Only a year ago, Tom Bouden’s gay-themed adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was fighting rejection on Apple’s mobile platforms, leading to cries of a double standard where sex and violence were concerned. But now LGBT publisher Northwest Press is claiming victory by having Teleny and Camille, Glamazonia: The Uncanny Super-Tranny, and Rainy Day Recess: The Complete Steven’s Comics all approved by Apple. All are now available via the iBooks app.
Obviously over the last 12 months, the outcry over too-narrow standards has helped Apple loosen up a little for what’s approved on the iPhone and the iPad — even if S. Clay Wilson is still a little too far out.
BTW, no matter what your orientation, David Kelly’s Steven is a charming slice of life, coming of age comic that deserves a wider audience.
Last year, there were numerous reports of comics with gay subject matter—most without even any nudity—being rejected by Apple for inclusion in its App Store, and many had concerns that selling comics for the iPad would not be an option for independent lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender comics creators. That appears to be a thing of the past; last month, Apple approved all three full-length graphic novels from Northwest Press, an LGBT comics publisher, for sale on its iBooks store. One of them is even a steamy adaptation of a classic erotic gay novel.
“Anyone trying to start a publishing business in this day and age needs to factor digital distribution into their business plan,” says Northwest Press publisher Charles “Zan” Christensen. “When it looked like we wouldn’t have one of the biggest marketplaces for digital comics open to us, it was a major concern. We explored a lot of alternatives but found nothing else that matched the experience readers have viewing books on the iPad. We’re relieved that we’re able to finally bring our books to iBooks.”
The iBooks versions of Northwest Press books feature easy browsing of chapters and pages, elegant page turn animations, and zooming to view detail. Each books is optimized for display on the iPad screen, but can also be viewed in pan and zoom on the iPhone.
The approval process for Teleny and Camille, Glamazonia: The Uncanny Super-Tranny, and Rainy Day Recess: The Complete Steven’s Comics started in early July, and was still underway as Northwest Press exhibited with LGBT comics nonprofit Prism Comics at Comic-Con in San Diego. By the end of the show, all three books were available for purchase through iBooks in the US, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Many decisions to reject gay content by Apple have been reversed over the course of the past year. For example, Tom Bouden’s adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest—rejected multiple times and only ultimately approved after censoring images most readers would find tame—is now for sale in its uncensored form. Christensen credits the change in Apple’s stance to the public pressure on the issue and Apple’s improvement in balancing free speech with concerns over adult material.
“Plus, I think the Lambda nominations and awards helped,” says Christensen, referring to the Lambda Literary Award nominations for its first two books, Glamazonia and Teleny, and its win for the latter. “Steve Jobs has said that he wants the iPad and iPhone to be ‘free from porn’, but it’s a pretty good defense to point to a literary honor to remind people that an explicit book still has artistic merit.”
In addition to continuing to release digital versions of its printed books—such as Rick Worley’s A Waste of Time, due in October—Northwest Press will soon be releasing digital editions of popular LGBT titles like Tim Fish’s Cavalcade of Boys and Tommy Roddy’s Pride High.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.