Reviews

A Hockey Romance

KELSEA O'CONNOR

Check Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu (First Second) is the hockey romance comic we’ve all been waiting for. Funny, charming and feel-good, Check Please! covers the first two years of Ukazu’s comic, with a second volume forthcoming. The book follows pie-baking Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a former figure skater who joins the varsity hockey team in his freshman year at Samwell University. He’s keeping a few secrets: he’s gay, and he’s terrified of being checked on the ice. During his first two years at Samwell, Bitty finds his place among the refreshingly non-toxic culture of the hockey locker room and the frat house as he falls secretly, agonizingly, in love with Jack Zimmermann, the broody, seemingly straight star player of the Samwell men’s hockey team. Readers will be pleased to find that Check Please! is no queerbait; Ukazu’s good humour, bright illustrations and sense of chemistry elevate what is essentially a classic enemies-to-friends-to-lovers rom-com. The comic was initially self-published on Tumblr, and a few years ago I breathlessly read the entire thing in one sitting, staying up past my bedtime (on a work night!) to finish. The Tumblr version also hosts a number of “extras”: behind-the-scenes blog posts, readers’ questions answered by the characters, as well as a variety of bonus comics that feature everything from Johnson, the fourth-wall-breaking goalie, to the frat house ghosts. These extras allow the story to grow and the characters to develop; the published book feels pared-down by comparison. The Tumblr webcomic has continued to appear, so if you finish this volume and can’t wait for the next, there’s nearly two full years’ worth of additional material available online.

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KELSEA O'CONNOR

Kelsea O’Connor is contributing editor to Geist. She lives in New Westminster.


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