Apple Cancels iPad Censorship of Graphic Novel

Published July 7, 2010

Each year, fans of the Irish writer James Joyce celebrate June 16 as “Bloomsday,” named after the character Stephen Bloom in Joyce’s most celebrated novel, Ulysses. That’s the day on which Bloom and the other characters in the 1922 novel weave their way through its modernist stream-of-consciousness monologues, puns, and general ribaldry—the last of which resulted in the United States banning the book for 11 years.
But when Apple temporarily withheld a graphic-novel adaptation of Ulysses from publication on the iPad, audiences weren’t forced to wait long to obtain a copy—Apple reversed its decision several months later, just in time for Bloomsday celebrations.
The offending images that temporarily caused the ban were of the naked character Buck Mulligan and a depiction of a topless goddess. Apple asked the publisher, Throwaway Horse, and illustrator, Robert Berry, to change the Ulysses Seen pictures. Although they complied, they were told later by Apple that the company had reversed its decision and would allow their original illustrations
‘Challenging to Be a Censor’
Berry commented on his Web site, “It’s distressing for myself … to water down work that I felt was the best way to represent the novel in this new form on the iPad. But the tablet is something I always planned for as a viewing platform for this project and, currently, Apple’s iPad is the only viable tablet around. So they do get to set the guidelines on what kind of products they want to offer there at this time.”
Ray Walsh, owner of the Curious Book Shoppe in East Lansing, Michigan, notes technological change invites these controversies. “It might be interesting to contemplate what will happen when 3D technology of the future is available. There will be so many new adaptations of classic works for new media it will be interesting to see what develops. It’s going to be challenging to be a censor, because you’re walking a thin line between decency and intelligence—and still trying to make money.”
Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is managing editor of Infotech & Telecom News.