Bleeding Cool on Censorship of LULU by Google Play
Rich Johnston did a piece today at Bleeding Cool on my recent censorship, of LULU and other books, by Google Play. (for previous posts, just click the "censorship" tag below) Click here to read it!
Also, good news on the next THIS SICKNESS. In addition to LULU, SUZY SPREADWELL, and UNCLE CYRUS, as well as poetry by Chad Parenteau and paintings by Emily Kaplan, it will also be classed up even further by a cover by Molly Kiely! I'm excited about the next issue. Should be nice and fat.
Also, if you missed the CBLDF's coverage of Google Play's banning of LULU Book 1, read it here.
A bit of the excellent piece (that you should read in full) by Maren Williams:
The particular double standard
observed in Google Play’s ebook store was highlighted recently for John
Linton Roberson, an indie comics veteran who produces eclectic works
with an erotic edge. Roberson’s current work-in-progress is Lulu, a contemporary adaptation of German playwright Frank Wedekind’s 19th century sex tragedy. His previous work has included Vladrushka, an original satire about a Siberian porn star, and the art for The Story of OH!, a spoof of Italian comic artist Guido Crepax’s 1975 adaptation of the 1954 French erotic novel The Story of O. Featuring complex female protagonists and frequently alluding to art, literature, and film of various eras, Fifty Shades they’re not...
...the real problem
with Google Play’s suppression of Roberson’s work is its apparent
hypocrisy. Although the content policy
supposedly bans bestiality and “sexually explicit terms in titles,
subtitles or descriptions,” for instance, interested parties can still
buy Done By The Deinonychus and 15 Stories of Anal Sex.
For creators like Roberson, whose stories have been taken down for even
tamer sex and nudity, this stings a bit, to say the least. A clue to the reason for this
inconsistent application of policy may lie right in the policy itself;
near the bottom of the page, Google Play says
that it “receives reports of policy violations through the ‘Report
Abuse’ button found in our product.” Conspicuously absent is any mention
that humans at Google review books for policy adherence before
they’re made available for sale. ... If Google Play truly does rely primarily on user reports to notify it
of alleged policy violations, then it becomes plausible that works like
Roberson’s–which actually have a plot and thus a more detailed
description on the retail site–might be more susceptible to scrutiny
because they may turn up in unrelated search results and thus be
reported more often than 15 Stories of Anal Sex. Adding to the frustration, Roberson says, is the absence of any avenue to appeal a removal decision.
I'm hoping they will also take my advice and talk about the banning of friend and colleague Dale Lazarov, who has a somewhat different but major set of difficulties as his field is gay erotica, and who has been banned far more than myself--sometimes with vendors with whom he had contracts. It's a related issue, especially regarding the issue of ebook vendors' double standards in content.
Another thing I should mention: I am also a fairly heavy customer of Google Play. I use it to archive all my ebooks and music, and have bought rather a lot of ebooks through them. It's a very useful and convenient service for me, and (to the degree I use it) free. I like for instance listening to anything I uploaded, or reading it, anywhere on my phone without having to download it.
I've experienced how useful it is. So I liked the idea of my books being on that platform.
I have been feeding a feral kitten gang for about two months that showed up in my backyard one day. It was Charlie, the big grey adult cat you'll see below(and have seen here before when he was younger--he's 2 now and huge), who called my attention to them and really wanted me to get them in. Though, being a cat, he was grumbly once they were really in his space rather than outside the window. Unlike most cats, that's as far as it got. He's kind of impressively chill.
Why I Wouldn't Have Dinner With Andre I would not have had dinner with Andre Gregory.
He creeped me out when I saw this film while at college. It's like
I'm going to go to the bathroom, he puts a black bag over my head,
drags me to some woods somewhere with no pants (him)and tells me they're
going to re-enact Auschwitz with me representing all the victims and
it'll be great for my theatre work. I had teachers like that back at DePaul. I know. (inspired slightly by David Chelsea) ___________________
AMADEUS Director's Cut, STRAW DOGS and Sexism Via Cutting (Spoilers Perhaps) Penciling the new UNCLE CYRUS with the director's cut of AMADEUS on next to me. Jesus, Elizabeth
Berridge was gorgeous and talented. Why did she not become a star? Possibly because they cut out so much of her stuff(that had been from
the play) so she didn't seem very impressive? Too often happens.
I saw this film SO many times when it came out, first at the theatre and then renting the VHS over and over(ah, those were awful days, paying again & again; don't miss them)--I was really fond of the play, reading it after seeing someone else do a monologue form it. I later won competitions with Salieri monologues in high school before it did. Loved Peter Shaffer.
So I knew it pretty well by the time this came out in its original form. Read more »
The worst was when Trump's hair came after it. Like fine, wispy apricot tentacles it got
Rick's hair in its grip, going every which way without rhyme nor reason. "LOSER! LOSER RICK! I WILL SUCK OUT YOUR BODY AND MAKE IT MY OWN!" Rick's hair panicked and gave Perry a motivating stab. "NO, NOT MY LUSTROUS BODY! I QUIT! I QUIT!"
"HA HA! TRUMP'S HAIR WINS AGAIN! TRUMP'S HAIR CAN NEVER DIE! IT IS
QUALITY, CLASSY HAIR! PERRY'S HAIR IS, BE HONEST, NOT SO GOOD!" "DAMN YOU TRUMP'S HAIR!" wailed a sobbing, broken Rick Perry like a
little girl whose lollipop had been shat upon. "DAMN YOU TO HELL!"
...though Berg had completed all of the music and libretto for Lulu before
he died, he never finished the orchestration of Act Three. The path the
opera took to its premiere was highly unusual. The Nazi German Arts
Ministry had banned the opera as "degenerate" before it was even
complete. The director of the Berlin State Opera, Erich Kleiber, had
been intending to perform it. He responded to the ban with an act of
defiance: he asked Berg to prepare a suite from the opera, which Berg
did, including two mainly orchestral sections of the unfinished final
act. Kleiber presented the suite despite the anger of Nazi officials,
and promptly left the country.
Here is the complete LULU Suite mentioned in the article. (as well as a couple of other pieces)
Google Play Books Tries To Act Like a Champion of Banned Books, Then Bans Books (Updated) My colleague Salgood Sam pointed out an interesting wrinkle to my banning by Google Play Books. They pretend they are champions of banned books. Click this to see. I want to show you all something. This is the message I got about the first banning, of STORY OF OH! (there were no messages on any of the other bannings, certainly not LULU):
Notice of Book Removal from Google Play [1-8003000008684] Hello,
We have discovered that one or more books in your Google Play catalog
do not comply with our content policies. The following books will no
longer be available to users on Google Books or Google Play: The Story of OH!
Reason for removal: We do not allow images of nudity with no
educational or artistic value, pornographic text or depictions of
extreme sexual acts, including rape, incest, and bestiality, nor do we
permit pseudo depictions of these acts. Please review your book
catalog and remove any other books that do not comply with our content
policies. Failure to comply with these policies may result in suspension
or removal from the program. We appreciate your understanding. Sincerely, The Google Play Books Policy Enforcement Team
Oh, I am NOT being understanding.
And I didn't notice before it mentions "pornographic text." Ah. So all those prose smut books are supposed to be banned too, BUT THEY'RE NOT
because those make a lot of money for ebook merchants.
my overtly "adult" stuff has no "extreme sexual acts, including rape,
incest, and bestiality," Certainly not LULU Book 1. There is not especially graphic nudity, and on a couple of pages(or rather, a little less), a consensual, fairly tame sex scene that might be an R if it were a film. And that's the most graphic the book will ever get. After Act 1 of Erdgeist(which Book 1 covers), there's not much of that kind of thing.
Unless all even somewhat graphically depicted sex acts are
"extreme." One of them--STORY OF OH!--is written by Terry Gilliam
collaborator Charles Alverson. And LULU is from the work of Frank Wedekind. These have no artistic value?My drawing has no artistic value?
The second round, when
they banned LULU Book 1, which has NONE OF THESE THINGS, and MARTHA, which is
autobio and basically a romance story with sex in it that's simply not presented coyly, I received no message at all. I found out when I went to my
account and they were gone.
They treat anyone who's not a big name with no respect at all.
And "bestiality"--THEN WHY DO THEY CARRY, IN PROSE, WEREWOLF PORN?
Obviously there is no appeals process. They can arbitrarily ban anything they like. Or keep it up if it's a big company and makes shitloads of money. Like all the CROSSED volumes from Avatar they carry. CROSSED is famous for being a foul, ugly series featuring graphic violence & rape every page, but they ban ME?
1 for instance, just to name two things, features two members of a
family being gang-raped by zombies as their child is graphically torn apart.
Also a woman being ground under a truck wheel as she screams "I'M
COMIN'! OH GOD." She doesn't mean she's traveling to God.
If they ban
me, certainly they would ban something as extreme as this? (I'm not. I
have no violence or rape in my work)
Oh RIGHT it's Avatar. Obviously that makes the content acceptable to
their policies. That, and it makes money hand over fisting. This
is only one of a number of comics more explicit than mine that Google Play carries. Here's another: They carry Joe Casey's SEX. Which is definitely more explicit. I
seem to recall a scene with an old man doing a hooker from behind and
then shooting her in the back of his head when he comes. Lovely stuff.
They happily carry bdsm works like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. I bought my ebook of the real STORY OF O from them. Those aren't "pornographic text?" Those don't depict "extreme sex acts?" Or "bestiality"? At one point in the real O, a woman is raped by a dog. REALLY NOW. Alverson's and my parody of O doesn't even go that far.
HOW EXACTLY DOES THAT STUFF STAY UP AND I'M SOMEHOW UNACCEPTABLE?
Censorship Update: LULU Book 1 and MARTHA Banned From Google Play Too (Updated) Oh, to hell with Google Play. My catalog there is now basically gone.
They just banned LULU Book 1, which is a literary work that happens to have nudity (and only really in book 1) and is NOT erotica, as well. If it were a movie, it'd be an "R." This is the one that has been banned by no one till now, because Google is simply against any kind of nudity whatsoever, no matter what the context. It can be shown in the opera, but not via Google goddamn Play.
And unlike the first bannings, they didn't even see any need to inform me of this. I found out when I looked at my catalog. And of course there is no appeal. They are Google and they are all-powerful.
As well as MARTHA(which is still available at Amazon). So only SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEFis still available there. Because it's a play. But you know what? I'm taking that down too. If the fucking worms at Google Play don't want the rest of my work, then they get nothing. Buy it at Amazon instead. Now I'm truly angry. Fortunately, you can still buy LULU on Comixology and Amazon. So fuck them. Buy it there. Does no one think this is wrong?
I call that discrimination against an inherently visual medium. Content is content whether it's words, images, or a combination thereof. In addition, they WILL carry it if it's a big name like Chaykin or Crepax at Comixology, but reject tiny creators like me who don't have Image or NBM backing them. Much of this stuff was published by Eros/Fantagraphics, but apparently that counts not at all.
Why? Is adult content less adult if a big name draws it? What is this but censorship and arbitrary at that? What is this but singling out a medium for censorship they could never impose on prose?
And then there's people like my colleague and friend Dale Lazarov, who's been bounced off one after another because his work is erotica--and also gay. Often they'll say (like Gumroad, who I considered putting stuff out with but didn't because they don't allow adult ANYTHING; I probably couldn't even get away with LULU Book 1) that the reason is that their payment processors will either not allow it or charge too much for it. Once it was the distributors and printers that enforced comics censorship. Now it's the payment middlemen. But given Google Wallet exists and Google is its own payment processor, isn't that irrelevant in their case? If I drew a violent comic with zombies eating people's flesh, that would be cool. Superheroes ripping people's arms off and poking their fingers through someone's face? Totally great!
People having sex? EVIL! THINK OF THE CHILDREN! Why isn't anyone else talking about this? Do we like censorship in comics now? Is everything the underground artists went through 40+ years ago now forgotten?
This should be talked about, this should be examined, and this should be stopped. ___________________
PSYCHE! Banned again! I'm really getting sick of the censorship. Erotica is allowed in ebooks UNLESS THEY'RE COMICS. And even so they do allow it--if your name is Chaykin or Crepax. But if you, say, parody Crepax? (OH) Nuh-uh.
While I love the work of Chaykin and like most of BLACK KISS 1 & 2, it's also true those books are violent rape cover to cover. Why is that allowed all over but this, which is definitely nowhere near as extreme, and is in fact satire, not? This is name privilege and it's a disease in this medium. I'm not saying Chaykin should be banned, I'm saying if he's allowed I should be too--if content is the only issue. It's not. (note: I'm not blaming Chaykin, I'm blaming the gatekeepers. Chaykin is awesome regardless) It's hypocritical bullshit and ridiculous in this day and age. I'm pretty sure I will never be allowed to sell these again. Nevertheless, they are available. They're back up for free, and no one can remove that. Click here and here. (NSFW) Fuck censorship. But I have to make comics I can sell. So as they block me from the marketplace if it's anything as explicit as VLADRUSHKA...they win. You probably won't see any of her again, or anything like that. But maybe not, because this is even more reason to give to my brand-new Patreon, because then I can just put it on the web for you and not be as concerned about selling it later. Pledge now!
(Also, don't forget about my awesome art and magazine auctions this week...if a cartoonist can't make money one way he tries another...) SO angry about this. __________________
Patreon Page Just Launched- Pledge to Support More Great Comics & Writing!
That's right, I have succumbed to crowdfunding. Or at least an attempt at it, because I've decided I'd like to see how much more work I'd be able to put out with the time and energy to devote to it. No video just yet, but you can pledge now and here's the page. All sorts of levels with all sorts of perks.
More at Ebay: Vladrushka & Lulu Original Art by Me! Unless Ebay bans any of these, here's some of my original art I also no longer have room for for sale added to my earlier listings. This includes the wash painting "Orgasm," relatively speaking one of the more tasteful pieces featuring Vladrushka, on heavy illo board: (click images for listings) And then some of the remaining pages of LULU Book 1, Chapter 1, including her first appearance:
And if you haven't gotten book 1 in print or digital yet, please click here to buy. And also to find out more about the project. Also, your digital options have grown! In addition to Comixology, LULU is now available on Google Play Books, as will be some others soon. Updates when they're live.
Just finished this page of a longer and more ambitious Cyrus story than before, which I've now resumed since finishing LULU Chapter 4. This one's getting no greys or colors. This is the completed page.
He's always fun to draw. It had been so long since I'd done him I'd forgotten.
Click image below to enlarge.
This story and art (c)2015 John Linton Roberson.
Uncle Cyrus created by John E. Williams and John Linton Roberson
"Eternity in the company of Beelzebub, and all of his hellish instruments of death, will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me & this pencil." --E. Blackadder, 1789 Questionable
words & pictures from John Linton Roberson