4 Kids Walk Into A Bank launched in April, and launched the careers of comic shop workers-turned comic creators Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss. Fast-forward eight months and Rosenberg has four Marvel titles, was among the first graduating class of DC Writer's Workshop students, and is one of mainstream comic books' busiest writers. But something happened along the way, halting the serialization of the kid crime caper 4 Kids Into A Bank.
But it's coming back.
4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #3 hits shelves this week after a long delay, and Rosenberg spoke frankly about his busy workload, what got in the way of 4 Kids (it's personal), and what's going on with the book now that it's back on track.
Will readers finally get to see the "bank" mentioned in the book's title? Spoilers: yes.
Newsarama: Matthew, first question is an easy one - what are you working on today?
Matthew Rosenberg: Well I am trying to get as much work out of the way as possible so I am unstressed before I go see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story tomorrow. And Friday. And Saturday. So, right now I am finishing up 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank and doing some press for it because issue #3 hits on December 21. I'm also working on the Rocket Raccoon #4 script, I just did lettering revisions on Kingpin #1, and I was outlining my next book for Black Mask. I jotted down some notes for Secret Warriors while I ate breakfast, but they may or may not have made sense so I'm not sure I can call that work.
When I was a kid my dad, who was a freelance writer too, used to say "Better too much work than too little." I found myself saying that a few weeks ago. And while it is definitely true, it is also alarming to turn into your own dad. Things are getting weird.
Nrama: “Too much work”? You have three Marvel books, an Archie book (Archie Meets The Ramones), 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, and a fifth book in the outline stages at Black Mask. What's that like for you as a comics fan-turned comic shop worker turned comics pro?
Rosenberg: It's pretty surreal. I definitely consider myself a comics fan first though. I have to keep catching myself because I go to meetings at Marvel and I hear what other folks have planned in their books and I can't help but smile and keep saying "that's awesome" and "cool.” I definitely feel like they are going to figure out that I am not supposed to be there at any minute and throw me out of the building.
Mostly I just feel incredibly lucky. There is literally no other job I want to do, so I try and appreciate it as much as I can. I guess comics is like a lot of things, it takes a sort of perfect storm of circumstances to really succeed. It's equal parts preparation, skill, and pure luck. And you can get pretty far with two of those three, but staying around takes all of them. For the most part I feel like I am really well prepared. I studied storytelling and comics my whole life. I also studied marketing, the business of comics, and how the whole industry works. I spent years practicing being broke and anti-social, so that part of it is second nature to me. So, preparedness comes easily. Now I just spend my time wondering when my luck runs out or if I'm good enough.
Nrama: So 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank returns from a long hiatus this week with #3. Can you talk about that delay at all, and what precipitated it?
Rosenberg: In short, life happened. I was trying not to talk about it for a bit because it was very personal, but I definitely owe it to our readers. Basically in the beginning of the year my father collapsed at his home in Connecticut. I rushed up to be by his side at the hospital... and I basically stayed there for six months. I had to drop almost everything to help out and support my family. I cancelled some projects, I cancelled a bunch of appearances, and 4 Kids had to be delayed. It's a pretty awful feeling to leave the readers who buy your book, the stores who support you, and your collaborators and publisher in the lurch, but I physically couldn't write it. Not to mention the idea of working on my comic about the strained relationship between a parent and a child was a little more than I think I could handle at the time.
Luckily for me, my dad was released from the hospital a few months ago and is improving every day. I've moved back home and am getting my life back in order. And my collaborators - Tyler, Thomas, Clare, and Courtney - have been beyond supportive and understanding. And Black Mask has as well. I'm really thankful to get to work with all of them.
Nrama: So how does the schedule of 4 Kids look after #3?
Rosenberg: We are finishing up #4 now, and then moving on to #5, which is the final issue. One of the things we wanted to do was add some bonus pages of actual story, while keeping the price the same, as a thank you to readers for sticking with us. I am not sure what the street dates for #4 and #5 will be yet. Because we are late it takes a little bit to put the book back into the system both at Black Mask and Diamond Comic Distributors. But it shouldn't be too long, and hopefully folks will stick with us.
Nrama: Getting into the story - what can readers of #1 and #2 look forward to in #3?
Rosenberg: 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #3 is actually my favorite issue in a lot of ways. I tried to get that feeling of things being put into motion that can't be stopped, that I really love in crime stories. Watching things spin out of control and escalate at the same time is really the thrill of the story for me. The actual caper begins to form more clearly, as do the actual dangers. And we introduce Paige's dog, we steal a bit from Family Circus, and there are some decent jokes about former U.S. Presidents.
Nrama: And kidding aside, will we get to see the “Bank” in the title finally in this issue?
Rosenberg: You know, people really want to see the bank much more than I thought they would. There aren't any dogs in Dog Day Afternoon. There also aren't any dogs in Reservoir Dogs. The missions in Mission: Impossible aren't just possible, they do them. They don't eat breakfast in The Breakfast Club. Nobody gets sick in Saturday Night Fever. Just because we put it in the title doesn't mean you automatically get a bank in the book.
But yeah, you'll eventually see it.
Nrama: That’s dramatic build-up right there, all in that answer. [laughs]
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank goes through some real detail on how to rob a bank - and from the perspective of kids. How'd you go about researching that without being self-conscious about "hey, I'm researching how to rob a bank"?
Rosenberg: I don't actually think robbing banks is that complicated. They have vaults, guards, cameras, and alarms. It's just a question of dealing with those things. But I don't really know? So my research involved a lot of standing in line at my bank and looking around at stuff a lot. And then watching bank robbery movies. I know there are those comic creators who do the proper research and interviews, but I write a comic about children. So I go in with my normal, childlike naiveté and hope it works in terms of the story.
I wouldn't advise anyone follow my plan to rob the bank, but if you do, and I'm not condoning that, you should probably buy me dinner at a comic con or something. Only seems fair.