After nine months of writing and much trial and error on the illustrations, Wolfgang Parker has completed his first children's book.
What started out as a project to entertain the Clintonville resident's 18 nieces and nephews scattered around the country, as well as to endear himself to them, over time turned into an homage to the independent recording artist-turned-writer's neighborhood.
The result is Crime Cats: Missing, which Parker said he feels would appeal to fans of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps series.
Crime Cats focuses on a boy of about 8 or 9 named Jonas who, after putting on a chicken costume, discovers he can communicate with cats.
"Jonas teams up with two cat detectives, CatBob and Neil Higgins, to investigate a rash of feline disappearances, and a spooky adventure ensues," Parker wrote about the book.
The cats are based on real cats, the author said, and the boy was inspired by two boys who live in Clintonville.
"The cats are all cats that I see on my daily walk," Parker said. "I thought they would be perfect subjects for a book. As I wrote it, I got more and more ambitious and I realized I was writing something that celebrated the neighborhood."
"It's a way ultimately of celebrating a community and a neighborhood that I love. My goal when people ask me was just finishing a book -- that's a goal. A lot of people never do that in their lives."
The reaction of his nieces and nephews?
"Great, so far," Parker said. "Everybody's really loved it and they've been taking it to their school libraries to get them to buy copies so kids at their school can read it."
Originally from Grove City and Orient, Parker said he's been part of the Columbus art and music scene for the past two decades. He proudly proclaims that his band was one of the first to record a punk-swing album. This "landmark recording," in Parker's own words, established the subgenre known as "dieselpunk."
The attraction of songwriting, he said, was telling stories, and that in turn led him about eight years ago to begin working on comic books and graphic novels, and more recently, the children's book.
The first printing of Crime Cats sold out, Parker said. A second printing is doing well, and he's embarked on a second volume following the exploits of the "Chicken-Boy of Clintonville" and his cat-detective cohorts.
"Fall would probably be safe to say," Parker estimated for the next book.
Crime Cats: Missing is available for $6.99 at the Clintonville Community Market, Wholly Craft, Colonial Candies, Cover to Cover and Laughing Ogre Comics.
A portion of the proceeds from every new and digital sale of the book will benefit the Crime Cats Relief Fund, a private trust Parker has established to help cover medical emergencies for some of the cats of South Clintonville who live with multiple families. This can create confusion not about who loves the animals, Parker said, but who is going to step in when a health problem arises.
"Crime Cats seems to be something that connects with everybody so far," Parker said.
Parker lives in what he describes as a haunted house in South Clintonville, along with photographer Kitty Maer and their cat, Sasha.
He will sign copies of his book from noon to 2 p.m. July 12 at the Clintonville Community Market, 200 Crestview Road, with a rain date the following day.
Parker said he will attempt to hold an outdoor reading during the signing. Face painting will be offered during the event.
In addition to his signature on copies of the book, Parker said he will have a stamp of a cat's paw so the detective characters, CatBob and Neil Higgins, can provide their autographs.