(Levity Biographies, 2014)
Writer – Chad Lambert
Illustrators – Particio Carbajal and Apriyadi Kusbiantoro
Colorist – Rodney Fyke
Letterer – Jaymes Reed
Nostalgia is a player at the table of geek culture. How many times do we watch a movie and groan a little at how much we liked it and how bad it really is? I’ve refused to read books that I previously loved just on the off chance that it might be much worse than I remember and therefore ruin it for me now. You can never downplay the nostalgia factor when checking something new out.
I have very little memory of WKRP in Cincinnati. What fleeting rags of memories I have involve darkened sunglasses and big moustaches, Loni Anderson and her…assets, and a whole bunch of humor that I wasn’t old enough to really understand. I was watching the show waiting for the Dukes of Hazzard or The A-Team to come on. This was during the syndication period of the show, and I know this because I read this comic.
WKRP in Cincinnati is a history of the show, the biography of a show that really did revolutionize the way television shows were filmed and produced, and the themes that they tried to infuse into those quickly moving half hour time slots.
Chad Lambert (Kung Fu Panda, BloodRayne) has delved into the realm of biography comics, and proves that you don’t need a superhero to tell a good story, all you need is a good story well told. He puts his own love of the show into the comic. The history of the show is no secret, but as Lambert tells it you get a feel for the people that were involved and the show and the forces that were working against them.
Artists Patricio Carbajal and Apriyadi Kusbiantoro bring a realistic comic look to the book, capturing the characters and the actors at the same time, showing how they were different on camera, and adding little Easter Eggs to the whole comic that fans will no doubt pick up on in a Cincinnati second. They accurately capture the likenesses of the real people involved, and that makes the comic feel like a comic while still being a true story.
I think the beauty of this book is in the storytelling. This is coming from a guy who has read or bought a biographical comic since I begged my mom to make church a little less boring with Marvel Comics biography of St. Francis. (It wasn’t all tame. There was a panel of a leper that haunts me to this day.) What Lambert does here is make you love the show like he loves the show. It made me go back and find the pilot episode to refresh my memory, and I can see where that love comes from when I watch the show now, even though the last episode aired over 30 years ago.
WKRP in Cincinnati is a biographical comic. If you’ve never given biographies a chance, this is the one to do it. Chad Lambert tells the story in a way that makes you want to peer through the mists of time (probably on You Tube) to see what made the show so special. And it was special. Thanks Mr. Lambert, for reminding me that there was good television in the 80’s, and that nostalgia can be ignited three decades after something was supposed to be forgotten.
Brad Gischia is a writer and artist living in the frozen Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He is married and has three kids and a dog, who all put up with his incessant prattling about comic books.