Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: The “Check, Please!” Duology by Ngozi Ukazu

Image courtesy of amazon.com

Hello readers!

Welcome back to another one of my fancasting posts that seem to be my most popular content on here, which is more than okay with me considering it’s something I really enjoy doing for myself as well as for those who keep returning to this little passion project of mine that is having a book blog running for over two years now.

Recently, I’ve had someone comment on one of my posts saying how they disagree with my choices for a particular fancast on here, and while I’m totally okay with not having everyone agree with me on everything, they lost all credibility with me when they decided to be rude, disrespectful, and just downright unpleasant for absolutely no reason…there’s nothing wrong with just saying you don’t agree with someone and simply leaving it at that but the negativity and overall just plain nastiness is just so unnecessary…

….So this is just a reminder to everyone who sees this and reads it to be nice and be respectful on not only on here, but anywhere else on the web or even on social media! You may forget it sometimes, but there’s still another human being on the other side of the keyboard, and some people seem to just get an unwarranted sense of confidence and overall bitchiness when they type something behind a keyboard and not say it to someone’s face…those people deserve a good smack upside the head!

BE NICE, it’s not that hard to do…

Okay rant over…..glad I got that off my chest, now back to bigger and more important things worth my time and energy.

I’ve been posting LGBT book reviews so far this month (for obvious reasons, and all M/M since that’s my preference), and have plenty more on the way, but I wanted to do at least one fancast too so I can switch it up a little bit! It was no question that I put together a fancasting for these particular books, and I did it for multiple reasons: they’re the first LGBT graphic novels I’ve ever read, and they’re by far one of my favorite queer romance stories I’ve ever gotten my hands on too. Everything about these just speak to me; from the artwork to the storyline, the characters, the banter, the humor, the themes of friendship & first love & and self acceptance & college, and the author herself and the story behind this whole project!

The story is about Eric Bittle: a young little figure skater who loves to bake and post on his vlog about his life who winds up getting a scholarship to a fictional Ivy League University, but with a hockey scholarship! You can imagine how well that would possibly go over for everyone…but along the way he meets some incredibly interesting people, learns a heck of a lot about himself and those around him, and of course while dealing all the regular stress of a college freshman! Let’s not also forget how he may or may not be hardcore crushing on his team captain too…

To see my review of book #1 – #Hockey – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Sticks & Scones – Click HERE

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Here is my official Fancast/Dreamcast for the “Check, Please!” Graphic Novel Duology!

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P. “Shitty” Knight: Gaspard Ulliel, or Glen Powell

Gaspard Ulliel, image courtesy of fred.fm
Glen Powell, image courtesy of justjared.com

P. Shitty Knight is probably my favorite character because of how lax and out there he is about literally everything. He’s THE character of this whole story, and I have two people who are on the exact opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to casting him. Gaspard is a french actor best known for playing Hannibal Lecter in “Hannibal Rising,” and he more just fits the role with his looks. Glen Powell might be a much better choice, as he can look the part AND he has the personality to play the part. I became a fan of his when I saw him in “Scream Queens” and even more so for Shitty for his character—who also has a mustache—in the movie “Everybody Wants Some.” For anyone who doesn’t know what I mean, GO WATCH THAT MOVIE, and then try and tell me you can’t see him playing Shitty for that movie alone!

Adam “Holster” Birkholtz: Nick Milone, or Wyatt Nash

Nick Milone, image courtesy of the model’s Twitter profile
Wyatt Nash, image courtesy of justjared.com

The first half of the “Holster and Ransom” dynamic duo, I’ve picked Wyatt Nash for a few other characters on my blog already, but since he’s in the Netflix show “Dear White People,” I just picture him being pretty comfortable in this role and setting too. Nick Milone is a model I found on Instagram who physically fits the look of Adam—at least in my opinion—and to add a new face to my fancasts!

Justin “Ransom” Oluransi: Remi Alade-Chester

Remi, image courtesy of beauty-around.com

The other half of the bromance that is “Holster and Ransom,” Remi is actually a Nigerian male model who may or may not actually look the part! Justin is a cutey and so is Remi, so I’m happy with this pairing!

Larissa “Lardo” Duan: Lana Condor, or Malese Jow

Lana Condor, image courtesy of refinery29.com
Malese Jow, image courtesy of wisdominbeauty.com

I’ve been a fan of Lana since I first seen her in the Netflix film adaptations of the “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” series, but I know Lardo is a completely different character than Laura Jean. Lardo has a lot of spunk wrapped up in such a petite little body, Lana Condor is just the only actor I can think of who’d play the part well. Malese has been in shows like “The Vampire Diaries,” “Unfabulous,” and “The Flash,” and is another choice I could see as the manager of the Samwell hockey team.

Kent “Parse” Parson: Alex Pettyfer, or Alex Wennberg

Alex Pettyfer, image courtesy of wallpapercave.com

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Kent Parson is an interesting character who causes a lot of drama where he goes, and he just so happens to be incredibly handsome and good looking and that’s probably why he gets away with it all most of the time. For this, it kind of reminded me of the actor Alex Pettyfer, both in his golden-boy looks and in his hollywood reputation being less than stellar. I also wanted to include Wennberg because he’s not only a pro hockey player just like Parson, but also has the similar aesthetic and even a mischievous smile that I’m sure could get him into (or out of) trouble.

Derek “Nursey” Nurse: Jordan Matheson

Image courtesy of the model’s Instagram profile

I found this model on Instagram and think he’s absolutely gorgeous with his hazel eyes that I think perfectly match Nursey’s in the graphic novels when we meet him. He looks like he’d have that laid back, chill mood that Nursey is known for!

William “Dex” Poindexter: Ken Bek

Image credit to owner

Dex is actually one of the harder characters to cast, as there’s not a whole lot of actors or models who are redheads with golden eyes like him. Believe it or not, but a lot of them have dreamy blue eyes instead—darn it—so my choices were limited! I feel like KJ Apa was the only other choice since he plays Archie in the CW’s “Riverdale.”

Chris “Chowder” Chow: John Harlan Kim

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

I can’t say I’ve ever watched this Australian actor in anything, but I feel like just looking at pictures of him on his IMDB profile that he gave me vibes he could totally play Chowder if they ever decided to make a live-action adaptation of these graphic novels. He’s got the eyebrows and the facial expressions that I think this is a really good match!

Suzanne Bittle: Julie Bowen

Image courtesy of disney.fandom.com

She may not fully fit the character in a physical sense to some, but Julie Bowen screams mom ever since she starred in “Modern Family”! She’s got the blonde hair, brown eyes combo that technically fits Bitty’s mom’s look, so I’d be happy to see her play the character if this ever got turned into a show or movie.

Richard “Coach” Bittle: Sam Jaeger

Credit to owner

This was by far the hardest casting choice to make! No one was popping up in my sources for quite some time, but then I ran into Sam Jaeger and thought to myself “You know…give him a mustache and he could work!” I found this image of him, and I think I’m convinced, hopefully others are too! Sam has been in film/shows like “Lucky Number Slevin,” “The Politician,” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Bob Zimmermann: James Patrick Stewart

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

Jack’s father and living hockey legend himself, I pictured this actor playing this character! He’s been in films/shows like “How to Get Away With Murder,” “Supernatural,” “Las Vegas,” “Gettysburg,” and even “All My Children.”

Alicia Zimmerman: Cameron Diaz

Image courtesy dnaindia.com

As soon as I first glimpsed Jack’s mom and her large, bright blue eyes, I immediately was reminded of Cameron Diaz! She may not quite be old enough to actually be the character, but since she was the first face to come to mind, I decided “why not?” and put her down as my Alicia Zimmerman.

Georgia “George” Martin: Eiza Gonzalez

Image courtesy of deadline.com

Georgia is the assistant general manager to the Providence Falconers, and I got the vibe that she was possibly of latin or spanish descent based on the color of her skin and the way her hair is drawn in the story—I could be totally off base with this, but it’s just the impression I got. Eiza Gonzalez is a mexican actress and singer who’s been in films like “Baby Driver,” “Hobbs & Shaw,” and “Godzilla vs. King Kong.”

Alexei “Tater” Mashkov: Andrew Biernat

Image courtesy of the model/actor’s Instagram page

I’m not sure if Andrew actually has any Russian in his heritage, but I follow the guy on Instagram and he has a goofball attitude in his videos that kind of reminds me of Alexei, Jack’s (most likely) favorite teammate when he goes to the NHL!

Denice Ford: Courtney Sauls

Image courtesy of zimbio.com

Denice—Who thanks to Key & Peele I pronounce it like D-Nice—becomes the new team manager in volume 2 when Lardo graduates, and she luckily seems to be able to handle the pressure of keeping all those players in line! Courtney plays the strange and quirky reporter named Brooke on the Netflix show, “Dear White People,” and she just gives me somewhat-similar vibes to Denice in the second volume of these graphic novels.

Connor “Whiskey” Whisk: James Maslow

Image credit to owner

This fancasting is funny to me only because I know James all the way back from 2009-11 from a guilty pleasure called “Big Time Rush” on Nickelodeon—of all places! He was way more animated and expressive on there than Whiskey is in the whole second book. This may not be the perfect choice for the character, but I know James over a ton of other actors so this is purely subjective to who I follow!

Tony “Tango” Tangredi: Brandon Larracuente

Image courtesy of spoilertv.com

I know at this point for some of these minor characters it can really get vague and a lot of other actors could play them, but it’s still fun to kind of put a face to the drawing, so don’t think some of these are final selections! Brandon played Jeff Atkins in “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, and he played a jock on there too, and he’s also kind of adorable, so I’d be happy to see him on my screen again!

River “Bully” Bullard: David Bodas

Image courtesy of the model’s Twitter profile

The first thing that you notice about Bully is HAIR. He has got some gorgeous flow that he absolutely rocks as a newly incoming freshman during Eric Bittle’s senior year. David Bodas is a model I discovered on Instagram, and he’s one of the few guys that I feel like is actually really rockin’ the long haired look like this nowadays!

Jonathan “Hops” Hopper: Rome Flynn

Rome, image courtesy of the actor/model’s Instagram profile

Rome Flynn has a smile that could get him out of trouble, and Hops is a total sweetheart so I could totally see this being a thing if they actually make “Check Please” into a film or tv show! For those of you not familiar, Rome Flynn can be seen in “How to Get Away with Murder.”

Lukas “Louis” Landmann: Benjamin Eidem

Credit to owner

I’m trying to keep it ethnically accurate with this choice, but Benjamin is actually a swedish model so it fits! He’s actually done some high end fashion brands like Prada, Michael Kors, and Burberry just to name a few, NOT that that has any reasoning behind why I picked him!

Jack Laurent Zimmermann: Robbie Amell, or Ryan Kennedy

Robbie Amell, image courtesy of robbie-amell.com
Ryan Kennedy, image courtesy of models.com

Robbie Amell is one of my favorite male actors, i’ve had heart eyes for him ever since he was first seen in the Disney Channel Original series, “Life With Derek.” He’s also been in “American Pie: Beta House,” “The DUFF,” “The Babysitter,” and has been cast in the future film “The Hating Game.” Ryan is a model who someone on Tumblr posted as their choice, and I looked and looked and couldn’t find the post to give credit where it’s due, but if someone knows who I’m talking about, PLEASE send the profile my way so I can credit them!

Eric “Bitty” Bittle: Tom Holland, Troye Sivan, or Michael Provost

Tom Holland, image courtesy of stanfordartsreview.com
Troye Sivan, image courtesy of popbuzz.com
Michael Provost, image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

I picture Tom Holland playing an adorable, gay little figure skater-turned-hockey player, and my heart just gets so warm, full, and excited at the idea. All these guys are as cute as a button, and I could picture any of these guys being the main character of these graphic novels! Troye Sivan is a singer and actor who actually is queer himself, so that’d be great representation for him to play this role, and Michael is an adorable actor I found on one of Netflix’s cancelled shows, “Insatiable.”

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So there you have it!

These are my choices for who I picture the characters looking like in real life, it’s interesting to do a fancast for a graphic novel just because there’s actually more of a limit on who to pick since you have a visual of the actual character. It’s not so up-in-the-air and vague with their physical descriptions, but either way it was fun to do another one of these!

Don’t agree with my picks, or do you have your own choices as to who you could see playing these characters? Feel free to comment or message me what your thoughts are, just don’t be a dick about it (referring back to my rant earlier)! Either have respect and be friendly, or I’ll just report and block. I have no time or interest in dealing with toxic internet trolls, so lets have a mature and friendly conversation instead.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

graphic novel, LGBT, New Adult Romance, YA Contemporary Fiction, YA romance

My Review: Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks and Scones (Check Please #3-4): by Ngozi Ukazu

Publication Date: April 7th, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 Pages
Publisher: First Second
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, YA Romance, LGBT

***Warning! This book review contains spoilers from the previous book, continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of Book #1- Check, Please! Vol. #1 – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

A fair warning is needed for anyone who’s about to start this next installment in the Check, Please! story: expect some tears. Expect tears both sad and happy to flow down those cheeks of yours because of how touching, how tender, how pure of a storyline this has come to be and just about everything else about it, but also because it’s coming to a close.

I was someone who’d discovered this story when the hardcover Vol. 1 came into the bookstore where I work one day, and I immediately fell in love with the cover and decided to give it a chance, then discovered something to truly fangirl over and completely stan.

The characters!

The banter!

The found family dynamic!

The coming of age tale!

The LGBT representation!

The slow burn romance!

All of it was just about perfect in my eyes, and these books were the YA LGBT graphic novel I wish I had growing up, or even just going through college myself. It makes me so happy to see so many more LGBTQ+ stories and books coming out for the younger readers that desperately need them in order to feel heard and understood.

After finishing the first book, I never really followed the webcomics posted (the original source of this whole story), and told myself to wait until this sequel was to be released in hardcover format almost a whole year later. Why, you may ask?…I’m not sure, but the best way for me to describe it is how I can’t watch a show by only viewing the one episode a week now. Netflix ruined that for me, and I’d rather just wait for it all to be released as a complete set rather than torture myself waiting to see what happens next with the little bit I’m given every week, if that makes sense? It’s all or nothing for me!

So fast forward, and it’s finally the time I can read this next volume, which contains main protagonist Eric “Bitty” Bittle’s Junior and Senior year of college. It felt like a reunion to get to go further into the story and see what happens after the VERY cliffhanger of that kiss him and Jack shared the day of Jack’s graduation! It was a whirlwind of past and present bunched together as we move forward in the story, but also are given lots of flashbacks to small scenes that happened before the start of book #2. It was a little jarring at first, but once the school year started, it was smooth sailing from there on. You’re reunited with a lot of familiar faces, and are also given a crop of new characters with the new incoming freshmen joining the team and Lardo trying to find her replacement once she graduates.

The bigger change in this book is Eric Bittle’s handling of his sexuality with his family, and I mean his biological family (I.E: his mom and dad). It has some heavier moments, but still keeps the usual lighter tone and mood of the whole series throughout, and leaves you with a sense of hope that our actual lives can turn out alright too.

There were a few issues I did have with the story this time around, which was odd for me considering I didn’t really have much if any from the previous book. One of which was the handling of a certain storyline involving Bitty and a newer face, Whiskey. I’ll go further into details with that below, but despite any issues I had, I still tremendously loved this book and was so happy with how it all ended: Where Jack goes, where Bitty goes, where their relationship goes, where everyone else goes, and just pretty much everything that happens.

Reading something like this can seriously help someone who’s struggling feel less alone in this world. It goes over so many issues that people around that age deal with: the anxiety, the pressure, the relationships, high expectations both set on yourself and others, love, thinking about your future, independence, leadership, and of course the joys and pains of coming to terms with your sexuality if you’re queer. Even if you’re not a hockey fan—or any sports in general—I feel like anyone who’s looking for a story like this one can enjoy it!

What It’s About:

The Official Blurb:

Bitty is heading to junior year of college and though he has overcome his fear of getting ‘checked’ on the ice, he and Jack now face new challenges. They must navigate their new relationship while being apart, and also decide how they want to reveal their relationship to those around them. Not only that, but Jack and the Falconers are now a big part of the NHL–and Bitty’s life! It’s a hockey season filled with victories and losses.

A collection of the second half of the mega-popular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: Sticks and Scones is the last in a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.

What I Liked:

  1. It Truly Makes You Laugh & Cry While Reading! I’m not someone who gets overly emotional whenever I read something. I can get incredibly emotionally invested in some things, sure, but that’s different. I can 100% full honesty, full disclosure admit that I both laughed out loud and actually teared up when I was reading this. If something can evoke so much emotion from a reader, that only proves that it’s something worth checking out!
  2. There’s Great Closure! Lately over the last couple years, a lot of series for me have come to an end, and I’m always so deeply disappointed when I feel like something didn’t end well. The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black, Game of Thrones, the IT movies just to name a few…but it seems like a lot of these popular books/movies/tv shows just can’t end on a perfect high note when the series itself was so spectacular through the journey. Check, Please! was thankfully not something I needed to add to my list of disappointing endings because the author actually did a great job of tying up all her loose ends, had the right endings for each of her characters, and it all just came together almost perfectly. Anyone who’s already a fan of the story will adore it!
  3. Bitty’s Development! Eric Bittle, or “Bitty” has really come into his own through the series. He’s become more confident in himself and his abilities on and off the ice, his relationship with Jack, his coming to terms with being gay, and to him all of a sudden being a senior on the team and is thrust into a position of leadership amongst the other players. I saw a bit of myself in Bitty sometimes along his journey, what with his whole self discovery and coming out in college amongst all his friends. He was a great protagonist to follow throughout the four years that they totally called it: they go quicker than you think!
  4. It Reveals Realistic Coming-of-Age Issues! I’d kind of mentioned it above, but this book tackles so many issues that really resonated with me, and I feel like relate to a lot of people around my age: anxiety, depression, acceptance, financial woes, fear and uncertainty of what comes after college and the future in general, coming out, friendships, first love…there’s plenty more, but if that doesn’t convince you, what will? Each issue is addressed and handled incredibly well; I’d almost even say there doesn’t even need to be a trigger warning for any of it because the book keeps its lighter tone throughout.
  5. The Found Family Trope! I’m such a sucker for the story arc of a group of diverse people coming together because of a certain cause or similar interest, and how they get closer over time and learn so much about each other…and eventually notice certain faults each person may carry, but loves them anyways! They support each other, they love to be around each other, and always enjoy each other’s company. The group also grows as more people join in over the years and the bond just continues to keep growing while they never lose touch of that original base that the group dynamic was founded on…I just love found/chosen family story tropes, they get me every time!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Too Many Flashbacks In The Beginning. The book starts off with many flashback scenes of certain things said or certain events that happened before the start of the book, all the while being mentioned or referenced in current time. I found this to be a little jarring, disorientating, and a confusing way to start for a graphic novel. Mainly, I think I just got a little overwhelmed and couldn’t tell what was past and present; maybe if the flashbacks had a certain difference in color tone or grading to make it visually less confusing, that would’ve been helpful!
  2. The Issue with the Player, Whiskey! Whiskey is a newer character introduced in this book, and he’s introduced as Bitty is talking about him to Jack over the phone, saying that the guy seems to want nothing to do with him and he has no idea why (kind of like how Jack first treated him tbh, but at least that got better). There’s a scene that happens at a college party, and then it’s entirely left alone until close to the end of the book when Bitty and Whiskey finally address it. To be honest, this whole storyline irked me a little bit! It never really fully gets addressed and felt like it’d gotten shafted under everything else going on, and even the final confrontation left a lot to be desired in terms of how is this going to be handled moving forward…Plus, it showed Whiskey’s character to not be in the greatest light, and I’d just hoped for more to come out of this whole storyline…

Conclusion:

It’s always sad when something comes to an end, and Check, Please! is no different than any other book, tv show, or movie that you adored and suddenly it’s over. What’s the hardest part is that hangover-like feeling of being lost and wondering to yourself: What now? Do you wallow and mope about how it’s over and worry if you’ll ever find something to love as much as you loved that story? Or, do you get excited at the anticipation of that hunt to find that next thing to obsess over? I guess it depends on the specific reader…

A truly great conclusion to an incredibly uplifting, joyful story of a little queer baker/figure skater/vlogger who turns into a hockey player, overcomes his fears, and finds true happiness with those he ties up his skates next to on the bench and shares the ice with. So many feels…but just what an amazing series! Can’t recommend enough!

Thanks For Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Editorial Articles

Digital Artists You Absolutely Need To Follow!

As a strong advocator for the arts, I’ve thought to myself at starting an article here on my website—even though it’s mainly for book reviews and fancasts—to share some names of artists that I feel like everyone should know. Now, I know this is a hard pill to swallow, but I love to read….I know, I’ll let you take a few to process that shocking bit of information on my book review website…

…Now that your mind is no longer officially blown, let it also be known that there are a lot of artists out there who love to read as well, and it’s even better when those artists commission artwork of books I’ve read and also enjoyed! It adds a whole new layer to the fandom of the books themselves, and I want to celebrate their beautiful work, and possibly even give them some free exposure to maybe even let more people discover them too.

Over the years, a few specific artists have stayed in my mind since I’d discovered them either on Pinterest, Instagram, or even through word of mouth from my friends. A lot of them are pretty prolific when it comes to fanart of popular book fandoms, and if you’re an avid reader like myself, will probably recognize quite a few names yourself. They are all noteworthy graphic designers, digital artists, video game artists, commissioners; pretty much anyone who uses a drawing tablet. Enjoy the beautiful work, and hopefully be inspired for your own creative content, no matter what that may be!

Enjoy this list, it is in no particular order!

*I do not own any of this artwork, and have no rights towards any of it. If any of the artists listed below come across this article and wish for their work to be taken down, please let me know!*

CLICK HERE TO SEE PART 2 OF THIS LIST!

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Monolime Art

This artist has a unique style that has caught my eye ever since their work was showcased in a special edition of Sarah J. Maas’s “A Court of Thorns and Roses” series inside the cover. As you can see, they’ve also done amazing artwork for “The Folk of the Air” trilogy by Holly Black, the “Shades of Magic” trilogy by V.E. Schwab, “Nevernight” by Jay Kristoff, and even “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo.

Instagram: @monolimeart

Tumblr: monolime

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Charlie Bowater

Charlie’s work is simply breathtaking, and she definitely deserves a spot on my top three favorites out of all the artists I’ve included. She does some of the best work for Sarah J. Maas’s books, and her artwork has also graced book covers, and on the inside of dust jackets for exclusive editions. I only hope to see her work showcased even more as time goes on!

Instagram: @charliebowater

Tumblr: @charliebowater

Website

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Kayla Nyre

Kayla Nyre has a style unlike any other artist mentioned in this article. The UW-Stout Animation alumni has taken to social media to showcase her line of prints dubbed “PotHeads” which are an infused style she’s created because of her love of plants and art, and has been a great way for her to focus more on figure drawing!

Instagram: @kaylamnyre

Website

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Daniel Kordek

As a big fan of Ariana Grande, this led me to discovering this artist on Instagram. Daniel has a pattern of turning towards fabulous, fierce females of pop culture. I really enjoy the caricature-like style he has with his work, and his ability to cover all aspects of who are considered to be influential, powerful women in both contemporary times and through history.

Instagram: @danielkordek

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Ivan Belikov

I’d discovered Ivan with his stunning artwork that’d become the cover of the fantasy novel: “The Priory of the Orange Tree” by Samantha Shannon. While I was disappointed by the book, one thing thats held my adoration was his artwork—hint, hint: it’s the blue dragon below. His attention to detail is utterly magnificent, and I definitely recommend checking him out on his website or social media to get an even closer look, it’s simply mind-blowing!

Instagram: @further_up

Website

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Ngozi Ukazu

Ngozi is an artist I’d discovered through her incredible graphic novel, Check, Please! It’s about about a young figure-skater—who loves to bake, and has a vlog—going to college on a Hockey scholarship. Going from Georgia peaches to hockey pucks is already a big transition for a new college freshman, but it gets even worse when he’s got a big crush on the captain. I love her cartoony yet crisp style, and her Graphic Novel is a Sports LGBTQ+ romance to defs give a read-through!

Instagram: @ngoziu

Tumblr: @ngoziu

Website

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Justin Totemical

Just a few words that come to mind when I look at Justin’s artwork: colorful, radiant, transcendent, other-worldly, and trippy AF. His work looks straight out of a vision while on some sort of hallucinogen or out of some crazy video game, but is definitely worth remembering! He’s a computer artist, and is always looking forwards to the latest in whatever technology has to offer in order to create more visually stunning masterpieces!

Instagram: @totemical

Website

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Niru Sky

I’d first come across this freelance artist for their work on Julian and Legend from “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber, and they’ve also done amazing work for Nikolai Lantsov and the Darkling from the Grishaverse, and even the wicked king Cardan Greenbriar from “The Folk of the Air” trilogy by Holly Black!

Instagram: @niru.sky

Tumblr: nirusky.tumblr.com

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icandrawthingz

Like many of the artists on here, this artist—who also doesn’t have much about them on their profiles—have done great artwork commissions for books I love, like “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” “Six of Crows,” and “Vicious” by V.E. Schwab. They’ve also done some fanart from Disney movies and even some OC work of their own. Their work definitely gives me some Disney Animation Studios-esque style!

Instagram: @icandrawthingz

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Natalia Dias

Natalia does some brilliant work with colorful female portraits. They can either be realistic and contemporary or more on the fantasy side, but their most notable work comes from the colorful hair they seem to be a master of commissioning! Her work takes on a euphoric vibe with women of all shapes, sizes, and skin colors to enjoy!

Instagram: @nataliadsw

Website

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Gabriel Picolo

Kayla Nyre, a close friend of mine—remember her potheads from earlier?—recommended this comic artist to me that they’d found on Instagram. I love his style, especially his work with DC’s “Teen Titans.” His scenes with them perfectly capture the fun, youthful vibes of the teens of our culture today, and even does so with Snapchat captions/filters! He can tell a whole story in a single image, and I’d read the first Graphic Novel for Raven, and while the author’s writing was sub-par, his illustrations were what truly shined!

Instagram: @_picolo

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Maya Danuta

Maya has a fun, lighter toned style of work that focuses mainly around the world of Harry Potter. She goes all over the place with Harry, Ron and Hermoine but also goes even further with some artwork centering around James Potter and the rest of the marauders during their years at Hogwarts! While any potterhead will appreciate their work, there’s also a few non-HP related work worth checking out too!

Instagram: @wingedcorgiart

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Tara Spruit

Tara is a brilliant illustrator who’s work is used in exclusive YA-Fantasy subscription boxes like Fairyloot and Owlcrate on a regular basis. She’s done work for just about EVERY fantasy book fandom there is, and that’s too many names to list! If it’s a popular YA Fantasy book/series, odds are she’s created some beautiful artwork for everyone to enjoy!

Instagram: @taratjah

Twitter: @taratjah

Tumblr: @taratjah

Website

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Kira Night

A fellow Minnesotan like myself, Kira is a great artist who loves to use her work to explore whimsical lands with many interesting characters. I was first drawn to her work through some amazing artwork of characters from V.E. Schwab’s “Shades of Magic” Series, but she’s also done Tarot card designs of the “Six of Crows” characters too!

Instagram: @kiranight_art

Website

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Laura Casara

Another artist who does absolutely brilliant artwork of characters from books by Holly Black and V.E. Schwab that I’ve mentioned before. At first, her work is light, whimsical, and full of color until you peer closer and see the character’s dark expressions. She does a wonderful job of sneaking darkness into her characters to it more of a wicked edge!

Instagram: @loweana.art

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Salome Totladze

Much like Tara Spruit, Salome has done artwork for just about EVERY major book fandom out there when it comes to Fantasy novels/series. I’ve been following this fashion designer, illustrator, and comic artist on social media since their earlier days of posting characters from the “Throne of Glass” series, and it’s been an absolute joy to see them continue to improve with every work of art posted for the world to see!

Instagram: @morgana0anagrom

Twitter: @morgana0anagrom

Tumblr: @morgana0anagrom

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Gabriella Bujdoso

Another incredible artist to add to this collection, they do a lot of commissions for popular book fandoms. Along with titles I’ve mentioned for other designers, they’ve also done work for “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir, the “Captive Prince” trilogy by C.S Pacat, and “House of Earth and Blood” by Sarah J. Maas. Gabriella also has a distinct style that places them amongst who are considered the best of book fandom artists!

Instagram: @gabriella.bujdoso

Twitter: @gabibujdoso

Website

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Diana Dworak

Diana is another book fandom artist that’s worth mentioning because their work is also gorgeous! They’ve made art for many popular book series, and she’s also done work for “Children of Blood and Bone” by Toni Adeyemi and “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson.

Instagram: @dianadworak

Twitter: @DianaDworak

Website

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Nolan Harris

Nolan is a different kind of artist on here who’s not known for commissioning for popular book fandoms, or really even their own character/environments. He’s actually a freelance illustrator that makes pieces of the professional wrestlers of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and has been hired by the company for many merchandise opportunities. His style is so much fun to look at, and captures the essence of each superstar perfectly while infusing it with his caricature style.

Instagram: @nolanium

Website

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Coralie Jubénot

Coralie is by far my favorite digital artist amongst all the names I know…I mean, I’m not sure I need to explain why when you look at their gallery below. Her art is instantly recognizable amongst all the book fandoms for their uniquely drawn characters and their distinctly sharpened facial features. She can really draw those Sarah J. Maas males like Chaol, Dorian, Rowan, and Rhysand to perfection!

Instagram: @merwildandco

Twitter: @Merwild

Website

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N.C. Winters

N.C Winters has artwork that feels incredibly surreal. Whether it’s a beautiful dream or a complete nightmare, the imagery packs a wallop and leaves a lasting impression. They love to focus on beautiful disaster and the windows to the soul; some of their work really reminds me of the cursed crew of the Flying Duchman from “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies!

Instagram: @ncwinersart

Website

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PhantomRin

One of the first digital artists I’d ever discovered on Instagram, they were also one of the first artists to showcase fanart of Holly Black’s “The Folk of the Air” trilogy. Their style is more simplistic than some of the other names mentioned in this collection, but that doesn’t deteriorate from their work at all! What I can appreciate about their art is how they’re willing to try different styles and different choices of mediums while maintaining their key characteristics that fans can still recognize. Check out their stuff on Instagram if you don’t believe me!

Instagram: @phantomrin

Tumblr: phantomrin.tumblr.com

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Fab Ng

Some key words for this artist’s work is gay, erotic, and Fabuloooooous! They’ve recently gone more in the direction of creating sexy male mermaids, but what initially drew me in was their collection of overly sexualized male superheroes. They do a lot of different types of freelance work with contemporary models, DC and Marvel characters, mermaids and other mythological half-creatures, and also draw up some fierce females too! They have a Patreon page to view their raunchier work, since Instagram unfortunately doesn’t allow such art on their platform.

Instagram: @artbyfab

Tumblr: artbyfab.tumblr.com

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Jemlin Creations

A digital artist that started their little business by designing bookmarks showcasing popular YA and Adult Fantasy characters for fans to add a gorgeous little visual for their reading adventures. They’ve recently gotten more popular for their colorful style, and so they’ve been posting their art on Instagram for all of us to enjoy!

Instagram: @jemlincreations

Website

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Mitch Aseltine

A more recent addition to this collection, I’d discovered this freelance concept artist through @phantasyarts on Instagram: a collection page of amazing concept art and matte paintings for fans of sci-fi/fantasy imagery. He’s got amazing style, and his artwork looks like it should be showcased in video games; I feel like he’s going to be a name to remember!

Instagram: @mitchaseltine

Website

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So, there you have it! So many names, and so much amazing artwork to enjoy and inspire. I wanted to create an article to collect names and profiles not only for me to refer back to, but for others as well for any reason: to discover more artist names, for inspiration on your own artwork, or even for fellow writers who want to use art as a prompt.

I plan to continuously add more and more names as time goes on, so feel free to bookmark this page and refer back to it from time to time too. I want this to be a great resource for interested parties, and please please please please please reach out and talk to me if there are names not on here that you feel like they should be! There are so many artists out there, not even I am aware of everyone out there. Thats kind of the beauty of it; it’s a constant hunt to find them all.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PART 2 OF THE LIST!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

graphic novel, LGBT, YA Contemporary Fiction, YA romance

My Review: Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey (Check, Please! #1-2): by Ngozi Ukazu

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Publish Date: September 18th 2018
Number of Pages: 288 Pages
Publisher: First Second
Genre(s): Graphic Novel, Sports, LGBT, YA

Total Star Rating: 4.35 Stars

Okay, so if you love hilarious, heartwarming, coming of age story with college male athletes who love to party, and a gay little figure skater who loves to bake and joins the team, this graphic novel is totally for you!

Before this story literally fell into my hands, I never really read graphic novels before. Not that I ever had anything against them, they were just something that I never really looked into, plus they seemed like something that Marvel took over for the most part. This book just so happened to fall into my hands one day while at work in the bookstore, and I was immediately drawn towards the artwork, the blurb on the back, and I thought it would be great material to not only enjoy, but to get some possible inspiration towards my own story that I’m working on, which also takes place on a college campus.

After some resarch from my ever curious, erudite Ravenclaw mind, Check, Please turned out to have started out as a webcomic on the author’s Tumblr and/or Twitter accounts, and it gained so much popularity with it’s growing fandom, that she eventually turned to Kickstarter to be able to make printed copies of it to send to interested parties. It eventually went on to become the most funded webcomic to ever be put up on the site, making an astounding $74,000 when her goal was only $15,000.

I’m so sad to say that before I stumbled upon the book that I’d never even heard of the franchise, and thats because it turned out to be one of my favorite stories that I’ve read in recent memory! Its got sports, it’s got friendship, it’s got brotherhood, it’s got it’s laughs and tears, romance, hot male athletes, witty and hilarious banter, sexual tension, and it’s such a great story to get behind. It’s got some extremely relatable themes like coming out, collegiate stress, overcoming fears, friendship, growing up, athletes, and eventually graduation. I’m only sad that I have to wait until Spring of 2020 in order to read Vol. 2 (at least a printed copy of it, which I want to hold off on anything until the physical copy comes out, I know the third and fourth years are available to read online).

What It’s About:

Eric “Bitty” Bittle, a vlogger and baker, enrolls as a new freshman at Samwell University, a private college over in Massachusetts. He’s a former figure skating champion, but is actually at Samwell to play on the boy’s Hockey team, who all begin to warm up to through his cheery demeanor, his excellent baking skills, and overall kindness and compassion.

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Eric Bittle, image courtesy of tvtropes.org

Four other characters meet Bittle and become a big part of his overall story; there’s his teammates Shitty, Ransom and Holster, Jack, and Lardo.

B. “Shitty” Knight is a typical cocky, chill, go with the flow kind of guy who is actually pretty intelligent, but wants to keep it on the down low. Despite being a junior who’s actually double majoring in Political Science and Sexuality, Women and Gender studies, he is very much what some people may consider to be a “stereotypical” hockey bro, at least by appearance and first impressions.

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Shitty, image courtesy of tvtropes.org

Adam “Ransom” Birkholtz and Justin “Holster” Oluransi are the dynamic duo; they’re not an actual gay couple, but they might as well be. Both are each other’s best friend, they play off of each other and are always there for a good laugh, or get into “deep” philosophical debates like whether flow actually helps a hockey player’s performance or not, how nicknames are created and earned, the perfect shape of Jack’s ass (which has its own parody twitter account), and plenty of other hilarious and random qualms that come up. They are total bro’s, but lovable bro’s in a beautiful bromance.

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Holster and Ransom, image courtesy of tvtropes.org

Larissa “Lardo” Duan is the snarky and moody female team manager. She is an art major in her sophomore year, based off her sculpture and painting work done that’s referenced, and though she doesn’t always say much, she usually knows what needs to be said. Initially best friends with Shitty since they’re from the same hometown, she also befriends Bitty and gets closer to him.

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Lardo, image courtesy of tvtropes.org

Finally, we have Jack Zimmerman. Considered by most as a “prodigy” with his dad being a hockey legend, Jack always felt the pressure coming from all sides, and it’s led to issues with stress and anxiety and other things down the road. A junior at the beginning of the story who’s a History Major, he’s incredibly driven, brooding, moody during the preseason and is a natural born leader with a no nonsense attitude. He initially dislikes Bitty, but grows to like him over the course of the two years that they are teammates. Jack even begins to tease Bitty about his mannerisms and his obsession with Twitter and baking, and they develop a fun dynamic because Bitty reminds him to take joy in the little things in life.

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Jack Zimmerman, image courtesy of tvtropes.org

As the story develops, you discover that Bitty learns to come to terms with his sexuality when he discovers that he has a major crush on Jack. No one else really knows, and he’d prefer to keep it that way. This first volume covers Bitty’s freshman and sophomore years at Samwell University, while the second volume (releasing Spring 2020) will of course feature the last two years, and hopefully/most likely feature some characters that graduated and moved away in this first part.

What I Liked:

  1. The Characters! Honestly, it’s the characters and their whole group dynamic that steals your heart in this story. They’re just such a fun group of people to read about, and you feel like you’re immersed within their inner circle. They say funny and stupid things, and actually do funny and stupid things too; the author absolutely nails the banter and the camaraderie amongst the teammates. Her characters were surprisingly so fleshed out and dynamic, and it was so great to see how they grew as time went on. Yes, to some, they’re just the typical alpha jocks on campus, and sure, sometimes they say things that may seem problematic or stupid, but I can appreciate the fact that the author nailed their authenticity to a T, and still made them likeable all the same. With that said, I suppose there are some slight trigger warnings for some readers: there’s underage drinking, panic attacks, hazing, and the misogynistic guy talk about hooking up with girls, and frankly other sexual content. Personally, I didn’t mind any of it as I thought it added to the authenticity of the characters and who they are (boys who are athletes in college), but I could see others not be too keen on it.
  2. The Slow-Burn Romance! Yes, there is a romance, and oh….it is so agonizingly drawn out, much like someone who is a giant wuss and makes tearing off a bandaid an absolutely horrendous experience. It’s fun to see it slowly develop, but also so satisfying when it finally goes somewhere. There’s plenty in between to keep you interested at least! You can’t help but love Bitty and want him to get everything he wants in the world; he is the literal definition of a human cinnamon roll!
  3. The Author! the author took her time studying the sport of Hockey for three months at Yale back when she was writing a screenplay that was similar to Check, Please, but much darker in tone. afterwards, she wanted something lighter, more fun and uplifting, when she witnessed the friendship amongst the athletes and their own group dynamic, and so Check, Please was created. Also, she unintentionally became a huge fan of the sport after all the research she did for her works of fiction, which is awesome! She went above and beyond because she wanted it to be authentic, realistic and show that she knew what she was talking about. Any writer, author, etc should do the same sort of thing in order to make their work stronger. I also just love that from what I’ve heard, she’s just as much a part of the fandom while also being the main contributor of it all. She literally just sits and draws little three-part comics, sketches, character’s, you name it. She does her own fanart for her own comic, which just sounds adorable. It’s awesome to hear about a creator who loves her work so much, that she’s also such a huge fan as well!
  4. The Artwork! The artwork is done in such a beautiful, fun way, and the panels are smartly done in a seamless way that easily moves you within the story the next box. It’s simple and cartoony, but effective and enjoyable all at the same time.
  5. Bitty! I mean, he’s a short, gay little baker who was a figure skater who joins the hockey team. Imagine Spongebob Squarepants making it into the Salty Splatoon. He’s also from the south and says “Y’all,” “Bless your heart,” “Girl, Please” and uses people’s full names like an angry mother whenever he needs to make a point. So, he’s a gay little southern baker who’s on the hockey team, and he’s officially too pure for this world.

What I Didn’t Like:

Nothing…I didn’t dislike anything…it was all so so so so perfect….I am WAY too excited for Spring 2020 for it to release! I don’t even care, I’m rolling up in my 2004 Mercury Sable at Barnes & Noble and paying full price like:

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Conclusion:

Oh my lord…What can I say? This story is a treat. A delicious, sweet, cavity inducing treat that most fans of LGBT!, sports, M/M romance and college story lovers will immensely enjoy. It’s mainly character driven, so it’s a little on the slower side towards the middle, but like I said, the author has created a truly amazing dynamic with her characters with their unique personalities, their banter and conversations, and how they develop for not only themselves, but for you, the reader. They truly may shock you at some points when you think you have them all figured out.

It’s funny, its heartfelt, its deep, and it’s another great coming of age story for anyone to enjoy! If you couldn’t guess, I am currently in countdown mode for the release of vol. 2 in the spring of 2020, and refuse to read what happens before then on the internet, because who doesn’t like the long, drawn out torture of waiting for the next book in a series to come out a year later?

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell