If it takes a village to raise a child, then the undeniable power of the World Wide Web is responsible for the rule-breaking success of creator and star Felicia Day's internet series "The Guild," about a group of misfit gamers.
Saturday's panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego showcased not only news and information about the show's upcoming fourth season, but also the sincere appreciation and gratitude the cast and production team have for their fans.
"The Guild" Producer Kim Evey began the panel by thanking both Microsoft and Sprint. "We have the most amazing deal that I've ever heard of. They give us money, they leave us alone, and then they put our content up on the Web so you guys can enjoy it."
She also thanked the new media team responsible for bringing the show's DVD to retail stores. "It just gives us a little validation, like, 'We're real. You can go to Target and buy us!'"
Evey finished by thanking an agent, a lawyer, several social networking gurus, and most especially the fans that have embraced the show and even helped to finance it.
"We started out with three episodes that we made ourselves and then we ran out of money. Then we put up a Paypal button and suddenly you guys started giving us a dollar, five dollars, somebody gave us one hundred dollars and then Felicia wrote and said, 'Are you sure the decimal is in the right place?'"
Sean Becker, who directed the last two seasons of "The Guild," introduced the premiere of episode three of the new season to the excited crowd.
After the episode, creator Felicia Day was joined by the rest of "The Guild" including Wil Wheaton, Jeff Lewis, Sandeep Parikh, Amy Okuda, Robin Thorsen and Vincent Caso. They all came out wearing the colorful "squid hats" featured in a previous episode of the show.
Epic loot was dropped for fans in the form of buttons featuring a fantasy painting of Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton's characters locked in a sexy embrace.
Scott Allie from Dark Horse was then invited on stage, and he thanked the crowd for making "The Guild" comic one of the publisher's most successful launches of the year. "We're going to do five one-shots featuring all the main characters," Allie said.
The books will launch in the fall, and the first one-shot will feature "Vork," the character played by Jeff Lewis. Artists Darick Robertson and Gilbert Hernandez are slated to contribute covers for the book. "Jeff is going to be co-writing that with Felicia, so Jeff will be making his comics debut this fall," Allie said.
Judging by the crowd's reaction, the highlight of the entire panel was the flashy Bollywood production number, "Game On."
Directed by Kim Evey and Sean Becker, the video was an infectious ode to online gaming infused with clever lyrics written by Day and her co-star, Sandeep Parikh. "It took like a whole week of rehearsals and months of preparation to figure out how we could possibly do this on a Web video budget," said Day.
When an anonymous voice from the crowd yelled "Boring!" after a technical question was asked of director Sean Becker,Day appeared shocked and quipped, "We've got a troll in here?"
Wil Wheaton said that playing the role of "Fawkes" was "an acting challenge" because of the despicable way his character behaves toward Felicia. "It makes me feel really good as an actor that so many people hate him."
Day hinted that she would have some exciting announcements about new projects in the coming months and she and Wil Wheaton talked about their new recurring roles on the show, "Eureka."
When asked what it felt like to be a pioneer in New Media, Day said, "This show is built on community. Every single person - whoever clicked, shared it with a friend, bought a DVD, even just came up and said 'hi' to us - that's the reason why we do this."
Comic-Con International has a reputation for allowing fans a chance to interact and say thank you to the creators and stars of the work they admire, but it was a refreshing change of pace to see talent involved just as enthusiastic and appreciative of their fans.