Per My Brother:

Each year, whenever I need a (clean-air) breather, I head to the upstairs portion of the San Diego Convention Center and sit down, eat a snack, try to grab a photo with some great cosplayers and try to plan my convention schedule. Inevitably, I always seem to get sidetracked by watching the line for the Comic-Con Masquerade multiply by the minute.

Instead of attending panels with the currert sci-fi flavor of the minute, these masses patiently await the opportunity to get a ticket for the greatest con-inspired costume contest. And for four years running, I marveled (pun intended) at their tenacity and longed to witness it some day. Lo and behold, Saturday afternoon, I was offered not only a Masquerade ticket, but a VIP ticket at that, and there was no chance I could pass up this great opportunity, because I don’t have the patience for an all-day wait in line for a general admission ticket.

At Comic-Con, the Masquerade features the top 30something costumes of the show each year. That means at some point, potential participants must saunter before the judges in order to make the cut. These judges are some of Hollywood’s top talents, from Oscar-winning costume designers to fashion industry icons. They have a knack for costume knowledge.

When the Masquerade begins, it is hosted by a pair of amazing MCs, featuring artists/writers Phil and Kaja Foglio of Studio Foglio. They keep the show running smoothly, which is important, because it frequently gets sidetracked. The show is as much about the fans in the audience as it is the cosplayers who have graced the stage. There’s many in-jokes between the MCs and the fans in attendance, which build-up and continue from previous years. Chants reign in between each costumed contestant. Many are chuckle-worthy, but ultimately, they slow down the show.

2012’s Masquerade, sponsored by HBO’s True Blood, featured 35 entries, which included more than 80 costumes gracing the stage. After each one has made their presentation — such as a cosplay Galactus giving a soliloquy, the Lion King’s Scar singing a tune from the musical, hilarious mash-up of Project Runway All Star Wars or all around interpretation of Party Rock Halo — the judges huddle to determine winners of nine major categories, as well as each category’s honorable mention. Winners of each category receive major awards as well as admission to the following year’s Comic-Con.

During the intermission down time, Masquerade organizers attempt to keep the raucous crowd’s attention by featuring more entertainment. This year, it was an interactive Star Wars battle-story, which unfortunately, was a little too drawn-out for my tastes. Afterward, Star Wars Fan Films were highlighted, which are always highly amusing.

I was incredibly thankful to have finally attended the San Diego Comic-Con Masquerade. It was more, much more, than I expected. There were quite a number of great pop-culture creations (the dancing Master Chiefs of Party Rock Halo were my favorites!), however, thankfully, there were no zombies. The undead were decomposing at the Zombie Walk and Walking Dead Obstacle Course, just a few blocks away in the nearby Gaslamp district.

After four years of attending the San Diego Comic-Con and desperately (but impatiently) wanting to attend the Masquerade, I finally broke through. I truly hope to get another opportunity to witness the spectacle that is the Comic-Con Masquerade next year. It’ll undoubtedly be the highlight of 2013.

Review: 5/5