Y’all didn’t think I just reviewed books, did you? On the menu today is an amazing 50s-inspired webcomic called Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi, a queer comic artist from New Zealand. It follows two conflicting, gendered gangs–the Jaquettes and the Roller–as the members struggle with this binary they created. There’s LGBTQIA+ romance, drama, and a whole lot of hair grease! Things only gets more shaken up when a new gang comes onto the stage and when the school tries to restrict who can go together to the big dance. Rock and Riot messes with its gendered gangs to show how rigid binaries harm people.
One of the members of the women-only gang, the Jaquettes, is a trans woman named Rolly. She was initially a part of the men-only gang, the Rollers, but when Rolly figured out that she’s trans, she switched gangs. This is part of why the two gangs are in conflict: the leader of the Rollers feels like the Jaquettes stole Rolly from them. These two gangs were initially created in childhood over something as simple as a kids’ squabble, but when Rolly figured out her identity, she got tugged around between the two gangs. In a lot of ways, Rock and Riot does a great job using these two gangs to exemplify why a binary system is harmful.
Not that far into the series, a new person shows up on the block: Ace. Both the Jaquettes and the Rollers want them in their group, but agender Ace decides to start their own no-gender gang: The Bandits! The best thing about it is that there’s a cast list page with all of the characters’ identities and pronouns listed, so the representation is clear. And when Ace and Rolly start talking, the nuances of their character interactions are just wonderful.
Genuinely I found Rock and Riot to be a wonderfully LGBTQIA+ web comic with a fun set up and well-developed characters. I would absolutely suggest this to both my transgender and my cisgender readers. It’s definitely a story people should look to for an example of how to write LGBTQIA+ characters of all kinds.
Rock and Riot by Chelsey Furedi
Website Host: Tapas
Number of Episodes: 123
Content Warnings: Mild transphobia, systemic transphobia, racism, coming out