Devlin Waugh (a play on Evelyn Waugh) is a fictional character who has appeared regularly in 2000 AD (comic) and in the Judge Dredd Megazine. The character was originally created by the writer-artist team John Smith and Sean Phillips. He is part of the world of Judge Dredd, originally created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, and set 122 years ahead of our own time.
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 Noel Coward; Phillips visualised him as a cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terry-Thomas.
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.
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.
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.
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, but his attempts to stop the vampire infestation at Aquatraz saw him infected with vampirism. He later became a Daywalker vampire.
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. He has teamed up with notable figures such as Judge Dredd.
Following the events of Swimming in Blood, Waugh left the Vatican to go freelance.
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 (Judge Dredd Megazine issues 2.01-2.09) and again in A Mouthful of Dust (Judge Dredd Megazine issues 3.72-3.73).
The strip is set about 120 years into the future. The Earth has been badly damaged by a series of international conflicts, much of the Earth is desert and populations have tended to come together in enormous cities.
Europe has suffered considerable reshaping, especially the south. A desert covers much of eastern France, extending south into Spain and across to cover much of Central Europe. Classical Greece is gone, as are parts of Turkey. The Black Sea and the Caspian are now joined. In Europe the major cities are Brit-Cit (covering all of southern England), Euro-City (eastern France), Vatican City (most of Italy) and Ciudad Espana (eastern Spain). Ireland is now known as the Emerald Isle, essentially an enormous theme park recreating a stereotypical view of traditional Irish life. Further east into Asia are further nuclear deserts, the ruins of East-Meg One (destroyed by a massive nuclear strike at the climax of the Apocalypse War) and further east the megapolis of East-Meg Two.
Despite its frequent disasters the American Mega-City One stretches from around Boston to Charlotte. It was established in 2031 and at its height contained a population of about 800 million; the current population is less than half of that. There are two other major population centres in Northern America - Mega-City Two (from around San Diego into Baja California) and Texas City (formerly Mega-City Three). The centre of the continent is a nuclear desert called the Cursed Earth.
Nuclear deserts and destruction elsewhere are also extensive. In South America a new desert extends from Nicaragua, covering Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and pushing far into Amazonas. Cities in South America are Brasília, Ciudad Barranquilla, and on the western side the Pan-Andes Conurb and South-Am City. The majority of the Caribbean islands have gone and the water there and across much of the north Atlantic is severely polluted, and is called by some the Black Atlantic.
In Asia, separated from East-Meg Two by an extensive nuclear desert, are Sino-City One and Two in eastern China; Hondo City on the remains of the islands of Japan; and Indo City in southern India. Into the Blue Pacific cities survive in south-east Australia, Oz, the Sydney-Melbourne Conurb, and on a number of Pacific islands. Borneo has been covered in mutagens.
The Middle East is without major cities, being either nuclear or natural desert, the Mediterranean coast is heavily damaged by mutagens. In Pan-Africa much of the south is nuclear desert, South Africa proper has been shattered and is entirely uninhabitable. The major cities are Umur (Libya), New Jerusalem (north-east Ethiopia) and Simba City (Cameroon). Lake Victoria is enlarged and has been renamed the Kenyatta Sea.
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 #2.01-2.09, 1992)
- "A Love like Blood" (illustrated text story, with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Mega-Special 1993, 1993)
- "Brief Encounter" (with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Megazine #2.26, 1993)
- "Body and Soul" (illustrated text story, with Sean Phillips, in Judge Dredd Yearbook 1994, 1993)
- "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 #3.72-3.73, 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 volumes:
- 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 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)
Audio play Edit
- Grud is Dead Big Finish audio drama, written by James Swallow
- ↑ "The Curse of Devlin Waugh" (intrduction to "Red Tide Prologue" by David Bishop, Judge Dredd Megazine #201, 2003)
- ↑ Thrill Power Overload
- Official 2000AD website profile
- Details of the various collections
- Review of Swimming in Blood
- Review of Red Tide
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