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It's a big week for David Arquette. On Friday, he'll return as Dewey Riley for the fifth time in Scream, bringing fans back to the slasher movie character he's been playing since 1996. But before he hits the big screen once again, Arquette's launching a new piece of genre writing. SYFY WIRE is pleased to reveal an exclusive first look at Valentine, a new story co-written by Arquette and longtime creative partner Cliff Dorfman and drawn by Bernard Chang, which will appear in this week's Heavy Metal #313.
Drawing on both the true story of the third century priest Saint Valentine and on modern sci-fi concepts, the story blends the classical with the contemporary for an adventure that conquers time, in the name of love.
"We heard two stories that always stuck in our heads," Arquette and Dorfman said in a statement to SYFY WIRE. "One was about an emperor in Rome who banned marriage because recruitment in the army was down and they were losing wars, so he essentially banned love. Additionally, we were always fascinated with the fact that St. Valentine was brutally executed, ending with his head chopped off because of his defiance of this order. Yet, we celebrate this holiday based on his name as if it’s the cutest, sweetest little holiday with hearts and candies and flowers; but let's face it, love is brutal."
But Valentine doesn't stop with the classic story of a Christian martyr and his defiant stance in the name of love and marriage. No, this time the story goes on to the far future, as the legendary Saint finds a way to transcend death and time, only to find a very strange world waiting for him when he returns centuries after his death.
"Then when we dove in and looked at it historically, these two moments being directly related, it caused us to initially develop a script about this time in history," Arquette and Dorfman said. "That took us nine years to write and led us to Heavy Metal nine years later, where we had the freedom to look at our story in a sci-fi, fantasy way. We realized that our society right now is heading in the same direction as Rome was during 3 AD. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to explore where we’d be 60 years from now if the same thing that happened to Rome happened to us, and what would combining those two stories look like? Thus we came up with Valentine."
In the pages below, you'll get just a glimpse of Valentine's beginning, as the title saint endures his final days as a captive of Rome, while still clinging to love.
For Arquette, who's previously collaborated with Dorfman on Heavy Metal stories like The Highwayman, writing ambitious pieces like Valentine offers a very different outlet from the one he enjoys as an actor in films like Scream. Both are creative endeavors, but there's a sense of freedom in comics that even slasher movies can't provide.
"When I’m acting, I always lean heavily on human behavior and spontaneity, but there are limits to your imagination in the real world," Arquette said. "On a set, you have writers, directors, executives, etc., telling you what to do. In the world of comics, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone, create worlds you can only dream of. So, I get to channel everything I can’t put into my real world characters into comics. Plus, you have the beautiful, added gift of being able to work with incredible fine artists, like Bernard Chang, with imaginations that absolutely blow your mind."
Though their collaboration, which Dorfman called "pretty much flawless" at this point in their lives, forms the backbone of Valentine's story, both Arquette and Dorfman were eager to talk up the talents of Chang, a comics veteran who brought plenty of visual flair to the story.
"He is not only capable of pulling out of our minds what we’re trying to visualize via our written word, but also sees beyond what we’re going for and turns it into exactly what we wanted, without us really having to express it to him any more than our words on the page already have," Dorfman said. "In essence, he’s not only doing the drawing and coloring, he’s a third writer who is equally as vital to the process as we are. We had the privilege of working with Bernard on a DC comic David and I wrote years back called 'The Watchdogs,' where he perfectly illustrated and elevated our story about vigilante werewolves for DC Infinite Halloween Special #1. So when we were able to get him to come on board Valentine, we were absolutely thrilled."
For now, Valentine only exists as a one-shot story in the pages of this month's issue of Heavy Metal, but the time-spanning nature of the adventure means there's certainly potential for something more down the line. In fact, for Arquette and Dorfman, this isn't just a story that could continue in comics. It's also one they're hoping to take into another medium eventually.
"At its heart, this is about the battle between love and evil, so there’s an infinite amount of stories for us to draw from, which was always the intention and why we set out to try and write a modern day superhero from the past," Arquette and Dorfman said. "He's armed with Cupid's bow and arrows, which can be used for love or for the annihilation of armies, all based on Valentine’s intention when he pulls back the string. We absolutely plan on continuing the story in Heavy Metal Magazine and eventually as a televised series."
Valentine arrives today in the pages of Heavy Metal #313.