Webcomic Wednesdays: Riverside Extras

If you’re a fan of The Godfather and Goodfellas, or just the crime fiction genre in general, Riverside Extras is for you.  But this time, the dames aren’t your run-of-the-mill broads… they’re running the show!

Everyone’s just trying to make a living in Riverside, but Ophelia Banksly has her eyes on a different prize.   The Roses and the Ink have long competed for power in Riverside City, and the recent upheaval in Ink leadership is adding tension to the mix.  Simon Emmet and his partners have the lock on guns running, but Ma Oceana, the leader of the all-female Roses, rules the sex circuit.  There’s been more and more skirmishes over territory, as well as competition for the drug hustles.  Ma’s top agents are pushing the boundaries, while Emmet is trying to secure his precarious hold on the volatile Inks.  And in the middle is one Ophelia Banksly, playing a dangerous game on both sides of the river.

Banksly and her compatriot, Derry Lake
Banksly and her compatriot, Derry Lake

Written and drawn by Miri, Riverside Extras turns the crime-noir stereotype on its head.  While the Ink gang follows typical alpha-male dominance seen in previous literature, the rival Roses are no shrinking violets.  They’re just as tough and violent as the men, and happily join the fight.  The writing follows typical noir motifs, building suspense through different point-of-views, though never revealing the entire story, leaving just enough clues and hints to tantalize the reader.  Though it follows the criminals, there are some scenes with the Riverside Police, especially one particular detective who seems to know more about the gangs than he’s letting on, but the main players are always the gang members.  The women are strong, but compassionate as well; where it involves other women and children, unlike in a situation with a man, the women put their Sisters first.  While there are some inter-arguments, it is good to see a group of women represented in comics as working for other women, not to advance petty gossip.

The setting is in pre-Prohibition 1900s, and the social themes are reflected.  Derogatory terms are used against women and people of color, as well as intense language.  Women are also seen as below men; the irony of this situation is played up when the gang leaders must meet.  There are also genderqueer characters who do not fit the typical gender roles of the era.  While slurs are used in a historical sense, the characters are well-represented, and are confident in their bodies, even if the outside world isn’t.  And while it’s a sad reminder of recent history, it also shows these people were always here, and they were no different than anyone else, trying to make a living in a hard world.

Miri’s art is gorgeous, drawn in a stark black and white frame, with red used to highlight now and again.  The characters’ anatomy is normal-proportions, fitting with the realism of the crime-noir theme.  Her accurate portrayal of 1910 architecture, fashion, and style enhances the Riverside universe, and could very well stand alone as landscape paintings of the city.  Set in Washington State, rain is in ninety percent of the scenery, and fits well with the murky settings.

A typical day in Riverside City
A typical day in Riverside City

Besides language, there are depictions of sex and nudity, but nothing too graphic, along with the violence found in crime fiction.  Some settings are held in brothels, with sex workers in typical era costumes.

You can read about Banksly and the rest of Riverside Extras at Riversidecomics.com.

Sarah Pendergraft

Sarah Pendergraft is a writer who enjoys webcomics, so she decided to combine the two and become a reviewer.

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