4 Kids Walk Into a Bank by Tyler Boss, Matthew Rosenberg, and Thomas Mauer is one of my favourite comics ever. To be honest, I haven’t been this stunned by a comic since I picked up Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth. 4 Kids stars Paige, Stretch, Berger, and Walter, all pre-teens, whose world is changed when 4 criminals show up on the doorstep of Paige’s house. A self-described “crime caper about children” features lots of cursing, some violence, and quite a few instances of pre-teens being more badass than I’ll ever be. As to avoid false advertising, I also want to let you know that as of issue 2 the kids have yet to enter any banks.
It’s difficult for me put into words how hilarious I find this comic. If this is the kind of humour you find funny, then you’re in for a treat. I’m already a bit upset by the fact that there’s only 3 more issues in the series, as I want to read the banter between these kids until the end of time. There’s a gag in issue 2 that works only if written down that I found absolutely genius. I grabbed a post-it, wrote it down, and showed it to my roommate while grinning proudly. Maybe that’s why she moved out last week. I’ll never know.
The reason I brought up Hawkeye at the beginning is that I feel like 4 Kids actually has a few similarities to the recent Marvel hit. Both feature very dense pages with panel counts far exceeding the 4-5 panel average that we see in comics today. There’s a 48 (!!) panel double page spread in issue one of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank. 4 Kids also boasts some very original page layouts, some of which reminded me of the famed Eisner-winning Pizza Dog issue of Hawkeye. Finally, Tyler Boss does an amazing job at catching minor expression changes in his characters that makes the comic’s comedy much more effective.
Another noteworthy element of 4 Kids is Thomas Mauer’s lettering. Conventional comics wisdom has it that the sign of good lettering is how invisible it is. But the team behind this comic ignores the rule completely by having all of Walter’s dialogue lettered in a tiny font. Yes, we could’ve figured out that Walter is shy from the art alone, but the art doesn’t allow us to hear Walter like the lettering does. Hats off to Mr. Mauer here, that little trick is brilliant.
As you can probably tell at this point, I genuinely believe that 4 Kids Walk into a Bank is one of the most well-made comics in print right now. The writing is wildly entertaining, the art knows exactly what to do to convey that writing effectively, and, most importantly, the whole thing is just bursting at the seams with its love for the medium. This is exactly what I want to see in my comics. That and quality butt jokes.
P.S. Hassan OtsmaneElhaou, the creator of youtube’s Strip Panel Naked, did a wonderful video about comedic beats in 4 Kids Walk into a Bank that explains why the comic works so well. His whole channel is just great.