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'Sex Criminals' still under review at Apple

Is Apple struggling again with content censorship? The second issue of a critically acclaimed comic book is published online everywhere but iOS.

The cover to "Sex Criminals" No. 2, currently under review by Apple but available elsewhere digitally and in print.
Image Comics

Censorship problems are nothing new to Apple and iOS' App Store, so the fact that a comic called "Sex Criminals" got even one issue into the App Store is something of a minor miracle.

The mature readers book, which publisher Image Comics describes as a "sex comedy," was not available from the iOS version of the Comixology comics bookstore app on Wednesday as expected. However, the comic was available from Comixology's Android app, the Comixology Web site store, and DRM-free from

"Sex Criminals" author Matt Fraction described the book's status as being "under review" at Apple.

"From what I have been told, it's just pending review. How the first book made it through and the second one didn't, I don't know," Fraction said. "Maybe it was the sales?"

For its part, Comixology said that iOS owners can buy the book from the Comixology Web site, and then sync it to their iPhone or iPad.

Ron Richards, Image's director of marketing, said that the publisher is working on getting "Sex Criminals" into Apple's iBookstore, where other Image titles such as "The Walking Dead" are already available.

Apple has long wrestled with the problem of being both a marketplace and secondary content publisher, something that traditional bookstores don't have to figure out. The situation so far appears to be different from the App Store's comic book content scandal earlier this year, when Comixology pre-empted Apple censorship with an issue of the popular book "Saga." So far, it seems to be more similar to instances when Apple has outright blocked books and comics from being sold in an effort to protect itself from criticism.

"There are so many other options for people that want to read the book digitally," Fraction said. "Apple customers tend to be first adopters, so it would it would be nice to be part of iOS and the iOS family, but if it doesn't happen, I can't imagine a better cover slug than 'banned by Apple'. If Apple bans it, I'll put it out myself for free," he said with a laugh.

An Apple representative said that the situation was being looked into. CNET will update the story when we hear back from Apple.

"Sex Criminals" earned generally strong reviews when its first issue was published last month.

Updated at 6:03 p.m. PST with comment from the book's author and a response from Apple.