iPhone App Store’s Rating System Gives “Fallen Justice” Comic A Sales Boost

Earlier this year Apple got a little stingier on their rating system for iPhone apps – I don’t know, maybe Baby Shaker was the catalyst?

The funny thing is that developers are allowed to rate their own applications, but obviously, Apple gets the final say. With that, here’s a situation about a comic and their struggle in understanding Apple’s rating system.

The comic is Fallen Justice #2: Comedy of Errors, which will be a part of a 7-part series. The comic’s creators and publishers made sure to keep their comic clean and maintain it at a PG rating. But they hit a snag back in July when they submitted Fallen Justice #2 to Apple for final approval.

Kyle Hurlburt, from Graphics Lab 2 who distributes the comic electronically, stated that in “the past Apple had no way of rating Apps so all App developers were feeling pretty hemmed in, especially since iTunes regularly was allowing explicit lyrics in music and R rated movies”.

They even went so far as to censor themselves to avoid any confrontations with Apple.

In this panel the protagonist, Justice Theta, smashes an advisers face in.

It went from this:


To this (less blood):


A couple days later on July 24 Apple sent the makers an e-mail; while they would be  pushing Fallen Justice #2 at Comic Con, that they would not post the second issue. Why? Because “it is not appropriately rated,” since it contained “sexual content and mature or suggestive themes”.

Hurlburt was obviously surprised, because he and his partners “don’t make dirty comics”.

Here’s what Apple had a problem with:


What could they do? Should they fight Apple over the rating? Or just take it with a grain of salt.

Hurlburt discussed the situation with the comic’s author Cary Kelley. Kelley believed that they should just take the higher rating and that Apple would let them “through the gate eventually”. So, the comic was re-rated.

On August 8, 19 days after the original submission, Apple approved Fallen Justice #2. Within the next two days Fallen Justice #2 gave GraphicsLab2 their biggest download. A week later the issue surpassed Fallen Justice #1 by 176% more downloads. As of mid August, the second issue continued to surpass the first issue by of 52% more downloads.


Maybe it’s true then that sex sells. Regardless, this whole situation got us into Fallen Justice, which is an original take on familiar comic storylines that we know and love, and we’ll be following from now on.

As a bonus we’re honored to present an interview with Fallen Justice’s renaissance man Cary Kelley to shed some light on the comic’s origin, future and the situation with Apple.

AMOG: Who are you in relation to Fallen Justice?

Cary Kelley: Well, let’s see I’m the creator, co-writer, and letterer for the Fallen Justice series. I also take care of all the logistics, pre-production work, and advertising in my role as the publisher of the book. So depending on the day, I get to wear a lot of hats!

AMOG: What’s your background in comics?

CK: I learned to read at the age of four from comic books, so I’ve got a good 35 years invested in them as a fan. I’ve been doing doodles, writing, and generally telling stories since I was a little kid, but I’ve only been seriously making comics for a few years.

AMOG: How long have you been making comics?

CK: I wrote my first non submission script in 1991, sent a ton of submissions in to various companies from there till 2004 when I decided to try my hand at self publishing, and I’ve been doing that ever since.

AMOG: What are some of your favorite comics?

CK: The best reads I have every month have to be Echo by Terry Moore and The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. I read a wide variety of books depending on what’s coming out month to month, but those two books have never disappointed even a little bit.

AMOG: Who are some of your influences?

CK: My favorite writers comic-wise are Mark Waid and Peter David without a doubt. Both of those guys turn in such consistently good work it’s just amazing. They never leave you hanging. Writing influences in general include Dashiell Hammett, E. L. Doctorow, and Robert Jordan, amazing storytellers every one.

AMOG: Have you made any traditional comics?

CK: Meaning do I have any mainstream credits to my name? Nope. I’ve done a bit of freelance lettering here and there, and one of my projects is currently running as a Zuda-winning comic, called Extracurricular Activities, so I guess that would count.

AMOG: Are you working on some other web comics?

CK: Funny you should ask! I’ve got a web strip I’ve been goofing around with that should get updated again soon, so that’ll be fun, and then I’m working with a team to do a Zuda project together, which should come about sometime this fall if all goes well.

AMOG: Can you tell us a little more about Fallen Justice?

CK: Fallen Justice is what happens when the most powerful hero in the world finds out he has three months left to live. It’s about choices, and living with them. We’ve had a blast with it, turning the traditional heroes on their heads and shaking them to see what falls out. Not only a fun story to write, but an all around adventure for the creative team as well. We’ve all visibly grown in the process for sure.

AMOG: How did you come up with the concept for Fallen Justice? Personally, I like how you created a fresh take on super hero’s lives outside of the hero part and actually facing that inevitable outcome death. I also dig how Justice Theta reminds me of someone like Superman, but is a hero that I can actually relate to.

CK: This whole mess got started because I was pissed off. I read an issue of Action Comics and loved it, right up till I got to the end, where everything got reset back to the way things were, basically invalidating the entire story for the reader. It drives me crazy that so very few heroes in mainstream comics are allowed to grow and be affected by the things that happen to them in and out of costume.

So I sat down an d wrote a story about how I’d kill Superman. It was more of an exercise than anything because I know that DC would never let me kill their golden boy scout. But when I got done, I realized the story had legs to run. So I changed things up a lot, brought Steve and Harold onboard and off we went.

Making Justice Theta more human was something we did very much on purpose. That’s one of the things Steve brought to the table early on, by saying we had to make people like the guy before they’d care if he was dying, and he was absolutely right. We give him a southern background, making him not only a great hero but also a powerful financial benefactor and man of the people, and then tear his playhouse down around him. Fun stuff!

AMOG: How can you go about getting Fallen Justice?

CK: Fallen Justice is always available in the Red Handed Studios store, as well as on Indy Planet and through the Haven Distributors catalog if folks want to use that option. We’re very proactive about getting the books out into the hands of fans, so we’re always looking for new ways to make that happen.

AMOG: What’s the “hiccup” with Apple?

CK: It was funny, really. The first issue passed through with flying colors, fights and all, so we never really imagined they would flag us for content with the second issue. I mean seriously, we have Dynagirl walking down a set of stairs in her panties in issue one, and she’s completely covered by a bed sheet in the questionable panels from issue 2, so I just never imagined there would be a problem.

What happened was we submitted the book and they rejected it based on adult subject material, and sent us the offending pages, which are the ones with Dynagirl wrapped in a bed sheet. We were faced with a couple of challenges at that point. We could either alter the pages, which would force us back to art and colors, or raise the rating, which might result in a narrowed customer base.

Ultimately we went with raising the rating, mostly because the rest of the series has an increased level of violence and will most likely end up with the higher rating anyway, so it didn’t make any sense to take the extra time with this issue.

AMOG: Do you believe that this will effect future releases of Fallen Justice?

CK: Nah. Like I was saying the rest of the series gets stepped up violence wise anyway, so the content is going to drive the book into the 12 and up range regardless. Sure, it could limit us readership wise, but the paper series has always been on the verge of a mature reader book so it stands to reason the iPhone version would be along the same lines.

AMOG: What are your future plans for Fallen Justice beyond the initial 7 issue run?

CK: Fallen Justice very definitely ends with issue #7. It’s done. But that doesn’t mean that the surviving characters won’t be back! We’re already close to being finished with the first issue of the ongoing Dynagirl series, which will pick up five years after the end of the Fallen Justice series.

It’s quite a bit more light hearted than Fallen Justice while still being a serious piece of work. Dyangirl has always been my favorite character of the series, so she’ll get her own very special treatment going forward.

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  1. Spiele says:

    good article, tnx