UPIKE alum publishes graphic novel ‘The Hillbilly Bigfoot Paranormal Survival Guide’

University of Pikeville alum, adjunct professor and ‘award-winning’ cartoonist, illustrator and author Christopher Epling ’96 published his most recent graphic novel, The Hillbilly Bigfoot Paranormal Survival Guide.

Epling, a Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is a graduate of both UPIKE and the University of Kentucky, along with spending a year studying at the Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C. in 2007 and four years with the 101st Airborne Division.

Upon winning the Kentucky Press Association ‘Mark of Excellence Award’ for editorial cartoon back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013, Epling began his career in illustrations and launched his company, Epling Illustrations.

After Epling published a book titled “Erby’s Turn to Rake,” he began illustrating for publishing companies. Since 2010, he has illustrated 15 books for other authors and four books of his own. 

It took more than three years of hard work, determination and encouragement from publishers and editors to take Epling’s idea to the next level and complete The Hillbilly Bigfoot Paranormal Survival Guide.

“I began my basis for this graphic novel in the form of a sketchbook. For ten years, I worked illustrating other authors’ ideas but had a thirst for an outlet while doing so,” said Epling. “The inspiration for the concept came from my love of cryptids and the paranormal. I believe God created a world filled with wonder. Sure, humanity knows a lot about our living room, but how often do we venture or spend time in the attic?” 

Epling has served as the art director for St. Francis of Assisi School in Pikeville, Ky., and the art director for the Challenger Learning Center in Hazard, Ky. Currently, he is an adjunct professor at UPIKE, where he teaches Photoshop and a Creating Comics class. 

“Working as an adjunct is a dream come true. I love UPIKE for the foundation it gave me, which I continue to draw from today. Seeing students become inspired to go on and create their own work is the goal of my teaching here,” said Epling. “Once I walk students through the process of getting involved in the industry, it’s like a lightbulb goes off in their head. I swear to it that sometimes I can even see it when it happens.”

To find more published editorial comics, comic strips, web-comics, commissioned comics, mini-comics and graphic novels visit christopherepling.com.