Dark Horse Comics just announced that, in honor of their imminent publication of Drawing Down the Moon by Charles Vess, they are offering the entire book online for free viewing for an indefinite time.
Drawing Down the Moon is the first career retrospective ever devoted to the works of acclaimed fantasy artist, Charles Vess. With work spanning his artistic journey from 1969 through 2009, this volume is truly exhaustive. Vess was involved with every aspect of the book and it is obviously a labor of love.
Vess’ work has often been associated with what might be termed the “light fantasy” side of illustration, but he’s also spent fruitful time in the more shadowy reaches of that realm. His The Sacrifice might well be depicting a scene atop Mount Hatheg-Kla, combining influences from both Rackham and, perhaps, Sime. Vess is a lifelong fan of ERB, Norse mythology and Dunsany. He provided illos for Tarzan and the Lost Adventure and I would love to see him wield his brush in the service of Dunsany’s “Dreamlands” tales (Sime has Pegana covered).
In the ’70s, Vess provided a couple of excellent plates for the print version of Rankin and Bass’ The Hobbit, as well as a good rendition of Shelob. I would be very pleased to see Charles and his good friend, Michael Wm. Kaluta, take a stab at a Tolkien calendar (they’ve collaborated before). Vess has already illustrated the limited edition of Martin’s A Storm of Swords, so he’s no stranger to limning epic fantasy.
Vess, a born-and-bred son of Virgiania, is quite partial to old legends, ballads and fables (much like a certain Texan). Amongst many others, he has illustrated the old ballad, “For the Love of Barbara Allen.” That should ring a bell in the ears of hard-core Howardists. He is also a friend and frequent collaborator with former REHupan, Charles de Lint (another fan of “old-timey” music).
So, unless you’re the type of fantasy art fan that only appreciates works in the style of, say, Frazetta or Bisley (hey, I love ’em too), I urge you avail yourself of this opportunity to take a look at Mr. Vess’ work. It’s all free (for now), after all.
*The two hundred-plus pages of Drawing Down the Moon can be found on the Dark Horse website.