Baking, Bros And Beyonce: Should You Be Reading ‘Check, Please’?
When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
What happens when a gay former figure skater goes away to college to play hockey? Both more and less than you think, as you’ll find out if you read Ngozi Ukazu's webcomic Check, Please! He bakes pie, he befriends his teammates, and he collapses on the rink for fear of getting checked...
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Check, Please is an ongoing webcomic following the adventures of Eric "Bitty" Bittle, former figure skater turned hockey player at fictional Samwell University in Massachusetts. Bitty loves baking, his hockey buds, and singing Beyonce in the shower. It’s Bitty’s first time playing real hockey (with checking), so he has a lot to learn. He also has to navigate his sexuality, and a giant crush on his captain, within the culture of college hockey.
The comic takes place mostly in real time, following Bitty and his teammates through four years at Samwell. In addition to hockey drama (Will they win? Will they lose? Will Bitty ever let himself get checked for the greater good of the team?), you get to see Bitty and his teammates figure out college life: coming out, dealing with school stress, and saying goodbye when friends graduate.
For a comic about hockey bros, it’s pretty diverse. Check, Please features characters from a variety of races, sexualities, and backgrounds. The team manager, Lardo, is a woman, as are the ghosts living in the Samwell Hockey Haus. (Don’t worry, they’re mostly harmless.)
WHO’S IT BY?
Check, Please is written and drawn by Ngozi Ukazu, a recent MFA grad from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Ukazu doesn’t play hockey and, in her own words, skates “like a newborn giraffe.” Fans all over Tumblr have given her credit for her amazing knowledge of hockey and its culture; Ukazu credits this to the three months of research she did in her senior year at Yale, when she was writing a screenplay about a hockey player who falls in love with his best friend.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Gay hockey players! Pie! Brooding French Canadians! A character named Shitty!
The format is really fun --- Bitty has a vlog in the comic, so he's often talking directly to the reader/viewer. Two of Bitty's teammates also hop in to educate us on hockey terminology when necessary, so you can learn all about how important flow is to an athlete and why hockey players have such amazing butts.
Ukazu makes great use of the online format and incorporates gifs and Twitter into the comic. There are also a ton of extras, from Valentines to ugly baby pictures of the heartthrob team captain.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
Apart from Shitty's name, Check, Please is fairly friendly to a younger crowd, and hockey newbies. Even if you think you don't care about hockey, you will care about the Samwell hockey team. They’re just such great bros!
WHERE CAN I READ IT?
Check, Please is completely available on Tumblr.