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|First appearance||Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #1 (1992) (1992)|
|Created by||John Smith
|Team affiliations||Judge Dredd, Eddie Whyteman, Murray Koenig, Vatican City, Jerry Biedekker|
|Notable aliases||Dirk Devlin|
|Formats||Original material for the series has been published as a strip in the comics anthology(s) 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine.|
|Publication date||May 1992 – present|
|Main character(s)||Devlin Waugh|
|Letterer(s)||Elle de Ville
|Swimming in Blood||ISBN 1-904265-17-0|
|Red Tide||ISBN 1-904265-29-4|
Devlin Waugh (a play on Evelyn Waugh) is a fictional character who has appeared regularly in 2000 AD and in the Judge Dredd Megazine. The character was originally created by the writer-artist team John Smith and Sean Phillips.
Devlin Waugh was deliberately created to be a distinctly new breed of hero. 2000 AD had until that point been mainly notable for monosyllabic tough guys, in the mould of Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper – driven by either a sense of duty, or honour, or revenge. Waugh, by contrast, was a camp homosexual exorcist priest, employed by the future Vatican City, with medals in flower-arranging and Olympic high-diving, a bodybuilder’s physique and a cutting line in humour – and his main motivation was simply to do “Anything to offset the dreadful ennui of it all!” Smith's initial proposal described Waugh as a cross between Charles Bronson and Noël Coward; Phillips visualised him as a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terry-Thomas.
The first name proposed for the character was “Dirk Devlin”. The strip itself was to be called “Sin Eater” until editor David Bishop decided that the sound of this was too close to the name of pop star Sinitta.
His first appearance in 1992 (posing in the doorway of a vampire-infested prison with the line "You can all breathe a sigh of relief, gentlemen. Fingers off the triggers, sphincters unclenched... The name's Waugh. Devlin Waugh. I'm here to steal the show...") was an instant success. In the annual poll of readers' opinions, Waugh became the first and last character ever to knock Judge Dredd off the top spot as Favourite Strip.
However, the first full-length follow-up strip, an Africa-set Judge Dredd crossover titled Fetish, was plagued with so many problems that the then-editor David Bishop took to referring to the "curse of Devlin Waugh". After the script had gone through a lengthy re-write, it turned out that Phillips would not be available to draw the character. Artist Ashley Wood also dropped out of the project, which was eventually handed to Siku. In the end, it would be seven years between Waugh’s first and second appearance, and Siku’s radical style was not to the tastes of many readers. These two factors may have contributed to the relatively small number of strips containing this initially popular character.
Fictional character biography
Smith’s narrative style, which is fragmentary and often reminiscent of William S. Burroughs or Iain Sinclair, contains many short allusions to Waugh’s background and story, from which a sketchy narrative can be built up.
Devlin was born around 2075 to the famed actress Stella Waugh and magus/Egyptologist Magnus Waugh, and had a brother, Freddy. His education was at least in part under the tutelage of nuns. As a teenager Devlin was sent to Eton College, on whose playing-fields he "splinted more legs as a schoolboy than Florence Nightingale did during the whole of the Crimean War" (Red Tide, Judge Dredd Megazine issues 201-213). With life made a hell by his mother and his father descending into alcoholism, it was here he felt most happy at the start. He took up occult activities as part of the four-boy "Caliban Club", eventually masturbating a homunculus into being (losing his virginity to it). (Innocence & Experience, Megazine #253-256) Due to heavy bullying and the poltergeist activity caused by the resulting emotional turmoil, Devlin was reduced to a physical wreck. His father stepped in and had him to the time-travelling Kem-Kwon Monastery, where he learned Kem-Kwong killing techniques which stood him in good stead in his future life.[volume & issue needed]
Following her husband's death, Stella burnt all his artifacts and brought Devlin and Freddy to Castle Neuschwanstein, according to Devlin 'Freddy loathed it with a vengeance but I thought it was just divine." (Chasing Herod, 2000 AD progs 1149-1157) Grief-stricken, Devlin attempted to solve the mystery of the Black Pyramid of Ptah idol that had confounded his father; in doing so he neglected his friend and unrequited love Conrad, and didn't realise until the boy's suicide that he was being molested by the Eton chaplain. When the chaplain tried this on Devlin, he caved the man's skull in with the Pyramid. It opened in response, revealing the Eye of Sekmet that he would use in later life.[volume & issue needed]
Waugh became a priest and then an exorcist, part of a team of outré characters controlled from the future version of Vatican City – others from this team include Pussyfoot 5 (a group of feisty female fighters which had its own spin-off series) and The Catechist, who later went rogue. He would face many dangers, such as the Anti-Pope in 2109[volume & issue needed], but his attempts to stop the vampire infestation at Aquatraz saw him infected with vampirism (Swimming in Blood Judge Dredd Megazine Vol 2 #1-9). He later became a Daywalker vampire, able to survive sunlight (Red Tide, Judge Dredd Megazine issues 201-213). Following the events of Swimming in Blood, Waugh left the Vatican to go freelance.
He is independently wealthy and a world-famous celebrity for his exploits. He has fought the Leopard Men of Mado Gashi, cults (including the Cult of the Purple Fist), and psychically powerful individuals including the Jack of Mice, Mr Bliss and Kurt Jester[volume & issue needed]. He has teamed up with notable figures such as Judge Dredd (Brief Encounter Judge Dredd Megazine Vol 2 #26 and Fetish Judge Dredd Megazine Vol 3 #29-31).
Freddy Waugh, Devlin's brother, remains in the background, arguably Mycroft Holmes to Devlin's Sherlock. He is described as the black sheep of the family. He worked with Devlin on at least one occasion, helping him deactivate the deadly and destructive Herod, in which "Freddy sold his soul to the Devil to find out its protoccult codes" (Reign of Frogs, 2000 AD progs 1158-1167). A professional gambler and pornographer by the age of nineteen, his behaviour estranged him from his family: Devlin described him as "a roué and a libertine" and Stella felt forced to disown him, claiming that the strain nearly killed her. He disappeared under circumstances unknown in a skiing accident in Kilimanjaro, back in 2105. This incident is referred to twice, first in Devlin's debut story "Swimming in Blood" and again in "A Mouthful of Dust".
He has appeared in individual episodes as well as being collected as trade paperbacks.
- Devlin Waugh (with John Smith):
- "Swimming in Blood" (with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #1-9, 1992)
- "Brief Encounter" (with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #26, 1993)
- "A Love like Blood" (illustrated text story, with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Mega-Special 1993, 1993)
- "Body and Soul" (illustrated text story, with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Yearbook 1994, 1993, also reprinted in 'Judge Dredd Megazine 201')
- "Chasing Herod" (with Steve Yeowell, in 2000 AD #1149-1157, 1999)
- "Reign of Frogs" (with Steve Yeowell, in 2000 AD #1158-1167, 1999)
- "Sirius Rising" (with Steve Yeowell, in 2000 AD #1168-1173, 1999)
- "Mouthful of Dust" (with Michael Gaydos, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 3) #72-73, 2000–2001)
- "Red Tide Prologue" (with Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #201, 2003)
- "Red Tide" (with Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #202-213, 2003)
- "Vile Bodies" (with Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #227, 2005)
- "All Hell" (with Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #231-235 and 237, 2005)
- "Innocence & Experience" (with Peter Doherty, in Judge Dredd Megazine #253-256, 2007)
- Judge Dredd:
Some of the stories have been collected into a number of trade paperbacks:
- Swimming in Blood (collects "Swimming in Blood", Mandarin, 80 pages, 1993 ISBN 0-7493-1556-3)
- Swimming in Blood (collects "Swimming in Blood", "Brief Encounter", "Fetish", "A Mouthful of Dust", "A Love Like Blood" and "Body and Soul ", 224 pages, 2004, DC, ISBN 1-4012-0392-2, Rebellion, ISBN 1-904265-17-0)
- Red Tide (collects "Chasing Herod", "Reign of Frogs", "Sirius Rising" and "Red Tide", 264 pages, 2005, DC, ISBN 1-4012-0578-X, Rebellion, ISBN 1-904265-29-4)
In other media
- Judge Dredd: Grud is Dead audio drama by Big Finish Productions, written by James Swallow (voiced by Peter Guinness).
- Goggans, Grant (November 1999). "John Smith Interview by Grant Goggans.". 2000AD.nu. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "Devlin Waugh Swimming in Blood (DC/Rebellion)". 2000AD.org. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "The Curse of Devlin Waugh" (introduction to "Red Tide Prologue" by David Bishop, Judge Dredd Megazine #201, 2003)
- Thrill Power Overload
- Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #1-9
- Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 3) #72-73