I wouldn't forget Charles Vess--we ended up on two panels together, too. But during the first one he drew as Ari Berk read some great passages about the fae. It was hard not to get wrapped up in Charles's creation and forget about what was going on in the panel. My favorite part was listening to people pick their favorite of the three panels Charles produced in that hour+ long panel. All three got equal love for various reasons.
From the Faerie Escape program:
Charles was born in 1951 in Lynchburg, Virginia and has been drawing since he could hold a crayon. He drew his first full-length comic when he was 10 and called it “Atomic Man.” Minimalist in nature, it required no drawing of hands, feet or heads (“they just glowed”). Since then, he has painstakingly drawn thousands of hands, feet, and heads in great detail. Charles graduated with a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and worked in commercial animation for Candy Apple Productions in Richmond, Va., before moving to New York City in 1976. It was there that he became a freelance illustrator, working for many publications including Heavy Metal, Klutz Press, and National Lampoon. His award-winning work has graced the pages of numerous comic book, publishers such as Marvel, DC, Darkhorse and Epic. He has been featured in several gallery and museum exhibitions across the nation, including the first major exhibition of Science Fiction and Fantasy Art (New Britain Museum of American Art, 1980) and “Dreamweavers” (William King Regional Arts Center, 1994-95). In 1991, Charles shared the prestigious World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story with Neil Gaiman for their collaboration on Sandman #19(DC Comics) --- the first and only time a comic book has held this honor. In the summer of 1997, Charles won the Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for Best Penciler/Inker for his work on The Book of Ballads and Sagas (which he self-publishes through his own Green Man Press) as well as Sandman #75. Soon after Charles finished the last of 175 paintings for Stardust, a novel written by Neil Gaiman, for which he was given the 1999 World Fantasy Award as Best Artist.
In 2002 Charles won a second Will Eisner award, this time as Best Painter for his work on Rose, a 130-page epic fantasy saga written by Cartoon Books’ Jeff Smith. The year continued to be busy for Charles with the publication of Seven Wild Sisters (Subterranean Press) and The Green Man, Tales from the Mythic Forest (Viking), both utilizing cover art and interior b/w illustrations by the artist, and both making the 2003 American Library Association’s list for Best Books for Young Adults! By the end of the year he had completed 28 paintings for his first children’s picture book, A Circle of Cats, done in collaboration with writer Charles de Lint (Viking). This cover art won the Gold Award for Best Book Art in the 10th annual “Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art” even before it was officially published. A new edition of Peter Pan (Tor/Starscape) featuring a cover as well as over 30 b/w interior illustrations by Vess was released this past Fall. Another collaboration with de Lint, Medicine Road (Subterranean Press) and the YA anthology, The Faery Reel (Viking ) will be arriving this Spring and he is currently hard at work producing drawings for several new books, including, A Storm of Swords (MeishaMerlin), the 25th anniversary edition of Moonheart (Subterranean Press) and a graphic novel collection of his ballads material for Tor.