Foreclosure and Talking Lizards: A Review of the Miami-Based Webcomic "Red Light Properties" by Dan Goldman

In the graphic novel world, Miami doesn't even exist. Fake cities like Gotham, Metropolis, and Marvel's New York rule the superhero panels. Subculture New York and cities and countries with genocide and disaster are what get the space in indy comics. Miami isn't just mistreated: it's invisible. Outside of one somewhat recent story arc of The Punisher (vol. 6: Barracuda: about a Miami gangster whose gold teeth spell "Fuck You" -- only to get knocked out to spell "Fucky" -- the only entertaining part of the story) there's not much on the map.

Beside the Borscht Film Festival, the best visual representation of Miami may be a Rick Ross video.

Back in November, graphic novelist and Miami native Dan Goldman

returned home for the Book Fair and the fritas. While his talk at the

Miami Book Fair centered mostly on his work "08: Diary of a Campaign

Trail", the New Times interviewed him about his new project, Red Light Properties, which just went live on sci-fi juggernaut publisher Tor's website.

Red Light Properties takes a tiny pushpin flag and stabs it straight into the middle of the "0" in 305. Jude Tobin is an exorcist who smokes roots and bark from South America in his earth vaporizer. He's also a property manager. He does both things at the same time. Red Light Properties is sort of like Flip This House mixed with Scooby Doo. Only it's much better than that sounds. The first page starts with him breaking up with his wife who happens to be his business partner. Insert "hang in there" cat poster.

The most innovative, and at first, striking feature of this webcomic is its click-by-click panel reveal, which allows Goldman the luxury of two things: 1) a tight control of the pace of his story (why don't we see this more in webcomics?); and 2) the re-usage of an existing panel in an exciting manner, instead of the static copy and paste you see sometimes in the funny books. Since this is Goldman's first visible foray into writing as well, the amount of control he shows is intentionally well conceived. While we're still very early on here, the writing pops and most importantly, hooks you.

Those familiar with Goldman's art will find he's allowed his work to get even more playful this time around: the reflection of Jude's John Lennon glasses dilating as he blazes up, a chastizing talking lizard, pelicans, grandmas, and causeways: it all pops more than any of his previous work, partially due to the color palate but mostly because you can clearly see the man is having fun.

The first installment (17 pages) of Red Light Properties is available here and Tor will be publishing new installments every Tuesday during January.

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Dave Landsberger