INTERVIEW: Rory McConville on the return of Devlin Waugh
The new writer on bringing back the vampire freelance exorcist, Future Shocks, and getting his big break with 2000 AD
1 day ago
The Vampire Dandy is back!
Writer Rory McConville and artist Mike Dowling are bringing the exploits of our favourite, fabulous, blood sucking, Brit born, bon viveur occultist investigator back to the Megazine, all starting right now in Judge Dredd Megazine #388.
Educated by nuns, skilled occultist, devotee of the ancient killing techniques of Kem-Kwong, priest and exorcist for Vatican City, and infected with the Daywalker Vampiric trait, Waugh’s fame is only equalled by his skills. And both are dwarfed by his fabulous personality.
Richard Bruton recently sat down for a chat with writer Rory McConville about the man with the big gun and the even bigger personality....
Megazine 388 sees the first part of your Devlin Waugh tale, Blood Debt. Can you tell us a little about the story?
RM: Blood Debt picks up threads from the Devlin story Innocence and Experience, which ended with Devlin discovering that his brother Freddy was in grave trouble. Blood Debt reveals the precise nature of that trouble (there is a clue in the title) and sees Devlin embarking on a journey into the depths of the void to rescue Freddy. The story’s drawn by Mike Dowling who has been doing phenomenal work.
Longtime Devlin readers should get something extra out of the story but the aim is to have it be accessible to new readers as well.
So far, Devlin’s brother Freddy has been very much in the background, but this sounds like he’ll be featured heavily in Blood Debt?
Freddy has been mentioned several times throughout Devlin’s previous adventures, playing the Mycroft Holmes role to Devlin’s Sherlock, but this story will be his first proper appearance. Innocence & Experience dove into Devlin’s family life in a way that we hadn’t seen before so I wanted to build on that. Without going into too much detail, this is not the first time Devlin has had to bail Freddy out of a mess. The brothers have a complicated relationship so don’t expect it to be endless hugs and pats on the back.
There’s a line Devlin has that I think sums things up pretty well: “We are both connoisseurs of self-destruction but whereas I believe madness should be sipped and savoured, Freddy chooses to gorge himself until he vomits”
Devlin is such a fabulous character, with so many fans, despite not that many appearances. What is it do you think that makes the character such a hit?
I think that when John Smith and Sean Phillips created him, there was simply no one like Devlin Waugh in comics. In 2000 AD, many of the stand-out characters are very stoic types whereas Devlin is a brilliantly bombastic chatterbox. Who else would crush an enemy’s skull while reciting poetry?
You’re the first writer to take on Devlin Waugh apart from series co-creator John Smith. What was it like stepping into those shoes?
Hugely intimidating — John Smith is an incredible writer and his impact on 2000 AD is enormous. I’d just about managed to forget that detail so cheers for reminding me!
You first really came to prominence in 2015, winning the Thought Bubble 2000 AD Writing Pitch competition. What did that mean to you and what advice would you give to those who might be looking at your rise to 2000 AD and the Megazine and wondering “how do I do that?”
It’s meant a great deal — particularly when I look at everything I’ve been able to work on as a result of that. Since I’d started writing comics, I’d been trying to crack a Future Shock as it really felt like the starting point for so many of my favourite writers. I’ve been sending them in since I was about fifteen. I remember one harrowing occasion where I got about five rejection letters in a row. You just have to keep on going though. It’s a lot of work, you’re going to get knocked back a lot but just keep on putting out stories. The best thing you can do is to make comics.
It’s important to take advantage of any opportunities there are (hint: The 2000 AD Thought Bubble Pitch Competition.) When it comes to 2000 AD specifically, there’s a clear way in: Future Shocks. Study them a lot. Practice boiling a pitch down to the bare minimum.
How do you feel writing for 2000 AD pretty regularly now, with several Future Shocks, Time Twisters, Tales From The Black Museum, and Tharg's 3riller: Mindmine under your belt?
I think I’ve finally started to find my footing there now. For the first few strips, I was just terrified that it was going to be the last but I think (hopefully) Tharg isn’t planning to show me the door anytime soon. Each different format (ongoing series, Future Shock, 3rillers, Black Museum etc) has its own mechanics so it’s been fun getting to get to grips with each structure and finding the right stories to fit them.
You’ve written a couple of Dredd strips, Parental Guidance in Progs 2037-2038 and Box Office Bombs in 2039. How did it feel to be writing old Joe?
Dredd is a great challenge. I have a few stories coming out in the next few months, both in the Meg and the Prog, and with each one, I feel I’m getting a better handle on him. One of the biggest things with Dredd stories is that there’s been so many stories told over the years that it’s very easily to accidentally finding yourself retreading well worn ground — thankfully Tharg is there to keep me
What things are you working on now? What’s next from you?
Right this moment, I’m in the middle of scripting a four-part Dredd series for the Prog. I have a new series of Cursed Earth Koburn coming out in a few months — having a story drawn by Carlos Ezquerra is still mind-blowing.
Devlin Waugh: Blood Debt starts this week in Megazine 388. And if you’re heading to Thought Bubble in Leeds for the two-day convention on 23rd and 24th September, be sure to check out all of the great 2000 AD events taking place, including the 2000AD Writing Competition and 2000AD Art Challenge!