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Picturing a World

Vess on illustration

Blog post alert: As soon as I saw Charles Vess's illustration for Joanne Harris's story, "The Barefoot Princess" at Myth and Moor, I ordered a copy of their book, Honeycomb (from a local independent bookstore, naturally). Then I poked around and come upon Honeycomb – An Interview with Charles Vess.

Like many readers, I love Vess's fantasy illustrations. Frankly, I think work by other artists can be more interesting or stand alone better as fine art. (See, for example, David Hockney's Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm or The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan.) But Vess's pictures pull me into story worlds beautifully. Even when I don't agree exactly with how he visualizes a text, I usually find his interpretations honest. I was not surprised, therefore, to read in the interview that he said: "I want to develop an entire world, one where a tree or a rock or the crenelated wall of a palace has just as much to say about a particular story as any character that populates it." 


The only thing missing from the princess's library is a ladder for climbing to the higher shelves—and Vess's illustration makes me believe it may simply be hidden by those heavy curtains.
As for the stories in Honeycomb, I'll report on then after I've read them. 

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