Since launching in 2007, the comedy web series The Guild has become an Internet phenomenon, with over 150 million views. Created, written by and starring Felicia Day, it follows the story of a Guild of online gamers who finally meet in real life. Here at last is the official companion to the show that fans have been waiting for, featuring an intro from Felicia, in-depth interviews and scores of photos.
It really seems like Felicia Day is everywhere, that she always does her own thing and that she is inexhaustible – whilst this is relevant to my review, I’m mainly stating it because I secretly suspect that she has developed cloning technology to achieve all this and when she finally takes over the world, I want to be able to say that I saw it coming… and also to state that I’m willing to sell out everyone I know to gain prominence in Felicia-topia/Day-torium.
Anyway, you can tell she had a hand in this companion book because instead of being a regular companion book that gives you a behind the scenes look at a great show and features the occasional anecdote/interview, this book is pretty much just a collection of interviews from everyone involved with the show (though mainly Felicia). From it’s inception (as a pilot to a TV show), its financially unstable and unsure beginnings, to becoming one of the first hugely popular web-series on the net, right up to the point where the show is at now, an international phenomenon. The journey is pretty inspirational, everyone talks candidly about the problems they ran into (a lot involved having the money to even make the first season) and how they got around these problems (which is mainly through hard work) and the rewards of having a vision of something you want to create and then just going and doing it.
The cast all make regular appearances when discussing certain aspects of each season, individual characters and how they fit into the ‘Knights of Good’. For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of The Guild is the fact that it features an ensemble cast who are all so good that it is hard to pick a favourite (seriously, how can you choose between Felicia Day’s neurotic Codex, Jeff Lewis’s tight fisted and rule loving Vork, Robin Thorsen’s ditsy and neglectful mum, Clara, Sandeep Parikh lovelorn and eccentric Zaboo, Vincent Caso’s brash and sometimes idiotic Bladezz or Amy Okuda’s ever so slightly bitchy Tinkerbella… but you can call her Tink). I think the trick to this is the fact that they are all recognisable, albeit exaggerated, ‘nerd’ archetypes who have been given the room to grow and develop throughout the seasons and whilst I do laugh at the ridiculous things they do, you never feel like anyone is just there to be a weekly punchline to a joke… I’m looking at Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory here. Oh, what’s that? You’re selfish and socially awkward? Brilliant, that joke will never grow old. So it’s nice to hear the cast discuss their favourite scenes, character beats and hear how close they all seem to be in real life.
All the behinds the scenes issues are looked at in great length too. From the fact that Felicia and producer Kim Evey hand posted the first season DVDs, to the inventive costume and set designs that are created on quite a small budget, to the fact that in later seasons – especially when the ‘Knights of Good’ visit a convention – lots of beloved nerd actors are actually dying to be involved in the show in whatever small capacity they can be (much like Wil Wheaten in Series 3 and beyond… oh, and obviously Wil Wheaten is in the book humorously talking about his ‘misunderstood’ character, Fawkes). These sections feature some great interviews with the unseen people who make the show happen and it’s nice that they get as much attention as the cast.
The book is divided into many different sections which look at everything from costumes, sets, gaming and the various holiday specials and music videos. All these sections are fun to read (especially the music video parts) but it would be too much to go into so I’ll just have a look at one of the most important sections. The fandom. Without the fans the show wouldn’t be as huge as it is today and this is a fact that everyone is more than aware of. A section dealing with Guild signings at conventions lets you see just how important the fans are to them. And as Felicia Day points out that she that takes a great pride in people cosplaying as the Knights of Good, finding kindred spirits in characters she has written (and who are played to perfection by the cast) and even being inspired by the show to try their own thing, you really understand why just so much effort has been put into this book by everyone involved.
So why should you read this book:
- Contains pretty much everything you could ever want to know about The Guild
- Anecdotes from the cast and crew make it seem like The Guild set might be the greatest working environment every.
- Surprisingly inspirational and will really make you want to get your own creative juices flowing
What’s not to like:
- Not enough Wiggly (one of my favourite supporting characters ever)
- Further proof that Felicia Day is slowly taking over the world and there’s literally nothing we can do to stop her…
The Guild: The Official Companion has everything you could want, interviews, anecdotes and behind the scenes info/photos. What sets it apart is the amount of effort the cast and crew have put into it, which makes it feel less like a simple companion book and more like a book in which the people involved in a show that you love are thanking you for supporting/having faith in their little web-series, being part of what makes the Guild so great and most importantly, enjoying the show.