Charles Vess (9)

Abingdon artist Charles Vess sits beside a framed picture of some of his art for “The Books of Earthsea.” He spent a year working with the stories’ creator, Ursula K. Le Guin, to make the dragons exactly as she imagined them.

Lynchburg native Charles Vess took home two Hugo Awards for science fiction, including one for Best Professional Artist, over the weekend.

The wins are Vess’ first in his career in illustration, which spans more than 40 years, he said.

“Winning them felt completely out-of-body and surreal but totally thrilling,” Vess told The News & Advance in an email from Dublin, Ireland, where the award ceremony was held on Sunday.

“I’m still processing it, but [I] also feel a wave of love from fandom at large that is very warm and comforting.”

Named for publisher Hugo Gernsback, the Hugo Awards are “science fiction’s most prestigious award,” according to its official website.

The awards, which were first given in 1953 and have been presented annually since 1955, are announced each year during the World Science Fiction Convention.

An E.C. Glass and Virginia Commonwealth University graduate, Vess has worked for Marvel, DC Comics and Dark Horse and has illustrated for Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint and George R.R. Martin.

Most recently, he worked with late author Ursula K. Le Guin on “The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition.”

The 1,000-page omnibus brings together all of Le Guin’s celebrated Earthsea works in one hardback book for the first time and features more than 50 illustrations by Vess.

“He wanted to know what was in her mind’s eye,” Theo Downes-Le Guin, the author’s son, told The News & Advance last year. “So, the result is very much Charles Vess — there’s no mistaking the artwork, but it is also very much my mother. And that’s kind of perfect.”

Vess, along with the rest of the Earthsea team, also won a Hugo for Best Art Book at the 2019 Hugo Awards.

Throughout his career, Vess has won multiple World Fantasy Awards and Eisener Awards, which are widely consider the “Oscars” of the comics industry.

Earlier this year, he received two Locus Awards, which recognize excellence in science fiction and fantasy literature; Vess has won this award on two previous occasions.

Vess, who lives in Abingdon, also is up for a World Fantasy Award in the category of Best Artist. These awards will be presented on Nov. 3.

Ralph Berrier Jr. has worked at The Roanoke Times since 1993, was the paper’s music reporter from 2000-2007 and he currently writes the Dadline parenting column and is a general assignment features reporter.

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