The book used for this review was provided by Titan Books.
Felicia Day has quietly become one of my biggest online inspirations. I greatly admire the media empire she has built around the Internet and geek culture. The largest factor in this success is her original web series The Guild, about a group of six online gamers forced to meet in real life when one character appears unannounced on game addict Codex’s doorstep.
Now, after six seasons and many well-deserved awards, The Guild takes another step into the real world with The Guild: The Official Companion. This book is a series of interviews with the cast, crew, and producers detailing the history of the show, casting, fan reaction, and spin-off projects that helped turn The Guild into a success. The interviews are woven into a chronological narrative exploring the development and growth of the show.
This is the smartest approach to take with a book like this for a web series. Felicia Day gets the largest portion of the book to herself since she created the series, wrote all the screenplays, and starred in the show. Producer Kim Evey and director of Seasons 2-5 Sean Becker fill in with a lot of the other details. Each major player is introduced with a full page dedicated to their role in the show. Then, their responses are edited into season, event, and side project descriptions to create a richer story about the series.
Fans of The Guild will be impressed with the depth of The Official Companion. Most of the information and stories are brand new to this publication. That’s huge considering the annotated seasons on YouTube and the spin-off series in Season 5 and 6 are packed with facts and behind the scenes stories. You’ll learn everything you want to know about how the actors were cast, how the actors themselves approach their roles, and all the special effects wizardry and community outreach that allowed for flying airships and live elephants to enter The Guild universe.
For those who haven’t seen The Guild, The Official Companion is still an engaging read. What you have is a strong book chronicling how a no-budget could-be TV pilot concept transformed into a massive online success. There is no proven way to achieve success online, especially in entertainment media. However, The Guild: The Official Companion covers a whole lot of details you might have previously overlooked when thinking about your own plans. This is teetering on the information level of Lloyd Kaufman’s Make Your Own Damn Movie with a much more relaxed sense of humor and personality.
The physical layout of the book is gorgeous. There are tons of production stills, candid shots, concept art, and screenplays/production notes throughout the book. It looks like they even digitized each cast member’s handwriting into a font to use for notes and asides about their experience on The Guild. The style of the book really plays into the attention to detail that makes The Guild such a great show.
Felicia Day, Kim Evey, and the team at Titan Books did a great job putting together one of the better companion books I’ve encountered. It’s not just a collection of art in a shiny package; it’s a coherent narrative about the creation of a web series that is a lot of fun to read. The cast and crew of The Guild are clearly passionate about the series and that really comes across in The Official Companion.
You can read more of my thoughts on entertainment media at Sketchy Details.