Review: Red Light Properties
Welcome to Red Light Properties, a Miami Beach real estate agency run by schlubby shaman Jude Tobin and his success-starved wife Cecilia that specializes in selling previously-haunted houses… once they’ve removed the lingering spirits of their former occupants. From Eisner-nominated writer/artist Dan Goldman!
Red Light Properties’ first story arc has been collected together into a definitive edition by IDW. The series that started out as a webcomic is written and realized by Dan Goldman. It’s been called a tropical-horror series and recession psychedelia about real estate. It’s a trippy book with a trippy concept, but should you check it out?
Jude Tobin is a shaman who works with his wife in real estate. Their angle is that they go into haunted houses that aren’t selling and give them a good cleaning. After the Red Light properties have their ghosts, spirits, or other supernatural tenants expelled, they give the property a Green Light rating. Then the once haunted houses are flipped and sold. The problem is that business isn’t going well. Bills are piling up and Jude’s relationship with his wife Cecilia is on the rocks. When you say their relationship is on the rocks, it’s an understatement. They’re trying to hold their business together as well as attempting to act civilly to each other for the sake of their son. When some work actually starts rolling in and ghosts need to be evicted, things actually don’t improve that much. Jude is trying to keep himself anchored to the real world, but his home and business life aren’t giving him much reason to stay. What happens when talking to ghosts isn’t even the most stressful part of your day? Can Jude and Cecilia keep it together?
Goldman writes a deep, existential, trippy story. This is actually a really complex drama about Jude and his wife that’s thinly wrapped in the guise of a ghost story. There are definitely some supernatural things going on, but it’s not the main focus of the story. Jude struggles with it and how he handles his gifts, but it’s largely a story about relationships. Goldman says he’s influenced by Terence McKenna, Wong Kar-wai, and Larry David, but I’d also throw a healthy dose of Hunter S. Thompson into the mix. Jude uses some natural and unnatural ‘medications’ to help in his duties as a shaman figure and ghost expert. The art is digital and combines real pictures with digital characters. It works overall, but I’m personally not a big fan of over digitalized art. The segments with Jude actually communicating with the other side are incredibly trippy and look like what you’d imagine a trip on illicit drugs is like. It’s old school 60s Doctor Strange style stuff that really works well.
Bottom Line: Red Light Properties has gained something of a cult following over the years. It’s a really deep story dealing with some heavy themes. If you’re going in thinking it’s the story of ghost busting real estate agents, you’re going to be surprised. There’s an audience for this series that will be absolutely rabid over this collected edition, and while I enjoyed the story, it’s not my particular cup of tea. 3/5