Meags Fitzgerald sits cross legged in front of her archaic television set beguiled by the classic motion picture Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Coming across a particularly provocative scene in the film, Fitzgerald began to rewind and play her cassette tape to fanatical tedium. Captivated by the screen presence of the timelessly titillating Jessica Rabbit, it was then and there she realized that she was not like the other little girls on her block. It was then and there she discovered her attraction to women.
Long Red Hair is a graphic memoir in which author Meags Fitzgerald recounts her early childhood and progression to becoming a confident and fully-realized adult. She places particular attention and focus on defining moments in her life, highlighting comical discussions with her mother and endearing moments of frustration and sadness. Coming to terms with a sexuality she cannot aptly define, we follow Fitzgerald as she goes through sleepovers, her first kiss, and the discovery that menstruation is not pleasant.
The story is also chalked with tons of nostalgic references and throwbacks to the 1990s for those of the millennial distinction. Where some references might negatively date a story, Fitzgerald succeeds in crafting a memoir which really places the reader in the shoes of its protagonist and her world growing up.
In a lot of ways, Long Red Hair is like an alternative version of Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood (with a more forgiving runtime). However, that never takes away from the experience of reading this graphic memoir, because it ultimately provides a story which is much more intriguing and captivating.
This is in part due to the author’s unique upbringing. Fitzgerald’s life is devoid of a cookie cutter template, which makes for a highly engaging read. Getting to see the world from the perspective of a pansexual character is not only invigoratingly refreshing to experience, it’s also quite enlightening.
The memoir is a fantastic snapshot of the life of a character struggling to find their way in the world. It’s also a great reminder of a time when different sexualities were not widely spoken of with the accessibility and understanding they are today.
Fitzgerald’s artwork is warm and inviting to readers. The art style is reminiscent of the penciled sketches that might fill one’s personal journals. Every page is enriched with in-depth rendering that provides layer upon layer of rich exposition of the characters and environment.
The colour red also plays a significant part in the story. The subtle symbolism of crimson which laces the story grabs the eye. While a literary element such as this can sometimes be a nauseating expense, Fitzgerald’s use of the colour red is a well-developed cherry on top for the story that leads to a stellar payoff.
In the end, Long Red Hair is nothing less than a gratifying memoir filled with many memorable and heartfelt moments. And it will leave you misty-eyed as you see Fitzgerald find herself in the final pages.