Kingsport Public Library to unveil Abingdon artist’s illustrations in children’s section

Matthew Lane • Sep 19, 2018 at 2:51 PM

KINGSPORT — Charles Vess, an award-winning artist and illustrator, will be paying a visit to the Kingsport Public Library next week to unveil his latest fantasy artwork.

And you're welcome to join him to talk about his works, the creative process that drives him and his recent collaboration with the Earthsea series.


The Friends of the Kingsport Public Library will be holding a special event on Sept. 24, when Vess' latest commissioned works will be unveiled. Vess has created two large-scale fantasy-themed illustrations for the library's children's area.

The free event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a tour of the newly renovated first floor. Then, at 6:30 p.m. the unveiling and talk with Vess will be held in the Mead Auditorium. Book sales and signings will take place following the event.

“We're just so excited to have him, for both the unveiling and the talk about the creative process,” said Karen Todd, president of the Friends of the Kingsport Public Library board.

Vess lives in Abingdon, is a three-time Eisner award winning artist and two-time recipient of the World Fantasy Award for Best Artist. Vess has done comic book illustrations for DC, Marvel and Dark Horse and has collaborated with Neil Gaiman, Terri Windling and Charles de Lint.

Saga Press is releasing the 50th anniversary edition of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea series next month that contains more than 50 illustrations by Vess.


The history behind the two illustrations dates back to an idea of the library's previous director Helen Whittaker, who was familiar with and a fan of Vess' works. The funding for the commissioned pieces came from the Friends organization, which gives money every year to buy equipment or fund projects at the library, above and beyond what the city provides.

The first illustration is of a dragon wearing a pair of glasses with lots of children and lots of books, Todd said. The second is also of a dragon, flying over a number of imaginary lands with children all along his back.

One piece will be located near the side entrance to the children's library, and the other will be in one of the new rooms near the back of the children's area — in the room where the Paws to Read program is held.

“He's just done some incredible things, and the more I learned about him, the more impressed I was,” Todd said. “We’re just so glad we can provide the nice extras to the library to make it that much more of a top-notch facility in our community because libraries are the heart of a community.”

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