Vess, Charles 1951–
Vess, Charles 1951–
PERSONAL: Born June 10, 1951, in Lynchburg, VA. Education: Virginia Commonwealth University, B.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Office—Green Man Press, 152 E. Main St., Abingdon, VA 24210. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Illustrator and educator. Candy Apple Productions, Richmond, VA, commercial animator, 1974–76; freelance illustrator, 1976–; Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, instructor, 1980–82; William King Regional Arts Center, Abingdon, VA, artist-in-residence, 1992–96. Founder of Green Man Press, Abingdon. Exhibitions: Illustrations exhibited in the United States and England.
AWARDS, HONORS: Inkpot Award, 1990; (with Neil Gaiman) World Fantasy Award for best short story, 1991, for Sandman, number 19; Comic Creators Award for best cover, 1993; Silver Award, 1995; Will Eisner Award for best penciler/inker, 1996, for The Book of Ballads and Sagas; Will Eisner Award for Sandman, number 75; World Fantasy Award for best artist, 1999, for Stardust.
(Adaptor) The Book of Ballads, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.
Alan Zelenetz, The Raven Banner, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1985.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Donning Co. (Norfolk, VA), 1988.
The Amazing Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1990.
(With others) Hook: The Official Movie Adaptation, Marvel Comics (New York, NY), 1991.
Neil Gaiman, Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of Faerie (acomic-book series), DC Comics (New York, NY), 1997–98.
The Green Man (collection), edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Viking (New York, NY), 2001.
Charles De Lint, Seven Wild Sisters, Subterranean Press (Burton, MI), 2002.
Jeff Smith, Rose, Cartoon Books, 2002.
Jeff Smith, Bone Special, Carlsen, 2002.
Jeff Smith, Le Monde de Bone: Rose, Delcourt, 2003.
Charles De Lint, A Circle of Cats, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan, Tor (New York, NY), 2003.
Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling, editors, The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.
Charles De Lint, Medicine Road, Subterranean Press (Burton, MI), 2004.
Charles De Lint, Moonheart, 25th anniverary edition, Subterranean Press (Burton, MI), 2005.
Contributor of illustrations to periodicals, including National Lampoon, Reader's Digest, and Heavy Metal, and to Marvel and DC comic-book series.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The continuing publications of the "Book of Ballads and Sagas" series.
SIDELIGHTS: Illustrator Charles Vess was born in Lynchburg, Virginia and moved to New York City in 1976. He has been a freelancer ever since, both in New York and in Abingdon, Virginia, where he founded Green Man Press and the twice-yearly The Book of Ballads and Sagas, illustrated adaptations of traditional Irish, Scottish, and English ballads.
In The Amazing Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth, Vess takes Spider-Man to the Scottish Highlands, where he discovers that local legend is being used to control the population and the lands. Mythology drives the story in which the hero encounters ghosts and other creatures. The book includes sketches made by Vess during his visits to Scotland and maps of his travels as he worked on this project, which a Booklist reviewer called "an outstanding, beautiful piece of work." The writer noted that Vess has painted the green hills and the dark places below them "with lush colors and an awesome sense of lighting."
Vess has won numerous awards for his illustration of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" and "Stardust" comic-book series. The latter was collected in four volumes as Stardust: Being a Romance within the Realms of Faerie. (Gaiman published another graphic novel by the same name, but that version did not contain Vess's art.) The story takes place in the border village of Wall, where faeries and mortals can come together every nine years. During one such celebration, a mortal man crosses over, beginning a saga that includes both mortals and faeries—in their two lands, across two generations. Dindrane reviewed the collection for Needcoffee.com, calling Vess's art "dreamy and rich, just as it should be for this tale. The images are by turns as faded as an antique watercolor or as finely detailed as sculpture, whichever suits the action best, but the overall aesthetic is harmonious and beautiful."
Vess illustrated The Green Man: Tales from the Mythical Forest, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, which collects magical stories by such writers as Gaiman, Charles De Lint, Emma Bull, Jane Yolen, Michael Cadnum, Patricia A. McKillip, and others. The figure of the title is a pagan image: a green man whose hair is intertwined with foliage. Many of the stories are retellings of traditional tales, while others are original to the authors.
De Lint's illustrated-by-Vess novella, Seven Wild Sisters, was commissioned by Subterranean Press as a result of a feminist science-fiction convention in 2000. The black-and-white drawings illustrate De Lint's story of the seven Dillard sisters, told mainly through Sarah Jane, the middle sister, whose forays into the woods seeking ginseng lead to the sisters' involvement in a faerie war. Resource Links contributor Gail de Vos called the volume "a treat for both the eyes and the ears."
De Lint and Vess followed with a short book, A Circle of Cats, in which a girl named Lillian who lives with her aunt spends her time in the forest looking for faeries. She cares for the many stray cats that live there, leaving them bowls of milk. She also brings a biscuit to the gnarled old Apple Tree Man every morning. While sleeping under a tree, Lillian is bitten by a poisonous snake, and the cats save her life by changing her into a kitten, a transformation that can only be reversed if she makes a bargain with the Father of Cats. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that De Lint's language "is complemented beautifully by Vess's full-color line-and-watercolor illustrations."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 1991, review of The Amazing Spider-Man: Spirits of the Earth, p. 916.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003, review of A Circle of Cats, p. 802.
Resource Links, October, 2002, Gail de Vos, review of Seven Wild Sisters, p. 55.
Green Man Press Web site, http://www.greenmanpress.com/ (February 19, 2006).
Comics Journal Online, http://www.tcj.com (February 19, 2004), Chris Brayshaw, interview with Vess.