Horror Comic 'Bad Reception' Combines Murder and Smartphone Addiction (Exclusive)

The miniseries marks the writing debut of Juan Doe, who also illustrates.
Juan Doe/AfterShock Comics

Weddings can be murder — and in the case of AfterShock Comics’ upcoming miniseries Bad Reception, that’s meant in a very literal sense.

“It’s a story about the most followed celebrity on social media and the announcement that her upcoming wedding won’t be a public spectacle like hundreds of millions of people had hoped for,” series creator Juan Doe tells The Hollywood Reporter. Instead, both bride and groom decide that their wedding will be off-the-digital grid entirely, with everyone in the wedding party leaving all devices at home as they head to a remote location, to avoid both fans and paparazzi.

Needless to say, things don’t necessarily go well.

“It sets off a scenario where our main characters are all suffering separation anxiety and severe nomophobia — fear of no-mobile-phone — from the start of the wedding," says Doe. "Throw in a mysterious killer who savagely hunts each guest and brands them with a hashtag and now you’ve got some serious primal fear going on, a return to zero. It’s in this chaos that the story takes shape and we learn if these characters have the Darwinian grit to survive or just fall victim to the hunt.”

Bad Reception marks the first project that Doe is writing, as well as illustrating.

“I had this nascent idea visually, and was really curious to see how that process would play out with myself writing it,” he says when talking about the decision to perform double creative duty. “When I started conceiving the pitch, the story just began to flesh itself out, almost without my input. It was a rush to see the interplay between the words and the art when I completed the opening scene. All these possibilities opened up in terms of how I wanted to tell this story both as a writer and artist and I needed to publish this somehow. That’s how AfterShock got involved.”

The series continues Doe’s relationship with the indie publisher, which has lasted since 2016’s American Monster and included titles such as Animosity, World Reader, Dark Ark and more.

“From the beginning, I saw that AfterShock was really investing in the quality of the stories before anything else. Having had a great working relationship with them and being able to collaborate with some of the best writers in comics for the past four years, I felt that Bad Reception would be a great fit with them,” Doe says. “The first thing they impressed upon me was they supported my vision 100 percent. That was important to know [and] gave me the fortitude to be fearless with my ideas and get to play and experiment with this story as well as the medium of comic book storytelling.”

When it comes to selling people on Bad Reception, Doe has the pitch down. “If you’re a fan of campy, slasher flicks in remote locations, cooked with some heady, social commentary on smartphone addiction, dashed with a wink of dark humor and a vast amount of pretty pictures, you might really enjoy this book,” he promises.

Bad Reception will be released in comic book stores and digitally Aug. 21.