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HBO Presents the 41st Annual Comic-Con International Masquerade
All contestant slots for this year's Comic-Con Masquerade are now full, and we are unable to accept any additional entry forms for consideration.

Any inquiries regarding the event can be sent to, or made at Comic-Con at the Masquerade Desk near Ballroom 20.

Download a special PDF of the 2015 Masquerade Rules, created specifically for the week of Comic-Con!

Anyone who’s ever attended Comic-Con can attest there are always great costumes to be seen, strolling past in the corridors and Exhibit Hall, on display in glass cases, in countless images on posters, comics, fine art, and books, even in miniature form on collectable figures and in computer games. Costuming is a vital ingredient of nearly all the popular arts, and has been a part of fan conventions ever since the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939. At Comic-Con’s Saturday night big event it’s a unique evening of fun and amazing costume creations as the stage lights brighten, the music swells, the spotlights come on, and the huge audience that’s lined up many hours in advance takes their seats for the 41st annual Comic-Con Masquerade costume competition. 

Not a dance nor party as the name might imply, it’s an on-stage event in the style of a talent competition, with a Master of Ceremonies, a panel of guest judges, and impressive awards in various categories. The large elevated stage has theater-style lighting, changing backdrops, and 4 huge high-definition video screens providing great close-up views gathered by multiple cameras, so everyone gets great viewing. An audience of 3,900 fills the convention center’s Ballroom 20 to capacity, and an overflow audience of over 2,000 more people watch the show on large projection screens in the nearby Sails Pavilion and other ballrooms. It is FREE to participate in— or just be in the audience—for anyone with a Comic-Con attendee badge valid for Saturday.

Comic-Con International Masquerade

Masquerade winner for Judges' Choice.  A re-creation of all the Doctor Whos, plus the TARDIS. Made and worn by "The Time Lords."

Click here to see other winners from Comic-Con's 2014 Masquerade!

Photo by Johnakin Randolph © 2015 SDCC


Why is it called a Masquerade and not simply a costume contest or fashion show?  Because it’s more than just posing on stage, it’s about portraying characters too, creating moods, sometimes a sense of story. It’s an event of spectacle, drama, comedy, lightsaber battles, even some song and dance, where you never know what’s going to step onto the stage next. The Masquerade recognizes that the creative arts reside in all of us, the arts are not meant to be just a spectator sport, and that among our attendees there is plenty of their own amazing talents and creativity worth showcasing. More than a few times over the years we’ve seen our contestants go on to professional costuming or related careers in the arts.

Some entries are solo costumes; others are groups with a shared theme. Many will be fabulous re-creations from movies, TV shows, anime, computer games, history, and of course comic books, but some completely original designs will be presented as well, some never seen before anywhere. All costume genres are welcome, but no purchased or professionally sourced ones are allowed. It’s a celebration of imagination and craftsmanship, not shopping ability, and to have a great time is the main objective.

Comic-Con International Masquerade: Kaja and Phil Foglio

Kaja and Phil Foglio, multi-talented artists and writers of Studio Foglio, once again our wonderful Master and Mistress of Ceremonies that guided us through the evening of amazing costumes and clever presentations.

Photo by Barry Brown © 2015 SDCC

Our Master and Mistress of Ceremonies will again be the very entertaining five-time Hugo Award-winning artists and writers Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio, who for many years have created, published, and contributed to a variety of comics, art, and games in the science fiction and fantasy genres through their company Studio Foglio.  They are guests of honor at many conventions, and you’ll often find them at the Girl Genius booth in our Exhibit Hall.

To attend as an audience member, all you need is your Saturday badge. Tickets for Ballroom 20 seating for the Masquerade are given out FREE starting at noon on Saturday to those people lining up early, so they may get out of line to enjoy other daytime events at Comic-Con, then return to the Masquerade line later (towards the evening) knowing there will be a seat for them. Tickets are not needed for watching the show in the Sails Pavilion or the overflow ballrooms, although Sails Pavilion seating can fill up too.

Comic-Con International Masquerade

AGENTS OF A.I.M.: Masquerade winner for Best Technical Fabrication. A re-creation from Marvel Comics, worn by Kevin & Laura Pishion, Rick Ferguson, Brett Yee, Dave Penner, Kevin Nagata, Richard Phan, Michelle Zaw, and Jamie Baer. Made (and somehow transported) by Kevin and Laura Pishion, complete with electronics and a built-in iPad.

Photo by Johnakin Randolph © 2015 SDCC


Flash photography is NOT allowed in the ballroom during the event, but there will be an off-stage Photo Area with a backdrop in a nearby room, where the contestants pose after their stage presentations. Photographers or Press who wish access to this Masquerade “Photo OP” Stage Area should email the coordinator at ahead of time to request a reserved spot, as it fills up quickly, and spaces are limited so as to avoid crowding. Note: this is a non-public area and access is only open to those with approval and it always fills up.

Comic-Con International Masquerade Award Medallions

Winners in the Comic-Con Masquerade trophy categories receive beautiful custom medallions, crafted by the same company that supplies many Hollywood award shows, designed for Comic-Con by fantasy artist and illustrator Sue Dawe. Better than sharing a trophy, this allows each member of a winning group to receive something they can wear around the convention the next day.

Photo by Barry Brown © 2015 SDCC



Beautiful Comic-Con awards, featuring our custom-created Comic-Con Masquerade medallions, will be presented in categories of Best In Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, Best Presentation, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. Our award medallions were designed by fantasy artist and illustrator (and costumer) Sue Dawe, whose internationally published creations have been featured by the Franklin Mint, as well as on greeting cards, stationery, posters, porcelain statuettes, and more.

AND! Any costumed entry winning one of the above Comic-Con award categories will also receive a FREE 4-day membership badge to Comic-Con 2016! If you're a winning costume you’ll have your badge for 2016, Comic-Con’s extra thank-you for all your hard work and talent!  Badges are non-transferable; and if a group wins, up to 4 memberships will be given.

In addition to the Comic-Con awards listed above, the following companies and organizations will be generously donating their own awards to outstanding costumes, as selected by their own representatives:

•  Frank And Son Collectible Show, of the City of Industry, CA, “Your one-stop show for all your collectible needs” will present to the entry they deem the audience favorite a prize of $1,000 cash, plus a very impressive trophy.

•  DC Comics representatives will present a special DC Direct collectible valued at $300 to the finest entry portraying a DC Comics character or characters from their publications or films.

•  Lucasfilm Ltd. will reward the best Star Wars costumers with fabulous items from their Licensing Archives. The finest Star Wars entries will be selected by a Lucasfilm representative to receive very special limited-edition collectibles.

•  Sideshow Collectibles:  Do you think your costume entry into this year's contest will elicit lots of ooo's and ahhhh's from the crowd? If that's the case, you'll be in the running to win a $350 gift card from Sideshow Collectibles for use on their website! So bring that WOW factor to Comic-Con's Masquerade contest and you might walk (or strut) away with Sideshow's prize.

•  The Will Eisner Spirit of Storytelling Award is a NEW prize, offered in 2015 for the first time anywhere. It commemorates Will Eisner’s contributions to the comics medium and his imaginative storytelling skills as exemplified by his iconic comic character, The Spirit and his many graphic novels. The award will be bestowed by Will Eisner Studios to the Masquerade entry they deem best showcases the all-important "art of storytelling" in their stage presentation and includes a $500 gift card plus limited edition Will Eisner prints for the winning entrants. 2015 also marks the 75th anniversary of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. The Spirit Newspaper Section reached 5 million readers and was known for its imaginative stories and creative artwork and is still in print today.

• The Costume Designers Guild IATSE Local 892: Celebrity Costume Designer judges from the CDG will present to their favorite entry a CDG Masquerade trophy provided by Legacy Effects​, plus eight Studio Tour Tickets provided by Universal Studios, and a full year’s subscription to Costume Designer magazine.  The Costume Designers Guild, Local 892 is the labor union representing Hollywood Costume Designers and other costume professionals in Film and TV. 

• The David C. Copley Award for Most Innovative Costume: UCLA's David C. Copley Center for Costume Design will bestow on their favorite entry the UCLA Copley Center for The Study of Costume Design Award of a $500 gift card to, plus a copy of Copley Center Director Deborah Nadoolman Landis' book: Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume, (cover price $75).

• Anime Pavilion, an expansive source for all things anime, will present, to what they choose as their favorite anime-inspired costumes in the show, $200 credit at their Exhibit Hall booth for their top choice, and $50 cash to the best Young Fan anime entry.

And, new for this year, three never-before offered, truly amazing and generous cash prizes to reward our contestants! Just added:

• Robert Acer, the mysterious real-life superhero of both professional road racing and off-road racing—also a hero for international educational charities and inspiring the young—will present an especially generous cash prize of $5,000 to the costume entry he deems best inspires people to be heroes, $3,000 to the most creative entry, and $2,000 to the most entertaining entry.

New Prizes added 7/06/15:
•  Costumer's Guild West will be presenting a full scholarship and one night's hotel (valued at $300) to their weekend conference, Costume College, held the first weekend in August at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, California, which will be awarded to the entry their representatives select as showing the most promise.   Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming.
•  Century Guild, the gallery presenting “the finest art of three centuries,” will present to what they deem the best Fantasy, Horror, or Art Nouveau entry with $200 cash or $400 credit at their booth, plus a signed copy of Clive Barker’s amazing art book Imaginer, the first in a series of books documenting the paintings of Clive Barker.

Whether you are in the event—or just attending the convention to watch, listen and learn—why not dress to impress and add to your fun?