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HBO Presents Comic-Con International’s 42nd Annual Masquerade

Celebrating Costuming in the Popular Arts and the Creativity of Our Attendees!
Click here for a Comic-Con 2016 Masquerade Photo Gallery, showcasing all the contestants and winners.

Comic-Con's mission is not only to promote comics and the related popular arts by enlightening, educating, and entertaining but also to inspire attendees to bring forth the artistic talents within themselves. Costuming plays a vital role in nearly all the arts, defining characters, settings, mood, story, and more. It's also a stand-alone art going back far into history, and yet, as seen in the latest movies, TV shows, and even video game characters, it is an art form always fresh with innovative designs and construction techniques. Comic-Con therefore once again proudly dedicates Saturday evening to giving the art of costuming the spotlight and giving attendees the opportunity to show that the spark of creativity and impressive talent is not limited to just professionals, but resides in everyone. But what you'll see is much more that just a display of costumes, as a large variety of characters are brought to life in clever and entertaining presentations of drama, comedy, mock battles, and more-a fun night where you never know what will cross the stage next.

Comic-Con's 42nd Masquerade Costume Competition will start at 8:30 pm Saturday 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, many accompanied by specially selected music and choreography. While no purchased costumes are allowed in the competition, those 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 professionals from costume-related fields, will select the winners of the Comic-Con Masquerade awards in various categories. Plus, representatives of ten companies and 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 again 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.

Intermission Show

During the judging intermission you'll be treated to special storied dance presentation by The Corps Dance Crew. Appearing at Comic-Con for the first time, the team is dedicated to bringing their love of anime and comics to life through performance. Their first convention appearance at Anime Expo helped establish them in the fan community as a new wave of performance art, coupling creative cosplay with dance fundamentals and popular music to tell stories of beloved characters both animated and cinematic. For us they will bring to life some of the team's favorite superheroes in an X-Men set inspired by Jim Lee's comic artwork.

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 to those lining up outside the room beginning at 12 NOON on Saturday. 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 will know there will be a seat available for you. Should any tickets remain after everyone in the line has theirs, they will be made available later in the afternoon at the Masquerade Desk, until all are gone. So that no seats are wasted by those who obtain tickets early but change their minds, tickets will no longer guarantee seating after 8:30, and anyone waiting outside the room at that time will be allowed in until capacity is reached. If you must leave the main ballroom for any reason and wish to return, be sure to get a bathroom pass.

Pro badge holders who participate in panels and a limited number of selected 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 3:00. Special invited guests of the convention may request VIP seating. Disabled attendees should visit the Disabled Services Desk to arrange for special seating for the show.

Overflow Seating

The ballroom holds nearly 4,000 but often fills up for the Masquerade, 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.


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 are 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 and other professionals should request permission via Comic-Con's Press Desk.
  • No equipment, standing, or lighting 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 will be a Photo Op Room outside Ballroom 20 where the costumers will pose after they have finished 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. As in the ballroom, images taken in this area are for nonprofit use only.

Contestant Information    

Sorry, all of the contestant spots were filled before the convention; however, interested costumers may sign up on the waiting list at the Masquerade Desk, where they fill any spots arising from cancellations. The Waiting List closes at 11:00 am Saturday, but is often a long list by then. Complete rules and information are available at the Masquerade Desk, located outside Ballroom 20, open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Thursday through 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 on Sunday 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 pm Thursday in Room 23ABC.

Comic-Con International 2016 Masquerade

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

Photo by Barry Brown © 2016 SDCC

Awards and Prizes
  • 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 prize of $1,000 cash, plus a very impressive trophy.
  • DC Comics representatives will present a special DC Collectibles item valued at $300 to the finest entry portraying a DC Comics character or characters from their publications or films.
  • Lucasfilm Ltd. will reward the best Star Wars costumers with fabulous items from their Licensing Archives. The finest Star Wars entries will be selected by a Lucasfilm representative to receive very special limited-edition collectibles.
  • The Costume Designers Guild IATSE Local 892: Celebrity 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 Costume Design will bestow on their favorite entry the UCLA Copley Center for The Study of Costume Design Award of a$1,000 gift card to, plus a copy of Copley Center Director Deborah Nadoolman Landis' beautiful book: Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration, (cover price $75).
  • Motion Picture Costumers Union, Local 705: Clip the stray threads and hide those safety pins! This year for the first time The Motion Picture Costumers Union Local 705 is joining the judges table for the 42rd Annual Masquerade event. The costumers'/judges' choice will win a trophy created by members of the union, and generous prizes from their Premier Sponsors. This technical award is seeking Costume Entries whose skillful execution, creativity, and attention to detail most highlights an imaginative adaptation of the source or custom design.
  • 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. 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of Will Eisner's The Spirit and this award is bestowed by Will Eisner Studios to the entry they deem best showcases that all-important "art of storytelling" in their stage presentation. It includes a $250 gift card plus 5 limited-edition Will Eisner lithographs for the winning entrants. At its peak, The Spirit newspaper section reached 5 million readers and was known for its imaginative stories, creative artwork, and eye catching splash pages.
  • Sideshow Collectibles: Do you think your costume entry into this year's contest will elicit lots of ooo'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.
  • Anime Pavilion, an expansive source for all things anime, will present to what they choose as their favorite anime-inspired costumes in the show $200 credit at their Exhibit Hall booth for their top choice and $50 cash to the best Young Fan anime entry.
  • Costumer's Guild West will be presenting a full scholarship and one night's hotel (valued at $300) to their weekend conference, Costume College held the last weekend in July at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, CA, (valid for either 2017 or 2018), which will be awarded to the entry their representatives select as showing the most promise. Costume College provides educational lectures and workshops in every aspect of costuming.