60 Books In 2019 #38: Check Please: Book 1: #Hockey By Ngozi Ukazu

I don’t consider this comic Very Serious ArtTM at all, but I do consider it to be something even better: fun. – Ngozi Ukazu Foreward to Check Please

As a woman who has a complicated but deeply loving relationship with fandom, sports and bro culture, I was kind of nervous about reading Check Please. I was raised by a bro, and lived my life surrounded by them. I speak their language fluently, I understand that toxic bros have hurt and broken many people, but I knew only rowdy love and kindness from them all my life. No bro has ever made me defend my love of the Manning brothers or quizzed me about Zac Brown Songs I prefer. They did not say I was wearing that Hawaiian shirt to a Jimmy Buffett concert “for the attention” or scoffed when I couldn’t keep the plots of The Fast And The Furious sequels straight.

Bros are my brother, and future brother in law, and cousins and friends. I will drink PBR and defend Sublime in their honor against nerds for always. (In turn, I will also defend my nerd loves to the bros. I walk between worlds.)

Check Please is a warm bro-ey hug and I was so grateful for it. (I have gotten many of these hugs over the years, they’re great!) The comic is based around the experiences of Erik Bittle, a college hockey player who switched from figure skating for scholarship reasons. Bitty, as his teammates call him, comes to Samwell College in Boston from a smal town in Georgia, with a love of baking and pop songs and a deep fear of being checked.

Bitty’s also gay, not quite in the closet, but not quite out, really into vlogging and has a SUPER crush on his captain, the broody, mysterious Jack Zimmerman.

Bitty is, to use a fandom term I’ve never been particularly fond of, a total cinnamon roll. All I want to do is hug him and tell him he’s wonderful and perfect and deserves love. Luckily, this is what his teammates and friends, Shitty, Ransom, Holster and many others shower him with all the time.

And then there’s Jack. *SWOON*

This first volume ends with Bitty and Jack’s first kiss and it’s adorably well earned, but mostly, I just devoured this book like one of Bitty’s sweet pies, because of the healthy warm masculinity it models. There’s so much talk about toxic masculinity but less talking and modeling about the aspects that are good. The weird bonding rituals and group hugs and SO MUCH BEER DRINKING, that’s largely harmless and delightful and fun.

Ngozi Ukazu didn’t set out to make VERY SERIOUS ART with Check Please but I think she might have anyway.

Also, the book is so stinking cute, and volume 2 isn’t available yet! Which AHHHH!!!!

Up next is Party Of The Century: The Fabulous Story Of Truman Capote And His Black And White Ball by Deborah Davis. Showbiz bios are fun for everyone!

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