An interesting service that nobody asked for…
InkyPen is an app on the Nintendo Switch that allows you to read thousands of comics from a wide selection of publishers and artists via a $7.99/month subscription fee. Its release is the first of it’s kind for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo has been slow to add additional non-game apps to the Switch. InkyPen features comics from IDW, Dark Horse Comics, Titan Comics, Valiant, Dynamite Entertainment, Humanoids, Papercutz, Andrews McMeel Universal, Archie Comics and Independents such as Girl Genius & Wyrmworld. The comics are easily sortable and discoverable. It is also possible to filter content based on a variety of filters. You can also set it so children can’t view content that is rated mature, Teen, Etc.
Let’s face it, the digital comic book market is saturated right now. You’ve got multiple options for both subscription-based and pay-as-you-go services. Comixology is the clear 800-pound gorilla offering both options, but DC and Marvel both have their own offerings as well. The price feels a bit high in my opinion, but InkyPen is new to this market and currently is only available on the Switch. They do mention on their site that they are planning on rolling the service out to other platforms in the future, but no mention as to where.
Given the fact the Switch is a portable device it is nice to be able to undock the Switch and relax on the couch and read through some comic books. That being said, don’t plan on reading comics on your commute; the lack of a data plan on the Switch and the inability to download comics for offline viewing means you must be connected to the internet to catch up on the latest issue of Axe Cop.
InkyPen may become a great service over time, but currently, it feels half-baked. The library of comics currently feels somewhat limited and at its price point, it feels expensive for what you’re getting. The reading experience is far inferior compared to its competitors and it could benefit greatly from a directed view mode. I found myself shocked to find I couldn’t rotate my Switch and read in portrait mode. This feels like a no-brainer for a device that is roughly the size of a comic book page. You are limited to two viewing options; showing both full pages on landscape viewing mode (far too small to read the text in handheld mode and way too awkward on a tv) or scroll across a page in landscape mode. The landscape mode viewing is an awful experience. Comics are a visual medium. It is near impossible to appreciate the artwork on this device.
It is possible that InkyPen may be a viable service on other platforms, such as mobile, but currently, I am unable to recommend it. I’m left scratching my head, wondering why they chose to release on the Switch first. If the team at InkyPen improves the readability issue they may have a gem on their hands.
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