Miami Book Fair: Graphic Novelist Dan Goldman

Leading up to Miami Book Fair International, Riptide 2.0 will be publishing profiles of visiting authors. Check back often as two to three will going up per day until Sunday, November 15.

Dan Goldman is one of the few creators who carries a boatload of style, credibility, and innovation in the comics scene both in print and online. A comic book artist and writer who grew up in unincorporated North Miami Beach (Aventura now, he's old school), Goldman divides his time between Brooklyn, Miami, and Sao Paulo, and has worked on the critically acclaimed Shooting War, and 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail. Goldman's new webcomic, Red Light Properties, goes live on sci-fi publisher Tor's website on January 5th. New Times sat down with the illustrator to discuss his work, South Florida, and why superheroes are lame.

NT: Your next project is Red Light Properties, which takes place in South Florida. Give us the pitch.

Goldman: Red Light Properties is a small realty firm that is run by a couple that splits up in the first page of the comic, and what they do is they find haunted houses and exorcise them. Then they connect them with buyers. The whole idea is to do a series that takes place in the post-mortgage crash landscape. My mother works in the mortgage industry in Broward County, and I've been hearing about the shady goings on that led to the global economic collapse for the last ten years.

NT: So there's another reason to set it here beside the fact you grew up here: It's the perfect place to show this housing collapse that's been happening throughout the country.

Goldman: Absolutely. And y'know, at the same time the story's also about ghosts and how buildings have a memory. I was a kid in the '80s in Florida. That meant that I grew up surrounded by all these old people who have kinda since died off, most of them...all these funky old people, that's the South Florida of my mind, of my imagination. And you drive around and you can't help but see them out of the corner of your eye. You still see them. I moved back to Miami after 9/11...the very first version of Red Light took place in New York. I came back to visit my mother about two months after. All the sudden all this Miami stuff came back to me. Before I knew it, Red Light took place in Florida. I've been working on it since 2001, and even though I pushed it aside for to cover the [Presidential]'s my dearest baby. Something I wanted to be ready for. I'm a much better writer now than in 2001...likewise as an artist.

NT: Miami doesn't really have much of a presence in comics and in the comics scene. What do you want to capture about Miami in Red Light Properties?

Goldman: What I hate is when you see something on TV or on a film and they show Miami and all you see is Collins Ave below 41st Street. Miami is such a strange patchwork of flavors...everything from the characters you meet on Alligator Alley or playing Seminole Bingo or during the early bird special...I've got a really cool little scene in the Aventura high rises. All this new money, divorced people who move into these high rises and just have sex with each other...In Red Light Properties, as the business grows and as the spotlight around them grows, the city is going to get involved and things are going to get tougher for them. I've got a ton of research on real estate laws, Santeria, squatters rights, etc. I'm really looking forward to the next handful of years, playing with these characters.

NT: Most of your work up until this point has been ultra-realistic and motivated by a political perspective. RLP has a subtext of the mortgage crisis but it seems to be a shift away; there's obviously an element of the supernatural at play here. Is this the type of book you've been working towards or a temporary break from realism?

Goldman: It's realistic in its way, but I guess it's--what's the hip term now?--"urban fantasy". It's sort of like a tropical psychedelic drama, a horror drama. And as far as a temporary shift away from the political? I'm really bored with politics. I feel I've done three books already that center around America, the government, the media. I feel like I've said everything I need to say. It felt like with 08, and Obama getting into office, it ended on such a magical crescendo of hope, and holy fuck everything's going to be amazing. And I don't feel that way at all and I don't think anyone does...To me politics is the theater of survival, and I really think I want to involve myself to deal with things for the rest of my career that are on a higher existence than just surviving. Red Light deals with life and love and death and commitment and consciousness and the spirit world and to me, that's a lot more interesting and timeless. I spent a year on that election book [08: A Graphic Novel of the Campaign Trail] and no one gave a shit about it.

NT: Certainly I see what you're saying about standing the test of time. Do you have any interest in doing superhero work?

Goldman: I've made it a point in my life to never say never, but, I do think superheroes are really stupid...I have a couple ideas for my own characters. But I think there's a little superhero in Jude Tobin in Red Light Properties. His magic weapon is his earth vaporizer and he smokes these roots and barks from South America, trips his tits off to enter the spirit world so he can exorcise these apartments and his wife can list them. There's a holy purpose in there. A hero's journey. A magical journey. As far as putting on a cape...a codename, that's not my cup of tea.

Dan Goldman reads at the Miami Book Fair on Saturday, November 14, at 11:30 a.m. in the Centre Gallery (Bldg 1, 3rd Floor, Room 1365).

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Dave Landsberger