Celebrating Costuming in the Popular Arts, and the Creativity of Our Attendees: San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition Masquerade Costume Competition
Calling all costumers, Saturday evening is your time to bring out your best cosplay! Not a dance nor party as the name might imply, for this event our largest stage, normally featuring celebrities and industry professionals, is reserved to showcase some of our most talented attendees instead! Presented in a format similar to a talent competition, the Masquerade is a series of costume presentations with a Master or Mistress of Ceremonies, a panel of guest judges, prestigious Comic-Con awards, and generous cash prizes too. The event time is 8:00 PM Saturday, November 27, with doors opening for early audience seating at 7:15 PM. There is no additional charge to participate or just be in the audience, you only need a valid convention badge and approved face covering.
For the judging intermission we expect to have our usual amazing performance groups to entertain us while waiting for the presenting of the awards. The Saber Guild is back for another new Star Wars-based lightsaber show, and The Corps Dance Crew returns for another of their costumed popular arts-themed dance performances.
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 persona of the character, and sometimes a sense of story or mood. Many entries enhance their costume presentations with elements of drama or comedy, sometimes a faux battle or a surprising twist, or even a dance. Specially selected music and lighting effects also play a part in creating an entry’s presentation. While most of the convention is about featuring our attending professionals and their work, the Masquerade reminds us that the creative arts reside in ALL of us, and that among our attendees we find plenty of amazing talents and creativity. In fact, 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 large high-definition video screens and multiple cameras to capture close-ups. 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 always adds to the fun, and brings smiles to others who see you.
Some entries will be solo costumes, while others will be groups with a shared theme. In past Masquerades there have been re-creations from movies, TV, anime films, Broadway shows, computer games, history, and of course, comic books, but there will also be completely original designs, some never seen before anywhere. All costume genres are welcome, but no purchased or professionally sourced costumes are allowed. It’s a fun celebration of imagination, creativity, and crafting skills for those with a love for great costumes.
Unlike for our typical Comic-Cons, tickets are NOT needed for watching the show, and if Ballroom 20 shows signs of filling up we may have an overflow viewing room as well. Special reserved seating will be available for Comic-Con’s special guests and selected members of the press. For more information on seating, please contact the coordinator at Masq@comic-con.org.
Cameras are permitted, but flash photography is NOT allowed in the ballroom during the event. There will be a separate Photo Area in a nearby outdoor area, complete with special lighting, where the contestants will pose after their stage presentations. Photographers or Press who wish access to this non-public area should contact the coordinator at Masq@comic-con.org to request a reserved spot. Video photography of the Masquerade event is allowed for personal non-profit use. Any videography in the ballroom for professional purposes, including streaming, MUST be cleared with Comic-Con beforehand, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make a request.
For an Entry Form and complete contestant information CLICK HERE. Deadline for Entry Forms is November 5, 2021, but we may fill up earlier, so sending in an Entry Form soon is advised. Photos of the costume you will be wearing will be required for evaluation before confirmation as a contestant. More details are in the information pamphlet download. Contestants must be at least age 12 to participate.
Awards and Prizes
Beautiful Comic-Con trophies will be presented in categories of: Best In Show, Judges’ Choice, Best Re-Creation, Best Original Design, Best Workmanship, Most Humorous, Most Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. Our Masquerade award medallions were designed by fantasy artist and illustrator Sue Dawe, and custom crafted by the maker of the Emmy and Golden Globe awards.
Any entry winning one of the above Comic-Con award categories will also receive a FREE 4-day membership badge to our sold-out 2022 Comic-Con! This is our extra thank-you for all your hard work and talent. Complimentary badges are non-transferable, and if a group wins, up to five free awards and memberships will be given to that group.
In addition to the Comic-Con awards listed above, the following companies and organizations will be generously donating their own awards to costumes that they select. More companies and organizations may be added to this list as the convention approaches:
• Frank And Son Collectible Show, of the City of Industry, California, “Your one-stop show for ALL your collectible needs” will take a break from their large bi-weekly mini-cons to present to the entry they deem the audience favorite a very generous $1,000 cash prize.
• The Costumer's Guild West, southern California’s costuming fandom group, will present a one-year membership to their group, as well as one full scholarship and one night hotel stay to their weekend conference, Costume College®, held the last weekend in July 2022 (or winner may choose 2023 instead) 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.
• San Diego Comic Convention is happy to present a special costuming 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 Special Edition Alan Campbell Award will be $500 cash, presented to the entry deemed Best Re-Creation of a Comics Character or Characters in the show, as selected by their representative.
- Costumes must be of original construction or show significant modification of pre-existing materials. No costumes allowed that are purchased or otherwise obtained from a commercial source. The show is about creativity and craftsmanship, not shopping ability. It is expected that some costumes may include as minor elements some purchased items. If your entry utilizes many of these, check with the Coordinator for approval. As a general rule, at least 75% of what you bring onto the stage must not have been purchased. If it could pass for street clothes, it’s not a costume. You need not have made the costume yourself, perhaps a friend or family member did, or was a group effort, but it can’t be a purchased costume from a professional maker.
- Competing costumes must not be worn at the convention prior to the show. If everyone has already seen your costume, there's no point in displaying it on stage, so keep your entry out of sight until Saturday night. You may of course wear your costume around the convention afterwards. If your costume participated in any of our San Diego Comic-Con@Home or Wondercon@Home events in 2020 or 2021, it IS eligible to compete in this in-person Masquerade as well. Costumes entered in our previous in-person Comic-Con Masquerades may not return.
- Maximum time on stage: 1-2 people: 1 minute 30 seconds. 3-6 people: 2 minutes. 7 or more: 2 minutes 30 seconds. If you would like more time, check with the coordinator beforehand. Show off your costume well and have fun, but keep your timing in mind. Remaining on stage too long can lessen the impact of your presentation, but don’t be too quick and rush across the stage, either!
- No liquids, messy substances, fog, or anything that may pose a danger is allowed on stage. Unsheathing of bladed weapons is not allowed without prior clearance from the Masquerade coordinator. No throwing things into the audience. Please keep your costume and presentation PG...nothing is allowed that would get a movie an “R’ rating. Violating these rules will disqualify you, and possibly result in escort off the premises. Due to safety concerns, minors may not perform combat simulations.
- Category definitions: Re-Creation: A costume copied from a pre-existing design, such as from a movie, comic book, famous artwork, history, etc. Original: A design original to the maker/wearer. It may be inspired by some work of fantasy, science fiction, mythology, etc., but is not a copy. Young Fan category: Ages 12 to 17.
- A costume that has won Best In Show or Best In Master Class at an in-person Costume-Con, NASFiC, or Worldcon convention is not eligible for an award from the judges, but is still fully eligible for company and organization prizes, and for gaining much applause!
- Contestants agree to report in with staff in the Masquerade backstage rooms no later than 6:30 PM on the day of the show, (5:30 or earlier is suggested) and agree to allow video recording and photography of their costumes for non-profit promotional purposes.
- The Coordinator may reject an entry on the basis of inappropriate or unsafe behavior or content, because of too many purchased items, because the construction materials or techniques used do not meet the criteria of quality for the show, or because the event has reached its limit for entries.
- For physical safety and Covid-safety reasons, children under age 12 are not allowed on the stage nor in the backstage rooms. Anyone under age 18 must have a parent or guardian present with them backstage and minors' parents will be asked to sign a permission form. Because these areas are a live production environment with dozens of costumers, helpers, and staff rushing around, some in sight-limiting masks and some carrying large or pointed props, it is not an appropriate environment for small children.
- Your soundtrack, narration, or costume may NOT include content that advertises for an actual product, service, or website. You are not required to wear your costume yourself; someone else can present it in the show. If it is worn on stage by someone other than you, that person should not be a paid individual.
- In accordance with convention COVID policies, approved masks must be worn in backstage areas at all times regardless of vaccination status. Please CLICK HERE for more information.