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Friday, June 14, 2024

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Ryan’s Corner: InkyPen

Although comics might not be as popular as video games or TV shows, it is still a medium that holds its own as much as any other. And with so many comics to keep track of, it can be overwhelming for many of us. That’s why I find InkyPen to be an interesting case; although only exclusive to Nintendo Switch for now, it proposes to serve as essentially a comic equivalent to Netflix. Considering the convenience of having everything available under a single subscription, I do see the potential of this service working. I wanted to see for myself how InkyPen takes on the concept of a comic subscription service.

Fortunately, the people behind the app have sent me a review code so I could have a firsthand experience with it. Not that it’s unavailable, of course; you’re able to download InkyPen right now on your Nintendo Switch and subscribe to it for $7.99 a month. If I recall correctly, a single comic book issue costs $2.99. It sounds like a fair deal since there’s obviously a lot more you’d want to read on the service than just a few issues. At the time of this writing, in fact, there are comic book 28 series you can access in InkyPen.

Yet, I do think the variety could be better as the app continues to grow. There may be a lot of different series, but some could be under the same franchise. Archie has the biggest representation, bar none. I can certainly say that if you’re an Archie fan, InkyPen is practically made for you! There’s also some My Little Pony, some Angry Birds, and properties that have one series on the app so far. Heck, Pearls Before Swine is the only comic strip in the lineup at this time.

Then again, this may be just what I was personally given for my review code. As I look online for pictures, I realize that there are already images and video circulating of the app in action with a lot more in stock. I guess I can’t really say for sure. I would have loved to read Sonic the Hedgehog and Sarah’s Scribbles on the app, but I digress. I can at least elaborate on how it feels to be reading comics on the app.

UPDATE: Being the idiot I am, I only just realized the settings defaulted to only comics rated Everyone showing up. Maximizing the age rating toleration in there allowed me to see the rest of the lineup, including the aforementioned comics I wanted to read before. While certain series do remain somewhat underutilized, (Sonic the Hedgehog, for example, only has one issue so far. Comics like Garfield and Peanuts only have a month a half’s worth of strips.) this really helps me acknowledge the bigger picture InkyPen tries going for. I am enjoying the app a lot more now that I’ve been able to access all these other comics. 

The content itself is substantial. There are loads and loads of issues to read (especially if you’re an Archie fan) and accessing each comic is as simple as clicking its cover on the menu. You can read the comic in two ways: A book format showing a pair of pages onscreen or scroll through each page individually from top to bottom. I tend to prefer reading in the latter way because the former has you fiddle with the Joy-con’s face buttons if you want to zoom in or out. It’s easier to just use the analog stick to move the page up and down.

So what have I been reading on InkyPen? Well, I’ve decided to read through Pearls Before Swine first. It’s an amusing little strip, if somewhat dubious – it’s rated E on InkyPen but characters tend to mildly swear. One strip even gets away with the phrase “racist little Nazi”! I’ve also delved quite a bit into a series of comics based on the Angry Birds movie. They are self-contained little stories but they center around the versions of the characters from the film. The writing isn’t unheard of but it is better than you’d expect something like this to be. I’ve also read The Smurfs, and learned about how Smurfette came to be in-universe. Classic as these smurfs may be, I have to wonder who thought having them overuse the word “smurf” all the smurfin’ time was a good smurf.

I’m most likely going to use the remainder of my time with InkyPen to dive into them Archie comics. I was a sizable fan of the franchise for a brief period of time and it would be nice to get to revisit that era with the bunches of its series available on InkyPen. I might also have a look at the independent comics and see what unique stories they’ve got to tell. InkyPen has a decent start in its life on the Switch. It might not look like much on the surface, but it has a good amount of content to read through and it presents it all crisp and clear. I can imagine fans of the properties represented would find merit in their subscription purchases. And I hope it succeeds. We’ve seen the heights Netflix has gone to provide entertainment this day and age; what if there could be InkyPen-exclusive comics? Versions of InkyPen for every modern device possible? They’d have to really sell it to the public if they want to get that far.

Whatever the case may be, I’m willing to see where it goes from here.


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