5 SKULL Review: “Red Light Properties”

RLPcover

Jude Tobin is a deeply tormented man. He and his wife run a real estate company called “Red Light Properties.” Their business model is simple they cleanse haunted houses for sale. It’s not easy. Jude uses psychedelic drugs to enter the world of the undead in an effort to communicate. Through these efforts he’s started to lose his grip on reality. His marriage is failing, his business is going belly up, and he has lost touch with his son. This all amidst the sun drenched backdrop of Florida.

Dan Goldman’s ambitious graphic novel is truly a sight to behold. Using a combination of various assets he manages to elevate the form of creator owned comics. This is a book that cannot be missed, the art is incredible, the story is chilling, and the horror is very real.

WRITTEN BY: Dan Goldman
ART BY: Dan Goldman
PUBLISHER: IDW
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE: February 5th, 2014

The book begins innocently enough with a full-page ad for Red Light Properties. Here Goldman introduces us to the characters that have a stake in this unique business venture. Jude the phenomlogist, Cecilia the broker, Rhoda the loan officer, and Zoya the office manager/spirit photographer. They are bright eyed and ready to take on the world. With the exception of the old experienced Rhonda, I guess she’s always looked rough.

All it takes is the flip of a page to shatter this perception. Everyone is noticeably weathered. Seems the business has taken its toll. We’re treated to a fast paced introduction of the group dynamics and reminded that Red Light Properties is about to die. The tension in the group is palpable. They exit the car and Jude hits his salvia. As he approaches the house the drugs start to kick in, and by the time the door to the place swings open you know you’re in good hands.

This book is a trip in every sense of the word. The spirits Jude has to deal with are as charismatic as they are haunted. Everything in this sunny setting is dying. You begin to question the lines between reality and the world of the undead. You begin to question Jude’s methods and your own perception of reality.

The book is a composition made from various different assets. Often photos from the real world serve as the background to a scene, or the incredible art is framed within a 3D model Goldman himself created. The actual artwork of the characters is vibrant and stunningly photorealistic. The more colorful parts of the book like drug trips and visits from the undead are so visually compelling they almost defy words. But, that’s half the fun of a review; I’ll do my best. They are surreal explosions of color that experiment with page layouts and lettering in the best way possible. They break the mold of traditional comic book artwork and manage to transcend the incredibly stellar work elsewhere in the story. Once you see Jude tripping in and out of reality, you’ll never be able to un-see it much like the drugs that inspire these sequences they’re powerful shit.

Pieces like this only exist when groups of talented people get together and all contribute a ton of their time. This book compiles the efforts of a single man. Goldman writes, draws, and creates all the assets. For anyone else this would be wildly ambitious, but Goldman makes it look easy.

Within this book you’ll find yourself asking all sorts of questions. Like any good piece of literature “Red Light Properties” isn’t really concerning itself with provide answers. Instead, amongst the sun-drenched Florida locales you will find an incredibly humanizing look at death. Not as a concept, but as a construct. Everything in this book is dying. None of it is really that cheerful, but all of it is totally compelling.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading “Red Light Properties” three times now and with each reading I find the book has something new to offer. The work that went into creating this piece is nothing short of astounding. That combined with sharp and witty dialogue, compelling character drama, and chilling horrific sequences this is a book that will completely own you.

Dan Goldman’s “Red Light Properties” elevates creator owned comics to another level. It’s incomparable in ambition, extraordinary in concept, and executed masterfully by a single mind. It’ll blow you away.

Rating: 5/5 Skulls

If you grab the book, and are eager to get it signed, here be the places:

February 19: Word Books (Brooklyn, NY)
March TBD: Book People (Austin, TX)
March 12: Austin Books (Austin, TX)
March 22: Locust Moon Comics (Philadelphia, PA)
May 11-12: TCAF (Toronto, ON)
June 20-22: Heroes Con (Charlotte, NC) [tentatively]
July 24-27: SDCC (San Diego, CA)
Sept 5-7: Baltimore Con (Baltimore, MD) <<<<< hoping to launch RLP Vol. 2 here
10/9-12: NYCC (New York, NY)
10/25: Locust Moon Festival (Philadelphia, PA)
12/21-22: Mumbai Comic-Con (Mumbai, India)