Twilight fans lined up since last Monday to see the fist popular franchise panel on Thursday at Comic-Con in San Diego, USA.
Far from a noisy group, the Twi-hards (big fans of Twilight), as the group calls itself, quietly and persistently brought their sleeping bags, snacks and comfortable chairs to the garden next to Hall H and waited for the official ranks to begin, although the organizers of the convention advised not to form a row before the officer could be organized for the historic panel.
One of those fans, Gisela Gagliardi, 53, was hit near the convention center while walking on the intersection of Harbor Drive and Fifth Avenue in downtown San Diego just before 9:30 am Tuesday. While crossing the street against traffic during a green light, Gagliardi tripped and fell on in front of a moving car. She died on her way to the hospital.
Although not confirmed by authorities in San Diego at the time, Gagliardi's identity was established by friends who realized there was a fellow Twi-hard quota. She was registered on Twitter as @ mad4hugh and was described as "a lover in no particular order of: the Twilight books and movies, Hugh Jackman, Robert Pattinson, traveling, New York, Australia, cats ..."
As more and more people attend the Comic-Con, the ranks for the panels have grown exponentially. The process to purchase tickets and hotel rooms has become a complicated dance of online forms, browsers updated and lottery systems. And any attendee can say that the horns of cars and pedestrian traffic around the convention center and the Gaslamp District is both confusing and irritating.
The fact that a tragedy occurred before one of the most exciting conventions for fans has many of the attendees focused on the potential hazards for pedestrians, that can certainly be less than awake in the euphoria surrounding the Comic-Con.
The veteran iReporter at Comic-Con, Alan Kistler told CNN, "I think we are being given a sign that there needs to be some changes in how things are being done."
"People started lining up for the Hall H on Monday," she said. "Not only that it is absurd, but it has proven to be dangerous because a person died. Yes, she was walking irresponsibly and had no right to cross. But do not think she or anyone else should be allowed to line up so early. It is absurd and is not a place free of traffic. "
Twilight fans, especially those prepared to sleep outside for days while waiting to see the stars of their favorite franchise at Comic-Con are a close knit group. Comic-Con has been a rewarding place for them, but not always a friendly atmosphere. Their presence at the convention for the past year has met with many complaints and consternation of fellow attendees who prefer superheroes instead of shiny vampires.
A permeable attitude of others at the Comic-Con on the Twi-hards do not count as nerds and outside the convention only underscores the constant and unabashed passion of this group, leaving no doubt that fans really are, and that, in fact, belong to the Comic-Con.
Gagliardi was a young, the kind of fan that most would assume would be a Twi-hard, but an adult with a career as an accountant. But she was behaving like a fanatic; camping days in advance in a row, interacting with peers and being a geeky nerd with something she loves.
Any nerd can relate to the fervor that comes to dominate them when they’re taking territory and waiting, waiting, waiting to see the first show of midnight the day of the release, find the figure, collecting the odd copy. It's hard to imagine a tragic end to a scene so hopeful.
Twilight fans are reeling from the news of the death of Gagliardi. Many other fans, save money for a year to travel to San Diego and buy a ticket to Comic-Con and indulge in four days of heavy use of comics, movies, TV shows and promotional products.
The Comic-Con is an institutionalized affirmation of the things that attendees love. It is an opportunity for close access to celebrities and talk with over 130,000 like-minded fans. It is an opportunity to be proud of these things that bring them happiness, instead of being ashamed that they like a character or a story to that point.
Although fans are strengthening against the chaos, they are also reminding one of their own that is gone because of the event.
A Hitfix.com writer and movie geek, Drew McWeeny tweeted, "Be careful in San Diego this weekend, friends. Nothing is shown on # SDCC worth enough to die. "
Supporters created the hashtag # RIPTwiFanG and expressed condolences to the family of Gagliardi, as did the Twilight actress Nikki Reed and Summit (the studio behind the vampire movies). A fundraiser to help the family with funeral costs has already begun, and fans circulated a petition for a minute of silence during the panel of Twilight on Thursday.