There's no doubt that our beloved electronic devices are treasured digital appendages in our frantic lives, but what if those toys' limitation became impotent instruments of evil taken advantage of by a hashtag-happy madman? This is the intriguing premise for acclaimed creator Juan Doe's newest project for AfterShock Comics, titled Bad Reception — and SYFY WIRE has a sneak peek inside the premiere issue.
Doe, well known for his alluring artwork for Dark Ark, American Monster, and Strayed, wrote and drew this satirical horror tale that pokes a sharp knife at modern society's insatiable obsession with technology, the ravenous appetites of social media, and our obedience to the shallow cult of celebrity.
Bad Reception's sardonic storyline chronicles what the rabid, celeb-crazed media has dubbed "The Celebrity Wedding of the Century," a nuptial ceremony located in a remote, undisclosed location with zero access to wifi, cell phone reception, or the reach of the entire outside world. But this dream wedding attended by the happy mega-star couple quickly becomes an anxiety-inducing nightmare when, one by one, the champagne-guzzling guests are slaughtered by an unseen killer who brutally brands his victims with a hashtag.
"One of the prime phobias that has sprung up in the 21st century is nomophobia," Doe tells SYFY WIRE. "The fear of no mobile phone. Signs include anxiety when one is separated from their phones, constant checking and charging of the battery, an addiction to the micro dosing of dopamine we get when someone likes or makes a positive comment on our social media feed. Under these parameters I wanted to tell a story with characters that all are pretty successful on social media, compared to the average person."
According to Doe, these players are celebrities, athletes, and social media influencers, people who are highly engaged in the popularity paradigm.
"The caveat with this story is they are attending an 'off-the-grid wedding' where no communication devices are allowed," he explains. "It is hosted by Gaia and her fiance, Blaise Bordeaux-Davis. They are a power couple for sure. Gaia is a multi-hyphenate, immensely talented performer and the most followed celebrity on social media. Blaise is a techo-ethicist and author who writes about curbing our addiction to digital devices. His current book #Hashtag Off the Grid currently sits at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list."
"The art style is pretty much what I've been doing for most of my career, but the coloring is vital in creating the kind of mood I'm looking for; in this case I'm referring to it as 'neon noir,'" Doe adds. "Colors that seem to pop off the page but with a mood that is definitely noirish. It's an interesting balance. For the readers, I hope to tell an interesting survival story that has societal implications as well. To what end are we mobilizing our human selves into a digital proxy of what the human spirit should be?"
Doe's cautionary series premiere comes packed with six bonus pages of wild wedding mayhem and is available starting Aug. 21 with its slasher cake main cover or a chilling variant by Paul Azaceta.
Check out our exclusive preview of Bad Reception's debut issue in the full gallery below, then tell us if you'll vow to attend its atrocities next month.