Thursday, June 12, 2014

Red Light Properties

by Dan Goldman

Dan Goldman's Shooting War really impressed me a couple of years back, so I decided to take a chance on picking up his new book, Red Light Properties, when I saw Goldman at TCAF this year.

The book is about a very unique real estate company in Miami, and is set at the height of the housing crisis of a few years ago.  Red Light Properties investigates and clears up dead housing stock that can't be sold because its haunted.  Jude, their in-house exorcist, takes some drugs and communes with the spirits in the house, helping them to move on, while his assistant, Zoya, takes photographs that actually show the supernatural presence.  The actual real estate side of the business is run by Jude's wife Cecilia.

It's an interesting set up, but Goldman doesn't really get into the ghostly side of things for a very long time, preferring to make this a book about Jude and Cecilia's faltering marriage.  He's recently been dumped to a basement apartment, as the couple plans of separating, due to Jude's on-line activities.  He's portrayed as a bit of a screw-up, but is also having a very hard time managing the stress that his job places on him.

Cecilia is a bit of a piece of work, and suspects that something is going on between Jude and Zoya.  Stuff happens, and the family suffers through these issues and financial pressure, all of which grounds the stranger side of the high concept.

Goldman is an interesting artist.  He uses a lot of photos for his background, and then photoshops in visual elements he's drawn on the computer, like the family car.  The figures themselves are drawn on top of all of this, which sometimes looks really cool, and sometimes feels incredibly stiff.  The landscape format of the book leads to a few awkward panel lay-outs, as well as makes the book a little unwieldy to read.

I enjoyed this comic, and would definitely come back for the second volume, but at the same time, hope that the book is edited a little more rigorously, as there are a few places where speech balloons point to the wrong person, or where the dialogue feels very stiff.

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