Queer Comics from a Queer Perspective: Check, Please! – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Let’s talk about a book that gives sheer joy and love as we toe-loop into 2023. Check out Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu.
Well, it's a new year, and it's fabulous to see you! I hope your holiday season was amazing and that you and yours are great. Welcome back to Queer Comics from a Queer Perspective. As always, or if you're joining me for the first time, it's only my perspective; I can't speak for every Queer person. Oh, and spoilers ahead! One resolution I always make is to try some new comics. I have my favorite characters and my favorite creators, as we all do, but there's a lot of great stuff out there.
I want to recommend something I read a few years ago. Before I get to the big reveal, a few things to know: I spend as little time on my computer as possible. I'd much rather spend time alphabetizing comics, quoting lines from Golden Girls, or baking. My point is I tend to be oblivious when it comes to webcomics. I shouldn't be, but I am. I spend all day staring at my computer screen, so I like to shut it off at the end of the workday. The second thing to know is that I love romance. I love old romance comics from decades past. I love a good rom-com, and, let's face it, you do too. I know that superhero-action movies run the world right now, but imagine Avengers: Endgame without Steve and Peggy's dance. Imagine Superman without Lois, Bruce without Selina, Tony without Pepper, or Diana without Steve. Would the movies have been as fun? Sure, but would we have lost some emotional punches? Of course. Even the most hard-hearted of us know that love is what we all search for one way or another. This is a long preamble to encourage you to pick up Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu, a gay romcom set in the world of hockey. I'm going to focus on Volume One: #Hockey, but I'll reference Volume 2: Sticks and Scones as well. Let's get to it, shall we?
The main character is Eric Bittle, AKA Bitty, a figure skater who wants to leave his small-town Georgia home for college. He ends up with a hockey scholarship at Samwell University in the Northeast, outside of Boston. Bitty is a baker, not a hockey bro, but he needs the scholarship and ends up with a supporting cast, including Jack, Lardo, "Shitty" Knight, Ransom, Holster, and Sweet Baby Chowder, among others. Though Bitty is gay and hardly, at least to the reader, in the closet, this doesn't seem at all like a romance at first glance. It's a sweet story about people who are good and kind, and that doesn't happen often.
So should a Queer person read this? I'm so glad you asked! And the answer is yes, yes, yes! Because it's a story as much about friendship as it is about love. It's a story about self-discovery and the bravery that comes from avoiding the average and traditional paths to falling in love.
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Would I recommend this to my straight friends? Yes! There are story points specific to being a Queer person, coming out, and being Queer in sports. Yes, the book is about Queer people because they're front and center, but it's not exclusively for them. Everyone understands wanting to find love or getting frustrated with family and friends. Ukazu does something that monthly comics have a difficult time doing these days. Check Please takes its time. It's not a slow burn where nothing happens. It's a slow burn that peels layers away and puts them back stronger than before.
Even more than that, Check Please gives the reader a sweet, realistic love story. I try to be cynical because that's where I am right now, but I can't be about this book. We need some kind reads this year, and Ukazu's Check Please is one of those books where you genuinely care for everyone. Beyond Check Please, if I could recommend anything to comic readers, it would be this: step out of your comfort zone this year. Try something new, whether creator, character, or genre. I bet you'll find something fabulous.
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