If you or someone in your family just unwrapped a Nintendo Switch for Christmas and you have even a passing interest in comics then you might want to check out Inky Pen.
What is Inky Pen?
Inky Pen is a brand new all-you-can-read comic subscription service for Nintendo Switch. In fact, for now it is exclusive to Nintendo Switch (although they do eventually plan to bring it to other platforms in the future). Inky Pen is still very new as it was just released on December 17th 2018.
How to Sign Up
Sign up and account creation are handled via the Nintendo Switch. The first step is to go to the Nintendo eShop on the Switch and purchase/download the free application called Inky Pen. When you open the app on the Switch, Inky Pen will prompt you to create an account (email account and password) and then it will ask you for a credit card to charge to for the monthly $7.99 subscription. For now there is no free trial. You either sign up and get immediately charged $7.99 for your first month or you don’t and then there is nothing you can do with the app. The folks behind Inky Pen on their FAQ page explain that they don’t offer a free trial because they think it is important that artists be paid for their work and with this being a new service there would probably be a large number of people signing up just long enough to check out the free trial. I’m a big proponent of paying for content so this strategy makes sense to me. But even if it doesn’t make sense to you I think the sheer variety and number of comics that are available with this service will ensure that you end up getting a lot of content for your initial $7.99 investment.
What Comics are Available?
At launch Inky Pen has over 10,000 comic books available from a pretty impressive collection of publishers:
- Dark Horse Comics
- Titan Comics
- Dynamite Entertainment
- Andrews McMeel Universe
- Archie Comics
- Girl Genius
There are offerings for both young and mature audiences as well. For the younger kids they have comics like The Smurfs, Hotel Transylvania and Dinosaur Explorers. Then for the other end of the spectrum there are comics like Hellboy, Mass Effect, Judge Dredd, Star Trek, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Vampirella.
I am a very selective comic reader and tend to only read a few series of comics at a time (mostly long after they have been published as compilations). But that being said I still found a pretty impressive number of comics on day one that I added to my reading list:
- The X-Files Classics
- The Ark
- Snow Day
- Star Trek
- Wizard of Id (daily comic strip)
- Pickles (daily comic strip)
- Bloom County 2018 (daily comic strip)
- Calvin and Hobbes (daily comic strip)
- Dilbert (daily comic strip)
Excuse me while I geek out here just a bit. Calvin and Hobbes!!! This is one of my all time favorite comic strips and, at least for me, if Calvin and Hobbes was the only content available it would almost be worth the price of admission all by itself. Granted there are all sorts of ways you can get a free daily dose of Calvin and Hobbes, with Inky Pen you get it conveniently delivered to your big screen TV along side a lot of other great comics. There is a pretty good selection of daily syndicated comic strips that Inky Pen has negotiated rights to and they are publishing them up with a new strip everyday. Inky Pen was originally scheduled to launch in November, so with existing comic strip series like Calvin and Hobbes and Dilbert the daily strips start on November 2, 2018 and a new strip is published daily from that date onward.
My Initial Thoughts
Inky Pen brings a pretty impressive selection of comics for a reasonable price. One of the downsides to a subscription to Marvel or DC is that you are have to choose between them and then stick with those comics. That isn’t always to best choice for more selective readers like me or younger children just getting into comics. So overall I’m pretty happy with the price and the selection.
The interface has some pluses and minuses. On the plus side of things you get to read your comics in a large screen format when the Nintendo Switch is docked to your TV. The interface also gives you two reading modes from which to choose, book mode and scroll mode. Book mode presents the comic one full-page at a time and allows you to zoom in. Scroll mode also allows you to zoom in but instead of going left to right you read from the top down. One slightly annoying “feature” of the interface is when you are looking through the entire collection of comics. It presents the comic series in a grid interface and then when you select one of the comics it enlarges that picture. Sounds great, but when the selected comic is enlarged it makes it difficult to read the unselected comics. In order to un-enlarge the selected comic you touch on the screen anywhere besides on a comic (when in handheld mode) and when viewing on the TV I haven’t found a way to easily dismiss the enlarged comic icon. The last feature I wish they would tweak is the content filter. Right now you can select from a list of maturity ratings and limit the content based on that setting, but it works across all users. It would be nice for the parent to be able to “unlock” all the content for themselves and restrict content on a user by user basis for younger kids in the family. Hopefully that is something that Inky Pen adds as a feature going forward. Also at this time it is not possible (at least not that I could find) to locally download content for reading while offline (like on an airplane).
Overall I’m pretty happy with Inky Pen. It’s nice have a good selection of comics right there at your fingertips (and your big screen TV). The service isn’t locked into a single publisher and the selection of available comics and daily comic strips makes the service worth the asking price. That being said, this is probably not a service for a die-hard comic book fan (at least not all by itself). I doubt the selection will satisfy someone who is really into comic books, but for those of us with very selective taste or for those just getting into comics Inky Pen is definitely worth checking out.
Disclaimer: I purchased my monthly subscription on my own and the folks at Inky Pen had no input into this review.