Inky Pen is an app that you can download for free* on your Nintendo Switch, which is fantastic if you’re a comics fan who has a Nintendo Switch and doesn’t have an alternate option to read comics digitally readily available. I’m not typically a big digital comics reader, but I recently won a free month’s trial of the app courtesy of Inky Pen and Valiant Comics. A lot of the images you’ll see will be Valiant books because those are the books I’m most excited to read, not because I was asked to only highlight Valiant books (neither Ink Pen nor Valiant knew I was writing this when I started).
After downloading the free* app, I was prompted to sign up an account and enter a payment method for a monthly subscription to get access to all the comics that aren’t available without said subscription, which will run you $8US/$10CAD a month. I’ve only recently purchased a Switch, and so it was with some surprise that I discovered the app is now almost a year and a half old. But, seeing as how I only purchased my Nintendo Switch three or so months ago and have never really had the desire to read comics on it, I’m not surprised that I had never heard of Inky Pen.
But now that I’ve spent a week or so playing around with the app, and reading more comics and collections than I expected I would, I definitely have more pros than cons with the app.
So far the only real downsides for me is that there’s no Marvel or DC on the app (to expand on this, it’s really only X-Men that I’m missing) and that I can’t sort by publisher on the Nintendo Switch whereas I can on their website. Or at least I can’t figure out how to sort by the publisher, which is almost as bad as not being able to (look, I accept a certain amount of user error goes along with these things, but searching or filtering by a specific publisher shouldn’t be hard to figure out). Other than these, there’s nothing about the app that I don’t like.
Inky Pen is really easy to use. More so than some of the touch-screen tablet/phone apps that you can get in terms of its interface. Searching is pretty simple, and gives you a couple of different options to sear and sort your results. There’s the obvious name search, as well as the ability to filter by name, published date and date added (each search allows you to flip the results so you can search A to Z or Z to A). You can refine the search by searching manga, graphic novels, indie and strips, then specifying the genre if you’d like.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for Inky Pen is the way it works with the Nintendo Switch itself. You can set it up to read like a tablet with touch screen controls and/or the console’s buttons. Alternatively you can also read comics by hooking the console up to your TV by using the controller – which also works when you have the Switch propped up on your desk so you can read while you’re (not) at work. For those with young kids, parental controls are easy to set and maintain.
Is Inky Pen worth buying a Switch for? Hell no. But is it a nice bonus to have when you’re travelling and have your Switch with you? Absolutely. For $10 a month, this is honestly good value for what you’re getting. If you’re looking for an easy way to read comics on a device that’s got three different ways of reading them. For the most part, I’ve been reading in tablet form, but absolutely love the abilitly to scroll through the pages with the thumbstick.
Will this convert me from print to digital? Nope. I’m too much of a collector to ever leave print books. But what it does do is allow me to read the modern and 90’s Valiant comics I already own/am slowly tracking down in a very convenient manner that doesn’t involve digging through my (newly organized) boxes to read books that I really don’t want to be handling if I can at all help it. Now granted, there’s only a dozen or so in that category, but the point remains that Inky Pen has been utterly fantastic in that regard.
One question that is bound to come up is how does Inky Pen stack up to comixology Unlimited? I don’t know. I don’t tend to read digital comics that aren’t review pdfs so I don’t really have any basis for comparison here, but after spending fifteen minutes going through Comixology looking for similar comics on my phone, I feel that the selection there is significantly higher selection on comixology Unlimited verses Inky Pen. However, while my phone is more likely to be on me at any given time, I find myself favouring the Switch over my phone for reading the comics. If you have comixology Unlimited already… well I don’t know if this is offering anything special beyond the way you can read the comics.
But if you don’t, and if you do have a Nintendo Switch and want to delve into some digital comics, then I highly recommend this app.