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Comic-Con International 2019 Masquerade

Comic-Con 2018 Masquerade: Winner of Best Original Design—Howl’s Moving Castle • Worn by Nina London Cosplay; designed and made by Nina London.



All contestant slots have been filled for the Masquerade, and we are not accepting any new costume entries.

NXonNetflix Presents the Comic-Con 2019 Masquerade

Comic-Con celebrates and educates on the importance and enjoyment of the popular arts, and the art of costuming plays a vital role in nearly all the them. It’s an artform that dates far back into history, yet is always evolving, always fresh with innovative designs, new fabrication techniques, and incorporating new technologies. But while a costume can look great on a printed page, movie screen, poster, or collectible statuette, it is when a person wears one in front of us—becomes that unique character—that the costume’s 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 allowing our non-professional attendees the opportunity to show that artistic creativity and talent is not limited to just professionals, but resides in some form or other in all of us. But what you’ll see is much more than just a display of crafted costumes as 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.

Comic-Con’s 45th Masquerade Costume Competition will start at 8:30 PM on Saturday, July 20 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. Approximately 100 costumes re-created from various sources and genres, as well as completely original designs, will take their turns on the stage, some as solo entries, some as themed groups. While no purchased costumes are allowed in the competition, those attending in the audience can dress as they like. 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 event will run about 3 hours, including an intermission for judging and the presentation of awards. In addition to the Comic-Con awards in various categories bestowed by our judges panel, representatives from Hollywood’s professional organizations of costume designers, costume makers, and art directors, plus other companies and educational institutions, will also be selecting their own winners of generous cash and merchandise prizes.

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 create and publish Girl Genius and other publications through their company Studio Foglio. They can also be found at their Girl Genius booth in our Exhibit Hall.

During the Judging Intermission we’ll be treated to a storied dance presentation by the talented fan group The Corps Dance Crew returning to our stage. This year the Corpsmen have an Avengers-themed show in honor of Avengers: Endgame and the sad passing of Stan Lee. Coupling reimagined cosplays, popular music, and all genres of dance, The Corps takes you on another wild ride on the stage. Following them will be a special new Star Wars-themed light saber show by members of the Saber Guild performance group. Incorporating screen-accurate costuming, music from the films, and amazing choreography, if you enjoy Star Wars characters brought to life, this Lucasfilm-approved group is not to be missed.

Comic-Con 2019 Masquerade

Comic-Con 2018 Masquerade Winner, Best in Show: Sarah and Jareth the Goblin King • Worn by Liz Todd and Heidi Schilling; designed and made by Ambrose Cosplay. Photo: S. Oson © 2019 SDCC

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 noon on Saturday to those lining up near Ballroom 20. Once you have your ticket, you can leave the line to enjoy other programming at Comic-Con and rejoin it later. Seats are non-reserved, but if you’ve a ticket you’ll know there will be a seat available for you. Any tickets that may remain after distribution to the line can be obtained after 3:00 PM at the Masquerade Desk. Tickets guarantee seating until 8:30 PM; after that it becomes open seating, so even with no ticket you can likely find seating towards the back. If you must leave the main ballroom for any reason and wish to return, remember to get a restroom pass.

Pro 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 AM to 4:00 PM. Special invited guests of the convention may request VIP seating. Disabled attendees should visit the Disabled Services Desk in Hall A to coordinate special seating for the show. As always, there will be a signer for the hearing impaired.

Overflow Seating

Ballroom 20 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 Room 6A. Tickets are NOT required for seating in those overflow areas.


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 equipment (tripods, etc.) or standing up is allowed that will interfere with other audience members’ viewing. 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 separate room outside of 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 contestant spots were filled in May, but interested costumers may ask to be on the Waiting List at the Masquerade Desk, as there are sometimes cancellations. The Waiting List closes at 11:00 AM Saturday, but can be long by then. Complete rules and information are available at the Desk, located near Ballroom 20, and open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A one-hour Masquerade Orientation for contestants only will be held Saturday at 10:30 AM in Convention Center 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 panel at 2:30 PM in Room 8. Sorry, we cannot sell copies of the show. To learn more about convention masquerades you may wish to attend the Masquerade 101 panel at 6:00 PM Thursday in Room 23ABC.


Comic-Con 2019 Masquerade

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

Photo: B. Brown © 2019 SDCC


Awards and Prizes

Comic-Con award medallions will be given to winning costumes in the following categories:

  • Best in Show
  • Judges’ Choice
  • Best Re-creation
  • Best Original Design
  • Most Beautiful
  • Best Presentation
  • Most Humorous
  • Best Workmanship
  • Best Young Fan

These custom awards 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 awards for the Emmy®, Golden Globes®, and People's Choice® Awards.

Any costumed entry winning one of Comic-Con’s own award categories (excepting honorable mentions) will also receive a free 4-day membership to Comic-Con in 2020—our extra thank-you for all the hard work and dedication! These awarded badges are nontransferable; if a group wins a category, up to five free memberships will be given.

Additional Prizes

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

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 to be the audience favorite a generous prize of $1,000 cash, plus a very impressive crystal trophy.

DC Comics representatives will once again present a special, limited edition statuette from their website store to the to the finest costume entry portraying a DC Comics character or group of characters from the DC universe of publications and movies.

The Will Eisner Spirit of Storytelling Award reminds us that the costume and the story are often equally important. Costumes can inspire a story or the story can dictate the costume, and this award commemorates Will Eisner's contributions to the comics medium and his imaginative storytelling skills as exemplified by his iconic character, The Spirit, and his many graphic novels. This award is bestowed by Will Eisner Studios on the entry they deem best showcases that all-important “art of storytelling.” 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 presentation 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 Swarovski Crystal 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/TFT Copley Center Design Award of a $1,000 gift card to, plus a copy of Hollywood Costume, (cover price $39.99) by Copley Center director Deborah Nadoolman Landis, PhD.

Motion Picture Costumers Union, IATSE Local 705 is pleased to once again present TWO awards: “Best Technical Costume Construction," and “Costumer of Tomorrow.” Both awards will be a beautiful custom trophy and a generous prize sure to delight any cosplayer. Their technical awards are for entries whose skillful execution, creativity, and attention to detail highlights an imaginative adaptation of the source or a custom design. Local 705 is the Labor Union supplying movie and TV studio costume departments, costume rental houses, and made-to-order 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 “ooohs” and “ahhhs” 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 full of great collectibles! Bring your best costume creation to Comic-Con's Masquerade and you might walk (or strut) away with Sideshow's generously donated prize.

Costumer's Guild West (CGW) will present a one-year membership to CGW, as well as a full scholarship and two-night hotel stay (valued at $500) to their weekend conference, Costume College®, held each year during the last weekend in July at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA, to the entry their representatives select as showing the most promise. Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming.

Anime Pavilion, of Falls Church, VA, 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 booth or their expansive website, plus a second prize of $50 cash to the best Young Fan anime-inspired entry.

The UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation is presenting a costume award to coincide with their “Make Cancer Less Scary” public awareness campaign. As scientific research is driven by a compelling vision and often requires creativity, the costume entry they select as “Most Imaginative” will receive four complimentary tickets (value $600) to this non-profit organization's annual fundraising Masquerade Party in October this year, with a costume theme of "Enchanted Creatures."

Comic-Con 2019 Masquerade

Comic-Con 2018 Masquerade Winner: Best Presentation—Crouching Prince, Hidden Dragon •Worn by Brooke Bowman, Arron Bowman, Rob Bowman, Natasha Bowman, and Jacob Rodebaugh; designed and made by Arron Bowman. Photo: S. Oson © 2019 SDCC