Review - My Riot by Rick Spears and Emmett Helen

Title: My Riot

Author: Rick Spears and Emmett Helen

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: 8th September 2020

Source: NetGalley

Set in the early '90s, My Riot is about a trio of teen girls team up to form a rock band and shake off society's expectations of what it means to be a young woman coming of age in the modern world.

1991—Val, a teenager from a conservative family, has grown up dreaming of becoming a ballerina, but recently something has changed. She’s begun feeling pressure to conform to a specific idea of beauty, body type, and a personality that just doesn’t fit.

Val meets Kat, a smart, witty girl that doesn’t take any crap off anyone. Kat introduces Val to punk rock. Along with Rudie, another new friend, the three form an all-girl punk band they ironically name The Proper Ladies.

Soon Val and her friends find themselves caught up in a movement with other girls also starting bands—also finding their voice. Collectively, these “riot grrrls” discover that their songs ring out loud and powerful, and for Val, there’s no going back.

I can remember the pivotal moment when I realised back in 1991 that there was more to music than cheesy yet handsome boys bands, I had stepped in to the local newspaper shop as a 13 year old looking for a copy of Smash Hits (RIP) to feed my need for all things pop.

They didn’t have it.

They did have however a copy of the Melody Maker (RIP) and on the front cover was blonde bombshell Wendy James from Transvision Vamp, I was intrigued and I bought it, then the following week another and then another.

I read band interviews, gig reviews and blow by blow accounts of their latest EP’s and LP’s, I longed for a jangly Rickenbacker guitar (despite not being able to play) and when female bands from the States popped up, I wanted to be Kat Bjelland from Babes in Toyland, Courtney Love, (I still cry at Miss World) and Kristin or Tanya from Throwing Muses.  Their music was so raw and they where singing about angsty shit, they had guitars and wore babydoll dresses, I was hooked.

I grew older and my love of all things Indie never went away, it just downloaded itself on to iPods and iPhones, my taste in music did widen but play me Gigantic by the Pixies and I am transported back to a time when I longed to be a rock star.  Now I am a 41 year old mother of two daughters who love K-Pop and J-Pop.

When I saw the synopsis for the graphic novel My Riot I knew I had to read it.  It follows a trio of young misfit girls as they try and find their way in the nineties world.  The main character is Val, a would be ballerina who finds herself deemed too heavy to perform, she starts smoking, barely eating and making herself sick when she does, changing herself into something that someone else wants.

She cracks, she rebels and she finds herself in the company of Kat and Rudie, two kick ass girls who don’t conform, she is smitten with her new friends and along the way she picks up a guitar and music is made.  Bad music!  They get better, they call themselves the Proper Ladies and they slowly build up a fan base, they go from being the support to being the headline act, they don’t sing about fluffy unicorns and rainbows they sing about the pill, they sing about fucking, they sing about everything they love and hate, they rock.

These girls are part of a movement, they are riot grrls and they speak volumes.

My Riot really transported me back to the halcyon days of the early nineties, I remember how awe inspiring the riot grrl movement was.  It was empowering to see so many strong women kicking ass and My Riot really does embrace this in every page.  Yes they are girls, they have feelings, they fall in love, they fall out of love, they argue, they make up but my god they are powerful.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.



  1. Yes! I loved the Riot Grrrl movement! This is right up my alley. Thanks for the heads up about this one. 👍✨

    1. You are most welcome, I loved it, it was nice to go back to that time!


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