a good journalist without resorting to douchebagness.

Just my two cents.

Daniel: As always, I like reading your responses. You’re right about the use of “douchebag” in the post – you don’t have to be one to be a tough reporter. I didn’t do a good job with expressing the fact that people might call reporters who try to get more information out of their subjects “douchebags” even though they’re just doing their jobs. As a reporter, you have to be tenacious and willing to accept that people aren’t going to like that. It seems like some people – and I’m one of them, to be sure – don’t want to do that. I’d be perfectly happy asking tough questions, but I’m sure I’d get flustered if the interviewee dodged the question no matter what. But you’re right, though, because you’re a smart dude!

Only Burgas could tie bukake to (George) Bush…

Hmm: bukake, Bush, Burgas — that’s a lot of BU!

Gary: I try to cover ALL my bases!

Brian: Yeah, I saw that right after I published this. Made me feel crappy, because Brothers is so much smarter than I am. He has a new post up in which he interviews Eric Stephenson about it, and that’s also well worth a read.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

April 13, 2013 at 12:51 am

It’s been said before, I’ll say it again because it bears repeating:

Vaughan is not “stupid” or a “wild egotist” for not wanting to change his story. This clusterf*ck is all about Comixology either overreacting or wanting to pander to the notoriously homophobic nerd crowd that makes up 99% of their customers.

Hey Greg are you going to be doing more recommendation blogs? Like comics you should own. I’d also like to see you do a blog about your favorite runs of all time.

Horde of Evil Hipsters: And I’ll say it again: I didn’t say Vaughan was stupid for defending the story. I said he might have checked this out a bit more before making a public statement about it, and I think he’s a egotist because this could only give him more publicity and drive sales up. I don’t think he should change Saga at all, even though I think some of it is gratuitous. I didn’t write what people are claiming I wrote, but that’s the way it is.

Mrc1214: Well, I just wrote about Scalped recently, and I haven’t reached the next comics I think you should own in my long boxes yet, but I’ll have more soon enough! And I wrote about my favorite runs of all time when Brian did his countdown (it’s in the category “Top 100 Comic Book Runs”). Some of them I’ve already written about in more depth, and others I will in the future.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 13, 2013 at 10:05 am

I’m SOOOOOO glad that I’ve read this blog! I was actually considering writing an e-mail letter to SAGA ranting about Censorship and using alot of cuss words. Imagine just how stupid I’d look before knowing the WHOLE story.

And I STILL can’t get that image of the giant blue alien with the largest testicles in the universe out of my mind!!

Go figure. And thank-you, Mr. Burgas, for SUCH an informative blog. ;-)

[...] happened with Saga, Comixology and iTunes last week? Your best answers come from Mark Waid, and CSBG’s Greg Burgas. Whatever happened, it was an interesting counter-point to the Big 2′s biggest reveal of the [...]

It’s funny, CBR’s homepage has a poll question up about the Saga saga, and whether it’s made you more interested in the series. The four answer choices are: “I was already reading,” “I wasn’t reading and this hasn’t made me want to,” “This has made me interested in the series,” and “this has made me seek out the series.”

What fascinates me about these choices is that none of them remotely account for how I’ve reacted to it all: I’m already reading Saga, but this has made me significantly less interested in the series. Am I really the only one to react this way?

Having now read the issue, it’s the entire series in a microcosm. 3/4 of a great comic marred by 1/4 of a comic that resorts to shock value in such a wholly juvenile way that it exists almost completely beyond any sane defense of artistic freedom. I honestly might not have noticed the images had this whole snafu gone down, but they honestly bother me. And they don’t bother me because of what they are; I have several gay friends, I support gay marriage, and I’m perfectly comfortable with the knowledge that plenty of men out there have sex with each other. Instead they bother me because I’m generally bothered by idiotic things, and including these images–then trying to justify their narrative value–is the height of idiocy as it pertains to censorship and art. I am a hugely anti-censorship person, but I also don’t like it when “artists” pander to the desire in their fanbase to see alleged edginess, and that’s all this is.

If Joe Casey wants to include a bukake scene in Sex, there exists the possibility that it might be there for an actual reason (though I’d still be suspect). In Saga, I just don’t see how that possibility exists at all. Someone please enlighten me.

Again, I’m not offended at what was shown, I’m offended that it was shown for no reason and people are defending it as though it was a key moment in the series. Vaughan’s freedom wankery is making me dislike what is otherwise a good comic.

Daniel: My retailer, who likes the series and is a pretty solid conservative (even though he looks like a hippie), made an interesting point: Saga could easily be a comic that he sells to teenagers, who would probably love it. 99% of it is fine to sell to teenagers, and he doesn’t understand why Vaughan is forcing him to bag the book when he puts it on his “new comics” table and not sell it to a section of his customers. He’s not terribly offended by the “mature” content, he’s just confused as to why Vaughan and Staples would want to limit the people who can read it, especially because he too doesn’t quite understand why it’s in the book. It’s an interesting perspective from someone who obviously wants to sell as many comics as he can.

Was the gay bukkake image gratuitous? Of course. The whole bloody comic is gratuitous. Its a comic book. Is it necessary to the story? Its not vital to the narrative, no, but its not vital to the narrative that the mouse medic’s head graphically explodes. I think its hilarious that anyone (either at Comixology or anywhere else) should be more offended by a depiction of gratuitous sex than a depiction of gratuitous gore.

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives