In time for Bloomsday, Apple reversed its decision to reject panels of Robert Berry’s graphic novel adaption of James Joyce’s Ulysess , titled Ulysess Seen, that contained nude drawings. Both the author and the publisher noted the irony that Joyce’s novel was the source of controversy 75 years ago in the U.S., after the U.S. appeals court overturned an obscenity ban on the novel but thanked Apple for reconsidering their case. In an article for The Washington Post , Berry poses a question about content, created by artists, and sellers of that content who must make decisions about what is acceptable to offer to a range of customers: “Who decides the way we see new content on these very exciting new devices: The artist reinterpreting them for a new and exciting venue, or the grocer or newstand seller who knows nothing about the content but talks incessantly about the kind of product they have to offer?”
Apple’s conservative taste in graphic novels also extended to a graphic novel adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest by Tom Bouden, which featured several panels of men kissing. Apple allowed the graphic novel for it’s iPad after resubmission. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller noted that “we made a mistake.”
Apple’s initial decisions in both cases begs the question as to how much the visual element was the reason for the ban. The iPad carries hundreds of novels where nudity and same-sex relationships are discussed but, because the onus is on the reader to visualize these scenes, Apple can more easily justify offering these novels to their customers.
Read selections from Robert Berry’s adaptation of Joyce’s novel here.