Doing It My Waugh: An Interview With Rory McConville

I recently caught up on my Judge Dredd Megazine reading. I had been a bit uncertain about a new Devlin Waugh but ended up really enjoying. I asked Rory McConville about working on the character as well as the galaxy’s most famous lawman.

How did the Devlin Waugh gig come about?

No great mystery. Matt Smith — Tharg to his script droids — asked if I’d be interested in writing an outline for Devlin and I jumped at the chance. Devlin’s been one of my favourite characters for 2000AD, We talked through a few ideas but I felt it was important to address the lingering cliffhanger from Devlin’s last appearance in 2007’s Innocence & Experience, so we decided to do something involving Freddy.

The character has mostly been written by his co-creator John Smith. Was that daunting?

Incredibly. It’s always daunting working on big characters but particularly someone like Devlin who’s so closely aligned with his co-creator. I obviously wanted to be respectful to what had come before and the Freddy plot line was a handy way of maintaining a sense of continuity while being vague enough that Mike and I could also put our own spin on things.

I think you nailed the characterisation, what to you are the key elements of the character?

Thanks! Hmmm… I think the fact that he’s so different to so many of 2000AD’s other characters. That initial description of him as Noel Coward’s head on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body is still apt and that mixture of flamboyance and hyper-violence is incredibly appealing. It’s also interesting that in contrast to someone like Dredd, Devlin’s not particularly driven by a sense of duty or desire to save the world— he just wants to relax on the chaise longue and have a drink, but trouble has a way of finding him.

I really enjoyed, your artist, Mike Dowling’s take on the character. What was it like working with him?

Mike’s been a dream to work with. I remember seeing his first set of pages and just being blown away by them. He just keeps getting better with each instalment.

Would you like to do more with the character?

Yeah. Mike and I have a followup story called Kiss of Death which should be appearing in the Meg later this year. If people want more after that, then let Tharg know!

You also have a few Dredd stories under your belt. There’s a lot of different stories you can tell with the character. What appeals to you about him?

The fact that he’s the ultimate personification of order in the most chaotic city in the world is a huge draw. It definitely took me a while to get the hang of Dredd than say, Devlin. I think in the first few stories I was still trying to figure out Dredd as a character so the focus is a bit more on Mega City One itself and its inhabitants (who of course are as much a part of what makes Dredd such a great strip).

Writing Dredd certainly puts you through your paces — if for nothing else than the fact that because so much has been written about him and MC1, it’s always a challenge to find a new angle and avoid retreading old ground.

For Judge Megazine 391, you had three stories (A Dredd, Devlin Waugh and a Tales From The Black Museum). That is quite an accomplishment.

Cheers! It was one of those scheduling quirks where several stories that had been written at earlier points in the year all wound up appearing simultaneously. I can’t imagine things will sync up that much again but you never know.

The Black Museum story was an interesting addition to Chaos Day. I was wondering why you choose to expand on that particular storyline. 

Fake News — mine and Neil Googe’s Black Museum story — follows a young Judge trying to track down reporter Miasma Jennings in the aftermath of Chaos Day. For anyone who hasn’t read Chaos Day, Miasma’s an MC1 reporter who unknowingly released doctored footage about Justice Department that exacerbates an already disastrous situation. Her appearance is incredibly brief — only a few panels in fact — but her actions have an enormous impact on the ultimate direction Chaos Day takes.

I thought the thread offered an interesting way to look at a subject matter that’s quite timely, and was lucky enough that no other writer had followed it up. The Black Museum format also complemented some of the themes nicely.

I really enjoyed Neil Googe’s art on that story. I think black and white really enhanced it and made it stand out.

Yeah, Neil’s art was great. I’d love to do something with him again.

What’s next for you with 2000AD?

We’re currently crossing the halfway point of the current Cursed Earth Koburn story arc called The Law of The Cursed Earth, which is out this week in Judge Dredd Megazine 394. It’s illustrated by 2000AD legend Carlos Ezquerra, with letters by Simon Bowland.

After that, there’s several Dredd storylines stockpiled. It’s a mix of one-offs and multi-parters for the Prog and the Megazine, which should be coming out over the next few months. I believe Leonardo Manco and Lee Carter are each drawing a story but I’m not aware of who the other artists are yet.

Then there’s the Kiss of Death storyline for Devlin, which I’m very happy with. I think Mike and I are both really hitting out stride with the character.

I’m also discussing a couple of other series for the Prog with Tharg.