On Monday, April 20th, at 6:00pm EDT, The Check, Please!: Year One Kickstarter went live.
By 6:30 pm it was fully funded.
Currently, the Kickstarter is at nearly 300% of its initial goal, and over 800 backers.
Not bad for a little tumblr-based webcomic.
But Check, Please! is not just another tumblr-based webcomic, appearance nonwithstanding. The premise of the series is similarly more than what can be seen taken at face value. Check, Please! is (mostly) the story of Eric Bittle, a fish-out-of-water in multiple senses. Bitty (as his teammates nickname him. See a tutorial on the creation of hockey nicknames in this episode of the accompanying series “Hockey Shit with Ransom & Holster” here.) is a former competitive figure skater turned hockey player, and also a boy from the South in the Yankee north. Bitty is also gay, but that is, thankfully, not treated as another thing that makes him different from his teammates. In fact, the potential romance between Bitty and the Samwell Hockey Captain/Canadian Dreamboat Jack Zimmerman is one of the main draws for many fans.
It’s difficult to pin down what makes Check, Please! so successful, but the transmedia approach to storytelling is certainly part of it. In addition to the narrative, during the long wait between episodes Ngozi will post extra and supportive works–such as the Hockey Shit with Ransom & Holster and Ask-A-Wellie series. She also has an active twitter from the perspective of beloved protagonist Bitty, and even created a zine (now sold out). Ngozi has also been incredibly supportive of fandom, and reblogs and supports Check, Please! fanworks, including the currently running TFLN Graduation Fanworks Fest.
But for my money, I would say what has made Check, Please! so successful is not its adorable gay protagonist, or even the prospect of a romance between Bitty and Jack. It’s also the dead-on descriptions of hockey bro-culture and the homoeroticism latent in all sports, but especially in hockey. The relationship between sexuality (in terms of any sexuality that is not heterosexual) and sports is still controversial, although hockey itself as a sport has taken a firm stance, politically, against homophobia and in support of gay athletes with the NHL partnering with the You Can Play Project. Since Check, Please! takes place ostensibly in the “real world,” even though Samwell University and the characters are fictional within it, it’s heartening to see the issue discussed in a sensitive and positive way, and also in a way that makes you smile.
Although fully funded, you can support the Check, Please! Kickstarter here, and if you, like me, are heartbroken at missing out on the Samwell Hockey shirts, do not fret! Ngozi has promised that they will be available for purchase at some time in the future.