This is the second part of an update on a truly dedicated bunch of nerds which head to San Diego each July – and if you’ve ever been there yourself, you’ll know that’s quite the boast. The SDCC UK Attendees Group (‘Spirit Of ’86: The British Invasion’) is a collective of rambunctious Brits that add a little European flavour to the heady mix of San Diego Comic-Con. You may have seen them about town, wearing their distinctive UK Attendee shirts and hoodies – what a stylish bunch they are!
So, that’s what we wear… But what do we actually get up to, while we’re in town? Well, there are a good number of us that have the Hall H monkey to feed and so we are often found, camping under tents, on the Friday evening, prepared to brave the bedlam of Hall H Saturday. The good news is, the British climates have prepared us for chillier temperatures and, when San Diego gets balmy, it can prove to be quite the outdoor adventure. Especially when the superstars come knocking.
And that doesn’t include Hall H head honcho Eddie Ibrahim, paying the line a brief visit to make sure everyone was in fine spirits. (You don’t get more SDCC nerdy than asking for a group pic with a CCI staff member.)
On the 27th July 2014, at around two in the morning, you would have found a good fifteen Brits, huddled together under blankets and sheets, in the second row of tents outside Hall H, desperatly trying to block out the sound of the passing goods trains and the Gaslamp revelry. I, for one, wasn’t fully settled so when a young and very awake young studio intern wandered up and down our line, asking if we happened to be hardcore HOBBIT fans, I woke up quickly, knowing that this was usually a hint that something tasty was going to occur.
We weren’t disappointed.
Straight off the plane and on route to their hotel rooms to get a couple of hours before the first panel of the Saturday, actors ANDY SERKIS (Gollum) and Lee Pace (Thranduil) opted to skip the comfortable duvet option and instead decided to mingle with us, the Great Unwashed. Coming down our row of tents first and, as it happened, us being one of the first bunch Andy and Lee came across, we were lucky enough to get to chat to the guys and claim some photo opportunity before everyone realised what was actually happening.
And so, at just after after 2:30am, before the masses descended and the two were swamped, the SDCC UK Attendees were graced with the chance to get up close and personal with Andy Serkis and Lee Pace – both were incredibly accommodating, getting photos with all who asked (including one with my swooning wife, Mr. Pace. I shall never forget. I shall never forgive.) This also resulted in something which makes my heart swell with pride every time I see it in my collection: the gang, gathered as one, having a pic taken with each of them. That simply wouldn’t have happened if the Group didn’t exist, if we hadn’t coordinated our efforts and we all didn’t work together to be in that place at that time. Wow.
A similar situation took place the following year, when the thunderous BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE Batmobile growled its way down Convention Way and parked at the back of the tents, opposite the Hilton Bayfront – the Group as gathered that night were able to see and hear that beast of a machine, just mere feet away – but enough about Zack Snyder! Let’s talk about the car… I kid, of course.
An amazing cherry on what was a very trying night, after a whole day of camping out on the Friday. As much as these events are truly unique and memorable moments, I think it’s very unlikely that I’ll take that much time out of my con to do that again. (I know, I know, I say that now. Let’s wait until July to see if my resolve holds!)
This, of course, was a gathering of those Brits that wanted to do the Hall H thing – that’s hardly all of us. When we all decide to come together, usually for the meetups just before and directly after the con, we can become quite the rowdy army of colonials, reclaiming America one cerveza at a time, starting at whichever venue is willing to put up with the joyful noise and then pinballing around San Diego and closing down pubs and bars wherever we go. (Seriously, what is it with you Yanks? Is grown-up playing out really something you feel you have to cut short at midnight?! Then again, the state I ended up in last year, maybe an enforced cut-off point could come in handy. Is that how you Californians all look so refreshed, vigorous and youthful? Swines. PINT!)
Ahh, Wet Willies. We miss you more than I think you’ll ever know.
Incredible sights, amazing company, bonding with like-minded individuals… these moments are echoed across San Diego Comic-Con by collectives from across the globe – they are, I believe, the core reasons why we hundreds of thousands make the struggle to return year in, year out. While I am heading out to San Diego to report on what I experience for this website that I’ve put together, and I will strive to make that my priority in 2016 for you, Gentle Reader, I hope you’ll understand that, for me, there will always be one bunch of people that – when it comes to deciding between a Bruce Campbell round table interview session and suffering a meetup hangover – I will always plant my flag beside my crew. The British Invasion is real and we’re coming back again, this summer, to a comics convention (and pub) near you!