Check Please!

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Fandom
Name: Check Please!
Abbreviation(s): OMGCP
Creator: Ngozi Ukazu
Date(s): 2013-ongoing
Medium: webcomic
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: OMG Check Please (Tumblr), Check Please (Hiveworks)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Check Please! is a multimedia webcomic by Ngozi Ukazu about a college hockey player and his friends and college experience. It is often abbreviated to CP or OMGCP. Others have pointed out that CP has several other meanings, including child porn, so OMGCP is safer and clearer.

The main character, Eric "Bitty" Bittle, is a vlogger, and many episodes of the comic open with a shot of him speaking directly to the 'camera' as he records his vlog. In the first year of the comic, Bitty worked to adjust to the body-checking in college hockey, began coming out as gay to some of his teammates, and learned more about the college team captain, Jack Zimmermann, a talented player with a complicated past.

Cross-Platform Storytelling and Fan Interaction

Bitty, the protagonist, Tweets from 'his' Twitter account during the school year, enhancing the story told in the comic strips. Bitty's tweets happen in real time and are usually considered part of the canon universe. (Notable exceptions include an AMA with Jack on May 17, 2015, which Ukazu specified did not affect canon events, though the answers Jack gave could be assumed to be canon.) Ukazu discussed this in an email interview with the Daily Dot:

The more I researched transmedia and multiplatform storytelling (which are pretty interchangeable terms), the more I realized what Bitty's twitter could potentially do for the story, including interacting and engaging with readers.[1]

The Twitter is locked when the comic is behind the real timeline. (dates needed) It is locked as of August 2016. omgeverythingplease on Tumblr collected everything in the right order, including both comics and tweets.

Ngozi frequently creates works using the characters of Check, Please! which are meant to exist outside of canon. There are currently two Huddle! zines (though the second is only available in hard copy) which feature sketches of various pairings in intimate situations, all of which are meant to be either outside of or post-canon. Ngozi also wrote a firefighter!AU comic called Wingman which provokes a strong emotional reaction in the fandom due to its depictions of character death and suicidal ideation.

Fandom

Check Please fandom is primarily found on Tumblr, where the comic was initially posted. There is also substantial work on AO3, where the first Check Please story was posted in October 2013, and the tag accumulated more than 2700 stories as of August 2016. As of July 2017, there is one work found on Fanfiction.net (Midnight, New Year's 2017), and about 20 works on Wattpad.

The most popular pairing is Jack/Bitty (Zimbits).

Fan response was strong and divided when Kent Parson, a minor character with a role in Jack's past, was introduced in January 2015. Some fans interpreted the character as threatening or even abusive while others were drawn to him as a locus of fannish activity and storytelling. Jack/Parse is the second most frequently written Check Please! pairing on AO3.

Fandom exploded in February 2016 when Zimbits became canon. Destinationtoast posted a statistical analysis of Check Please fandom before and after the pairing became canon, concluding that there was a "huge surge in activity in the fandom" and discussing the fandom's changing trends in fanfiction genres and tagging.[2]

Meetups

There have been several London meetups in 2016, one on May 28th and one on July 2nd, then September 24th. Details of past and future London Meetups can be found here. The first three were all held in the Southbank Centre, but the October one was fancy-dress and in a different location. There was also a barbecue, and the April 2017 meetup was a sleepover to watch hockey-related films. The anniversary meetup is May 20th 2017.

Michigan are aiming for June 2017 in Farmington Hills. [10]

Other locations are setting their own up, but nothing official yet.

Chat rooms

There are two main IRC chat rooms on fdfnet.net - #omgchatplease and #epikinkster. The latter is 18+, though not enforced it is considered an honesty policy, and the former is kept safe-for-work.[3]

Overlap with real hockey

Some people came to Check Please to get away from real hockey/Hockey RPF.

Some people still love both.

Some people mix both together in fics.

Some people put trigger warnings or content notes on any Check Please content featuring real hockey. Examples include des-zimbits' tags[Dead link] on Tumblr, and Kent Stop, Won't Stop fanzine warning for mention of Patrick Kane.

Notable Fanworks

Fics

In October 2014, twentysomething wrote a Check Please! story for Ukazu's birthday, Phone, Please!, that is the most popular story by Kudos and may have helped to spread awareness of the fandom.

emmagrant's Something Like This is the longest published fanfic in the fandom, and is complete. The total word count is over 280k.

Exchanges and Challenges

  • The "holiday-ish" fanwork exchange, 'Swawesome Santa, added 72 works to AO3 in December 2014.
  • The Check Please! Trope Challenge posts a trope every other Monday (originally every Monday) and fans create any type of work for any OMGCP pairing in response. Participants may create for the current week's challenge or any of the previous challenges. The exchanges was created by porcupine-girl and is co-modded with darkenednights. The first trope (Soulmate AU) was posted on June 20, 2016. There is an AO3 collection for participants to post works, but it is not required.
  • The Check Please Big Bang was a Big Bang style exchange with a minimum writing requirement of 10,000 words, and an art requirement of a single work. A total of 33 stories with accompanying artwork were completed. The masterlist is located on Livejournal.

Audio Works

Fanart

Fanzines

Vids

Character/pairing theme weeks on Tumblr

  • There are many theme weeks organised by people on Tumblr
  • Samwell Student Union collects links to a lot of these
  • Patater week, 6-12 Feb 2017 [11]
  • Nursey week, 8-14 Feb 2017 [12], started by @baba-nurse and @dexydex
  • Women of Check Please, 4-11 March 2017 [13] [14]
  • Charmer week, 18-25 March 2017 [15]
  • Ransom week, 28 Mar-3 April 2017 [16], started by @baba-nurse and @dexydex
  • Dex Rarepair week, June 18th-24th 2017 [17]
  • Nursey/Dex week, July 16th-22nd 2017 [18]

Women and Femslash

  • The femslash fandom is small, and there are not that many female characters in the comic and not many with significant screentime, but people still create things
  • Georgia has rarepairs like Claire the nutritionist OC
  • George/Suzanne is a thing
  • Alicia/Suzanne also exists
  • Lardo/Camilla can be found, e.g. art
  • OMGCP Women is run by fatlardo and dadbob and brings together a lot of women-focused content

Networks

Shipping

The most popular Ships in the fandom by works on AO3 (May 2017, October 2016):

  • Eric Bittle/Jack Zimmermann (2708, 1832 works): AKA Zimbits. As the central canonical pairing of the comic, it is no surprise that it attracts a large following.
  • Derek "Nursey" Nurse/William "Dex" Poindexter (1017, 523 works): AKA NurseyDex
  • Kent Parson/Jack Zimmermann (447, 408 works) AKA Pimms. It is strongly suggested from when we first see Parse in year 2, that these to were in a relationship while they were playing in the Q. This is later confirmed by Jack in LVA @ PVD - Part I.
  • Adam "Holster" Birkholtz/Justin "Ransom" Oluransi (418, 266 works). AKA Holsom. The inseparable D-man pair. Shipping flames have been stoked by a few memorable images from extras such as when it is hinted that they have drunkenly made out, or when they are shown sharing a bed because Ransom is afraid of ghosts.
  • Larissa "Lardo" Duan/Shitty Knight (394, 261 works). AKA Shardo.
  • Alexei Mashkov/Kent Parson (320, 122 works). AKA Patater.
  • Chris "Chowder" Chow/Caitlin Farmer (128 works). AKA Charmer.
  • Eric Bittle/Kent "Parse" Parson (126 works)
  • Eric Bittle/Kent Parson/Jack Zimmermann (123, 68 works) AKA Pimbits or PB&J (as coined by Ngozi in a Tweet which has since been deleted).
  • Shitty Knight & Jack Zimmermann (75 works) - friendship rather than romantic, as indicated by & rather than /
  • Kent Parson/Original Male Character(s) (89, 63 works) The unusual popularity of a ship involving OCs is likely due to popular fics written/started before we are introduced to the NHL players in the comic. Whits from Emmagrant01's fic Something Like This, Corey Henderson of TDKeh16's "Mon Petit Chou" series, and Nate of idrilka's 'for all of the perfect things that i doubt" series are examples of OMC which appear in multiple works paired with Kent.
  • Chris "Chowder" Chow/Derek "Nursey" Nurse/William "Dex" Poindexter (45 works). AKA Polyfrogs.

The relative lack of femslash in general is exacerbated in this fandom due to the comic's focus on male characters. Lardo/Camilla (17 works on AO3 as of May 2017) and Jenny/Mandy (the Haus Ghosts) are relatively popular on tumblr, but both have very few fanfics, perhaps because we have essentially no information about any of the women besides Lardo. The Falconer's GM, Georgia Martin, is also often headcanoned as in a relationship with a woman, but generally not shipped with any of the other characters in the comic, due to the age difference.

Popular fanon

  • The women's volleyball team? People have started writing other characters, not just Caitlin Farmer
  • What happened with Kent and Jack before the draft, controversy around that - debate around whether the overdose was before or after the draft, most people seem to assume before, and assume Kent and Jack were in a relationship, even before that was confirmed in canon.
  • Whits - Taylor Whitton, Falconers player, OC from a fic that has spawned other fics
  • Snowy - goalie for the Falconers, seen spending time with the trainers, noted for apparently wearing eyeliner

Kent Parson's Cat

While Ngozi has mentioned on several occasions that Kent Parson owns a cat, its canon status and any related details have remained vague. Ngozi offhandedly joked that if Kent had a cat, he would name it after himself. The fandom gave the cat the name "Kit Purrson", though later Ngozi would name the cat "Kent Purrson Jr." She also noted that the cat's breed is a maine coone. Fanworks occasionally reconcile the divergence by either assigning one of the names to the cat, or simply giving Kent two cats. There were also rumors of a picture of Kent with a cat drawn by Ngozi, but any evidence of Kit Purrson's existence seems to have been removed from their original sources.

Kent Parson's Parentage

While no actual mention of Kent Parson's family has been made in canon, much of the fandom assumed that Kent Parson was raised by a single mother.

Trans headcanons

Neurodiversity

Pairing pun names

  • "A little bit meta" for Bitty/Johnson
  • Charmer for Chowder/Farmer
  • Many others

Controversies

  • Shitty: not such a perfect ally
  • Nurseydex: hatesex not always healthy?
  • One controversy was around people reposting Huddle 2, which was only available to buy in person at cons, and Ngozi asked people not to post online. This was a fairly small subset, though, and didn't get widely reblogged - a lot of people didn't see it. There was also a small leak of Patreon-only content, but it was one image in a photoset and didn't contain any major spoilers, so didn't cause too much fuss - it could easily have been a mistake.

Kent Parson

  • Kent: A problematic fave among significantly white fans. Kent Parson's words said to Jack at Epikegster can be read as very harsh, and the way he treats Jack can also be seen as very bad, though there are differing interpretations of the scenes in canon among fans. Many people see him as abusive. Others see his behaviour as typical of Borderline Personality Disorder, and want to explore this representation of mental illness, or explore how the events of his and Jack's draft year impacted him. There is also some discussion in fandom about the focus on Kent in fic and art rather than characters of colour who have more screen time.

Racism

  • Racism in fandom - characters of colour are under-represented in fanworks, despite the good range of characters of colour in canon. Some fans have been overly defensive[18] when this is pointed out.
  • OMG POC Please was started by @chrisfranklinchow and @omgcphee on Tumblr to provide a private space for fans of color and also shares content focusing on characters of color
  • @jewishomgcp are an important source for Jack and Holster content

Bullying

  • Bullying in fandom - some fans use arguments around social justice as an excuse for bullying other fans. A lot of fans were not part of fandom at the time of things like Racefail and Warningsfail, and repeat mistakes of dogpiling or punching down.

Glorified Portrayal of LGBT and Non-White Players in "Real Hockey" & In Criticism to Fandom's Defense

On August 17, 2017, Tumblr user xouellet made the following post:

check please is not itself a problematic entity beyond that fact that all art on some level is problematic. however i think some of the culture that its fans have bred or misconstrued can be kind of unhealthy. Ngozi has been very open when talking abotu the comic that she didn’t want it to be another gay tragedy. and thats great and we need more of that in the world we need lgbt stories of all types. that being said what a lot of i think maybe a lot of people have taken away from that is that places like samwell exist. and maybe they do, but its an unrealistic expectation of how those spaces have identity. hockey is a very expensive sport played by mostly white men. it’s stupid to think that there isn’t a population of lgbt people even in professional circles. but life isn’t a buddy comedy. it’s crazy to me that this is the website that takes every opportunity to take down frat culture and college party culture as evil but as soon as you put both of those things on ice skates it’s some how soft and accepting. any hockey player you like, you can find receipts of them that you’re not gonna like. i’m so thrilled that check please exists and i think we need more media like it but its readers need to be more critical about what they’re praising.[19]

Then on August 29, 2017, shaipes posted this comic, with the following script:

1) I think people in online [ice] hockey fandoms tend to have misconceptions on how teammates interact. 2) The population of hockey players is mainly rich and white. Hockey dues usually are over $1000 [USD]. My friend needs financial aid in order to even practice with the Jr. Sharks. Other recreational youth sports like soccer are only $300 a season at the most. I'm going somewhere with this. Hold on. 3) I'm Pinoy, gay, and transgender. This tends to lead to problems. Even when I played with the girls team, someone told an openly bi girl she'll burn in hell. I think it's also key to note: that someone was our teammate. 4) What else can you expect when putting a dozen of spoiled white kids alone in a room? 5) It's not all bad all the time. I like some of my teammates. They're rare types, though. 6) I guess what I'm trying to say is that though hockey teams spend more time together... They are far from perfect-er, and shouldn't be assumed diverse and accepting because of a webcomic.

It received about 300 notes, all mostly support.

shaipes posted a follow-up post the next day.

jack and bitty and whoever the fuck are based off of the idea of hockey camaraderie and it’s vague line between friendship and more than friendship.

im trying to critique that very idea in this post. im trying to explain that because hockey is an expensive sport, it is predominantly white and rich people who play it, and because it is predominantly white and rich, the “hockey camaraderie” you think of comes rare to players of color and lgbt players who are often ostracized within their own fucking team. im saying that Check Please fails to address this and instead paints men’s ice hockey as an all accepting, loving, diverse community, when really, it’s not, even in a liberal-leaning suburb of San Jose/Oakland where i live.

This post received over 500 notes and garnered many fan reactions. The discussion segues into the controversy of the real hockey vs Check Please! fans.

like, i love hockey. i LOVE it. but i would be shocked if an LGBT hockey player would be angry with folks who elect not to watch pro hockey because they think the environment isn’t one that wholly accepts their identity. do you honestly think that LGBT omgcp readers who might be hockey fans should just, what. tough it out? throw their support entirely behind a league that doesn’t always respect them?

furthermore, as an LGBT hockey fan i’m not interested in only consuming material that accurately represents how much it sucks to be an LGBT hockey player because We Know and i don’t always wanna be bummed about how much my sport maybe doesn’t like me and my identity. so, i latch on to omgcp, which is consistently upbeat and positive.

as a white person i can’t speak to omgcp’s relation to racial demographics in hockey but why does it seem to upset you that the writer, herself a black woman, might want to show more diversity amongst her characters than is accurate in college hockey? honest to god, why is that a bad thing???

“check please fails to address this and instead paints men’s ice hockey as an all accepting, loving, diverse community, when really, it’s not.” fuck, my dude. yes, that’s exactly what it does. that’s what it’s always set out to do. i seriously recommend that you adjust your standards of media consumption if you only want to engage with that which is so painfully realistic that you can’t escape from the parts of the world that are draining, painful, and “real” for a few minutes every now and then. men’s hockey really isn’t accepting, loving, or diverse, but if we ever want it to actually be that way, we have to start by imagining it.[20]

Fantasies like check please are inportant because they let us see a world where homophobia is turned off. Where things are okay. Where Bitty can bake pies and skate and get the NHL boyfriend and lead his team and everyone is okay with that and everyone knows it’s not real, but it’s an impirtant fantasy to have. It’s important for us to envision a way out little queer asses can be accepted and loved. It’s important for us to have a space where we can go to get away from the grim crushing reality of being queer in a cishet world. All marginalised groups deserve these fantasies.

And maybe check please doesn’t function as that fantasy for OP and that’s okay. Different things for different people. I struggle to engage in a lot of wish fulfilment narratives that involve conspicuously middle class people because I can’t put down my class politics and that’s okay. Maybe the OPs involvement in hockey makes this, for them, a wish fulfilment narrative that they can’t engage in. That’s okay, I hope they find ones they can.

But if you do find check please is a happy place for you, that’s okay too. It’s okay for a story just to make you feel happy. It doesn’t have to justify its existence beyond that. You don’t have to engage with the grim dark side we all know is out there in the real world. It’s okay, sometimes, to just be happy.[21]
'my own fiction in fact normalizes the experiences of lgbt poc via not describing homophobia/racism at all' I kinda can't believe you said this about your writing and then refused to allow another creator to do the same?? also there's more than one way to be 'revolutionary.' it's arguably more revolutionary and different to write happy LGBT stories, and the effect omgcp has had on its fans is overwhelmingly positive. also no fan of the comic thinks hockey has no problems with racism/homophobia[22]

I agree the omgcp fandom, especially those that get into hockey through it, can be a little out of touch with reality. I myself would never get into the sport but sometimes I see post or rb about irl hockey players where fans create "headcannon" based on the comic. I understand what you are saying. Omgcp is not realistic, though I don't think it was ever meant to be, but the fandom often confuses this when getting into irl hockey.

I still don't think the comic is obligated to give an accurate representation, since it would Not be consisted with the FICTIONAL word Ngozi has created, but maybe a content warning before reading the comic where it is explained it's a work of fiction completely separated from the very real and problematic homophobic/transphobic/racist/elitist characteristics of irl hockey would give some clarity to future readers.[23]

But much of shaipes' (and certainly other critics') argument is that Check Please! takes place in the "real world" (as the comic namedrops Patrick Kane, who has already stirred quite an amount of controversy within Hockey fandom), and does address certain issues in the comic but not others, especially among hockey players.

Everything else people have said doesn’t change my mind that omgcp should not be free from critique from gay, trans hockey players of color like me. i’m allowed to want better representation (COUGHS the asian characters) and the adressing of widespread homophobia and racism in the sport of ice hockey at all levels. addressing issues like these won’t turn Check Please into a fucking tragedy, it’ll make it more realistic, believable, relatable, and hopefully act as a voice for hockey players like me that Check Please is trying to represent in the first place. omgcp is supposed to be a slice of life comic, and implying that there’s no problem with racism and homophobia in frats or men’s college/pro hockey… is horrible imo.

i understand that lgbt and creators of color may not like to address issues like these, my own fiction in fact normalizes the experiences of lgbt poc via not describing homophobia/racism at all–but omgcp literally has addressed serious issues before like internalized homophobia and coming out. it shouldn’t be a stretch to address the fact that hockey is a sport for the wealthy, which results in a largely white population that perpetrates homophobia and racism like nobody’s business. content created by lgbt people and people of color are not critique proof in any way.

i made the comic as a critique to the omgcp fandom and the general premise of omgcp. it was a comic about my experiences, yes, but it was more a comic on how omgcp isn’t really the revolutionary piece of media the fandom tends to think it is.[24]
your stupid ass webcomic, which has the real life NHL and cartoon Patrick Kane existing in its universe, can do better by addressing problems real gay trans people of color experience. nothing bad has to happen to the characters. i’m saying that omgcp does have commentary on homophobia but it is not complete or accurate to hockey’s predominantly white, wealthy environment. it can be a much more interesting and better comic which can actually be the voice that it pretends to be for gay people in hockey.[25]

There have been reactions by others from both sides of the argument.

some ppl in the omgcp fandom: ngozi giving us a more lighthearted story of gay romance that doesnt focus on the homophobia we face in real life every day? a story about sports that explicitly chooses to not glorify toxic masculinity??? a piece of escapism that gives us actual gay characters that arent forced to suffer? how dare she??!!!!

those same ppl: oh, and here’s my 20 page dissertation on why i focus all my energy into stanning Random White Guy Side Character and why hes my fabulous trash son with a million fluffy headcanons and the Saddest backstory written by me to excuse all his actions!

and other ppl: isnt it lazy of ngozi to focus on this coming out plotline? bittys parents are and will be 100% supportive! stop including homophobia as part of the storyline!

like damn… nothing pleases you guys huh? its fine and important to criticize media you consume, but if you now hate the entire comic and the main ship, what are you still doing in this fandom?[26]

setting aside all of my other qualms about check please as a series/the author/external factors as a whole (its ineffectual pacing, issues with storytelling regardless of format, ngozi’s refusal to accept constructive criticism, characterization stagnation, kickstarter stretch goals and failure to deliver on them, etc.) check please is neither a fitting representation of a diverse/accepting world, nor is it a meaningful piece of literature about college hockey culture

im sure the argument is that check please takes place in an alternate universe where homophobia misogyny racism classism etc. aren’t a structural issue literally entangled in the fabric of hockey culture or society as a whole, but this is frankly a major failing of the text. i dont believe you get to gloss over the toxic behavior prevalent in college hockey in the hopes that you get to present a purified image of actual traumatic experiences that folks who do not fall under the big white straight cis male umbrella face. you don’t get to refuse to even consider it

further arguments that “there are lgbtq+ people who dont have a problem with check please and also enjoy it” is so condescending, like you think that lgbtq+ folks have the same experiences across the board regardless of if they participate in hockey(/hockey culture), or that there aren’t lgbtq+ people who have legitimate concerns about the text (whether formally or with the story) and have been discussing it since the story began

displacing meaningful conversations about diversity and lgbtq+ representation in a culture that has always been inherently conservative and bigoted is a disservice to fans, particularly fans who have little to no conception of hockey culture and who continue to see it in a glorified, romantic light. hockey culture detests difference, relies on a constant supply of upper middle class white people (including white women) to perpetuate a system that largely refuses to consider the experiences of the other, and ultimately slow change as much as possible. and seeing this, and thinking that its okay, and accepting the presentation of this sterilized world.. it makes me tired

but thats just my opinion.[27]

Kickstarter

In April-May of 2015, a Kickstarter project for a print edition of the first year of the comic funded overnight. The Kickstarter eventually closed with $74,290 pledged of an initial $15,000 goal. [28]

In September-October of 2016, a second Kickstarter ran to print year two and re-print year one of the comic. It closed with $398,520 pledged of an initial goal of $32,500. [29]

In July 2017, Ngozi announced a deal with First Second (:01) for the comic to be published as a book. She also confirmed that she plans to run further Kickstarters.

Resources

References

  1. How a webcomic about hockey players became a cult favorite on Tumblr by By Gavia Baker-Whitelaw on the dailydot, posted 2016-03-19 accessed 2016-04-17
  2. Destination: Toast!. TOASTYSTATS: ZIMBITS IS CANON!! … WHAT HAPPENS IN FANDOM?. 17 April 2016.
  3. Fans of Check Please come hang out OMG Chat Please tumblr post explaining the rooms, posted April 7th 2016, accessed Aug 19th 2016
  4. http://archiveofourown.org/works?utf8=%E2%9C%93&work_search%5Bsort_column%5D=revised_at&work_search%5Bother_tag_names%5D=Trans+William+%22Dex%22+Poindexter&work_search%5Bquery%5D=&work_search%5Blanguage_id%5D=&work_search%5Bcomplete%5D=0&commit=Sort+and+Filter&tag_id=Check+Please%21+%28Webcomic%29
  5. http://archiveofourown.org/works/3815950/chapters/8505535
  6. https://archiveofourown.org/works/9337325
  7. https://omgpieplease.tumblr.com/post/160427489962/when-mkaybuddy-approached-me-for-a-painted#notes
  8. https://archiveofourown.org/works/9622088/chapters/21738716#main
  9. https://omgpieplease.tumblr.com/tagged/trans-Jack-zimmermann
  10. http://archiveofourown.org/series/789885
  11. https://trans-shitty.tumblr.com/tagged/trans+woman+shitty/chrono
  12. https://omgpieplease.tumblr.com/post/163725768462/for-thatthose-anons-who-really-wanted-to-see#notes
  13. [1][2]
  14. [3][4]
  15. [5]
  16. [6]
  17. [7]
  18. "I’ve taken some time to think over and process recent criticisms that people have made of me..." by des-zimbits (now garden-of-succulents)
  19. xouellet on Tumblr
  20. lovethygoalies on Tumblr
  21. signechan at Tumblr
  22. Anonymous ask sent to shaipes
  23. Anonymous asks sent to shaipes[8] [9]
  24. shaipes on Tumblr
  25. Anonymous ask received by shaipes
  26. whothehellisjessicajones on Tumblr
  27. pkariya on Tumblr
  28. Check, Please!: Year One last update 2015-11-18, accessed 2016-04-17
  29. ✔ Check, Please!: Year Two accessed 2016-10-22