pany commissioned. Set in Miami, Red Light Properties is about
a couple (the husband is a psychic and the wife is a real estate
broker) who specialize in ridding haunted properties of lingering ghosts, and then flip the properties for a profit. It’s part
funny ghost story, part crazy business scheme, part relationship
story, where eventually the supernatural aspect of the business
takes a toll on the lead characters and their marriage.
Red Light Properties debuted online in January 2010 at www.
redlightproperties.com, and it was one of the first webcomics to
use special digital effects—such as having panels and word bal-
loons appear one at a time with each click—in the service of
storytelling. While such effects are now common in many dig-
ital comics, including those from Marvel and DC’s digital-first
comics imprints, Goldman feels they cost him readers because
the interface was initially buggy. When Tor’s period of exclusiv-
ity ended in 2011, Goldman set up his own Web site and moved
the comic there, without the special effects. But despite adding
another 100 pages of material, he says, “I could feel the audience
Meanwhile, he was struggling with another problem: isola-
tion. After signing with Tor.com, Goldman and his wife moved
from New York to Brazil. “I got this Tor contract and I thought,
‘I am going to go away and get this done,” he told himself,
reasoning that with an Internet connection, he could work from
anywhere in the world.
It didn’t work out that way. “The reality was isolating and
confusing,” he says. “It was very difficult for me to make friends,
partly because of the language, partly because of culture—just
because I learned Portuguese didn’t mean I spoke the culture.
The Internet was supposed to be my lifeline, but the great ex-
periment of being this digital creator living overseas, plugged
into the Internet, publishing work up to the cloud and watching
Planet Earth cheer—that didn’t work.”
Furthermore, around the time he moved, the U.S. economy
crashed and the Brazilian economy was booming. “So [the mon-
ey from] my sweet little gig at Tor disappeared so fast, and the
illustration market, my other source of income for years, also
disappeared,” he says. “I made so little money in 2011, it was
Still searching for his audience, Goldman took down the
webcomic and published the story as an e-book via Kindle,
Kobo, and Nook, in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Again,
distance and the novelty of the medium worked against him. “I
was far away, and I didn’t do enough marketing, but I also felt
the discoverability mechanisms didn’t work,” he says. “It was
all new for people in New York, and I was in São Paulo trying
to figure this out alone.” He went to New York Comic Con in
2011 to pitch the book to publishers in person. “Everybody was
nice to my face, and no one answered my damn e-mails,” he says.
If comics were turning a cold shoulder to him, though, Hol-
lywood extended a warm welcome. Goldman was getting calls
and e-mails from producers who were intrigued by Red Light
Properties. So he asked himself, “Why don’t I go where people
want me, rather than standing out in the cold banging on the
door?” In 2012 he stopped producing new Red Light Properties
stories and focused on developing it for television, while work-
ing on video games for AMC, including the Walking Dead Face-
book game. The same year he moved back to New York.
Turns out, it wasn’t quite “game over” for Goldman’s comics
career. Impressed by the launch of MonkeyBrain Comics, a
digital-first comics publisher, he reached out to owners Chris
Roberson and Allison Baker. “I really dug what they were trying
to do and how quickly they had pulled it off,” Goldman says. “I
was trying to do the same thing solo, and whatever it was just
didn’t click.” Goldman moved Red Light Properties to MonkeyBrain, and a print deal soon followed with IDW, which has been
publishing print collections of MonkeyBrain comics.
When Goldman went to San Diego Comic-Con last July, he
wasn’t really thinking about comics. “I didn’t know what I was
there for, except doing some freelance work for AMC,” he says.
“But while he was walking the exhibit floor, Goldman spotted
graphics for the forthcoming Red Light Properties, and he had an
“I walked past the IDW booth and I saw my art,” Goldman
says. “It was a small part of a larger graphic that was about the
MonkeyBrain titles, but it was on the Comic-Con floor, and I
got really emotional. I had been working on getting that book
ready for press for four years at that point. I have been living
with these characters for a decade. From Brazil, I had watched
the dream of finding them an audience slowly die. Suddenly, the
tone of the con shifted for me really fast.” He’s a comics creator
again. “I made a lot of friends and I met a lot of people who were
really excited about my book, including my publishers, and they
gave me a lot of really good energy,” he says.
Goldman returned to New York and got to work on the book,
revising the art and relettering the whole thing. In addition to
IDW’s print edition, Red Light Properties is available in a digital
edition from Comixology via MonkeyBrain. This week, Goldman will kick off a series of appearances and book signings for
Red Light Properties at Word Books in Brooklyn, before heading
to Austin, Tex., where he’ll appear at Book People and Austin
Books; then it’s on to Philadelphia’s Locust Moon Comics, and,
in May, the Toronto Comics Art Festival.
With the first volume ready to go, Goldman says he has plenty more stories to tell about Red Light Properties. The second
volume, due out this summer, will be called Underwater. “It will
move forward on rockets and roller skates from there,” he says.
“I know these guys, I know their whole lives, it’s been burning
in my brain for a decade. I thought digital publishing was the
best way, but I think print turned out to be a really important
component to bringing it to people, especially comics readers.
I am totally thrilled—over the moon—to have that version of
it as the starting point to go forward.” ;
Brigid Alverson is a freelancer who writes regularly on comics for