So excited to be making my NYT debut! I love a good rebus puzzle, so it's a pleasure that my debut is one that I've been working on for almost a year and a half. In brainstorming phrases that involve "box" or "square" and which involved a rebus/symbol that translates for both analog and digital solvers, the checkmark and "check all the boxes" theme rose to the top.
This puzzle went through several iterations, including a fundamental grid restructuring that ended up losing one of the checkboxes which sat near the center of the grid. There were also several additional fun "check" phrases that just didn't fit into a good fill that therefore went unused. But I'm happy with the result, which retains a relative symmetry to the checkboxes and keeps my favored long clues (CHECKS AND BALANCES, and CHECKPOINT CHARLIE).
Hope to see you all again soon!