4 Kids Walk Into A Bank: A Torrid Tale of Child Crime by Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, and Thomas Mauer. Black Mask, 2017. 9781628751888. Contains # 1 – #5 of the series.
This is flat out the funniest book I’ve read this year. It evokes 80s nostalgia for me the way Paper Girls does. Everything from the color to the pacing to the lettering combines with the art and design to make for a pitch perfect graphic novel. And it’s a crime story starring four pre-teens. Most chapters of the book open with some kind of role-play: literal D&D-type stuff, video games, toys. I wish I could go back in time and buy this as it came out in individual issues, because the covers (which I saw in the gallery in the back) are brilliant.
Paige (a foul mouthed, tough tomboy), Pat (a tall, awkward nerd), Berger (once you know he named his role-playing character Crotch the Sticky you know everything about him), and Walter (a shy scientist type) are heading out for ice cream with Paige’s dad after a role-playing catastrophe when four bad guys arrive at the door. Paige insults them and gets punched. Berger shoots an orc warlord into a dude’s eye. And then Paige’s dad pulls out the shotgun to make them to leave. That’s not the end of it, though. The kids find out Paige’s dad does know the guys, despite his denials, and that he owes them, so he’s going to help them rob a bank. To save her dad, Paige convinces her friends that they need to rob it first.
Most of the humor is in the conversations the kids have, and my favorite parts are when they’re talking at night via CB radio. (They even manage to pull a local pervert, who goes by the handle Doctor Gloryhole, into their heist.) There are Tarantino-esque moments, like when Paige sets a guy on fire, and everyone supplies their share of laughs, including a nearly silent foreign exchange student. Does the heist go as planned? No. Do people get shot? Yep. Will angry parents protest outside your library if their kids bring this book home? Only if they read it closely. And I hope they do — I’d love to see this book get all of the publicity it deserves.