The Guild #1
Media tie-ins generally seem like pretty extraneous efforts when compared to the source material. But for fans of The Guild web series, the selling point of its comic book tie-in is that its being penned by series creator and star Felicia Day. For those unfamiliar with the series, The Guild is a web-based sitcom about a group of gamers who play an unidentified massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). The comic book functions as a series prequel. While this makes it an easy jumping off point for new viewers, there's a clear sense that Day is assembling her cast of characters again, for the first time. Several of them make cameos in this issue, although for now it centers around the main protagonist Cyd Sherman.
No doubt, the show's subject matter puts it deep into nerd territory. This is offset a bit by using the online game as a McGuffin for the cast's real world shenanigans. Despite their attempts to escape into the game's environment, their interactions inevitably lead offline. Within the context of the web series, Cyd is a single, unemployed, shy and retiring woman whose life revolves around her relationships with her gamer friends. Much of the show's self-deprecatingly humor is built on the dialogue written by Day. While that is carried over to a certain extent in the comic, the overall tone of this first issue is slightly more dour. This is because the pre-gamer Cyd is a very lost adult. Despite her cozy job as an orchestra violinist, she's suffering from depression bought about by a midlife crisis. She's also unable to assert herself in a relationship with a boyfriend who takes her for granted. She has no close friends. And her therapist isn't able to connect with her. On a whim she purchases the MMORPG because she's immediately drawn to the idea of recreating her own identity.
The idea is a familiar one to the average adolescent misfit; and it's implied that Cyd is emotionally regressing by choosing to dive into a virtual world. Nothing new is being said about its overarching themes. But overall this is a gentle and sympathetic portrayal of a nerd subculture that's bound to play well to the comic book crowd. The art supplied by Jim Rugg isn't anything unusual. Aside from pacing Day's dialogue, Rugg ably reproduces her likeness and the pared down, mundane look of the series. And he illustrates more of the game than is shown on the show - which is painted to look like a idealized version of Cyd's self-image. But for the most part, it's Day's authorial voice that predominates.
For people with less geeky tendencies, the comic book, like the original web series, presents a high barrier of entry. The cover alone should drive away a good portion of them. And the comic itself lacks the charisma found in Day's actual performance. While amongst the fanboy contingent it should attract new viewers who have been unaware or previously uninterested in the series, this is most likely to appeal to the completist tendencies of preexisting fans. Not that this will be much of a problem. From what I've heard, the show is about to produce its fourth season.