by Whitney Grace
If we thought female reproductive rights were controversial today, Women Rebel paints an even bleaker picture. Margaret Sanger was a one-woman tour de force who paved the way for reproductive rights, birth control, and founded Planned Parenthood. Sanger lived in a time when women were encouraged to pony up the kids or practice abstinence. One doctor in the graphic novel says, “Women want their cake and to eat it too.” Peter Bagge tells her extraordinary story as she goes from a regular homemaker and mother to nurse to political activist. Sanger had a knack for pushing forward and impatience for anyone who stood in her way, but she was strikingly intelligent and attracted the attention of notable minds of her time. One wouldn’t think that a man could tell Sanger’s story without some masculine overtones. Peter Bagge proved the opposite with his superb historical and biographical account. He accurately represents a woman’s plight in the early twentieth century, supported by historical fact. Even more to his credit he doesn’t paint Sanger as a saint. He allows her humanity to float to the surface to the point where it is annoying fault, but the problem with historic records is they often lack the human element.
Bagge’s style lays in the underground comics camp. His characters display the over exaggeration that is found in that genre, along with his designs having the more stylized shapes and lines. On first inspection, its an interesting way to tell Sanger’s story, but the two controversial mediums are used to tell a riveting story.