Apple Rejects My Caricature App

November 9th, 2009 | Posted in General


EDIT– Apple reconsidered its decision and approved the Bobble Rep app after a media storm of protest was set off by this innocent little rant on my insignificant little blog. Below is the original blog post:

Just yesterday I was complaining about how Apple sometimes treats its customers as if they were stupid.

I had no idea how right I was.

Back in the late summer movie director/entrepreneur Ray Griggs, for whom I did all that art for his movie “Super Capers“, approached me with an idea for an iPhone app. The concept was a database of all the members of the United States Congress which allowed the user to find the names and contact information of their senators and congressional representative either via zipcode or by using the iPhone’s GPS location services. He wanted the visuals to be more than just a bunch of pictures, and asked me to do caricatures for each senator and representative.

That’s 540 caricature if you are keeping count (including those non-voting members of the house from Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.). FIVE HUNDRED FORTY. Five-four-Oh. Whew.

The caricature “heads” would be placed on one of 12 different bodies I has also drawn to make a cartoon, virtual “bobblehead” for each member of congress’s page. You can make the heads bobble by shaking your phone or flicking the head with your finger. Of course that’s just a novelty, and the real purpose of the app is the database that allows you to find out who your representatives in Washington are and how to contact them.

I did all 540 caricatures. In fact I finished the last few dozen in my hotel room in Washington DC prior to my USO trip. Ray and his programmers wrapped up the programming and the app was sent to Apple for approval.

Here are some of the visuals that were sent to Apple:

Bobble Rep 1

Bobble Rep 2

Bobble Rep 3

Bobble Rep 4

Bobble Rep 5

Ray had showed a lot of people this app, and there was a fair amount of interest in it. In fact, he tells me that he is booked to appear on both the Glenn Beck John Stossel show and the Mike Huckabee show next week to talk about the app and his upcoming documentary. Both Beck Stossel and Huckabee loved the app and that’s what precipitated his appearance on their shows.

Looks like all Ray will have to talk about is how ridiculous Apple’s app approval folks are, since the app was REJECTED yesterday . Here is Apple’s official rejection letter and the “reason”:

Subject: Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition 1.0: Application Submission Feedback

Please include the line below in follow-up emails for this request.

Follow-up:  87280909

Dear Mr. Griggs,

Thank you for submitting Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition to the App Store. We’ve reviewed Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains content that ridicules public figures and is in violation of Section¬¨‚Ć 3.3.14 from the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement which states:

“Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

A screenshot of this issue has been attached for your reference.

If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that Bobble Rep – 111th Congress Edition does not violate the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

iPhone Developer Program

Wow. I’ve had rejections in theme parks before but never because my drawings were considered “obscene, pornographic, or defamatory”. I can see where they are coming from, though. Check out these “hard hitting” caricatures (said with tongue firmly in cheek):

CA- Harman
CA- Harman

ND- Pomeroy
ND- Pomeroy

OH- Kucinich
OH- Kucinich

Brutal, I know. I mean, if Dennis Kucinich ever saw that he’d doubtless curl up in the fetal position and cry for a week. What was I thinking, doing these over-the-top, cut-throat abominations of caricatures for a public iPhone app????

Wait… someone is at the door. MAYBE IT’S THE SECRET SERVICE!!!!!!

This is truly ridiculous. These caricatures aren’t mean or very exaggerated. They are simple, fun cartoon likenesses of the politicians and the purpose of the app is a informational database. There is no editorial commentary involved at all.

This is the very reason that Apple as a company should be taken to task over its ludicrous and inconsistent app approval policies. Clearly this app does not “ridicule public figures” and is violating nothing, but Apple has decided the world must be protected from the insidious subversiveness this would force upon the public and the brutal, heinous ridicule that my cruel, cruel caricatures would subject these politicians to.

Hard to believe that anybody could be this blind. Maybe they just have a monkey doing the approval of their apps, and he throws a dart at a dartboard with “approved” and “rejected” targets on it and whatever it hits is the fate of that app. That would explain how they could approve an app with a cartoon baby picture and when you shake the phone hard enough the baby dies. Yes, that one got through only to be yanked after some outraged people complained, but no way are a bunch of flame-throwing caricatures going to get through!!!


The really sad part is that here is an app that might get people interested in who represents them in Washington, especially kids and young adults, and connects people to their senators and representatives via fun and PARTISAN FREE way. Yet Apple has decided it’s not appropriate. There needs to be more of that in this world of right versus left, especially as that applies to young kids who are being raised to consider politics the public equivalent of professional wrestling. Ray’s documentary “I Want Your Money” is distinctly right wing (and my own political views are mostly left of center) but the app is totally partisan neutral.

Please spread the word how stupid this rejection is. Apple of course does not care what its customers think… apparently they consider us idiots at best anyway (appropriate on my part, as I am a member of MAD‘s “Usual Gang of Idiots”), but it’s worth a laugh and a shake of your head.

EDIT- Thanks for all the comments, support and suggestions from everyone. Ray and his programmer Stevo Brock are working on other options, including other platforms… but that’s all in their hands. I just draw funny pictures. I’m going to close down comments on this thread, but feel free to e-mail me with further comments or suggestions.

Also, for those who have written and asked about seeing all 540 of the congressional caricatures, one way or another I will make sure we publish those… either via the app on another platform or here on my website if nothing else.


  1. […] is the most ridiculous thing I‚Äö√Ñ√¥ve ever heard,‚Äö√Ñ√π Richmond wrote in his blog entry posted Monday morning. ‚Äö√Ñ√∫These caricatures aren‚Äö√Ñ√¥t mean or very exaggerated. They are simple, fun cartoon likenesses of […]

  2. Mark Hill says:

    Apple apparently made knee-jerk reaction to something they clearly don’t understand.

    On another note, I’m surprised that you were asked to draw all of the caricatures upfront. It would seem logical that the app could have been presented for approval with say 5-10% of those as samples. (If not, that’s another area where Apple might need to change its thinking.) Most of the clients who hire me to be a part of a speculative venture, (whether it is creating cartoon-based toys, designing characters for an animated show, or illustrating a book), the bulk of the work comes after approval.

    I’m guessing that a good amount of Ray’s initial investment was for your artwork…(I hope so, at least.)

  3. bobdmac says:

    After thinking about this, I remembered that Phil Schiller intervened and got an app approved. (See this story: ). You might write to him.

  4. […] Blog Tom Richmond Stuur naar Twitter, mail e.d. Tags: App Store, Cartoon, […]

  5. Mark says:

    Did the government take over Apple too?!!

  6. Mark says:

    BTW, looks like an awesome app! Great work!

  7. demoncat says:

    i can not believe Apple would reject the app on the grounds it could be demeaning when after all news papers do not reject politcall cartoons who have the members of congress like that. though Apple proably rejected it for they did not want to take the chance of the app upseting their congress friends espically if Apple wanted to call in some political favors down the road. that and the ones who pick the apps have got to be monkeys

  8. […] we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.Regards, iPhone Developer Program[via Tom] Filed Under: NewsPost a Comment | Trackback URL Name (required) Mail (will not be […]

  9. Paul Strandio says:

    What about “porting” the app to a collection of printed trading cards? Like the kind we used to get of baseball players in bubble gum packs? This kind of thing is often found in comics shops. Just thinking about how to recoupe something fir all the effort.

  10. Zeev says:

    This is why I bought an Android phone and not the iphone.
    Make it a hit in the Android market.

  11. […] artigo publicado em seu blog, Tom Richmond, artista da revista americana MAD e autor das sensacionais 540 caricaturas, mostra […]

  12. Pablo says:

    That’s what you get for going with apple.

    Hello Android!!
    Hello WebOS! Hello Maemo!

  13. Robbie says:

    This is apparently happening more and more with the Iphone. I and others have switched to Android phones, which are open source and (IMHO) technically superior to the Iphone. I think you should consider launching your app in the Android market instead and forget about Apple and their crazy market policies.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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