Don Steinberg ’83 Knows That Cereal Isn’t Just for Kids

Headshot of Don Steinberg '83


Don Steinberg ’83 has covered hundreds of stories during his 40 years as a journalist, penning articles for pubs from Forbes to The Wall Street Journal to The New Yorker. Now he’s taking on a new challenge: launching his first comic book series, thanks to the release of his first illustrated work, Cereal.

The dip into comics had been percolating for years, Steinberg says. He had frequently written humor pieces — starting with Jester at the College — and was inspired to try his hand at screenplays after interviewing filmmakers and learning more about the process. One of those early screenplay drafts grew into Cereal, which released its first issue in January (the second issue is due in May). Steinberg says that it has been exhilarating to see his first comic book come to life: “When you’re a journalist, it’s great to see your article printed. But when you’re doing fiction, it’s totally different. You’re the first person to tell this story.”

Cover of the graphic novel Cereal
Cereal’s plot offers a fresh take on the true crime/serial killer oeuvre — an unknown force is killing off big-name corporate cereal mascots and they must reach out to maverick food scientist and indie cereal creator Tracey Colorado for help. “I have a love for all that old retro stuff that we grew up with, like Saturday morning cartoons,” says Steinberg. “I thought, ‘What if there was a story about a serial killer with a C? What would that be? How could it happen?’”

A parallel story arc focuses on a cereal conglomerate facing a financial shakeup. “I had written so much about business and corporations and knew how business people talk, so that’s how the two ideas came together,” he says. All three storylines (the murders, Colorado’s cereal innovations, and hostile corporate shenanigans) will intertwine as the series continues.

After he had Cereal’s early pages drafted, Steinberg needed to find an artist he could trust with his offbeat vision. He turned to his longtime friend and collaborator, Rich Harrington, with whom he had previously worked on a GQ baseball-themed humor series. “He was just the perfect guy to do the comic book with me,” Steinberg says. “Neither of us had ever done one — we’re two 60-year-old guys figuring it out and learning as we go!”

Steinberg has written Cereal as a six-issue release; the first installment has already gained attention, promoted everywhere from comic book conventions to the cereal-themed podcast “Just Pour the Milk.”

Having taken the deep dive into the milky unknown, Steinberg says he is loving the new experience. “As soon as I think ‘I should have done this 30 years ago,’ I then think, ‘Maybe I wasn’t ready for it,’” he says. “Maybe I couldn’t have done it the same way back then, without all the experiences that I’ve had now.”

“And really, it’s a cliché but it does show that it’s never too late. If you want to start something, just start today.”