CINCINNATI — Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Kat Klockow and her friends have been doing what most people have been to social distance . . . meet on the Zoom video conferencing application to chat.
What makes Klockow's Zoom meetings different is her friends on those chats are all illustrators and storytellers.
"It was just shooting the breeze with other illustrators because it's kind of a solitary job being a writer and an illustrator," Klockow said.
During one of those chats, Klockow and her friends came up with the idea for "Cincinnati Cabinet of Curiosities," an anthologized comic book that illustrates the stories of some of the haunted places in the Queen City.
"This book series sprouted from those conversations of all of us sharing our different just strange stories from wherever we grew up," she said.
"Cincinnati Cabinet of Curiosities" retells familiar and obscure haunted, or as Klockow calls them, "crypted" tales from the region.
There are six stories collected in the first edition of the comic book currently available through an accompanying Facebook page. Contributors include Klockow, Christina Wald, Jay Kalagayan, Dylan Speeg, Brandon Wagner, Tim Fuller and Rodney Fyke.
"It's always a friend-of-a-friend this happened to or whatever and you can tell it is sort of, almost a mashup of horror tropes," said Wald, who contributed a story about Satan's Hollow in Blue Ash, as well as manages the comic book's social media accounts.
Satan's Hollow is a storm drainage ditch that became popular as an alleged "portal to Hell" in the 1970s, Klockow said.
"She (Wald) wrote a very good, I'm going to say humorous, interpretation of Satan's Hollow, making fun all of the spookiness a drainage ditch can give you," Klockow said.
Klockow added that Kalagayan, the writer behind the MeSSed comic book, wrote what she considers the best truly haunting tale to appear in "Cincinnati Cabinet of Curiosities."
Kalagayan's story expands on a few newspaper accounts printed in the 1800s of people spotting mermaids in the Ohio River.
"I had not heard of this legend when Kat came to me with it," Kalagayan said. "So, I was like, 'Oh, I kind of like this.'"
Kalaygayan said his story incorporates elements of the Civil War, Underground Railroad and slavery.
"I'm surprised there are not more crypted stories around the river itself," he said.
Klockow and Wald also set up a Kickstarter account to pay for print copies of the comic book and to help illustrators financially impacted by COVID-19.
"The Kickstarter goes until Nov. 2," Wald said.
Learn more about that Kickstarter campaign by clicking here.