Nov 24 2010 11:35am

The Secret Origins of Internet People: The Guild Comic Review

The GuildFelicia Day knows how to push your buttons.

It didn’t occur to me until I began looking up background information on Day for this review, but she is an amazing entrepreneur. Here is someone who has successfully turned her cult status and Woman On The Internet fan obsession into genuine focus on her creative enterprises.

From Slayer to Sherman, Day is known for representing characters that either gender can project their desires onto. What she perhaps should be better known for is her ability to deftly separate the idealizations of others from her work. For every sardonically sexualized “Do You Want To Date My Avatar?” music video there is a whole season of The Guild where Day is without that subtext. For every frightened Slayer growing excitedly into her power (or avoiding a Doll-pocalypse), there is a Penny being crushed between the machinations of two egotistic men. For every lead role in a SyFy original movie about killin’ werewolves there is…a Sears commercial. She defies being pigeonholed without rejecting it and this forces you to consider her work as more than online novelty and without pretense.

It’s in that spirit that I approached the new collection of The Guild comic (preview in the link). It also helps that Felicia Day is an excellent comic book writer.

The collected edition of Dark Horse’s three issue mini-series sees release today and it chronicles the path that the show’s main character, Cyd Sherman, takes from being a depressed 20-something violinist to a (still somewhat depressed) hardcore gamer in an online guild. The story is far from being a cash-in byproduct of the webseries, indeed, it serves as a sort of show bible for The Guild and is pretty much a must-read origin tale for fans of the series.

The Guild page 2The story itself is engaging, self-effacing without being irritating, and can stand well on its own without the reader having to have watched a single episode of The Guild. Felicia Day’s dialogue turns on a dime as she drives Cyd slowly towards a life centered around MMORPGs, and the voice and cadence of the show’s characters is always readily apparent.

Jim Rugg’s art does double duty in this comic, swinging between Charles Burns-esque indie simplicity to monstrously lush fantasy art. Both styles complement the storytelling so well that I found myself checking more than once as to who the second artist was, only to find it confirmed in the editor’s notes that, no, this was indeed all Rugg’s work.

There is an awkwardness to this origin story comic in that it ends up outshining the very webseries to which it is ancillary. The shortened nature of the episodes in The Guild (about eight to ten minutes each) doesn’t leave a lot of room for emotional development. Instead, they rush from plot development to plot development and that robs the series of the weight that the comic very successfully brings to these characters.

The series is also so obviously comedic that its pace doesn’t allow sadness to linger on too long. (Case in point: The character of Vork lives perhaps the saddest life known to man, but you certainly don’t want to spend an entire episode with him moping over that realization.) After four seasons of the show, the lack of emotional growth in the characters is beginning to become more glaring, though thankfully the comic scratches that itch and provides an overall framing that the webseries lacks.

So that’s the bad news, but it’s not very bad news. Especially in light of the fact that this is a well-written, well-drawn mini-series that should entertain new readers and fans of The Guild alike. That is a hell of a hard thing to pull of in any medium and I’d love to see Day tackle an original comics-only series.

Chris Greenland mistyped “MMORPG” as “MOORPG” in this article so many times that he kind of wishes he could play online as a cow. +10 grazing!

1. redhead
great write up! I adore The Guild short episodes, and am thrilled to see the story being told and continued in another medium.
2. Jaide-x
I overall like the write-up, but I disagree with the comment about the lack of emotional development for the characters in the web series - I feel that I know the characters fairly well (at different levels, of course), with Cyd being practically a close friend! Vork and Zaboo I know and understand fairly well too - I "get" both of them. Tink, Bladezz, and Clara are a bit more closed off in their charcter portrayals, but that's who they are. The only character I see a little underdeveloped is Bladezz - and it doesn't seem "glaring" so much as "more to come".
3. Jaide-x
Oops. I didn't mean to include Bladezz in the list with Tink and Clara. My bad.
Chris Greenland
4. greenland
@1. Thanks! The comic really is well crafted. I read it again last night in preparation and loved it even more.

@2. Oh, I agree that there's been emotional development, I just want more. The comic really brought me back to the fact that The Guild is about Cyd building a happy life for herself that provides her with meaning and drive.

Really, I wish The Guild was an actual television show. (But not by Fox!)
5. Jill Aksamit
Thanks for the honest analysis and recognition of Felicia Day and her varied and wonderful work. I completely agree and look forward to all projects she is involved in...from comics to webisodes to tweets!
6. Jill Aksamit
Thanks for the honest analysis and recognition of Felicia Day and her varied and wonderful work. I completely agree and look forward to all projects she is involved in...from comics to webisodes to tweets!
Dave Miller
7. Borogove
Dude. Cows get +15 to grazing. (Totally serious. You came pretty close with your off-the-cuff one-liner, there.)

To the topic at hand... I, too, loved the comic, and I'm really looking forward to the Vork one-shot next month.

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