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Navigating Graphic Literature, Hockey-Style

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Christina M. Rau

Staff Writer

Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). In her non-writing life, she teaches yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.

Graphic novels, comic books, and most forms of visual literature require spatial literacy. I’ve been late to the graphics game because I have spatial issues. These issues include Left-Right Confusion, inability to figure out a compass, and getting lost in parking lots. These issues fall over into spatial issues in following along a story line in a comic book. I don’t know where to go next sometimes. Comics have changed all that.


As a promise to myself to really dive into this incredibly rich world of literature, I looked to BEA’s panel Graphic Novels You Can’t Miss Of 2018. There I found a diverse group of writers with a variety of visual lit endeavors.

Meal by Blue Delliquanti with Soleil HoMeal by Blue Delliquanti with Soleil Ho

Blue Delliquanti’s Meal with Soleil Ho is about the restaurant biz. A girl moves into a small town and starts cooking up a storm. What’s she cooking? Insects!

Matty’s Rocket by Tim FielderMatty’s Rocket by Tim Fielder

Dieselfunkateers are a thing! Tim Fielder’s Matty’s Rocket is part of Dieselfunk Studios. Sci-fi meets loosely-based historical figures here. Matty Watty is a space pilot dealing with issues from the Jim Crow Era.

Home After Dark by David SmallHome After Dark by David Small

David Small’s Home After Dark offers a coming of age tale for a young boy. Russell struggles with life after being abandoned by his mother and father.


Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu’sCheck, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu’s

While these three novels showed me such variety in both authors and their works, the work that truly caught my eye is Ngozi Ukazu’s Check, Please! Young Eric Bittle enjoys baking as well as skating, first as a figure skater from Georgia and then as a college hockey player. He finds himself through the chilly skating rink and the hot kitchen, learning the nuances of bromance and romance.

It appears online as a webseries, which solves my spatial problems. It actually has instructions on how to read it! Swipe! Use arrows! This is what I’ve needed.

Hockey is my favorite sport in all the land, so I got to thinking about whether or not other comics about hockey are out there. They are!

Other comics about hockey

Hockey Karma book coverThe Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro, with Marica Inoue and Andres Mossa

Howard Shapiro has a whole trilogy. It’s called the Forever Friends series and begins with Stereotypical Freaks (with Joe Pekar and Ed Brisson). This first book about a teen band whose members have very unique goals and skills. One of them is an athlete. Now onto the hockey! The story continues in The Hockey Saint (with Marica Inoue and Andres Mossa) and Hockey Karma (with Andres Mossa).

Kicking Ice by Stephanie Phillips, with Lee Moder, Marissa Louis, Jamie Jones, and Troy PeteriKicking Ice by Stephanie Phillips, with Lee Moder, Marissa Louis, Jamie Jones, and Troy Peteri

Then there’s the new graphic lit inspired by the Women’s National Hockey League. Bella and Skye find themselves on a co-ed hockey team in Kicking Ice by Stephanie Phillips with Lee Moder, Marissa Louis, Jamie Jones, and Troy Peteri. Phillips bases this story on her own experiences as a hockey player. Be on the lookout in August 2018 for this one.

Finding my love of hockey in the graphic world has driven me to really learn how to navigate the panels across a page and keep reading visual literature.

For more about the latest in graphic novels and comics, check out the best comics Rioters read in June 2018 here and the 10 best short graphic memoirs here.

And for more about the BEA roundup, you can read about the books that surprised Rioter Elizabeth Allen here and about the books Kate Krug waited in line for here.