"Something To Tide You Over" by Greg Meldrum
Your host, the lovely Mr. B, wasn’t too taken with ‘Devlin Waugh: Red Tide.’ It seems the camp vamp’s stock-in-trade combo of bon mots and Kem-Kwong killing techniques just didn’t tick the requisite boxes. As someone who views the series more fondly, I’ve been asked to provide my thoughts as a counterpoint to his.
|Original Devlin Waugh: Red Tide art |
from the collection of Robert Cox
But that said, Smith on a fair-to-middling day is still better than most writers on a good one, and as such, I really enjoyed my re-read of ‘Red Tide’ – much more, in fact, than I thought I was going to. The flashes of Smithian genius may be less widespread, less all-encompassing and disorientating, but they are present nonetheless. By far and away the strongest elements of the story are Smith’s fascinating ideas on how vampires might adapt to an aquatic lifestyle. This aspect of the story is original and brilliant, and all the talk of bioluminescent photophores, poison quills and toxic algae-grazing sounds both outré and yet scientifically sound. We are even given tantalising glimpses of particularly well-adapted specimens: the mudskipper mutants and the deep-sea berserkers, the latter exploding if they rise to the surface too quickly. This is what I want – monstrous ecology! Frankly, I can’t think of anything more exciting to fill the pages of any comic strip. More of this and less of Lilith the Daywalker (a bit too much the writer’s pet) would have made the strip into a classic of the first water.
|From the collection of Wakefield Carter|
And speaking of blood – where would this series be without Colin MacNeil? The venerable artist claimed to be consciously channelling Tom of Finland when depicting Devlin’s muscle-bound exploits, and he turns in a ripping performance to be sure, his lurid colours adding significantly to the ambience – just a shame the whole thing got printed a bit too dark when they collected it for the trade. MacNeil’s always a good go-to man when it comes to a bit of graphic blood-letting (he seems like such a lovely chap, too!) and the script certainly gives him plenty of opportunities to indulge.
Overall, then, ‘Red Tide’ is a solid rather than spectacular outing for Devlin, but I do find myself appreciating it much more now than I did at the time – as has been rightly observed, it really should have run weekly rather than monthly. Nonetheless, it is quite important in Waugh continuity, as much for what happens on the last page as anything else, and, though the latter half of the story loses momentum somewhat, Smith and MacNeil ensure it never runs aground. Fangs for that, chaps. And fangs to Simeon too for giving me the impetus to delve back into the story’s entrails – there’s more in here than I thought!
Cheers fella! You can read more from Greg over on his blog: http://hisowndrum.blogspot.co.uk/
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