As a fanatic of YA gay novels and adorable graphic novels, I am shocked I had been missing out on Check, Please. After finally deciding to pull it off the shelf at my library, I found myself swooning over the charming characters and surprisingly entertaining storyline. I had seen this book around a few other blogs and have now realized the fan base of this series is incredibly large and supportive. After becoming completely obsessed with the first volume and extremely defeated by the cliffhanger, I continued to read every recent update to the webcomic on the Check, Please website. (I'm going to try my absolute best not to spoil major plot points here, fingers crossed.)
Ngozi Ukazu began writing this comic in 2013 after she fell in love with Hockey when doing extensive research on the sport for her screenplay-writing at Yale. In her forward for the first volume she writes how she immersed herself in "weeks of intense anthropological study" of hockey culture. Ngozi stated she was speaking with a friend in the library about how large the LGBT population was at Yale, when a hockey player joked that no one was gay on the hockey team; Ngozi supposedly created this comic in spite of him. When the webcomic gained traction via her twitter and tumblr accounts, Ngozi created a kickstarter for a physical publication of her comic, which was released in September of 2018.
The comic follows Eric "Bitty" Bittle through his four years at Samwell University. Bitty not only plays forward (#15) for the Samwell Men's Hockey Team (SMH), but is also an avid baker and vlogger. Bitty is always speaking to his camera, telling stories about SMH or sharing pie recipes with his audience when he is not in the kitchen making baked goods for his teammates. Throughout his first two years at Samwell, we see Bitty struggle with hockey, specifically his fear of physicality, and coming to terms with his sexuality. He finds himself getting coached by their star player, Jack Zimmermann, on how to deal with checking. This leads to a strange friendship between Bitty and the elusive Jack.
Jack Zimmermann, later known as Zimmboni, is the son of Canadian hockey legend "Bad Bob". Because his father had an immensely successful career, Jack felt a lot of pressure to follow in his footsteps causing him severe anxiety. Jack plays for SMH and becomes captain in his senior year. Throughout the first volume, Jack is often seen speaking with hockey managers working out deals for his professional career, or taking photographs of geese for his photography class. He is described as a hockey robot, who lacks emotion and often avoids social interaction, that is until he meets Bitty.
The characters in this comic are charismatic and bountiful. Because we are following an entire hockey team, there must be way more than our two main characters. My personal favorite would be Shitty; as the secret genius best friend with a glorious "flow", he is extremely amiable and supportive of everyone around him. Other characters include: Ransom and Holster (everyones best friend goals), Chowder, Nursey, Dex, Tango, Lardo, Denise, and Whiskey.
This comic was super fun to read. I loved reading about the hockey boys, their stories, inside jokes, and growing friendships. The culture surrounding college hockey is really quite cute (at least in this comic). The first volume, #Hockey, is a delightful read for anyone who enjoys graphic novels. The second half of Bitty's story, which is still in progress, is just as pleasant but appears to deal with more serious topics such as coming out, keeping a relationship secret, as well as dealing with pressure and anxiety. Now is the best time to start reading as Ngozi seems to be updating more frequently since the official second volume is in production. Also! The comics website has lots of extras including blogs and sketches from Ngozi as well as Bitty's actual twitter account! I always love when books or shows break into reality by having twitter or instagram accounts for their characters; it adds an additional dimension to the characters and lets the readers have fun with the story even after they finish the book. Theres tons of great interviews with Ngozi too which I recommend reading/watching if this comic made your heart double in size!
Overall, you should absolutely read this comic because it will fill you up with happiness, warmth, and all things good. I will actually drown in tears when it is completed and am praying it does not end after Bitty graduates. Please read it so we can cry together.