This is the new series I’ve missed the most— but it’s finally back and it was worth the wait! 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank from Artist/Aesigner Tyler Boss and writer Matthew Rosenberg is a fantastically funny caper comic staring pre-teen characters you can’t help but love for all their utterly believable eccentricities. Think Stranger Things except the monsters are just adults and the kids are funnier.
The aforementioned four kids have not yet walked into a bank together but as of this latest issue we now know how and why they will. Kids getting in over their heads to save adults who are also in it over their heads is a staple of entertainment but everything about the series feels fresh and fun. It’s a Coen Brothers movie in comic book form which combines great comedy and real feelings of sadness and loss in the same story. You know the characters are headed for some form of fiasco be it from fire or spilled orange soda. However, unlike a Coen Bros movie there are multiple characters of color and in fact, one of them, a young girl, is even the protagonist.
The four kids are a rag tag group of relatable nerds and outcasts lead by the short-fused, wise beyond her years Paige (currently the best little girl in a comic) who is struggling with her mother’s suicide, somber and possibly love struck Stretch, shy science wiz Walter who always role-plays as a female characters (good call) and the nasty, brutish, Jewish and short Berger (who I swear I knew growing up and whom I’ve never seen portrayed in media before because of existing Jewish stereotypes, I suspect writer Matt Rosenberg being Jewish has something to do with this fun bit of representation).
The town the story is set in feels very recognizable a to me as an old New York town. Graphic Policy’s publisher Brett thinks it’s his home town Buffalo. I think it’s Glen Cove Long Island, but that gives you a sense of how real the setting feels. The story is timeless, if by timeless you mean it could be any time between the 80s and today.
Penciler Tyler Boss actually knows how to draw kids. Drawing a pubescent girl believably without sexualizing her is still sadly rare. The art is spare and cartoony, reminding me of the styles of newspaper strip cartoonists and there’s a lot of David Aja’s stark graphics from Hawkeye in Boss’s art. The character’s faces are rendered into icons but still successfully emote
The visual jokes come rapidly but their pacing is so precise you just need to read them in context for them all to land with ease. But here’s Lance Cardinal Death, Stretch’s video game character— he’s a skeleton pope. It’s awesome.
Each issue has an opening scene that shows of the kids playing a game first in a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game, then a zombie arcade game called “I Hear It’s Bad Everywhere,” (how prescient that now seems) and in issue 3 it’s remote controlled cars. The games show the kids interacting in their most natural environment and hilariously illuminates their relationship dynamics and personalities.
It’s this sort of smart writing that is going to make sure Matt Rosenberg stays at the top of lists of comics rising stars. This is also one of the few series that I’m going to try to get my Dad to read. The only other comic he likes so far is Saga. So yeah, this is high praise on the quality and how accessible I think it is to new audiences.
The humor is huge but the relationships behind it all are why we care.
Story: Matthew Rosenberg Art/Design: Tyler Boss Wallpaper Design: Courney Menard
Flatting: Clare Dezutti Lettering: Thomas Maur
Overall: 9 out of 10 Recommendation: Buy!
Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review