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Cosmic Treadmill: RED LIGHT PROPERTIES by Dan Goldman (Review)

Last December, we interviewed Dan Goldman about his psychedelic ghost hunting real estate comic Red Light Properties on the Cosmic Treadmill.

And you thought Jack ‘King’ Kirby could get weird!

Imagine the apartment or house you lived in came with a ‘Green Light Certificate’, after the regular inspectors do their thing, the folks at Red Light Properties come in and do a clean sweep to make sure poltergeists are not hanging around (quite literally in chapter one, double hanging suicide).

We’ve had some time with this 200 page remastered and recolored Red Light Properties — it had it’s first life as a webcomic — and on February 5th, IDW’s paperback version hits the stands.

Ahh Florida. My last trip there was mostly for the attraction parks, but I fondly remember the hours spent driving around in the muggy heat, the big box stores, trucks filled with oranges. When visiting new places I often imagine living there. That was tough to do for Florida. It was fine enough, I suppose, but so foreign to my snow-shoveling-Yankee-flannel ways that I couldn’t find myself there.

But imagine if…I got a cheap place! What Red Light Properties the company does is provide a ghost busting service unlike the one you are thinking of. This Mom and Pop operation is a money making venture.

If you’ve seen The Wolf of Wall Street, think of these property lists as the pink sheets, or the leads from Mitch and Murray in Glengarry Glen Ross. The reason the apartments are undesirable is that they are haunted. Husband and father Jude has an extrasensory vision that allows him to break through the membrane and see the ghosts and eradicate them from the premises.

Cigarette smoking sidekick and Red Light Properties office assistant Zoya has the ability too, though she can only see the ghosts when directed by Jude with her digital camera, providing visual proof to their clients.

The rest of the cast is filled out with Cecelia, Jude’s wife (though the marriage…kinda on the rocks), their son Arturo, and sassy Golden Girl by way of New York, Rhoda — the real estate loan shark, ehrm, I mean officer!

At the essence, like all great stories Red Light Properties is about relationships. Cecelia and Jude are constantly fighting. Jude keeps waking up and annoying his dead dad for bitch sessions, Zoya has Daddy issues with Jude and so on. The business is not doing well, with people dropping by invoices and the electricity going out.

This volume explores the family’s options as they try to expand RLP and get out of debt. Luckily, some cases and cool drugs come along that make things a little better by the end.

What’s that about drugs?

Oh boy, this is like “Fear and Loathing in Miami”.

Jude needs to carefully balance his high to be able to see the ghosts, and also needs to come down and relax because the whole ghost hunting process really takes it out of him. And so does his jealous soon-to-be-ex-wife, nagging him to be a better father and exposing his secret blog about their sex life. I mentioned Kirby earlier because that’s where he goes when on the business man trip drug DMT – straight to a Jack Kirby full color space collage of the Negative Zone.

Don’t worry, there is plenty of the Miami staple of vodka in a styrofoam cup to mellow out Jude and young assistant Zoya’s sexual tension as well.

What I love about this book is that it exists very much in the real world, with supernatural elements. The 100% digital artwork incorporates great naturalistic drawings, 3-D modeling, and photo collage for a grounded feel.

When the drugs kick in and the ghosts start knocking about, BAM, you are hit in the face by an explosion of color that is very UN-real and boisterous in its ability to snap you into a flashback. Jude sees the world literally in rose colored glasses, he has to, because he may break the ‘membrane’ between life and death at any time, so any consistency must be appreciated.

Great storytelling, acting, and characters explored in the writing.

Goldman has not only gotten me excited to read the ongoing adventures of realtors, but has me invested in the family surrounding Jude. Will Jude and Cecelia make up? How about Zoya, will she break up the marriage or does she love the work she is able to do so much that she can keep her hands off the boss. Rhoda is something else, she’s the entrepreneurial Bubbe I never had, cracking wise and smoking joints on the way to meetings.

To continue the story beyond this trade, go to Monkeybrain Comics, where you can catch up with the latest couple of issues on ComiXology.

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