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'Twilight' at Comic-Con 2011: Talking to the fans at Camp Breaking Dawn

Tomorrow, Twilight is hosting a presentation in Comic-Con’s massive Hall H for the upcoming first edition of Breaking Dawn. But fans were already camped out in anticipation for the Twilight panel days ago. Walking through Camp Breaking Dawn can feel a bit like meandering through a candy-colored Hooverville, with various forms of bedding (sleeping bags, towels, foldable chairs, inflatable pool toys) spread in every direction.

The six-person team at the head of the line arrived on Monday morning.

Actually, they technically arrived on Sunday evening, but they were somewhat sternly chased off by Comic-Con officials, who told them to return the next day. At that point, an intriguing push-pull developed between the line-sitters and Comic-Con personnel, to the point that the superfans essentially staged a sit-in to establish their rights at the head of the line.

“They kept telling us, ‘You are not a line. You are not official. Come back on Wednesday,” explains Robert Curry of San Diego, Calif. “So we started self-regulating.”

“You don’t know how many times we were told we were unofficial,” seconds Arianna Ruiz of Antioch, Calif.. “At one point they said, ‘You don’t exist.’”

(“That’s not true,” says intrepid reporter Annie Barrett. “You do exist.”)

The six people who are currently first in line for the Hall H panel refer to themselves as “The Twilight Super 8*.” (One member of the crew was delayed in arriving, and the other unfortunately couldn’t make it to Comic-Con this year.) They met at conventions, kept in touch via Twitter, and have been planning this camp-out for months. They admit to using a “buddy system” to stay in line – switching off on trips to the local Hard Rock hotel to wash up and feel something besides cold sculpted grass under their heads – but don’t mistake their devotion. Robert admits that today (Wednesday) is her 20th wedding anniversary, and steps away to talk to her husband. (“My fifth wedding anniversary is the day Breaking Dawn opens,” admits fellow Super 8-er Monica Foltz.)

A bit further back in line – about 58 people, to be exact – we find Dawn Sirtak of Los Angeles, Calif., saving a spot for eight other people. Although she’s not exactly alone:

Edward, we’re told, had to stay home on this trip. (Although at past Twilight campouts, fans would trade off on pawing the two Twilight stand-ups… and Edward always got more attention.) Dawn notes that it’s not her first time camping out, but Comic-Con has some unique issues: “The traffic isn’t too bad at night, but the train can be a little bit noisy if you’re sleeping here.” Dawn also gets us hip to the local bureaucracy: “At events like this, you have different layers of security. Elite is one of the security companies, that you see in the red shirt. Then there’s another company in the orange shirts. Then there are actual convention center people, there are people that are Comic-Con people, and sometimes the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Communication can be an issue.” I feel like I just watched a David Simon TV show!

As far as squabbling with fellow fans after long days of camping out, Dawn says assuredly, “95 percent of Twilight fans are very nice and very civil.”

“Thank you very much,” says a bystander, “I appreciate that!”

Well, okay, but what about the other 5 percent?

“They’re a little bit cattier, a little bit more ruthless and mean. But the way I describe [this] to people is, it’s a big Twilight slumber party.” Intrepid reporter Annie Barrett and Dawn then spend long minutes talking about how much fun slumber parties were when they were little girls, which is something I will have to take their word on, since when I was a little girl I was playing videogames and also was a boy.

Speaking of gender differences! Towards the back of the campsite/line, we find a lone man, Ernie Dorado from San Diego, holding a spot in line for his wife and her little sister. They’ve been in line for an hour, but they’re not worried about getting a seat: “Hall H is very, very big. It holds close to 6,000 people.” Compared to the other mini-camps we’ve seen scattered up and down the line, Ernie is planning on roughing it: “We’re gonna have a pillow, and a couple blankets, and that’s it!”

But let’s get down to brass tacks here, Ernie: Are you a Twilight fan?

“You know what? I appreciate anything that gets people to read more. I’m more of a Harry Potter fan. I don’t know if I should say that in front of all these people.” He looks around conspiratorially, grinning. “But the numbers don’t lie.”

Additional reporting by Annie Barrett

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

*Full list of the Immortal Six who will have waited in line for four days: Elaine Malmrose of San Diego, Calif.; Candie Hattori from Ewa Beach, Hawaii; Arianna Ruiz of Antioch, Calif.; Roberta Curry of San Diego, Calif.; Monica Foltz of San Diego, Calif.; Natalie Villegas of San Diego, Calif.; and the late-arriving Lillian Taba Fukuzama of Honolulu, Hawaii. Hey, even if you don’t like Twilight, you have to admit: It’s pretty awesome to have good friends.

For more: Entertainment Geekly’s 2011 Comic-Con coverage

Originally posted July 20 2011 — 9:34 PM EDT

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