For Christmas this year, my wonderfully thoughtful partner bought me volumes 1 and 2 of The Guild graphic novels (and also completed my DVD collection for the web series). I am still new to comics and graphic novels – having only picked one up for the first time last year, and that was to continue my love of Buffy (although since then I discovered Fables and Transmetropolitan so have been completely converted), so I was unsure what to expect in a Guild comic. Luck would have it that Felicia Day’s talents for writing competently extend to comics.
Volume 1 of the graphic novels provides the backstory of the web series (or, if you will, is the ‘prequel’), leading us up to the beginning of The Guild season 1. This means that the story is predominately about two things: Cyd’s failed relationship with Trevor and how she meets the rag-tag group of mmo players that ultimately for The Knights of Good.
The writing has depth and the characters form naturally. When I dislike comics/graphic novels, it is because the characters feel like they have no motivation and no real personalities. Everything seems forced and artificial – this isn’t the case here. The Guild flows well, the plot is well planned and executed, and the reader really wants things to work out for Cyd. It is also nice to see the way Cyd ‘discovers’ the world of online gaming, as it makes the comic and the web series seem more accessible for those of us who might not be avid gamers, or even gamers at all. It helps us see that this online world is her escape, helping to make the premise relatable for more than just hardcore gamers.
Having been introduced to the world of comics through Buffy season 8, it was comforting to see familiar artwork in the form of Georges Jeanty’s cover art, which was hardly surprising since Day chose to publish the comics with Dark Horse (the same publisher for all things Whedon).
I felt that the graphic novel accurately captured the feel of the web series, so as an established fan of the series, I was not disappointed with the comic. However, I felt the second volume was a bit of a let down.
Volume 2 has a very different structure to volume 1 – while the first volume is more like an entire novel, with chapters and a continuing plot, the second volume is a collection of short stories, filling in the stories of the other Guild members. I have never been a massive fan of short stories – I tend to like continuing stories, as the longer the story is, the more easily I invest in it. But more specifically, these stories felt more like tangents – extraneous information that might have been ‘deleted scenes’ from early script ideas for the web series.
Fans of The Guild I’m sure will enjoy these tales of the guildies, but I don’t think that newbies should tackle this volume without having watched the series first. While the stories are still very early, mostly set around the time of the formation of the guild, or shortly after – showing the politics that goes on when having to get along with a varied group of people – it does presuppose a lot of knowledge of each of those characters, and their usual idiosyncrasies. And let’s face it, why the web series of The Guild works is because Felicia Day’s Cyd/Codex is the driving force – and volume 2 of the graphic novels just didn’t have enough Cyd in it for me.
Verdict: Volume 1 is excellent, a must read for all fans of The Guild and a great place to start for those new to show. Volume 2, however, is only for die-hard fans.