2024 Comic-COn Masquerade


Comic-Con’s 2024 Masquerade on-stage costume competition (or Cosplay Competition, to use another term), a tradition at Comic-Con since 1974, will be Saturday evening, July 27, starting at 8:30 PM. The event celebrates not only the contribution of costuming to the popular arts but also the amazing creations that our attendees make and bring to the convention. The costume presentations, intermission entertainment, and awards presentation will run approximately two and a half hours and be set in the convention center’s 3,900-seat Ballroom 20, with overflow seating available with large screens in the Sails Pavilion and in a second ballroom.

In the 50 years of Comic-Con Masquerades, much has changed since the very first costume contest at the El Cortez Hotel five decades ago, set in a room of very modest size with an equally modest stage. It featured mostly comics and TV superheroes and villains in lots of Spandex, mixed in with Star Trek costumes and a classic movie monster or two. After that first show, there was never a San Diego Comic-Con without a Masquerade to celebrate fan costuming, and we even included them during our two virtual conventions. While the early years of audiocassette music and stages, enhanced only with a couple of hotel light stands, are far in the past, the basic idea is still with us, but much evolved and expanded. In addition to hugely more elaborate and varied costumes, our audience and contestants now enjoy huge video projection screens, high-definition cameras, digital theater sound, a projection backdrop that constantly changes, and a large stage perfect for big-group costuming, for an audience that in 2023 totaled 5,000.

Not a dance or party as the name may imply, it is more in the style of a talent show set on a stage before an audience, showcasing amazing costumes crafted by our non-professional but still highly creative and talented attendees. Most costumes will be impressive re-creations from movies, television, anime, comic books, fantasy, Broadway shows, and video games; others will be completely original designs from the imagination. Some will be solo entries, others will be groups with a shared theme. All genres are welcome, and no purchased costumes are allowed. The event is free to participate in, or to have a seat in the audience, for anyone with a convention badge valid for Saturday.

Why do we title this event the Masquerade instead of a costume contest? Simply put, “to masquerade” means to portray someone other than yourself, and our contestants often bring to the stage as much performance imagination as they do workmanship by portraying characters and creating presentations with specially selected music that create story, mood, drama, humor, and more. And our giant HD video screens and multiple cameras display great close-up views of the costumes to everyone. Those in the audience need not come in costume, but feel free to add to the fun and spirit of the event and also dress to impress!

Our Master of Ceremonies will again be the always entertaining five-time Hugo Award-winning artists and writers Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio. Together they have created, published, and contributed to a variety of comics, art, and games in the science fiction, fantasy, and steampunk genres through their company and website www.StudioFoglio.com, featuring their Girl Genius series.

After the costume presentations, while the judges tally their scores, we will be treated to return entertainment by the Jedha Temple chapter of The Saber Guild, the largest not-for-profit Lucasfilm-recognized Star Wars lightsaber club in the world, thrilling us with an original Star Wars storyline, great costumes, and choreographed action. You will not want to miss their lightsaber-filled performance. Then we will see the highly talented and always fun Corps Dance Crew returning to our stage. The Corps, a non-professional entertainment group that melds cosplay, dance, and popular music, has toured all over Southern California to bring unique performances to many events and conventions.

Rather than see attendees line up for hours to be certain they get a seat for the show, free tickets will be given out at noon on Saturday to those lining up near Ballroom 20, and will be available again from 3:00–5:00 PM at the Masquerade Desk until all are given out. Once you have your ticket you are guaranteed a seat, you can go enjoy other programming and line up later on knowing there is a chair for you. After the ticket-holders line has gone into the ballroom, it becomes open seating for anyone who shows up until the room is filled, no ticket required.

Professional badge holders who are program participants and a limited number of press with verified credentials may obtain tickets ahead of time at the Masquerade Desk near Ballroom 20 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Special invited guests of the convention may request VIP seating. Disabled attendees should visit the Disabled Services Desk to learn about their special seating for the show. As always, there will be an ASL interpreter for people who are hard of hearing.

No flash photography of the stage presentations is allowed, although non-flash photography and video recording are welcome, for personal use only. There will be a flash-allowed photo-op area within a nearby room where contestants will go after their stage presentations, and photographers or press wishing Photo Area access should reserve a spot in advance by writing to masq@comic-con.org, or signing up at the desk, but spaces are limited.

How to Enter:

To request a contestant spot in the show, read the complete Masquerade Information, Rules, and Entry Form from HERE, complete and submit the Entry Form, and then follow up before the deadline with photos of your costume by emailing them to masq@comic-con.org  It may be possible to also sign up at the convention at the Masquerade Desk in the convention center on Thursday IF there have been cancellations. Photos of the costume you have crafted and will be wearing (or if a group entry, photos of all the costumes) are needed for reviewing for content, amount of crafting, and quality before acceptance. Contestants must be at least age 12 to participate. The deadline for entries and photos is July 5, but usually we fill up in June or earlier!

Comic-Con Trophies awarded in several categories:

Our Comic-Con trophy medallions, custom-designed for us by popular fantasy artist Sue Dawe and fabricated by the same company that produces awards for the Emmy®, Golden Globes®, and People’s Choice® Awards, are bestowed by the guest judges panel in categories of Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, Most Humorous, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. Those trophy winners will also receive free 4-day badges to our Comic-Con 2025!

Additional Awards:

Several companies and organizations are generously supporting the event by offering cash and other prizes of their own, and will be awarding winners selected by their representatives:

  • Frank & Son Collectible Show of the City of Industry, California, “The first and last stop for all your collectible needs,” will take a break from their large bi-weekly mini-cons to present a generous $1,000 cash prize, plus a beautiful trophy, to the entry they deem to be the Audience Favorite (so please be sure to generously applaud your favorites!).
  • The Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800. The ADG, which has presented panels at Comic-Con for over a dozen years, has among its members art directors, graphic artists, illustrators & storyboard artists, model makers, pre-vis artists, production designers, scenic artists, set designers and title artists of the motion picture, theater, and TV industries. The ADG is presenting two awards: The Art Directors Guild Cosplay Award for Original Concept Design, presented to the entry most exemplifying a wholly original concept, and The Art Directors Guild Cosplay Award for Best Visual Media Design, presented to the entry whose design best interprets a character or concept from a television show or motion picture. Each award comes with a $500 prize.
  • Comickaze Comics & Pop Culture Store, San Diego’s #1 source for comics, graphic novels, & collectibles, located in the Clairemont Mesa area since 1993, will present an award for what they deem the Best In-Character Performance, with a generous prize of a limited-edition special collectible statuette, an Amazon gift card of $300, and a $200 Comickaze store gift card. 
  • The Costume Designers Guild IATSE Local 892: Celebrity Hollywood costume designer judges from the CDG will present to their favorite entry a CDG Masquerade trophy and generous prizes. They are Local 892 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), and they represent costume designers, assistant costume designers, and costume illustrators working in motion pictures, TV, commercials, music videos, and new media.
  • The Costumer’s Guild West (CGW), southern California’s costuming fandom group, will present a one-year membership to CGW, as well as a full scholarship and a complimentary one-night hotel stay to their weekend conference, Costume College®, held each July at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel. This year, their event is a week before Comic-Con, so their winner may choose 2025 or 2026. It will be for the entry their representatives select as Showing the Most Promise. Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming!
  • Comic-Con International will present a special award given in memory of a long-time Committee and Board member Alan Campbell, who passed away and is sorely missed. Alan was a great fan of the Masquerade, at times generously donating his own prize. The Alan Campbell Award will be $500 cash, presented to the entry deemed Best Re-Creation of a Comics or Related Media Character or Characters, as selected by a representative of the Board of Directors.
  • Pontik.com, an international source for the latest entertainment, music, fan convention, cosplay, and international fashion news, including everything for the Geek Community, with a YouTube channel to promote all of that, will be participating for their first time providing a $500 cash award for what their representative deems the Best Prop (craftsmanship and how well it suits the costume idea) accompanying a costume in the show.
  • Oksana Shore Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship. This special award is given in the memory of Oksana Shore, an exceptionally talented tailor, pattern maker, and friend to many in the industry. A member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 479, she made costumes for film and TV that are cosplayed around the world, and her attention to detail and craftsmanship was superb. Gotham Knights, Legacies, Loki, Stranger Things, and WandaVision were just a few of her projects. She was also a wonderful, caring person who quietly worked to make the world a little better and brighter by helping her friends and family in Ukraine. This award is given to the entry that captures her spirit and skill of Patterning, Construction, and Craftsmanship, and will be presented by professional costume designer Jennifer May Nickel. The award will include a trophy and very generous prizes from its industry sponsors.

We expect more prizes to join this list as the convention approaches, check the Comic-Con website for updates, and start planning now how to dress to impress to celebrate our 50 years of Masquerades!