Cosplay Contest Rules

The rules on this page are subject to change.

If you are interested in participating, please check the cosplay page to ensure you are aware of any updated/added/changed rules. Be advised that signing up for any cosplay contest is an affirmation that you agree to adhere to the rules presented on the Comicpalooza website as well as any decisions made by cosplay staff prior to, or during, Comicpalooza.

All cosplay events/panels have the potential to be photographed/filmed/recorded in some fashion. These recordings may be used in future galleries or promotions. Signing up for, and/or attending, any cosplay event is done with the understanding that recording could occur at any time, and permission is tacitly given for the participant's likeness to be used.

General Rules for the Competition

  • You must be a registered Comicpalooza attendee in order to compete. Each member of your group must have a badge, pass, or other forms of attendee membership.
  • Convention staff and volunteers may not enter the Cosplay Contest. Headlining and invited cosplay guests are also not eligible to enter the contest.
  • Contestants under the age of 18 need a parent or legal guardian present at the cosplay competition to sign a waiver in order for that contestant to compete in the cosplay contest.
  • If your costume has won a major award before at Comicpalooza or another cosplay competition, you are NOT eligible for any awards in this contest but you may still enter as a showcase piece. Rule breakers will be disqualified. Please email the Cosplay Contest Directors if you have questions.
  • Keep in mind that, despite its late start time, the cosplay contest is a family-friendly event. All cosplayers performing skits will need to turn in a script/description of their act at the time of registration. Overt adult humor will not be allowed. All material must be PG-13 when it comes to language and hand gestures. If you're unsure if something is acceptable, you can send your skit/act description ahead of time via email to
  • Profanity and anything deemed racially or culturally offensive will not be allowed. Politically charged and/or discriminatory cosplays or props will not be allowed.
  • All costumes must cover "swimsuit areas" – no nudity. Body-paint costumes are not eligible for craftsmanship.
  • Comicpalooza's Cosplay Contest is focused on craftsmanship. The required percentage of elements of a contestant's costume that has been made is determined by your class. Fully purchased costumes are only allowed as showcase pieces.
  • Contestants may enter only one costume into the competition and can be in only one Division, Walk-On, or Skit.
  • Contestants are allowed to have someone model their costume, but the crafter, must register for the Costume Contest and be present for prejudging. If the costume receives an award, the award recipient will be the crafter, not the model.
  • The contest is open to characters from published works—this includes movies, TV shows, comic books, cartoons, video games, and card games. Original interpretations (e.g., Steampunk Batman) are also accepted.
  • During the contest enter and exit the stage at the designated points only. There will be a wheelchair-accessible ramp for contestants. Costumes must be handled by the contestant or by handler(s) the contestant brings to help. Handlers are required to be registered attendees of the convention, and Comicpalooza can not provide on-stage assistants.
  • Contestants are not allowed to throw anything off the stage (including themselves), nor use projectiles or use anything on stage that will leave a mess. This includes (but is not limited to) liquids, glitter, and confetti. If you have a question about something you want to do, feel free to send an email with “Costume Contestant Question” as the subject. All participants are encouraged to keep at least one foot on the stage at all times.
  • No pyrotechnics, fire, explosive devices, live animals, or similar special effects can be used during the competition; this includes smoke/smog machines and flash paper/powder. All prop weapons must conform to the Comicpalooza prop policies, including being checked.
  • There are no electrical outlets onstage so all electronics must be self-contained.
  • Children (age 12 and below, see Children's Cosplay Competition for more details) who need a parent to accompany them on stage will need to compete in the Children's Costume Competition instead of the main stage Costume Contest. However, parent/child teams are allowed to compete in the main stage competition together.
  • Skit-specific Rules: Everyone has a maximum stage allotment of 3-1/2 minutes. Skit groups will have 30 seconds from the time their entry is announced to set up props and 30 seconds after you finish to pack up props; this minute of setup and dismantle time does not count as part of your 3-1/2 minutes of stage time. No more than seven people at a time are allowed on the stage (this includes non-competing assistants). Please keep that in mind when planning out your act.
  • The microphones will only be available for live singing, poetry reading, and stand-up comedy type of acts. All other skits using more than one person on stage will need to have their audio pre‐recorded (in mp3/mp4 format) and submitted via e-mail to no later than 11:59 PM Thursday before the convention.
  • If you're not sure about your skit and want to make sure its content or formatting is acceptable, entries may send a brief description of their act to the cosplay coordinator's email at Use "Can I Have a Microphone for My Skit" as the subject.
  • Comicpalooza is unable to do lighting cues or effects.
  • If you have a choreographed fight scene in your act, entries must use stage fighting techniques choreographed at 3/4 speed. Entries must not attempt stage fighting at full speed.
  • Pre-Judging: Prejudging for the contest will take place in the Cosplay Staging Room between 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM on Saturday. All competitors who signed up online will receive an appointment for one of the following four groups: Group A, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM; Group B, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM; Group C, 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM; or Group D, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM. You must check in with the Cosplay Staff to receive your entry number. If you are not taking part in Craftsmanship, you may leave until it is time for Line-Up. Competitors who do not check-in for Pre-Judging when the Line-Up begins for the competition will be disqualified.
  • Line‐Up: The Line-Up for the contest will take place in the Cosplay Staging Room at 6:00 PM on Saturday. This Line‐Up is where we will do a check-in before briefly going over where you will enter and exit the stage as well as explain etiquette for Walk-Ons and Skits. During check-in, you will be lined up in a specific order, and this arrangement should be maintained when the contest begins. It is mandatory to attend the Line‐Up to participate in the contest. Cosplay Staff will be on hand to monitor any personal belongings that need to be left behind during this time.
  • Only participants (and handlers if necessary) will be allowed in the pre-meet room. Entries should leave all personal belongings behind in their car/hotel room. The pre‐meet is mandatory for all contestants in both divisions regardless of whether they're competing for craftsmanship or not. Entries should show up to the pre‐meet in costume, ready for the contest.
  • Contestants understand that the published contest awards may be adjusted, changed, or withheld pending complaint resolution or for any reason deemed appropriate by the contest administrators.

Music/Audio: Walk-On contestants may NOT submit their own music, and Skits MUST provide their own audio track.

  • All audio must be in mp3/mp4 format and Submitted via e-mail.
  • Skit Entry Audio should not be any shorter than 1 minute, but no longer than 3 & 1/2 minutes
  • Audio must be submitted om mp3/mp4 format via e-mail no later than 11:59 PM Thursday Before the convention.
  • Unfortunately, No CDs or Flashdrives will be accepted. See Skit-specific rules for information about a microphone. Walk-On Entries will not be allowed to use a microphone.

Craftsmanship: Our Cosplay contest aims to reward those who are Craftsmanship-oriented.

  • Craftsmanship Judging will occur between the hours of 12:00 PM and 4:00 PM on Saturday during the Pre-Judging event. Per the construction process of your costume, you will have an opportunity to speak with the judges during this time. If you wish to present the judges with any printed progress photos regarding the process behind your costume, please have them ready to give to the judges during Pre-Judging.
  • Competitors who made less than 60% of their costume will be accepted as showcase pieces. They do not need to speak to the judges, and are free to return to the convention once they have received their entry number until the time of Line-Up.
  • During Pre-Judging, each Craftsmanship entry will get 2 minutes and 30 seconds with the judges. If an entry contains multiple persons in a group, an appropriate amount of time will be given based on the group's numbers.
  • During Pre-Judging, the costume is not required to be worn at this time but is required to be brought in.
  • During Pre-Judging, any competitors modeling an outfit that was made by another creator must have that creator present.

Comicpalooza uses a Category System to judge its contestants:

Beginner (Novice): Category is for contestants who have just started making their own costumes and are new to costume competitions. Contestants in the Beginner field must have never won an award in Beginner(novice) or higher at another major convention. The percent of the costume that must have been made by the contestant(s) is 60%. Judges may move a contestant to Intermediate provided they have shown the skill and made the proper percentage of their costume.

Intermediate (Journeyman): Category is for contestants who have been cosplaying for a few years and/or have made a number of intermediate level costumes. You must not have won more than 2 major awards at other contests. The percent of the costume that must have been made by the contestant(s) is 70%. Judges may move a contestant to Advanced provided they have shown the skill and made the proper percentage of their costume.

Advanced (Masters): Category is for contestants who have been cosplaying many years and/or have made a number of advanced level costumes. The percent of the costume that must have been made by the contestant(s) is 80%.

Showcase is for outfits that are ineligible for an award but contestants would like to walk the stage. This can be outfits made by someone else or may have already won an award, or any other reason they are ineligible


  • Your group has to have to have made at least 70% of the costumes involved to be able to compete in the Skit division and qualify for your division's Craftsmanship. If you've made your props, audio, and script (mixing, voiceovers, and splicing counts), it can be factored into your percentage.
  • If you made 80% or more, you are eligible for the Best in Show award as well. Skits will need two progress shots per performer and a reference picture (if available).

Pre‐Judging: The hours for the cosplay contest pre‐judging are 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, just before the contest begins at 7:00 PM on Saturday.

  • ALL participants must attend the pre‐judging session even if not being judged on craftsmanship. This is to verify that you are present for the competition.
  • Leave all personal belongings behind in your car/hotel room with the exception of your progress and reference pictures/portfolio.
  • Be prepared for the judges to ask you questions about your creation process and to inspect your costume. The judges may ask to touch parts of your costume.
  • Skits will not be performed for the judges at this time; however, you will need to bring any props/backgrounds you've made to pre‐judging.
  • Fight choreography must be reviewed by the Cosplay Staff at this time.
  • You may and should bring progress shots of your props.

You will have several judges looking you over at once. Try not to be too nervous; the judges are people who love costuming and acting in character just as much as you do.