Hello, hello, I’m back with my thoughts on Check, Please, the amazing webcomic turned book! I know it has been a very long time since I posted, but baby stuff has been keeping me busy. I’m back at work this week, though, so I think (hope?) blogging should be more consistent. In the meantime, friends, this latest book is an absolute MUST-READ.Check, Please!: #Hockey (Check, Please!, #1-2)
Author: Ngozi Ukazu
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: September 18, 2018
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books
Helloooo, Internet Land. Bitty here!
Y’all... I might not be ready for this. I may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It’s nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking. And then, there is Jack—our very attractive but moody captain.
A collection of the first half of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.
Review: Check, Please! Book #1: Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
A captivating graphic novel about hockey, friendship, and love. Told in little episodes based on a baker-turned-hockey player’s personal vlog, Eric “Bitty” Bittle’s is a former figure skater starting at Samwell University as a college hockey player. This book collects freshman and sophomore year Eric’s story, as well as some extra comics that explain some of the hockey terminology and some of Eric’s tweets.
At first, little (literally, he’s the tiniest, fastest guy on the team) Eric is taken aback by the dude-bro culture of the Samwell team. Samwell is a tiny Massachusetts college, but it has a very dedicated hockey team. Bitty is a pie-baking, pop-loving gay guy who is terrified of getting checked (or hit) during the game. But slowly, he befriends the team and they help him work out some of his issues, all while enjoying Bitty’s pie and his enthusiasm for the game.
In particular, Eric’s first year is met with some resistance by Captain Jack Zimmermann, a former NHL draft pick who ended up without a career because of his anxiety. Jack initially helps Eric with his fear of checking, but then becomes cold when Eric begins to improve and Jack takes some insults from his former hockey star dad on his own playing. The year follows the hockey season and Eric and Jack’s relationship, as well as what’s happening with teammates Shitty (that’s literally the only name we know him by), Ransom and Holster.
In second year, the friendships deepen as the Samwell team attempts to make it to the Frozen Four (the college men’s ice hockey championship). Jack and Shitty are graduating and the tensions about what they’ll be doing afterwards – and their last season – make this year a pressure-filled one. New “frogs” (aka freshman on the team) come onto the team and Eric is one of the guys they turn to for help. And Eric learns a lot more about his team while living in the Haus (aka the men’s hockey house – it’s like a frat house). He also has a crush on Jack, but recognizes it can never happen because Jack is straight. Or is he?
Ok, that’s a lot of synopsis, but suffice to say, a lot of stuff happens in this comic, and it’s done quickly and uses the format incredibly well. Each of the episodes is like one issue of a comic, but in a very shortened form – I think most of the episodes have about 8-12 panels. The detail in each panel – from the backgrounds, to the expressions, to the words – makes the Samwell men’s hockey world so full. There are a lot of panels were more is illustrated than is said in dialogue, which is the way I like my comics. Author Ngozi Ukazu makes the most of every expression and interaction, especially between Bitty and Jack, and even if it’s not said, you always know what they’re feeling.
To say I adored reading this comic is an understatement – I ripped through it in two nights and immediately caught up on the rest online (currently it’s coming out weekly in Year Four, yes, I also ripped through Year Three). Not only is Eric so cute – but his actions are always so true to who he is. I fell in love with his bravery, honesty and way of talking about pie. It sounds obvious, but the story just uncovers Bitty’s growth in a way that feels so relatable – with lots of laughs and fun in between.
The Final Word:
I know I’m sort of the perfect reader for Check, Please – I’m obsessed with gay hockey romances already, and ones set in college are my favorite – but I honestly think anyone who likes YA will enjoy this comic. It’s just so darn cute and light and refreshing. There’s a lot to ship here, so if you’re a fandom-y person, I highly recommend checking out Check, Please. The hockey part makes the book exciting, and the characters just riff off each other in a way that’s really relateable.
The first ever print book edition of Check Please comes out on September 16, 2018. Will you be reading it? Are you a fan of comics or any particular webcomics? Let me know in the comments – I’m always looking for great recommendations!