The 40th Annual Comic-Con International Masquerade
A Saturday night of spectacle and fun celebrating the art of costuming!
Anyone who’s ever attended Comic-Con International can attest there are always great costumes to be seen, strolling past you in the corridors and Exhibit Hall, on display in glass cases, in countless images on posters, comics, fine art, and books, even in miniature form on collectible figures and in computer games. Costuming is a vital ingredient of nearly all the popular arts, and has been a part of fan conventions ever since the first World Science Fiction Convention in New York in 1939. At Comic-Con’s Saturday night big event, it’s a unique evening of fun and amazing costume creations as the stage lights brighten, the music swells, the spotlights come on, and the huge audience that’s lined up many hours in advance takes their seats for the 40th Annual Masquerade costume competition.
Not a dance nor party as the name might imply, it’s an on-stage event in the style of a talent competition, with a Master of Ceremonies, a panel of guest judges, and impressive awards in various categories. The large elevated stage has theater-style lighting, changing backdrops, and four huge high-definition video screens providing great close-up views gathered by multiple cameras, so everyone gets great viewing. An audience of more than 4,000 fills Ballroom 20 to capacity and an overflow audience of over 2,000 more people watch the show on large video screens in the nearby Sails Pavilion and other ballrooms. It is FREE to participate in, or just be in the audience for anyone with a Comic-Con attendee badge valid for Saturday.
Why is it called a Masquerade and not simply a costume contest? Because it’s more than just posing on stage, it’s about portraying characters too, it’s an event full of spectacle, beauty, drama, comedy, lightsaber battles, sometimes song and dance, where you never know what’s going to step onto the stage next. The Masquerade proves that among our attendees there is plenty of their own amazing talents and creativity worth showcasing, and more than a few times we’ve seen our contestants go on to professional costuming careers.
Some entries are solo costumes; others are groups with a shared theme. Many will be re-creations from movies, TV shows, anime, computer games, history, and of course comic books, but some completely original designs will be presented as well, 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. They are guests of honor at many conventions, and you’ll often find them at the Girl Genius booth in our Exhibit Hall.
To attend as an audience member, all you need is your 4-day or Saturday badge. Masquerade tickets for Ballroom 20 seating for the Masquerade are given out FREE on Saturday afternoon to those people lining up early, so they may get out of line to enjoy other daytime events at Comic-Con, then return to the Masquerade line later knowing there will be a seat for them. Tickets are not needed for watching the show in the Sails Pavilion or the overflow ballrooms.
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 Beautiful, and Best Young Fan. Our award medallions were designed by artist and illustrator Sue Dawe, whose internationally published creations have been featured by the Franklin Mint, as well as on greeting cards, stationery, posters, porcelain, and more.
AND! Any costumed entry winning one of the above Comic-Con award categories will also receive a FREE 4-day badge to our 2015 Comic-Con! If you're a winning costume, you’ll have your badge for 2015. It’s Comic-Con’s extra thank you for all your hard work and talent! Badges are non-transferable; if a group wins, up to four memberships will be given.
How to Enter: There is only space 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, click here to download the 2014 Masquerade PDF.  We usually fill up all our slots well in advance of the convention, so requesting a reserved spot early is advised. A photo will be required.
Flash photography is NOT allowed in the ballroom during the event, but there will be an off-stage area with a backdrop in a nearby room, where the contestants pose after their stage presentations. Photographers who wish access to the Masquerade “Photo Op” Stage Area should email the coordinator ahead of time to request a reserved spot, as it fills up quickly, and spaces are limited so as to avoid crowding. Press who wish access to this non-public area should also contact us in advance.
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 own representatives:
• Frank And Son Collectible Show, of the City of Industry, California, “The first & last stop for all your collectible needs,” will present to the entry they deem the audience favorite a very impressive trophy and $1,000 in cash.
• Comics representatives will present a special DC Direct collectible valued at $300 to the finest costumed entry portraying a DC Comics character or characters.
• Lucasfilm Ltd. will award the best Star Wars costumers with fabulous items from their Licensing Archives. The finest entry from the Star Wars galaxy will be selected by a Lucasfilm representative to receive special limited-edition collectibles.
• Cinema Makeup School, Hollywood’s professional movie makeup school, will present a $1,000 scholarship for tuition at its Los Angeles campus to the costume entry that demonstrates the best use of makeup, as judged by a Cinema Makeup School representative.
• TME That's My Entertainment will award $100 cash to the best Movie Representation, plus $100 cash for the People's Favorite. Courtesy of their parent company, The Testmarket Evolution.
• Sideshow Collectibles: Do you think your costume entry into this year's contest will elicit lots of “ooos” and “ahhhhs” 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.
More awards from companies, organizations and institutions will be announced in the months to come, so check this page regularly for updates!