Jefferson Coniaris
Jefferson Coniaris grew up in Dayton and attended Maine College of Art & Design in Portland. He hopes to finish his graphic novel, "Event: Terminus," within two years. (Courtesy Jefferson Coniaris)
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With a hint of inspiration from a pandemic-shaped world, a Maine College of Art & Design graduate’s work on a post-apocalyptic graphic novel is on display in Biddeford.

The University of New England Campus Center exhibit showcases a beginning section of artist Jefferson Coniaris’ graphic novel “Event: Terminus,” about a young New England woman trying to survive a zombie virus.

Coniaris’ roots help establish the novel’s scene. The Dayton native said he imagined the protagonist beginning her journey in Maine, eventually making her way to Massachusetts.

"Event: Terminus" pages
Original drawings from “Event: Terminus” by Jefferson Coniaris at the University of New England Campus Center in Biddeford. (Portland Phoenix/Evan Edmonds)

He said the post-apocalyptic theme caught his interest because the setting establishes characters “working how you wouldn’t typically work, and how your whole world is turned upside down for better or for worse. It really grabbed my attention.”

Coniaris, 36, said he didn’t initially realize the correlation between the coronavirus pandemic and his post-apocalyptic creation, but it makes sense – “a lightbulb kind of clicked.”

The 2008 graduate of MECA in Portland said his artistic journey developed over time and began when he was a child watching Saturday-morning cartoons and superheroes.

“In those stories, the good guy always wins,” he said, “and college is a glimpse of stepping into the real world and realizing it’s not always perfect, you’re not going to save the day at the end.”

His current philosophy is better represented in “Event: Terminus,” he said, and in the recent circumstances of the pandemic: “You’ve just got to hold your head up high and give it the best you can.”

Coniaris said he expects the finished product to have approximately 150 pages and be finished within about 18 months or two years. He has drawn 25 pages, 17 of which are on display at UNE.

“Event: Terminus” is open to the public at the University of New England Campus Center, 11 Hills Beach Road, Biddeford, until Feb. 17.