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Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,577 ratings  ·  265 reviews
The alternative-comics master offers an indelible and idiosyncratic take on the protofeminist

"[Woman Rebel] is fine work from an excellent cartoonist and I urge you to jump right in."-Tom Spurgeon of The Comics Reporter, from his introduction Peter Bagge's Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story is a dazzling and accessible biography of the social and political maverick,
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Hardcover, 104 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by Drawn and Quarterly
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  1,577 ratings  ·  265 reviews


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Jan Philipzig
The Rubbery Birth Control Activist

I am generally not a big fan of biographies, as I usually feel that they oversimplify and dramatize a life course that in reality is much more complex and diffuse. I am a fan of cartoonist Peter Bagge, though, and I was curious whether his rubbery, inherently satirical drawing style would do justice to the personality and achievements of birth-control activist Margaret Sanger.

As it turns out, Bagge treats Sanger with the respect she deserves – her personality is
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Sam Quixote
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I’ll be completely honest: I had no idea who Margaret Sanger was until I read this book. Having finished it, I’m now very much informed on the subject and thoroughly enjoyed reading about Sanger’s extraordinary life thanks to Peter Bagge’s wonderful storytelling and research.

Comics are a wonderful medium and one of the things they do extremely well, which is never emphasised enough, is non-fiction. Whether biography, true crime, philosophy, politics, science or history, comics can make nearly
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Melody
Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
I loved the STORY but I hated the illustrations. The wavy mouths, the wavy characters, the bloodshot eyes... it was all too Crumbian for me. I couldn't get my head into the story- I'd keep thinking, "I know what Margaret Sanger looked like, she was truly stop-traffic beautiful, and this woman here, with the popping-out bloody eyes? This woman is not Margaret Sanger."

Stylistically incompatible with my old, persnickety self.
Elizabeth A
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphix, non-fiction, 2016
A quote from the author's end notes: "Legal access to safe and effective methods of birth control made it possible for us to pursue our lives and dreams without being shackled by our biology. It's amazing the extent to which we now take this fact for granted, but I simply can't imagine a greater gift to humanity." I concur.

I'd heard of Margaret Sanger, but had no idea what a powerful, influential, controversial, and connected woman she was. Why is her face not on our currency? I remember
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David Schaafsma
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-history
A comic biography about the woman who founded Planned Parenthood, told by alt comic author Bagge. So, I knew she was famous for this and I recalled in a sort of vague way that she was "complicated," but relearned she was a mother of three, had lots of lovers (including H.G. Wells!), "struggled with" drugs/alcohol, and was difficult, but this book sort of shows how her flaws were related to her activism in some ways, inseparable from them in a way. Most biographies lionize, they create these ...more
Dov Zeller
This is a great graphic biography of a woman who is often misrepresented by academics and historians and people trying to make a point and not fact-checking their stories. Margaret Sanger was a rambunctious visionary who worked very hard to create a world in which reproductive rights exist for women. She made big waves all by herself and did her best to work with others and did a lot to make sex education and birth control accessible to women in the U.S. and elsewhere. I feel like I'm not being ...more
Morgan
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After loving his comic Fire!! about Zora Neale Huston, I had to get Woman Rebel. Like Fire!!, I ended up liking this book as well. I don't know much about Margaret Sanger beforehand. I knew she was a feminist, involved with birth control, and just last year I learned she was one inspiration for Wonder Woman. After reading this, I found out even more things. Like Bagge states afterwords, I fell into the trap looking her up online only to see things that sounded...well...a little off. Being a fan ...more
Miri
It occurs to me that a lot of our current problems are still problems because people don't know enough about Margaret Sanger. The divide over abortion and birth control persists a century later because people (mostly men) don't understand how inextricably sex and politics are linked for women, and this is what Sanger spent decades making people realize. She has always been a particular target of slander and demonization from those who fear independent women, so even progressives come away with ...more
Raina
Dec 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I didn't know a tonne about Sanger before I read this. I have a complicated, rather fraught, personal history with family planning, myself. So this was a great way to self-educate on her history and place in my heritage.

Bagge is a fascinating biographer - I know him mostly for his wacky, alternative comics. And this bio work is loopy and over the top in style, but very substantive in content.
It's pretty episodic, skipping from event to event. He includes extensive notes at the back, and this
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Sam
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I have only heard little bits and pieces about Margaret Sanger so when I stumbled across this at my local library there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to find out more about this amazing and influential woman. I was a little concerned that Bagge might be too biased towards her and make her out to be some kind of saint but from what I can see, he was true to her character covering the good, the bad and the ugly as he tells the highlights of her life the best way he knows how. At the ...more
l.
Racist undertones aside (what was he thinking)... It was OK.

ETA: You know what? For this: "Interestingly, since we have more scientifically advanced forms of both control (thanks largely to Sanger) agencies impose temporary forms of forced sterilization on various wards of the state, such as the "chemical castration" of paroled sex offenders or devices for "impulsively promiscuous" girls in the foster care system. All things considered, these are not unreasonable solutions - albeit ones that
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Matt
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cartoonist Peter Bagge applies his trademark rubber-limbed visuals and sardonic humor to illustrate the life of women's reproductive rights activist Margaret Sanger (1879-1966). I loved this. Surprisingly well-researched and quirky at the same time. Can't wait to check out Bagge's more recent cartoon bio of writer Zora Neale Hurston.
Renata
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! It's a complex look at a complex lady, and it highlights how brave she was without glossing over some of her more problematic actions. (Though it does flesh them out in some cases--like, yes, she did talk to the KKK women's auxiliary group, but she felt uncomfortable about it but ultimately decided that all women should have access to information about their bodies. Also, her involvement with eugenics is addressed but put into context somewhat.)

The artwork here is a little
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Sonic
Mar 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a Fantastic biographical perspective on an extremely misunderstood woman!
When I say fantastic I mean Superb (not outrageous.)

Even if you "know" who Margaret Sanger is, chances are you have bought into (or believed) some of the many LIES about her.
I did.
I heard things and I believed them.
And so I am very grateful for Peter Bagge's honest (and trust-worthy) portrayal of this heroic woman.
Yes he has done research, and yes this "graphic novel" has foot notes and a bibliography for
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D.
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, comics
Short and sweet: Pete Bagge is a master of comedy and comics, and Sanger should be essential for every young girl out there. That bring said Woman Rebel by Peter Bagge should be essential reading for EVERYONE.
Ed Aycock
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fun, fast, furious. This book will make you want to take to the streets and also make you wonder why nobody does anymore. Great work from Brugge.
Katie
May 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I really appreciated learning more about Margaret Sanger - what a wild life this woman had! - but the layout of the book made it more challenging than it needed to be. There was an appendix at the end of the book for every single page with more detail, some of which was really crucial to understanding what the scene was and why it was significant. So as I was reading, I was reading a page, flipping to the back, reading the context, reading the next page, deciding whether or not to flip back, ...more
Ben Truong
Jan 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story is a biographical graphic novel written and illustrated by Peter Bagge and recounts the life of Margaret Sanger, a birth control activist, during a time when talking about sex and birth control was tabooed.

Margaret Higgins Sanger was an American birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term "birth control", opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established organizations that evolved into the
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Melissa
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Not knowing who Margaret Sanger was I picked this up to find out. I love books written about real people and this was no exception. Margaret did a lot for all women out there and I feel her message is still pertinent today. That's also what's really sad about this book. Margaret Sanger was fighting for Planned Parenthood and women's rights since the early 1900's and yet,what I feel should be commonplace today, is still something we're fighting for.
John
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting and fact-filled graphic novel biography of the birth control pioneer. Nice quick read. A bit of a hybrid; you really need to read the notes at the end to get the "full story" set forth in the graphic portion.
Gofita
Fascinating book on Sanger. So much I didn’t know. She led an amazing and fascinating life fighting for the rights of women.
Roozbeh
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the alternative style of the artwork. An amazing character’s biography could be presented better. It’s not Eisner or Osamu Tezuka. However, it definitely deserves to be read.
Laura
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There need to be more in this series. People who read my reviews know that I'm not a huge Graphic Novel fan, and that holds true here. Overriding that is the fact that the story, which is a rather complex one, is well told in a way that MG and teen readers will understand. Add to that the front and backmatter, giving great context and additional resources, and you get five stars.
Kristina
I'm not a fan of graphic novels--I can take them or leave them--but I was interested in the idea of Margaret Sanger's story being told this way so I grabbed up this book when I came across it at the library. The illustrations didn't do anything for me (sorry Peter Bagge) but I really liked the book overall. It was very interesting.

Margaret Sanger was (among other things) a pioneer for women's rights to know about and practice contraception. Discussing the various methods to avoid pregnancy
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Althea J.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
MORE sex education
MORE access to birth control = FEWER abortions

This is why I don't understand Republican efforts to block people's access to sex education in schools and their propaganda fueled movement to defund Planned Parenthood (the easiest, cheapest source of birth control for women). I got my birth control (and my healthcare) at Planned Parenthood in my 20s, because I felt more comfortable with the women there than I did with the doctors provided by my school's healthcare.

This book
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Natalie Cannon
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book after reading Jill Lepore's THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN. Margaret Sanger was WW co-creator Olive Byrne's aunt, and Sanger's feminism and activism heavily influenced the series. WOMAN REBEL seemed like a good option for a quick-and-dirty run down of Sanger's life story.

And that's what I basically got. After some garbled professor-speak of an introduction, the actual comic portion illustrates eruptive, formative moments in Sanger's life. While this method of
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Michelle
I wanted to like this graphic novel. The annotated notes at the end show that a lot of research went into the book and Bagge thought Margaret Sanger was a compelling historical figure, but he's not up to the task of creating a historical biography in graphic novel form.

Bagge doesn't change his typical loose-limbed and frantic illustrations style, and it doesn't suit the biography of a woman who traveled the world and interacted over a long period of time. There was a lot of exposition in word
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Alicia
While I didn't care for the graphics in this graphic novel and there was still too much writing, though Bagge mentions that it was hard to pare down what he wanted to put in based on the confines of a graphic novel to begin with. I think the message was crowded out by trying to still add to much and her story would have been better served as a high-energy, loaded informational text.

I was invested more in the back matter than the storytelling of the graphic novel and was off-put in the
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Rebecca
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wow, what a read! I learned so much from this book about Margaret Sanger, birth control activist and founder of Planned Parenthood.

As author Peter Bagge mentions in the afterward, both liberals and conservatives get SO much wrong about her. Sanger doesn't fit neatly into anyone's box; she is a unique visionary with incredible focused purpose. As he also mentions in the afterward, so much of her life is dramatic and exciting that the graphic novel was the perfect form for this narrative.

Not only
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Josh
Nov 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
I'm a HUGE fan of Bagge's work going back to his Hate days, and I love his wackadoo storytelling, but I found this book sub-par in its execution. The subject matter seems a strange fit for Bagge's art style, and the book suffers from clumsy overuse of dialogue-as-exposition. Most of all, the story is extremely episodic, with no real dramatic thrust or over-arching emotional anchors.

Nonetheless, Bagge's respect and admiration for Sanger comes through on every panel, and I personally learned a
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Peter Bagge was born on December 11th, 1957, and raised in Peekskill, New York, about 40 miles north of New York City. While enrolled in the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1977, Bagge discovered underground comics, and the work of R. Crumb in particular turned what had initially been only a vague interest in cartooning into a passion.

In the early '80s Bagge co-published three issues of
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