Naturalist writes, illustrates satirical comic 'Epiffany Jones'

Saturday, December 14, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CST; updated 12:28 p.m. CST, Monday, December 16, 2013
Comic author Dirk Burhans works in his studio.


COLUMBIA — Comic book illustrator and writer Dirk Burhans is the puppet master over the characters he created in his first comic in more than 25 years, "Epiffany Jones."

The main character, Epiffany, lives in a post-2012 apocalyptic world with her stubborn, drunken mother; quirky pet cat and absent-minded boyfriend. She is telepathic and attempts to predict the future, though it is constantly changing because of solar flares, asteroids, false prophets and a new world order. 

Burhans' creation is a satire of "Cathy," a comic that pokes fun at the lives and shortcomings of modern women. 

His love for comics sparked around the age of 10, when he would create his own "Peanuts" comics and hand them out to his friends at school. 

After graduating from Antioch University with a degree in art illustration, he moved north to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he studied under influential people in the comic industry. 

He took a 30-year hiatus from comics while working as a naturalist in the city but picked up illustrating again in 2012, 21 years after he moved to Columbia to pursue his Ph.D. in biology at MU.

Burhans said science and art both require a lot of creativity, which is why he was interested in both. 

Today, Burhans juggles creating comics, playing music and being a local mail carrier, but he said illustrating is his favorite aspect of his life. 

"I had forgotten how fulfilling it is, not having drawn, like I said, in 25 or 30 years," he said. "What a calming and centering thing it is to do."

To view Burhans' comics, go to

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