Lecturer's graphic novel takes a 'heartbreaking' look at infertility

Emily Steinberg

Artist Emily Steinberg creates intensely personal graphic novels.

Credit: Paul Rider

Emily Steinberg spent her 20s in art school and her 30s “worriedly single.” As she approached 40, though, she found love, marriage and assumed the proverbial baby carriage would follow.

But Steinberg, a lecturer in art at Penn State Abington, discovered pregnancy would not be a natural and simple progression for her family. "Broken Eggs," Steinberg’s just-published graphic novel, explores the despair and anguish she endured, as “I became an infertility guinea pig.”

The visual narrative may seem like an unconventional choice for such an emotionally-charged topic, but melding words, images and life makes perfect sense to Steinberg. She began experimenting more than a decade ago with graphic novels and now teaches the art form at Abington.

“I not only wanted to make visual imagery, as in my paintings, but I wanted to tell stories as well,” the author said. “I found that the combination of words and images created a visceral way of storytelling.”

One of her earliest efforts evolved into the acclaimed Web comic "Graphic Therapy: Notes from the Gap Years," depicting life as an single artist making her way through work and psychoanalysis.

“Most of my material is autobiographical,” Steinberg continued. “Stories that have happened to me along
 the way have shaped my being.”

Her latest work clearly isn’t fiction. Cleaver Magazine, which published "Broken Eggs," calls Steinberg’s novel a “gorgeously executed and heartbreaking autobiographic narrative about infertility.”

The 67 illustrations are entwined with conversational text. Splashes of color pop like the author’s raw nerves and pull the reader through life as an infertility patient: wallet-busting medications, shots, dashed hopes, bargaining with the fates, and -- oh, wait, a new treatment option ... .

“My ears perked up. My heart skipped a beat. I could spin the roulette wheel again. Jump right back onto the fertility roller coaster.”

“But then I said NO MORE. I was done.”

Read more from "Broken Eggs" at http://www.cleavermagazine.com/broken-eggs-by-emily-steinberg/.

Steinberg teaches painting, the history of comics, and making comics and the graphic novel through the Art major at Abington. To learn more about the program, go to http://www.abington.psu.edu/art.