As we look out at the ever-changing landscape of television, we still haven’t seen a web series that has truly captured a wide audience. There are niche shows here and there with a small following, but unless you’re really plugged into that world, chances are you aren’t tuning into YouTube every week to catch an ongoing series. That’s not to say that the day won’t come when YouTube becomes just another TV channel (or, more likely, vice versa), but for now, web shows are still far away from the mainstream.
Probably the closest anyone has come to a hit has been Felicia Day and her gang of misfit gamers on The Guild. While it’s success since it’s debut in 2007 has still been limited to fairly geeky endeavors – web videos, cons, and comic books – it has helped put creator Day on the map as arguably the most prominent female face of nerddom.
With this in mind, it’s actually somewhat surprising to find that Titan Book’s new release, The Guild: The Official Companion, is the first book that gives fans a back-lot peek at this internet phenomenon. (Then again, considering the show’s fans probably get most of their information online, maybe it’s not so surprising after all.)
The book starts exactly where you’d expect it to – with a lengthy history on the creation of The Guild. In her own words, Day explains how she was a struggling actress who split her time going to auditions and sitting at her computer playing World of Warcraft. Looking to make something of the time spent online, she decided to write a sitcom pilot based on her experiences in the MMO. Combining aspects of the many people she “knew” online, she created a motley cast of lovable losers that fans could relate to, kicking off a series that has since gone on to span six seasons.
From there, the book breaks down some of the key events from every season, as well as special sections devoted to each of the characters, the props, costuming, the production of the show’s music videos, and plenty more. The bulk of the text is taken from interviews of the cast – including supporting characters like Axis of Anarchy’s head-geek, Wil Wheaton – so it’s a really personal journey through the show. There’s also a metric ton of photographs, some lifted directly from the final show, a lot from behind-the-scenes, and a few promo shots. One of the really cool features is the inclusion of QR codes – those little barcode squares you can scan with your phone. The codes are found in the music video sections and in the chapters for each season of the show, so you can just scan the code and head over to YouTube to watch the relevant video before reading about the making-of in the book. I’m actually really surprised more companies don’t do this, as it’s a perfect way to provide context and additional features that simply can’t be shown in print. Sure, someday that link is going to be out of date, but for now it’s a cool feature that makes a lot of sense, especially for a tech-savvy reading audience like you’d expect would buy a book about The Guild.
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that The Guild has been influential on the burgeoning world of online entertainment. When geek icon Joss Whedon praises the show for inspiring him to create the wildly popular Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (also starring Day), you have to sit up and take notice. And if you’re a fan of The Guild, there’s really nothing whatsoever to complain about with this book. The photographs are plentiful, the personal insights are interesting and fun, there are links directly to relevant online content, and it tells you everything you need to know about the show. There might be some overlap with what you’ve read online, but there’s bound to be something new here, even for serious fanboys and geek girls.
The Guild: The Official Companion will be available on July 16 at Amazon.com and other fine booksellers.