Graphic novelist creates powerful stories from personal experiences

Graphic novelist Ngozi Ukazu has written 'Check, Please!', a powerful coming of age story. Recently she published the sequel 'Check, Please!: Sticks & Scones', a New York Times Bestseller.

Courtesy ngoziu.com

Graphic novelist Ngozi Ukazu has written 'Check, Please!', a powerful coming of age story. Recently she published the sequel 'Check, Please!: Sticks & Scones', a New York Times Bestseller.

Annabella Ferraiuolo, Photo Editor

The person in this article was interviewed remotely by a group of student journalists through a homebound journalism project from the non-profit Headliners in Education.

Graphic novelist and artist Ngozi Ukazu started writing the online comic “Check, Please!” while she was in graduate school and continued writing it for a few years after. 

As the author of the popular web comic “Check, Please!”, Ukazu has recently begun printing the novel. The second novel in the series was released April 7, 2020. 

Her graphic novels follow the life of Bitty who recently moved from Georgia to Massachusetts to play hockey. Typically, we see characters who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community go through struggles in their coming of age story, however Ukazu writes a positive story for the protagonist. 

Eventually, a publisher and editor reached out to her about publishing the book in print.

“My editor reached out to me and said ‘Hey this comic is doing well online, what do you think about it being in bookstores?’” Ukazu said. “It just took off from there. I had all these pages that I gave to my publisher. We worked together to put this book together, and now it’s on shelves.”

Her inspiration for hockey comics came from her first experience with hockey. 

“I’m originally from Houston, Texas which is not a place where hockey is very big, but when I went to college I absolutely fell in love with the sport,” Ukazu said. “I guess for me being from Texas, it seemed super exotic.”

From there, she wrote a screenplay about hockey in college which inspired her book. 

“This was before I started ‘Check, Please!’” Ukazu said. “All of that research for my screenplay eventually helped me fall in love with the sport, and that’s why I started the comic.”

Her process for creating the comics includes the drawing and writing process working together at the same time, which has helped her to effectively create amazing comics.

“For me the writing process and drawing process go hand in hand,” Ukazu said. “I might write out the dialogue, but I don’t figure out the painting of the scene or the turning in the scene until I actually start drawing.”

Through thumbnailing, a process where small sketches are created to help formulate an idea for the final product, Ukazu figures out the drawings, the story and the characters and their action and movement before she creates the full pages. 

Through her hard work and powerful story, Ukazu makes a revolutionary story perfect for our time.

“I just wanted to tell a story that was about coming out, about finding identity that didn’t necessarily mean that the character was going to be consumed by their angst and destroyed by gloom,” Ukazu said.