Thumbs up, with a great deal of local pride, to Lynchburg native and artist Charles Vess on his winning two Hugo awards for his work illustrating the collected “Earthsea” books by the late writer Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Hugos, first awarded in 1953, are the equivalent of the Academy Awards for science fiction. Le Guin’s famed “Earthsea” works have been collected into one massive 1,000-page volumn, “The Books of Earthsea,” Vess was commissioned to illustrate. One of the Hugos that Vess received was for Best Professional Artist for 2019; the other was as part of the “Earthsea” team, winning Best Art Book.

Vess, who currently lives in Abingdon, is a graduate of E.C. Glass High School and Virginia Commonwealth University. He’s worked for some of the biggest names in publishing — Marvel, DC Comics and Dark Horse — and has illustrated works by Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint and George R.R. Martin, the author of the “Game of Thrones” books.

And if all these awards weren’t enough, Vess has also been nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the Best Artist category; winners will be announced Nov. 3.


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Thumbs up to Nathan and Joanna McGlothlin on the 10th anniversary of their Lynchburg-based Harding Street Assembly Lab music label.

The label’s put out 50 albums in its 10 years of existence, each one a “total labor of love,” as one of its backers says.

The McGlothlins specialize in recording music off the beaten path and give rein to their artists to experiment and go where the music takes them. California-based producer Chris Schlarb puts it this way: “We need things like Harding Street, just like we need people Nathan out there who are supporting the fringes of the creative world.”

Harding Street has produced records for many of the bands on the local music scene, nurturing them in the early stages of their careers. And if you’re interested in celebrating the label’s 50th album, there’ll be celebration of the label today from 2:30 to 11 p.m. at the Academy Center of the Arts’ Warehouse Theater in downtown Lynchburg.

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