Today marks the release of a brand new episode of Red Light Properties, Dan Goldman’s psychedelic horror webcomic serialized on Tor.com. Mixing the supernatural realm with an all-too-familiar world of marriage breakdowns, financial meltdowns and everyday horrors, the strip is more impressive work from the man behind Shooting War and 08: A Graphic Diary Of The Campaign Trail. I spoke to Goldman about the series.
For newcomers, how would you describe Red Light Properties?
Red Light Properties is the first book in a series of what I’m calling “tropical horror” graphic novels. It tells the story of a small Miami real estate firm that exorcizes and sells “previously-haunted” homes to victims of the mortgage crisis. The firm’s owners, Jude Tobin and his soon-to-be-ex-wife Cecilia, struggle to keep their own building’s mortgage paid, the electricity on and their young son provided for while the remains of the real estate market smolders around them.
And while the company’s exorcisms rely on Jude’s frequent intake of “entheogenic substances” to enter the spirit realm to communicate with the dead, it’s that same hallucinogen intake that’s pushing him further away from his marriage, his kid, society at large… and the world of the living.
One of the things I love about the strip is the slow build; at first, it reads as if you’ve created a world with a great supernatural concept that’s almost incidental to the story you want to tell, which is a very human, very honest one, with Jude and Cecilia’s mutual fucked-upness acting as the black hole or center of gravity, depending on your kindness, that keeps everyone else around – and then, slowly, something bigger seems to be emerging with the latest chapters – How much of that was intentional from the get-go? Was it important for you to ground the reader in the world and the dynamic of the characters before things went to hell?
Yes, entirely intentional. There’s a formula to scriptwriting that’s overly informed by TV/Hollywood, where the scenario begins with shit constantly hitting the fan well before you’ve formed any bond with the people caught in the crossfire. I suppose the slow build is my pushing against that, because stories told the right way round are the ones that really stick with me.
I purposely wanted the reader to spend time in Jude/Cecilia/Zoya/Turi/Rhoda’s shabby shoes and soak up their personal and professional desperation so that as the heat slowly gets turned up, it’s happening to these poor schlubs you’re already invested in emotionally.