I had seen this floating around, but it wasn’t until I saw Ngozi Ukazu speak at the NYPL professional day at New York Comic Con this year that I really wanted to read it. I had seen the cover and thought, “Oh, hockey, not really for me,” and passed it by. But seeing Ukazu speak so passionately about her work inspired me to seek it out. (Fun fact – my public library where I work did not have it, but the high school where I also work did have it! Good job, high school librarian!) Ukazu talked about the process and the reasoning behind her work, and explained how the story was about much more than hockey. It’s also about baking! And finding yourself. And teamwork, and fitting in, and the stresses of college, and trying to not disappoint others, and so much more.
Eric “Bitty” Bittle is the host of the book. I say that, because a good portion of the story is seen through his vlog. (Well, the panels that represent his vlog.) We start with his first day at Samwell University, and his first experiences with the Samwell Men’s Hockey team. Bitty was a champion figure skater and on the coed hockey team in his small town from Georgia, but managed to land an athletic scholarship at Samwell. He loves to skate and bake, and has a robust vlog and Twitter account. We see a lot of his team members: Jack, Shitty (yes, that’s what everyone calls him), Holster, Ransom, Nursey, Dex, Chowder, and Lardo.
Bitty is gay, and the absolutely sweetest thing on the planet, but that first thing is not really the focus. I mean, it’s in there, but it’s not in your face. We see a gradual progression of his feelings, but it’s more about his whole journey. (And we see it before Bitty does, which is how it usually is.) One of my favorite scenes *spoilers* is when he comes out to Shitty. It’s very sweet. I think from that moment on Shitty was my favorite character. I also like how we get introduced to Lardo, and don’t find out until a few pages later that *spoiler* she’s a girl. I mean, I didn’t know, other people may have known.
The art style is colorful and fun! Bitty always seems to have bigger, more innocent eyes than anyone else. The expressions that Ukazu is able to draw really convey their emotions. And of course, there’s a lot of motion!
This started out as a webcomic, and is still updating. (At one point, maybe even now, it was the most funded webcomics on Kickstarter of all time!) You can read the whole thing online if you like! Online also has fun extras, and there is also a Wiki page if you want to find specifics. There’s a lot of info in the Wiki that is not in the book, but stuff that comes from extra blogs and tweets and things. It’s kind of awesome.
So, did I learn anything about hockey? Not really. Have I become a fan of real hockey? Nope! But I have become a fan of Check, Please!
This fulfills the CBR11 Bingo square of “Listicle” as it was on a Bookriot list of “50 Webcomics You Have to Check Out Now”
Bingo count – 6 (Top row, far right column, center column, bottom row, diagonal, four corners plus center)