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Check Please! Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu

A list of things I love in stories (AND LIFE), in no particular order:

  • university settings
  • communal housing
  • sports teams
  • gay romance
  • extremely good bros
  • baking
  • supportive families
  • found family
  • mentorship (and menteeship!)
  • banter
  • more banter
  • footnotes and other extras

A list of things Check Please! features:

  • see above.

Put simply, Check Please! just makes me feel good. Like, full on dopamine shot to the brain. It’s delightful, and heartwarming, and comforting, and funny, and just feels like a really good hug from somebody you actually want to hug you, if you’re into hugging. It’s like a platonic cuddle in comic form, hardbound with a side of delicious pie. I strongly recommend reading it if the world is starting to overwhelm you. If you can wrap yourself up in some sort of extremely fuzzy blanket while doing so, maybe with some hot chocolate? You’ll be okay, friend. You’ll be okay.

Check Please! started out as a webcomic, but I didn’t find it until it was in book form. And lucky for me, I found it shortly after the second (and final) book came out, allowing me to power through the entire series in one go, like chugging an entire jar of sprinkles. The series is set at a (fake but based on a real one) New England university, and follows the shenanigans of a college hockey player and his team through the four years of his college experience. If you read it in book form, years 1 and 2 are in the first book, and 3 and 4 are in the second. In both books, after the main set of comics, you’ll find a delightful addendum of random additional related content; everything from Twitter transcripts to hockey information, all presented by the characters themselves.

Everything about Check Please! is good. If you like sports but not graphic novels, you’ll like it. If you like graphic novels but not sports, you’ll like it. If you’ve never read a comic in your life, you’ll like it. If you’ve never read gay romance, you’ll like it. It’s the perfect entrance into half a dozen new genres or tropes. Just pick it up. Bring the fuzzy blanket. You’ll thank me.