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Cover of 2000 AD #1149. Art by Greg Staples (1999).
|First appearance||Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #1 (1992)|
|Created by||John Smith |
|Team affiliations||Vatican City|
|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 British comic anthologies 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine. The character, a homosexual vampire, was originally created by the writer-artist team John Smith and Sean Phillips in 1992. He is the first openly gay lead character in a UK comic.
2000 AD had mainly featured monosyllabic tough guys such as Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper: people 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; his main motivation was simply to do "Anything to offset the dreadful ennui of it all!" Smith describes Waugh as a hedonist, "a languorous upper-class misfit, a fop, an ex-public schoolboy with a neat line in sarcasm. A lounge lizard. Imagine Noël Coward as played by Arnold Schwarzenegger". Phillips visualised him missing a tooth like 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.
In the 1992 (the date of his introduction) annual poll of 2000 AD 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 problems so 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, seven years passed between Waugh’s first and third appearances.
In 2017, after a ten-year absence, Devlin Waugh returned in a story written by Rory McConville, the first time that the series had been written by another writer.
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", Judge Dredd 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 did not 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 and in a volume in the series "Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection" by Hachette Partworks in 2015. All stories written by John Smith unless otherwise stated.
- Devlin Waugh:
- "Swimming in Blood" (art by Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #1–9, 1992)
- "Brief Encounter" (art by Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 2) #26, 1993)
- "A Love like Blood" (illustrated text story, art by Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Mega-Special 1993, 1993)
- "Body and Soul" (illustrated text story, art by Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Yearbook 1994, 1993; also reprinted in Judge Dredd Megazine #201)
- Judge Dredd:
- "Fetish" (art by Siku, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 3) #26–30, 1997)
- (Note: this story had a prologue, Judge Karyn: "Visions" (art by Ashley Wood) in Judge Dredd Megazine #8, 1995)
- Devlin Waugh:
- "Chasing Herod" (art by Steve Yeowell, in 2000 AD #1149–1157, 1999)
- "Reign of Frogs" (art by Steve Yeowell, in 2000 AD #1158–1167, 1999)
- "Sirius Rising" (art by Steve Yeowell, in 2000 AD #1168–1173, 1999)
- "Mouthful of Dust" (art by Michael Gaydos, in Judge Dredd Megazine (vol. 3) #72–73, 2000–2001)
- "Red Tide" (art by Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #201–213, 2003)
- Judge Dredd:
- "Bite Fight!" (art by John Burns, in Judge Dredd Megazine #224–225, 2004)
- Devlin Waugh:
- "Vile Bodies" (art by Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #227, 2005)
- "All Hell" (art by Colin MacNeil, in Judge Dredd Megazine #231–235 and 237, 2005)
- "Innocence & Experience" (art by Peter Doherty, in Judge Dredd Megazine #253–256, 2007)
- "Blood Debt" (written by Rory McConville, art by Michael Dowling, in Judge Dredd Megazine #388–393, 2017–2018)
- "Kiss of Death" (written by Rory McConville, art by Michael Dowling, in Judge Dredd Megazine #397–399, 2018)
- "Call Me By Thy Name" (written by Ales Kot, art by Mike Dowling & Quinton Winter, in Judge Dredd Megazine #400, 2018)
Some of the stories have been collected into a number of trade paperbacks:
- Swimming in Blood (Mandarin, 1993) collects "Swimming in Blood", 80 pages ISBN 0-7493-1556-3
- Swimming in Blood (DC/Rebellion, 2004) collects "Swimming in Blood", "Brief Encounter", "Fetish", "A Mouthful of Dust", "A Love Like Blood" and "Body and Soul ", 224 pages, ISBN 1-4012-0392-2 (DC), ISBN 1-904265-17-0 (Rebellion)
- Red Tide (DC/Rebellion, 2005) collects "Chasing Herod", "Reign of Frogs", "Sirius Rising" and "Red Tide", 264 pages, ISBN 1-4012-0578-X (DC), ISBN 1-904265-29-4 (Rebellion)
- Swimming in Blood (Rebellion, 2014) collects "Swimming in Blood", "Brief Encounter", "A Love Like Blood”, “Chasing Herod”, "Reign of Frogs”, “Sirius Rising” & “A Mouthful of Dust”, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1781082287
- Red Tide (Rebellion, 2015) collects "Red Tide", "Bite Fight!" "Vile Bodies", "All Hell", "Innocence and Experience" and "Body and Soul", ISBN 978-1-78108-344-4
In other media
- Judge Dredd: Grud is Dead audio drama by Big Finish Productions, written by James Swallow (voiced by Peter Guinness).
- LGBT Themes in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror at Googlebooks
- 2000 AD Online (2015). "Brand New! Devlin Waugh - Swimming In Blood". Tumblr. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- Smith, John. "John Smith Interview by Grant Goggans". Class of 79. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
- "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