Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version


YouTube's Origin Presents the Comic-Con International 2018 Masquerade

Updated: 6/12/18 • Please Note: The Masquerade is full for 2018; Register for the Stand-By List onsite at the Masq. Desk outside Ballroom 20; see below for more information.

Costuming plays a vital role in nearly all the popular arts, defining characters, settings, mood, and more. It’s an art form dating to ancient history but is always evolving, always fresh with innovative designs and new fabrication techniques, as comic books and science fiction movies, fantasy TV shows, Broadway musicals, and even video game characters often demonstrate. But while costumes can look great on a page, poster or collectible statuette, it is when a person wears them, becomes that unique character, that the real impact happens.

Comic-Con once again proudly dedicates Saturday evening and our large Ballroom 20 stage to giving the art of costuming the spotlight it deserves, and bestowing on our non-professional attendees the opportunity to show that artistic creativity and impressive talent is not limited to just professionals, but resides, in some form or other, in all of us. But what you’ll see up on our stage is much more than just a display of crafted costumes meant to inspire the arts within you. A wide variety of characters are brought to life in clever and entertaining presentations of drama, comedy, mock battles, and more, each with specially selected music and lighting — a fun, lively night where you never know who and what will cross the stage next.

Comic-Con’s 44th Masquerade Costume Competition will start at 8:30 PM Saturday, July 21 in Ballroom 20 of the Convention Center. Doors will open for audience seating at 8:00 PM, but the line for choice seating will start forming many hours earlier. Over 100 costumes re-created from various sources and genres, as well as completely original designs, will take their turns on the theater-style stage. While no purchased costumes are allowed in the competition, those attending in the audience can dress as they like.

The event will run about 3 hours, including an intermission for judging and the presentation of awards. The judging panel, assembled from costuming professionals, will select the winners of the Comic-Con Masquerade awards in various categories. Plus, representatives of ten companies, organizations and educational institutions will also be selecting their own winners of generous cash and merchandise prizes. To ensure great viewing for everyone, multiple video cameras will be capturing close-up views for projection onto the giant high-definition overhead screens.

The Master and Mistress of Ceremonies are the always entertaining and talented artists and writers Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio. They’ve earned five Hugo awards among many other literature and cartooning awards, and together have created and published Girl Genius and other successful publications through their company Studio Foglio. They can also be found at their Girl Genius booth in the Exhibit Hall.


Comic-Con International 2018 Masquerade

The Saber Guild was one of two performance groups that entertained the audience during the Judging Intermission at Comic-Con 2017.

Photo: K. Green © 2018 SDCC

Judging Intermission

During the Judging Intermission you’ll be treated to a special storied dance presentation by the talented fan group The Corps Dance Crew, returning to SDCC with a brand new performance. Join the Corpsmen as they bring a fresh mix of crossover cosplay by taking familiar princesses and giving them the Sucker Punch makeover, facing off against the oppressive Chernabog and his army of blue devils.  Coupling reimagined cosplays, popular music, and all genres of dance, The Corps takes you on another wild ride on the Masquerade Halftime stage.

Following that fan performance group will be a special brand new Star Wars-themed light saber show by the fabulous Saber Guild performance group with a storyline incorporating the latest films, then a special movie preview or two.

Tickets Required for Ballroom 20

To ensure that no one waits in the long line only to discover that all seats are taken, free tickets will be given out beginning at 12:00 PM (Noon) on Saturday to those lining up near Ballroom 20. Once you have your ticket, you can leave the line (enjoy other things at the convention!) and rejoin it later if you like. Seats are non-reserved, but if you have a ticket you’ll know there will be a seat available for you. Should any tickets remain after distribution to the line, they can be obtained after 3:00 PM at the Masquerade Desk until all are given out.  Tickets guarantee seating until 8:30, after that, it is open seating for whatever seats are unfilled then, so you may find seats available towards the back.  If you must leave the main ballroom for any reason and wish to return, be sure to get a restroom pass.

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 in front of Ballroom 20 on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 to 4:00. Special invited guests of the convention may request VIP seating. Disabled attendees should visit the Disabled Services Desk to coordinate special seating for the show. There will be a signer for the hearing impaired.

Overflow Seating

The ballroom holds nearly 3,900 but that's not enough to meet demand, so the event will also be presented simultaneously on giant screens in the Sails Pavilion and in Rooms 5AB and 6A, where over 2,000 more audience members will gather. No tickets are required for seating in any of the overflow rooms.


Comic-Con International 2018 Masquerade

“Dawnseeker lx’kin, Arakkoa Sage”, made and worn by Malis Vitterfolk. Best in Show winner, plus winner of the Hollywood Art Director’s Guild award for Best Graphic Design.

Photo: K. Green © 2018 SDCC


Cameras are allowed into the Masquerade, with the following restrictions:

  • No flash photography is permitted in the ballroom!  No tripods are allowed in aisle ways.
  • All photographs and video recordings of the show must be for personal, nonprofit use only and may not be offered for sale or used for commercial purposes, including posting or live-streaming on websites that charge for viewing. News media and journalists should request permission via Comic-Con's Press Desk.
  • No photography equipment or standing up is allowed that will interfere with other audience members’ view of the show. House Staff will be watching for violators, so please help us assure everyone in the audience can enjoy the show.

There’ll be a Photo Op Area located in a room outside Ballroom 20 where the costumers will pose after their presentations to the audience. Flash photography is allowed in this area, but spaces are limited. Photographers wishing access must sign up ahead of time at the Masquerade Desk.

Contestant Information

Sorry, all of the contestant spots were filled weeks before the convention, but interested costumers may ask to be on the Stand-By List at the Masquerade Desk, where we fill any spots arising from cancellations. The Stand-By List closes at 11:00 AM Saturday, but is sometimes a long list by then. Complete rules and information are available at the Desk, located near Ballroom 20, open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Thursday and Friday, and until 5:00 PM Saturday. A one-hour Masquerade Orientation for contestants will be held Saturday at 10:30 AM in Room 31AB, and is highly recommended.

On Sunday, if you missed the show or wish to see it again, a high-definition video will be shown at the Masquerade Playback at 2:30 in Room 8. Sorry, we cannot sell copies of the show. To learn even more about masquerades, you may wish to attend the Masquerade 101 panel at 6:00 PMThursday in Room 23ABC.


Comic-Con International  Masquerade

The Comic-Con International Masquerade award medallions, designed by artist Sue Dawe.

Photo: B. Brown © 2018 SDCC

Awards and Prizes

San Diego Comic-Con Masquerade medallions will be given to winning costumes in categories of Best in Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-creation, Best Original Design, Most Beautiful, Best Presentation, Most Humorous, Best Workmanship, and Best Young Fan. These custom medallions were designed by artist Sue Dawe, whose popular fantasy creations have been featured for sale by the Franklin Mint, and were fabricated by the same company that produces trophies for the Emmy, Golden Globes, and People's Choice Awards.

Plus, any costumed entry winning one of Comic-Con’s own award categories (not honorable mentions) will receive a free 4-day membership to Comic-Con in 2019—Comic-Con’s extra thank you for all the hard work and dedication! These awarded badges are nontransferable; if a group wins a category, up to four free memberships will be given to them.

In addition, generous cash and merchandise prizes will be presented by representatives of the following companies and organizations:

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

DC Comics representatives will present a special limited edition DC Collectibles item to the finest costumed entry portraying a DC Comics character or characters from their publications or movies.

The Will Eisner Spirit of Storytelling Award 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 and textbooks. Last year marked the centennial of Will Eisner’s birth and this award is bestowed by Will Eisner Studios on the entry they deem best showcases that all-important “art of storytelling” in their stage presentation. The costuming and story are equally important. At its peak, The Spirit Sunday comic newspaper section reached 5 million readers and was known for its imaginative stories, creative artwork, and eye catching splash pages. The winning entrant will receive $250 in Amazon gift cards plus 5 limited-edition Will Eisner giclée lithographs.

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 provided by Legacy Effects and a full year’s subscription to Costume Designer magazine. The Costume Designers Guild is Local 892 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.), and represents costume designers, assistant costume designers, and costume illustrators working at the highest levels of expertise in motion pictures, TV, commercials, music videos, and new media.

The David C. Copley Award for Most Innovative Costume: UCLA's David C. Copley Center for The Study of Costume Design will bestow on their favorite entry the UCLA Copley Center Design Award of a $1,000 gift card to, plus a copy of the beautiful book Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration, (cover price $75) by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the Copley Center Director.

Motion Picture Costumers Union, IATSE Local 705:  Clip those stray threads and hide the safety pins! Once again, the Motion Picture Costumers Union- Local 705, joins the judges table at the 44th Annual Masquerade event. Along with their sponsor, RIT Dye, they will be presenting a beautiful custom trophy and a check for $1000 as the Award for Best Technical Costume Construction. They will be seeking entries whose skillful execution, creativity, and attention to detail most highlights an imaginative adaptation of the source or a custom design. Also to be presented is the Costumer of Tomorrow Award for the most well constructed and imaginative adaptation or design for the under 16-year-old contestants. The award includes a trophy and a selection of RIT ProLine Dyes. Motion Picture Costumers Local 705 is the Labor Union supplying movie and television studio costume departments, costume rental houses, and custom made costume houses with artists and craftsmen, and are part of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, AFL-CIO.

The Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800): The ADG, which has presented panels at Comic-Con for a dozen years, has among its members art directors, graphic artists, illustrators, matte artists, model makers, production designers, scenic artists, set designers and title artists of the motion picture, theater, and TV industries, is presenting two awards: The Art Directors Guild Cosplay Award for Original Concept Design, presented to the entry most exemplifying a wholly original concept. The “Idea" is paramount in this category, the implementation and craftwork are secondary to the original notion; and, The Art Directors Guild Cosplay Award for Best Graphic Design, presented to the entry whose printed, painted or sculpted graphics are superior. Each award comes with a $500 prize.

Sideshow Collectibles: Do you think your costume entry into this year's contest will elicit lots of oooh'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 web site! So bring that WOW factor to Comic-Con's Masquerade contest and you might walk (or strut) away with Sideshow's prize.

Costumer's Guild West, Inc. will be presenting a full scholarship and one night's hotel (valued at $300) to their weekend conference, Costume College, held annually the last weekend in July (1 week after Comic-Con this year) at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, Calif., (valid for either 2019 or 2020) awarded to the entry they select as showing the most promise. Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming. More info at

Anime Pavilion, of Falls Church, Virginia, a source for all things anime and anime-related, will present to what they choose as the best anime-inspired costume entry $200 credit at their Comic-Con Exhibit Hall booth or their expansive website, plus a second prize of $50 cash to the best Young Fan anime-inspired entry.