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Felicia Day: The Pittsburgh Connections

on Mon, 08/19/2013 - 00:00

Felicia Day
“Honestly, you could be a fan about anything,” Felicia Day, founder of YouTube Channel Geek & Sundry, explained to Entertainment Weekly in August 2013. “I mean, big sports people—what’s the difference between a Giants fan and somebody who loves Pokémon? They’re just as passionate about what they love. They’re as motivated to share their love with other fans, and they love congregating around something that creates a commonality between other people. So to me, geek is a big umbrella for people who love what they love and love sharing that love with other people.”

Felicia Day is considered one of the prominent members of modern day Geek Culture, having appeared in such television shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, as well as the Joss Whedon online musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and her viewpoints often carry considerable weight. Day is also the writer, creator and star of The Guild, one of the biggest success stories of the fledging web series medium.

Although filmed in Los Angeles, The Guild has many direct ties to the Pittsburgh region—illustrator Jim Rugg provided the artwork for The Guild comic book series, for instance, while Pittsburgh Dad co-creator Christopher Preksta directed the sixth season of the popular web series—proving that the Geek Umbrella is indeed big enough to stretch from one end of the country to the other.

While a screwball comedy featuring a group of World of Warcraft-style gamers who have difficulty adjusting to the real world may not seem like ideal material for a comic book, Felicia Day found a way for the concept to work by crafting an “origin” story for her character Cyd “Codex” Sherman. Published by Dark Horse Comics in 2010 under the supervision of editor Scott Allie, Pittsburgh artist Jim Rugg was ultimately selected to bring the characters of The Guild to life within the graphic pages.

“I had drawn a short story featuring Felicia’s character from Dr. Horrible for Dark Horse Presents,” Rugg explained to Newsarama on how he became involved in the project. “I think she liked how it looked, and that’s what led to Scott contacting me.”

“I’m a huge admirer of artists because I can’t draw at all, and what they do is like magic to me,” Day told ComicsAlliance of her experience working with Rugg. “So the reward of when I started getting panels back, the gestures and the way the characters were coming to life—Jim just has this fantastic style about him that’s so real and right. Once I saw Codex drawn, it made it so much easier to write for her in the format, because it wasn’t my face. It’s a weird thing to step back and see myself drawn as a character. And it made Codex more of a separate person to me, which was very valuable as a writer.”

While Felicia Day had never met Jim Rugg before partnering with him on The Guild comic book, Christopher Preksta had already been friends with both Day and producer Kim Evey when he was approached to helm the camera for the sixth season of The Guild web series. “Felicia and Kim have built such an amazing team of people, so it’s so seamless to step in,” Preksta explained on Geek & Sundry in September 2012. “And Sean Becker, who directed the last couple seasons, has done such a great job so it’s kind of stepping into an easy role. Well, not easy role, but it’s not a difficult place to step into.”

Through the first five seasons of The Guild, Cyd “Codex” Sherman and her fellow cohorts dealt with love, betrayal, identity crises and other elements of offline life while experiencing it through the lenses of their online world. Season six continued that trend but also brought a sense of closure as the dysfunctional group of gamers—who had never even met face-to-face before season one—finally overcome their insecurities and find a sense of happiness that doesn’t involve hiding behind avatars.

Christopher Preksta’s direction, meanwhile, is indeed “seamless” as he takes over for the award-winning Sean Becker, while another Pittsburgh native—YouTube lifecaster and Internet celebrity Justine Ezarik, aka iJustine—likewise makes an appearance as a “non-player character” within the game itself.

In addition to Pittsburgh Dad, Christopher Preksta is also the writer/director of two additional web series, Captain Blasto and The Mercury Men. Jim Rugg, meanwhile, is the artist behind such cult-favorite graphic novels as Street Angel and The P.L.A.I.N. Janes. Although successful in different mediums, these two Pittsburgh residents are significant parts of the Big Geek Umbrella in the Steel City nonetheless—as well as contributing members to the overall narrative of Felicia Day’s The Guild.

Anthony Letizia

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