Cosplay Contest Rules

The rules on this page are subject to change, if you are interested in participating, please check the cosplay section of the website often 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.

We’ve simplified the pre-judging!

In previous years we have taken two days for prejudging. This year we will shorten that time and make the process easier for all participants. All prejudging will be conducted in the hours leading up to the cosplay contest. For those of you who attend Comicpalooza for more than the competition, you will have more time to enjoy the show!

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 form of attendee membership.

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 compete in the cosplay contest.

All costumes must cover "swimsuit areas" – no nudity. Body-paint costumes are not eligible for craftsmanship.

The contest is open to characters from published works; movies, TV shows, comic books, cartoons, video games and card games. 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. Rule breakers will be disqualified.

Comicpalooza adheres to the "PG‐13 rule" when it comes to language and hand gestures on stage. Violation of this rule may cause you to be disqualified from the competition.

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 cannot provide on-stage assistants.

Contestants are not allowed to throw anything off the stage, 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 powder. Anyone who violates this rule may be disqualified from the competition and be asked to leave the convention area depending on the severity of the incursion. All prop weapons must conform to the Comicpalooza prop policies, including being checked.

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.

Each contestant may only enter one costume into the competition and can be in only one Division, Walk-On or Skit. You can have up to six people in a Walk-On group.

All contestants must be in the room where the pre‐meet will occur no later than 4:30 pm. Comicpalooza reserves the right to turn away any contest entry it deems inappropriate or not in compliance with the rules.

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 and in an mp3/mp4 format on a flash drive. No CDs will be accepted. Audio will need to be turned in when you register at the Cosplay Registration Table. If you registered online, you must turn in your audio in person to the Cosplay Registration Table no later than 12:00 PM Saturday.

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.

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/ If you're unsure if something is acceptable, you can send your skit/act description in ahead of time via email to

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‐Meet: There will be a pre‐meet before the cosplay competition in the Cosplay Staging Room at 4:30 pm on Saturday. This pre‐meet 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. Pre-judging will also occur in this area. During check-in, you will be lined up and we will leave after the pre‐meet is over to start the cosplay contest. It is mandatory to attend the pre‐meet to take part in the contest.

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 MAY bring their own music for the Walk-On Division, and Skits MUST provide their own audio track.

All audio must be in mp3/mp4 format only on a flash drive (USB).

USB Audio drives should be labeled in some manner, either with masking tape, a keychain, or some other means we can identify the drive.

USB drives will be returned to entries at the conclusion of the Cosplay Contest. Please see cosplay staff after the competition so that we may return your USB drive.

Music for Catwalks should be 30 seconds long and will be due, in USB drive format, when you sign up at the cosplay registration table. If you register online, you must turn in your audio in USB format no later than 12:00 PM at the Cosplay Registration Desk. If you do not turn in audio when you register for the contest at the cosplay registration table, generic music will be provided for your Walk-On entry.

For Walk-Ons, if there is an issue with provided audio (for example, the file is corrupt), then generic music will be played during that entry.

Skit Entry Audio should not be any shorter than 1 minute, but no longer than 3 & 1/2 minutes and needs to be in mp3/mp4 format on a flash drive. Unfortunately, No CDs will be accepted. See Skit-specific rules for information about a microphone. Walk-On Entries will not be allowed to use a microphone.

Our Cosplay contest aims to reward those who are Craftsmanship Oriented.

Pre-Judging for the Cosplay Contest will occur at the Pre-Meet Room on Saturday at 4:30 PM. You will have an opportunity to speak with the judges regarding the construction process of your costume during Pre-Judging. 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 at Pre-Judging during the Pre-Meet.

Craftsmanship judging offers opportunities that will not be available to contestants who do not participate in the Craftsmanship portion of the contest. You will NOT be able to qualify for Best in Show, First Runner Up or Best Sewing Award if you are not competing in Craftsmanship.

Comicpalooza will not provide a printer onsite; however, there is a FedEx printing office located in the George R. Brown Convention Center.

During Pre-Judging, each Craftsmanship entry will get 2 minutes & 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.

Comicpalooza uses a Category System to judge its contestants:

This category is for those who have never been in a cosplay competition before and/or do not have a lot of experience costuming.

Beginners are not eligible for the Best in Show award. However, they can be moved up to Intermediate if they meet the percentage requirement, on a case-by-case basis (determined by the judges), and compete for craftsmanship. If moved up and you have made 80% or more of your costume per the requirements of Intermediate/Advanced, you will be eligible for Best in Show; this will be on a case-by-case basis.

Intermediate Craftsmanship:
This level is for people with some costuming experience.

You have to have made at least 60% of your costume to qualify for Craftsmanship in this category.

If your experience level is Intermediate and you make less than 60%, you will not be allowed to compete for Craftsmanship.

If you made 80% or more and are Intermediate, you are eligible for the Best in Show award as well.

Advanced Craftsmanship:
You have to have made at least 80% of your costume to qualify for Craftsmanship in this category, and have demonstrable advanced technique in one or more cosplay mediums.

If your experience is Advanced and you make less than 80%, you will not be allowed to compete for Craftsmanship at the Advanced Rank.

If you made 80% or more and are Advanced, you are eligible for the Best in Show award as well.


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).

The hours for the cosplay contest pre‐judging are 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, just before the contest begins at 7:30 PM on Saturday.

Only participants competing for Craftsmanship need to attend a pre‐judging session.

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.

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.