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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.

Celebrating Costuming in the Popular Arts and the Creativity of Our Attendees

Calling all costumers, Saturday evening is your time to bring out your best! Not a dance nor party as the name might imply, for this event Ballroom 20 is reserved to showcase some of our most talented attendees! Presented in a format similar to a talent competition, it’s a series of costume presentations with a Master of Ceremonies, a panel of guest judges, and impressive awards given by Comic-Con, with generous prizes and awards given by various film and comics industry representatives.

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 capturing the feel of the character, creating moods, and sometimes a sense of story. Many entries have elements of drama, comedy, suspense, sometimes a faux battle, unexpected surprises, and even song and dance. Each year, the Masquerade reminds us that the creative arts reside in ALL of us, and that among our attendees there’s plenty of amazing talent and creativity worth showcasing. More than a few times over the years we’ve seen our “cosplaying” contestants go on to professional costuming careers.

Ballroom 20’s large elevated stage will have great viewing for all thanks to four huge high-definition video screens overhead and multiple cameras to capture close-ups. As an audience of almost 4,000 fills that ballroom for the Masquerade, an overflow audience of 2,000 more watch the show on large projection screens in the nearby Sails Pavilion and other ballrooms. The Masquerade is free to participate in or just be in the audience for anyone with a Comic-Con badge valid for Saturday. And if you just plan to be in the audience you don’t have to wear a costume, but as with the rest of the convention, wearing costumes is always adds to the fun, and smiles to others who see you.

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


Some entries will be solo costumes; others can be groups with a shared theme. Many will be re-creations from movies, TV shows, anime films, Broadway shows, computer games, history, and of course, comic books, but there will also be some completely original designs, 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 fun is the main objective.

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. You’ll often find them in person at the Girl Genius booth in the Comic-Con Exhibit Hall.

Since our audience always starts to line up hours early, to make life easier for our attendees we will be giving out Masquerade tickets for ballroom seating FREE beginning at noon on Saturday to those in line, so they may then get out of line to enjoy other daytime events, and return to the line later knowing there will be seating for them. Tickets are not needed for watching the show in the Sails Pavilion or the overflow ballrooms, although the Sails Pavilion seating can fill up as well. And after the Masquerade, the Sails Pavilion becomes a lively venue of music and dance with our annual party. Special reserved seating will be available for Comic-Con’s many special guests, and selected members of the press. For more information on special reserved seating, write to the Masquerade Coordinator at

Comic-Con 2019 Masquerade

Comic-Con 2018 Masquerade: Honorable Mention for Presentation—Timelord of the Dance • Worn, designed and made by Rich, Kym, Jackie, Susanne, Caitlin, Heather, Annalisa, Marcia, Holly, Ava, Mikaela, Dani, Nicky, Melissa, Gome, Sissy, Lisa, Robert, Jason & Bethany. Photo: S. Oson © 2019 SDCC

How to Enter

There’s only space and time in the event for a limited number of contestants, so if you’d like to share your costume creation with our audience you should apply for a contestant slot as soon as possible. To receive complete information, detailed rules, and an advance entry form,

We usually fill up all our slots several weeks in advance of the convention, so sending in an Entry Form early is advised. Photos of the costume you will be wearing will be required for full confirmation as a contestant. More details are on the PDF.

Photography and Video

Flash photography is NOT allowed in the ballroom during the event, but there will be an off-stage Photo Area 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 write the coordinator at ahead of time to request a reserved spot, as it fills up quickly. Note: This is a non-public area and access is only open to those with approval.

Video photography of the Masquerade event is allowed for personal non-profit use. Any videography in the ballroom for professional purposes MUST be cleared with Comic-Con beforehand, please write to to make a request.


Comic-Con 2019 Masquerade

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

Photo: B. Brown © 2019 SDCC

Awards and Prizes

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 Humorous, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. Our award medallions were designed by fantasy artist and illustrator Sue Dawe, and manufactured by the same maker of the Emmy and Golden Globe awards.

And, any costumed entry winning one of the above Comic-Con award categories will also receive a FREE membership badge for all four days of Comic-Con 2020. If you're a winning costume you’ll have your badge, Comic-Con’s extra thank you for all your hard work and talent. Complimentary badges are non-transferable, and if a group wins, up to five free 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 representatives.

Frank And Son Collectible Show, of the City of Industry, California, “Your one-stop show for ALL your collectible needs” will present to the entry they deem the audience favorite a $1,000 cash prize, plus a very impressive 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 the 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. 2017 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 presentation. 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 act will receive $250 in Amazon gift cards plus 5 limited-edition Will Eisner giclée lithographs.

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.

The Motion Picture Costumers, 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 most 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 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.

Costumer's Guild West (CGW) will present a one-year membership to CGW, as well as a full scholarship and  two night's hotel stay (valued at $500) to their weekend conference, Costume College®, held 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.

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 contest and you might walk (or strut) away with Sideshow's generously donated prize.

(More company and group prizes will be added to this list as Comic-Con approaches.)

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