This time things got bigger. No longer holed up in a dreadfully undersized Room 5AB, after two years of snaking multi-hour lines of devoted fans, Comic-Con knew it was time to upgrade this fan-powered web series to a ballroom—a big one. The 1600-plus that packed into the Indigo Ballroom at the San Diego Hilton were ready to once again be surprised by creator Felicia Day and the team behind the two and half year-old web series The Guild.
The tricky part? Last year’s bar was set high—very high, with a flurry of surprise announcements including Wil Wheaton’s addition to the cast, a Guild comic book series and the now legendary music video “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?” Big shoes to fill, but then again, they know what they’re doing.
With two episodes of the new season already live online before this year’s Con, the smart money was on something big coming up in the next few episodes. Would we see it here? First up was a first look at episode three, due out next week. It beamed in crisp HD—director Sean Becker said they switched over the Canon 5D this season—over the 5 mega screens throughout the ballroom. Laughs were frequent, and the crowd cheered on the opening credits. But surprises? Not yet.
Producer Kim Evey and director Sean Becker thanked everyone who helped make the show a success, most notably the fans that continue to discover and support the series, along with Microsoft for supporting the show and then “leaving us alone” to make how they see fit. Then came the cast, led by Felicia, all sporting custom made squid hats—just like Clara’s Season 4 fashion statement—which add to the popular Guild merchandising arm. (They are available at Josh Freeman’s ObeyMyBrain.com)
Felicia’s voice was slightly raspy, clearly wearing the signs of three days of autograph signing and appearances. This year it seems there were more hands to shake, more DVDs to sign, even some fans’ body parts to sign. She starts by intro’ing Scott Allie from Dark Horse Comics to present the first piece of news—that The Guild comic will continue with a series of five one-shots over the next year, starting with one on Vork (Jeff Lewis), which Lewis will co-write with Day.
After that it didn’t take long to get to the main surprise of the panel, a special sneak peek at “Episode 4.” (update: see notes below) The “episode” opens tamely, in Codex’s (Day) apartment with Zaboo (Parikh) on hand to console her for her busted computer and fledgling and fleeting love saga with Fawkes (Wil Wheaton). And then the musical breaks out. The apartment set then instantly whisks away in pieces—much like the final shot of the series finale of The Hills (don’t ask why I’ve seen it)—to transport the pair into a full-on Bollywood dance video. The entire cast is once again dancing, signing, rapping and even kung-fu-ing their way to a snappy geek-fueled number, “Game On.”
The video, which was conceived by Parikh, should do well, though being part of the actual season this time means it won’t head right for YouTube where “Date My Avatar” tore through its several million views almost immediately. It will eventually get there, but not until the initial MSN/Bing exclusive window has passed on the new episodes. Expect to see it online in about two weeks. UPDATE: Turns out the Bollywood video is actually a standalone music video, much like “Date My Avatar,” despite teasing fans with news that they were watching “Episode 4.” So that means it will head to YouTube within the week, according to Becker who cleared up the confusion.
Fans on hand all received a special collector’s pin made from the romance novel painting of Codex and Fawkes, painted by the Greg Aronowitz, that appears in episode 3 of the season. Other announcements included Felicia confirming her upcoming recurring role in SyFy network’s Eureka, which reunites her with her Guild co-star Wil Wheaton for a “love triangle.” And a few new web series projects were hinted at by Felicia, that she and Kim Evey have in the works but can’t announce just yet.
“Thank you for making playing World of Warcraft a little cooler,” said one fan during the Q & A. Another fan, dressed as Colonel Sanders, propositioned Bladezz (Vincent Caso) that he has a job for him. Felicia replied, “Weird…a fake Colonel Sanders is recruiting an actor who plays a cook..” To which Wil Wheaton promptly interjected, “Welcome to Comic-Con.”
Top photo by The Bui Brothers. Other photos by Marc Hustvedt.
For all the web series related events at Comic-Con, be sure to check out Tubefilter’s Web Series Guide to Comic-Con 2010.