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Check, Please!: #Hockey

Review

Check, Please!: #Hockey

Editor's Note: CHECK, PLEASE! is set during the first two years of a boy's life in college. Because this book bridges the gap between teen years and adulthood, we assigned the book to two reviewers, one teen (Marco M., Teen Board Member) and one adult (Michael Lee Harris).

- Click here to read Michael Lee Harris's review.

Review #1 by Marco M., Teen Board Member

CHECK, PLEASE!, the popular webcomic series has finally been published as its own graphic novel! Meet Bitty: the popular vlogger and baker who is attending his freshman year of college at Samwell University to play hockey. Now, Bitty is having a bit of trouble fitting into his new home; playing hockey in Samwell is completely different than his experience playing back home in Georgia. To make matters more complicated, he seems to be having trouble with coming out as gay to his new friends, and slowly finds himself catching feelings for his new hockey captain, Jack. CHECK, PLEASE! is a funny, sweet, slice-of-life graphic novel about friendship, baking and hockey. In this first graphic novel in the series, we follow Bitty through his first two years of college.

"CHECK, PLEASE! is perhaps one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read.The art style was amazing; it is very vibrant, clean and colorful..."

I really enjoyed my experience with this graphic novel! I’ve heard many people talk about the webcomic series, and once it was finally announced that there was going to be a printed edition of this series, I had to check it out. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed. CHECK, PLEASE! is perhaps one of the most adorable things I’ve ever read.

The art style was amazing; it is very vibrant, clean and colorful, which is how I like my art style. It gives off a more innocent and happy vibe and reminds me a lot of the graphic novel series Giant Days and the graphic novel SECONDS. CHECK, PLEASE! is able to make its characters pop off of the page from its beautiful artwork.

All of the characters in this series are well rounded and fleshed out. Bitty, our main character, is one of the most authentic characters I’ve read about in a graphic novel. I love how throughout the series we get to see all the different sides to him. Especially the parts where he’s vlogging; those were my favorite scenes to see in the book, and I wished it happened more often. The other characters all stand out on their own as well. Jack, the love interest in this series, has a substantial amount of character growth throughout the series. The friendship dynamics are amazing as well!

The romance in this series is cute as is also extremely slow burn. Personally, I tend to enjoy romances that are more slow burn so I really enjoyed the fact that it does take a while for it to pick up the pace. In fact, I think it is better that this romance does take a while to develop because it makes it a lot more enjoyable in the long run! The way Bitty and Jack’s relationship slowly develops in the graphic novel creates a more realistic feel to it.

Now, I know almost nothing about hockey, but from other reviews, I looked at it seems to me that Ngozi Ukazu did a good job at researching the topic because all of the information about hockey seems to be correct in this book. I think it’s great that this book does a good job of portraying hockey since it is the main plot point in the series!

CHECK, PLEASE! is a graphic novel that I think just about anyone would enjoy! Especially when you're looking for something on the lighter side that still does deal with serious topics every now and then.


CHECK, PLEASE! is a hockey-themed comic by Ngozi Ukazu about a young adult navigating his new college life as a freshman. Eric Bittle is a former figure skater beginning his college hockey career at Samwell University. It begins as a fairly standard coming of age type story in which Bittle must make new friends, deal with coming out, keep his place on the hockey team and earn the respect of his peers.

The story was originally produced as an episodic webcomic. It has since been collected and published by First Second. The collection isn’t simply an assembling of the previously released web episodes, as Ukazu has redone several panels, colored the entire story and re-lettered all of the episodes for the collection. The collection really improves upon the original art really makes the characters and story come to life.

"Ukazu paints a bright and cheery picture mirroring Bittle’s outlook on life. The cartooning is fun and lively."

The reader peeks into Bittle’s life in the form of his person blog in which he talks directly to his viewers. Eric is a young man who loves baking pies for his friends, has never admitted out loud he is gay and perhaps…most importantly…never been checked. Since his co-ed high school team had a strict no-checking policy, now Bittle is a little afraid of getting physical on the rink. His fear holds him back while he gets to know his teammates and becomes entwined with the ups and downs of their lives. Among the cast of characters there’s the recovering addict son of a professional hockey superstar, the artist team manager, a party loving slacker with dreams of Harvard and many other unique personalities Bittle must learn to juggle.

For some reason, Ukazu felt the need to include profanity in the story and while college appropriate, this could have easily been an all ages book with hinted or even censored profanity. Some more sensitive readers might be in for a surprise that belies art that could easily serve in a children’s book. Also, the episodic nature of the webcomic can be a bit jarring in a trade paperback. The sudden gaps in time make sense in a webcomic, but not particularly in a collected edition and can lead to feeling as if something is missing.

The art is fantastic. Ukazu paints a bright and cheery picture mirroring Bittle’s outlook on life. The cartooning is fun and lively. Each character is drawn in a distinct way, they are all visualized as very unique, quickly recognizable individuals. The backgrounds are lush and full of detail, filling out the world quite nicely. Overall, this a beautiful book that everyone should check out, especially if one has any nostalgia for college sports.

Reviewed by Marco M., Teen Board Member and Michael Lee Harris on September 20, 2018

Check, Please!: #Hockey
by Ngozi Ukazu