This heart-wrenching comics-narrative illustrating one woman’s epic journey towards motherhood is, at turns, also funny and cute. Drawings have a way of taking the sweat out of tragedy, turning it into something more palatable, though still powerful. I drank in Catalogue Baby in a single gulp.
Catalogue Baby: A Memoir of Infertility
Christache (Illustrations), Myriam Steinberg (Writing)
March 2, 2021
A deeply personal memoir, told in cartoons, becomes a vehicle for deep empathy as the viewer finds themselves in the story through the act of reading bodies in space, always putting oneself in place of the protagonist/author, Myriam Steinberg, as we comprehend the action. The unfolding study of graphic medicine, the “use of comics to tell personal stories of illness and health,” strongly recommends that practitioners read comics that feature exactly this type of rich self-examination in order to become more intuitive, better doctors. This book should be required reading for anyone working in the fertility field, as they are unlikely to find a more potent psychological study of a persistent individual experiencing infertility and loss. The author’s body, illustrated by Christache in a limited palette of pinks, grays, and browns, calls out to all the others that encounter it, asking that we hold space in ourselves for the bodies she held in hers. We feel their lives and grieve their passing alongside her. I can only imagine the feeling of solidarity this comic would engender in someone struggling in a similar way.
For my own part, experiencing the work as artist, mother, and feminist, I found Christache’s visuals sublime, Steinberg’s story gripping, and more than anything, I felt proud of the empowering act this feat of remembrance accomplishes as the duo establishes, beyond all else, the enduring personhood of Steinberg’s unborn children, cemented in the space they occupy in their mother’s heart, and in her story.
The comic wholly succeeds as art in its expressive and atheistic qualities, and as literature in its script and formal construction. Its most striking, and in my opinion vital, ability is in its social function. This book is revolutionary. It makes the rare subject, a single person pursuing fertility options alone, accessible, and it does so by being, frankly, very entertaining. It’s no wonder that Steinberg’s prior experience was as a dedicated curator of unconventional theatrical experiences. An important story is best told in an interesting way, and Catalogue Baby does the very thing its author most fervently hopes to do.