No stranger to the world of geek-friendly online video, The Guild creator Felicia Day recently announced the launch of her new webseries channel Geek & Sundry, which launches on YouTube this week with an ambitious slate of regular, original content.
Among the shows premiering on the channel are various programs featuring well-known purveyors of nerdery, including a tabletop gaming program hosted by Wil Wheaton and a weekly book club in video form hosted by Sword & Laser's Veronica Belmont. The channel will also feature original content from Dark Horse Comics, the publisher of The Guild comics.
Newsarama spoke with Day ahead of the channel's launch to get some details about the origin of Geek & Sundry, what we'll see at launch, and what we could see on the channel down the road if all goes well. We also got more info on Dark Horse's contributions to the channel and the projects that will make their debut there.
Newsarama: For anyone who hasn't seen the news about Geek & Sundry yet, can you offer a brief explanation of what it is?
Felicia Day: Geek & Sundry is a new web channel I'm launching under the YouTube original content initiative. Last summer, I was asked to pitch a slate of shows, and they picked ours to support. I basically put together a grouping of shows that I think resonates with my audience as well as highlights things I'm passionate about and other people are passionate about that don't really have content being made for them. So my goal with all these shows is to create videos that aren't just consumed for consuming's sake but to add to people's life experiences and create a community that can feel comfortable sharing their passions online and offline.
Nrama: I was surprised when I looked through the list of shows and realized that there really aren't comparative shows out there for some of these subjects...
Day: Yeah, it was kind of a chicken and egg situation. I was presented with the opportunity to make my dream come true, in that I can make not only a few shows like I'm used to making, but a whole slate. I can also go to the people who I really admire and love what they do and their passions -- like Veronica Belmont and Wil Wheaton and Dark Horse -- and I can basically create an umbrella that makes these shows come to life. I sat down and saw what I could do on the webseries scale, and in my years of doing content online, I've seen what's on the internet and what people love, and where the holes are. The idea of creating an internet-wide book club around a video podcast is so awesome to me, because we can encourage people to discover books they've never read, and at the same time maybe affect what they're doing in their real lives. If they're reading more and sharing what they read with their friends more or in our community, it feeds itself. The same thing with Tabletop. Having attended so many conventions around the country and the world, I saw this passionate community around tabletop gaming, but I also see these independent games not getting any sort of mainstream attention. Creating a show around it can not only highlight how fun it is to play games, but also celebrate this underground thing that really should be more commonplace in people's lives. Down the line, every single show is trying to not repeat what anybody else is doing online, and appeal to our special audience that I've been working with for years on The Guild. I wanted to make a show that they're going to like.
Nrama: How does the partnership with YouTube work?
Day: The partnership works in that YouTube went out and they funded a whole list of all different kinds of channels -- most of them from scratch. YouTube allowed them to build an infrastructure and make a whole slate of shows to launch. It's really interesting. We have a target audience, and that's what they seem to be going after and supporting. Personally. I'm very excited, because under normal circumstances I would never be able to get any of these shows made on TV, and yet I think there's an audience for every single one of these shows in a very unique way. The fact that I don't have to worry about every single person in the country needing to like everything will allow me to build an audience for a very niche perspective, but also grow it outward, which I think worked for The Guild and will hopefully work for every single one of these shows.
Nrama: So are you producing all of the shows? What's your over-arching role in all of this?
Day: Yeah, I'm producing all of the shows with my producing partner, who's been doing this with me since 2007. We brought on another partner, but we're a small channel and we're designed to be very boutique in nature. I wanted to not try to duplicate what other people have done or flood people with content. We have a lot of content going up in our first week, but as the weeks go on we're going to have maybe a video a day, which is just enough to make the highest quality videos we can and still have an impact with our audience without overwhelming them. We are trying to spread out the channel in a way that we can encompass a lot of different interests, and at the same time don't overwhelm people. I'm really happy. If the audience supports us, my goal is to grow the channel so I can put even more and more shows under our wing that our audience will enjoy. We're basically doing a startup company with these web series, and I'm thrilled with how it's going so far.
Nrama: Season 5 of The Guild will appear on Geek & Sundry, so does this mean YouTube will become the home of the series from now on?
Day: The future of The Guild past Season 5 is still being figured out, but after our launch I'm definitely turning my attention to that. The cool thing is, I wanted to move The Guild to a place where whatever the future of the show is, you know there's one place where you can find it. So we're relaunching The Guild and putting all the old seasons together as movies so you'll be able to watch them without the credits and the opening theme music all the way through seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4. They'll be high-quality video and have a gag reel and annotations. Me and Kim Evey did all this annotation and behind-the-scenes commentary as you watch the videos, so if you don't know The Guild, it's the easiest way to watch all the seasons as movies -- and if you do know The Guild, you can replay them and watch all of this original footage we dug out of our archives and get all of this behind-the-scenes perspective. The Guild Season 5 will roll out for 12 weeks starting April 10, then we'll probably release it as a movie after the run is over.
Nrama: What about this Written By A Kid show? It's a great concept, and from the preview, it looked like there was some cool animation involved in it...
Day: Written By A Kid is going to start in July and take the Dark Horse slot during a hiatus between July and October. Kim had a relationship with the creators and was developing it over the last two years. We had it in our pocket and it automatically fit into our slate when we knew we'd have funding for a whole set of shows. That one is particularly fun, because it takes kids and they tell different stories in the genre world -- fantasy, sci-fi, or horror. Each week the kid's story will play, but at the same time it will be intercut with their story reenacted and brought to life by different directors. Every episode will be by a different director. The look of the kids' part will stay the same, but every director will bring something different, whether it's animation or a comedy perspective, or a big, green-screen production. We're doing a whole range of looks and feels with all these episodes. I think it's going to be a breakout show for us, because it's such a great concept and so relatable.
Nrama: And what will the Dark Horse content be like on the channel? Will it just be motion comics, previews, or something more?
Day: I definitely wanted to have a comics presence on the channel, but I didn't necessarily want to do a straight news show. So I approached Dark Horse, because they were talking about doing motion comics, and the funny thing is, a while ago they actually had a creator submit a spec motion comic for Conan. The creator posted it on YouTube and they saw it and said, "Oh my gosh, this technology is amazing." They hired him to develop motion comics with them. So it's kind of funny that, full circle, his spec work has led him back to producing motion comics for our channel on YouTube. I'm pretty psyched about that story. I love the way he does the motion comics. It's a step above them, and more of a hybrid between animation and traditional motion comics. It's all existing titles on the channel, and we're getting some of the premium, independent titles like Conan, and The Goon, and Hellboy, and some amazing one-offs from a variety of their titles. The idea is to introduce people to titles they might not know, and maybe hopefully inspire them to support comic books and comic book creators. At the same time, for fans who are already familiar with the comics, they can see these worlds brought to life in a literal sense, versus a big, hollow blockbuster. I think people will be really excited, and starting the first week of launch a three-parter is going up. The Secret will be releasing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, adding up to a 30-minute motion comic.
Nrama: With comics finding their way to the channel, is it likely we'll see The Guild comic end up there, too? Maybe getting the motion-comic treatment, perhaps?
Day: The Guild comics aren't going to be in there for the first round. We're going to have a lot of The Guild upfront on the channel, so my goal was to maybe hold that stuff back. The cool thing is that The Guild comic through Dark Horse is the origin story of The Guild, so -- crossed fingers -- we hope we find enough audience to keep us going for another year and can start putting that on our radar.Geek & Sundry launches Monday, April 2, and can be found online at www.geekandsundry.com.