Charles Vess 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 books by 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.