Tiny cartoon penis disqualifies Ulysses comic from iPad store

Apple declined to carry a comic-book adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses for the iPad because one panel showed a man's penis: "While the first chapter of the book, the one now at iTunes, doesn't contain 'offensive language' our comic does have frank nudity. Something we figured we might have to pixelate or cover with 'fig leaves'. But Apple's policy prohibits even that. So we were forced to either scrap the idea of moving to the tablet with Apple or re-design our pages."

Joyce's Ulysses Banned Again--by Apple, Not the Government (Thanks, sixfngers!)



    1. The problem with corporations with censure power is that they use that power on their own benefit.

      Corporations are all about profit. They aren’t kind and generous and nice.

  1. Oh No’s! A sex organ! Procreation! Life! What could that mean for the future of our society? Of our SPECIES!? Oh wait…

  2. On first read of the title I thought the comic was disqualified because the penis was too small.

  3. We don’t want to see penises, we want to see MURDER!!! Penises make us uncomfortable. We’re all very, very comfortable with murder, of course.

    1. “Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken. “

    1. Apple answer this:
      If I want to read a classic novel with erotic elements, will you censor it?
      Thats too bad, I thought there were mature and intelligent people in this world.

  4. Really? “results disqualifies”?

    You should read things out of context, if not out loud, before hitting the submit button.

  5. Really? A tiny cartoon penis in an adaptation of a major work of literature? Could they redraw it so it’s a gun and therefore acceptable?

  6. Perhaps if they offer to replace the panel with a panel that says, in big letters, “THIS PANEL CENSORED BY APPLE” ?

  7. More proof that Apple is neither hip, cool, arty, liberal or sophisticated – all the things people like to think buying into Apple as a brand will associate them with.

  8. Steve Jobs is protecting those who buy into his gated informational community from Joycean cock, and those who care about the scourge of Irish manparts will remain safe within those pomaceous fruity walls.

    The rest of us, who embrace and even fondle cartoon schlongs of impressively inked girth and veininess, will remain outside.

    This is, in essence, the Wal-Mart problem. Wal-mart became a big enough seller of media that it could demand Wal-mart editions of various CDs. Apple is now a big enough distributor of information that it’s demanding Apple-safe penis-free versions of Joyce.

    I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, and I won’t buy an iPad. But this sort of differentiation is simply inevitable.

    I look forward to buying a porn-friendly tablet of some kind that is replete with cocks and other naughty bits. It probably won’t be an Apple product. I shall route around the penis-free damage!

    In conclusion, and to insure that this comment is not suitable for the iPad:

    Isn’t it awfully nice to have a penis?
    Isn’t it frightfully good to have a dong?
    It’s swell to have a stiffy.
    It’s divine to own a dick,
    From the tiniest little tadger
    To the world’s biggest prick.
    So, three cheers for your Willy or John Thomas.
    Hooray for your one-eyed trouser snake,
    Your piece of pork, your wife’s best friend,
    Your Percy, or your cock.
    You can wrap it up in ribbons.
    You can slip it in your sock,
    But don’t take it out in public,
    Or they will stick you in the dock,
    And you won’t come back.

  9. Why do I see Ulysses Seen in the app store??? I don’t have an iPad (yet). Perhaps Apple reacted to the censorship story OR perhaps someone is getting some free publicity.

  10. Oh never mind — I see that they left it on the store with changes. They should not have bowed to the pressure!

  11. Maybe all this censorship is because old Steve’s one is smaller… and America has been afraid of nipples for some years now, so there in Cupertino it seems perfectly sane…

  12. Jobs must be playing it safe, knowing the original publishers of Ulysses were charged with obscenity (uh, back in 1918).
    #6 good for pointing out Bloomsday this Wednesday

  13. Jeez. Apple are not even M$2.0 but closer to M$1.4.

    Another thing to tease the next iPad-clutching sheep I come across with.

  14. The author should just publish it through Fifobooks.com instead (disclaimer: I am a co-founder of that site).

    We can get it on the iPad, and he’ll get a better deal, both economically and in terms of IP ownership.

  15. A tiny cartoon penis will disqualify one from many things.

    Also, It is common wisdom that people buy expensive, conspicuous electronics to prevent the very idea of a tiny penis.

  16. i guess i`ll never understand the concept of buying something that someone else controls the content.

    1. “i guess i`ll never understand the concept of buying something that someone else controls the content.”

      Never bought a TV?

  17. Did anyone stop to consider that maybe the App Store is not a good way to sell books? This could have been distributed any number of ways that would have ensured the lack of censorship.

    I read all kinds of content on my iPad, both legit and naughty. I actually have a free eBook version of Ulysses right here. But between text, PDF, ePUB, cbr/cbz, and the web, I can’t understand why someone feels entitled to have their book published in an *APP* store. Seriously, no one is keeping your content off of iPhones and iPads.

    1. saifrc: my thoughts exactly. No-one controls the content on my iPhone except me. If Apple wants to censor the app store in such a petty and ridiculous manner, publishers should look to other formats to sell their work.

  18. OMG — a publisher with an editorial policy that some people don’t agree with!! What a unique shock!

  19. I appreciate Cory’s choosing not to characterize the disqualification from the app store as “banning” or “censorship” as the original bigmoney.com post did.

    The silliness of Apple’s policy is self-evident and need not be inflated with such inaccurate descriptors.

  20. In response to the “Why publish as an APP?” comment: The Ulysses “Seen” app is in the app store, and it’s free. Go check it out, and you’ll see why it won’t work as just a book – at least not at the moment.

  21. The first few pages of Ulysses contains one of my favorite Joyce neologisms: scrotumtightening.

    It’s used to refer to the sea. “The scrotumtightening sea.”

    I propose “sphinctersqueezing” to refer to the prudes at Apple.

  22. Well, there’s some problems here…

    As Chippets points out, we are in the iTunes store and were never censored nor rejected. We were asked to make some changes to comply with the restrictions and, as the artist of the comic and creative director of the project, I decided to comply with those restrictions knowing I could keep the original versions live on my website.

    The idea behind ULYSSES “SEEN” is one of building comix into a hypertext model for deeply annotated text and I, as a businessman, believed it was important to premier that notion on the new iPad platform and accept, for now at least, that this would be a different and “Apple-approved” version.

    As an artist, however, I don’t feel censored in the least. Apple has been very direct, straight-forward and respectful in their guidelines and has treated myself and my partners as good-faith content providers. Most of my comments, then, should take that into account. I may disagree with Apple’s policy, but the internet is currently giving them a bad rap in respect to my project when they’ve always been fair and upstanding in dealing with us at Throwaway Horse, L.L.C..

    *how I feel about the Apple guidelines can be found in “Gaming with Children”, an excellent blog about what web-based media should be thinking, run by Andrew Bub;

    ULYSSES “SEEN” is currently available through Apple and, having prepared for this venue for a long time before the iPad was released, I my hope is that relationship can continue. But the current restrictions as you have noticed, will make later chapters impossible to produce there.

    Denis Papathanasiou of Fifobooks offers another option and, thanks, Denis, one of my partners is currently looking into that kind offer you’ve extended.

    But to make new web-based media for the newest delivery devices means accepting their rules and understanding their rights to set them.

    It doesn’t mean that the whole of the internet, nor the future of web-based media, is restricted by those rules. Media and technology change rapidly and it often takes time for businesses and their sense of propriety to keep pace. But the internet makes them, every goddam day, say to themselves, “yeah, maybe we should have gone the other way…”
    -Rob Berry

    1. As an artist, however, I don’t feel censored in the least.

      This disturbs me. Someone is dictating to you what you can and cannot do and you do not feel censored?

  23. gpeare: Brings new meaning to the Man in the Mac.

    You’re just trying to see how many people made it past Proteus, aren’t you?

  24. Glad to see the Irish tafelwacker is still a threat to all.Keep it up Joyce, you and your Parisian ways.

  25. “Frank Nudity”. I should not have read that while taking a sip of water. Damn my childish brain!

  26. I have a few doodling apps on my iPad. I wonder what happens if I draw a picture of a cartoon penis. Will I be able to save it?

  27. So why are we getting so indignant over a company setting down very clear guidelines for what can be sold on their store and put on their hardware? Apple isn’t obligated to meet every finger waggling consumer’s demands. If you really love being able to download apps with tiny cartoon penises in them, then maybe the iPad isn’t for you, god forbid. This doesn’t mean they’re a bunch of evil power-hungry censors that derive joy out of depriving you of your daily dose of penis.

    1. So why are we getting so indignant over a company setting down very clear guidelines for what can be sold on their store and put on their hardware?

      You are confusing people pointing at Apple users and going “Ha ha” with being indignant. You are confusing people trashing on the Apple’s super hip and trendy Walmart like policies with being indignant. No one is claiming indignation or moaning that Apple has violated our sense of justice. Of course Apple can have whatever Disneyland / Walmart policies for the crap they pump out, but I will take perverse pleasure in ridiculing and mocking it.

      Please, don’t confuse smirking and mockery with indignation. Hey, if you like very well marketed Disneyland crap with all the evil naughty bits blocked by your dedicated team of Apple censors, more power to you. If you need your stalwart team of Apple moral police ensuring that nary a boob, penis, piece of political satire, or “duplicated functionality” sully your clean and pure minds, not a problem. I’m not indignant… I’m snickering as I cradle my Evo.

  28. Idk what the big deal is. It’s just a penis. It’s not like it’s a gigantic obscene one, either. There are 3.2 billion men on this earth that have a penis and know what it looks like and 3.2 billion women on this earth are going to see a penis at least once in there lifetime in order to make more people. As long as children are not looking at this comic, and parents are doing their jobs by paying attention to what their children are doing, I don’t see a problem. To censor this is an infringement upon the authors freedom of speech.

    1. Are you kidding me? Have you seen a penis, male or female (ahem), on NBC lately? Fox? CBS? At any time of day or night?

      No, you haven’t. So, to follow your argument through, American mainstream media is restricting freedom of speech because they aren’t showing any penises.

  29. No figleaf? Presumably because under that figleaf is still a sinful and horrific phallus. Perhaps someone should inform Apple that all those Marvell characters are TOTALLY SHOCKINGLY DISGUSTINGLY NAKED under those spandex outfits, suits of armour and funny masks.

  30. Well, technically, anything displayed on any digital display is already pixellated. They just need bigger pixels.

  31. there is a way around this somewhat. one, there is the comiczeal app which would really suck seeing as you’d have to find some draconian way to distribute the book in cbz or pdf form.

    or you can submit it to the ‘comics’ app from comixology…not entirely sure how one gets in that as i’m trying to figure it out for my own comics. it should be noted though as they have a digital version of ‘The Pro’ in their little market. a book for the uninitiated is written by garth ennis and drawn by amanda connor that depicts a prostitute who becomes a superhero. lots of nudity and foulness that makes me giggle unedited. if they can get away with that..if you can find a channel through there..you could sell the tiny penis stuff.

    if only i knew the particulars i’d hit it myself. absolutely stupid for apple to be so censor crazy but at least there are some ways around it. just need to do some footwork.

  32. While Apple clearly has every legal right to do this, I think consumers should strongly think about this as they determine whether or not to purchase an iPad.

    As an adult I do not want anyone determining what I should and should not view. As a comic book illustrator, I am offended that someone else should seek to control my content.

    This is why I am taking a while to get an e-reader. Kindle’s decision to go through and occasionally delete content from readers’ machines was a dealbreaker for me, just as iPod’s demanding self-censorship is too. Hopefully Sony and the other rivals will take an approach friendlier to art and literature.

  33. but Apple…
    I can buy 2 Live Crew, NIN’s discography, a large portion of Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, there is even an iTunes Essentials for Death Metal; Die Hard, Oldboy, Requiem for a Dream, Black Snake Moan, Monty Python, including The Life of Brian which does show Graham Chapman’s little python, all from the iTunes store. Yet a single panel of a cartoon penis is offensive?

  34. What I don’t understand is who gave Apple the right to reject content? To me personally it’s like the web browser telling me what I can and can’t view on the browser.

    Seriously if they are so concerned about offending people then perhaps they should reject the Safari and the YouTube app.

    I’ve had enough of this BS from Apple, and I am now switching to Android.

  35. Does that mean you won’t be able to get Watchmen on the iPad because of Dr Manhattan’s giant blue super wang?

  36. So, if little peckers aren’t allowed, does this mean Jobs has banned himself from the iPad?

  37. I don’t even understand Apple’s need to ban this kind of content at all. If it is a matter of concern about minors viewing the content, then why not just have a rating system for apps like the one for games or movies? Then you are giving adults the ability to easily filter or control content if they care to do so. I have to wonder why a penis is such a big deal when there are hundreds of extremely violent apps available, or completely inappropriate videos on YouTube. I don’t let my six-year-old daughter just peruse that stuff unsupervised. But I also don’t want Apple to start banning violent games or movies either. Get your own kids, Mr. Jobs. My daughter already has parents, and I certainly don’t need another Big Brother.

    1. It’s “merely” a reflection of Mr. Jobs being a complete control freak.

      I doubt if he would disagree with this categorization, or object to it.

  38. to me it seems as if electronic material is much more vulnerable to censorship. or maybe it’s not that there would be more censorship but that the ways to get around it get harder and harder to figure out. i can find a banned book at a used bookstore, i wouldn’t know how to get an ipad to show me material its supposed to be censoring.. but i’m not very tech savvy and maybe this kind of stuff is second nature to more people than i think it is.

  39. They will ban this, but if you search for “erotica” in the iBookstore, you can find dozens, if not hundreds, of sexually explicit books. I am not against this material, but I am against Apples hypocrisy.

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