Graphic Infertility: Representations of Infertility in Comics and Graphic Novels


Curator's Note

This zine was curated by Alexandra Alberda, Dr. Anna Feigenbaum, and Katy Lindemann. A big thank you to the Sarah Glidden, Cara Gormally, Sheila Alexander, Jenell Johnson, and Emily Steinberg for contributing to the zine. Permissions to use images was granted by the artists included; if you would like to use the images please reach out to them via the links provided in the zine.

To access a pdf version of the zine please use the following link:


For more from these artists please see the following works:

Sarah Glidden:

Cara Gormally:

Sheila Alexander:

Jenell Johnson (referenced in the zine):

Emily Steinberg:




This zine is really great, thanks so much for putting it together. I have downloaded it for later perusing.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the "persistent patient who refuses to give up on her dreams of becoming a mother".

This idea of persistence and following dreams is one that dominates popular culture. Having a "dream" and pursuing that dream against any odds is presented often as a moral good.

Accepting limitations is so often perceived as a moral failure.

This goes to the heart of what is wrong with our politics (certainly for those of us in the UK) at the moment.

Stoicism is out. Epictetus would weep to watch us strive pointlessly for things that are entirely out of reach.

Infertility is depicted, as so many things are, as an individual struggle that can be overcome with sufficient wanting it enough. (With the corollary that if you don't succeed, it's because you didn't want it enough.)

It has become a default that if you can't conceive naturally that you will submit yourself to invasive and costly procedure in the pursuit of parenthood. People who choose otherwise find themselves having to defend that decision, as though it proves they didn't really want to be parents.


Thanks for the comment and kind words on the project. I think you are getting at what makes these autobiographical comics really resonate with me personally and with societal constructions of identity. There is a honest and vulnerable account of these artists encountering social ideologies, morality, and myths about motherhood and in/fertility. And, how these have negatively impacted someone's sense of themselves and place, because this assumption of "dream or work hard enough and anything is possible" is completely unfounded. 

I think these comics are powerful and, by depicting conversations with family, friends, strangers, doctors, etc., we get to see how our language around the experience of in/fertility is rooted in a dominate culture that ignores scientific facts on illnesses and pregnancy success in general, the reality of current medical procedures and their success, and, dare I say, logic or empathy. Paula Knight's The Facts of Life, another Graphic Medicine work, also has plenty of examples that show these dialogues and moments where a person is compared to some unachievable idea of normal that have such a strong impact on them. 

And, as you stated on what they show us about issues in the larger sociopolitcal climate we are in, I think they also show how one person, one comment, one question can (and has since these works are autobiographical) make someone feel they have failed by setting up "entirely out of reach" standards. These works leave me thinking how can I change my rhetoric around "parenthood" and in/fertility to make sure I am not subconciously reiterating these false-normalities and how can we working in this field, as artists, researchers, advocates, etc., influence those changes beyond ourselves. For me, these comics give me that language to do so. So long story short - really hope when you are reading the zine or the larger works later they are helpful, too.

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