The hope and idea of the Issues with Perspective feature is to provide a more in depth look at the creators who makes comics and their process/influences/environment behind the making of the issues/series. I am terrible at naming things (take the podcast Pages and Panels, holy shit I hate that name) but the thought is that you will get a better perspective of the issue/series by learning more about the process and the actual creator who made it (Issues with Perspective, get it? Nah). I hope with this feature readers will get a further look into the books they love and the amazing people who make them.
For the next installment of Issues with Perspective I was super excited to be joined by the creator Tyler Boss to talk about his upcoming series 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank. Tyler talks the transition to a monthly book, what it means to have a comic series published and December weather.
I had been familiar and a fan of Tyler's work but was able to meet him and get some physical copies of Funeral Pudding at this past year's NYCC. Not only is Tyler an awesome dude but an amazing comic creator as well. His solo work is an abstract, personal, and deconstructive approach to comics. Be sure to grab 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank this may from Black Mask Studios in April in stores and online. While you wait make sure you read Tyler's own work Funeral Pudding, Swimmers and Baby Teeth.
Tyler Boss and 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
Who is 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank? (Creative Team)
4 Kids is written by Matthew Rosenberg (We Can Never Go Home, S.H.I.E.L.D. Quake), I handle all the art and design duties, Thomas Mauer letters, and it’s published by Black Mask Studios. Clare DeZutti flats for me, which is crazy as her illustration work is so spectacular. And last but not least Courtney Menard creates the chapter page pattern designs for each issue, that then also get worked into the book in other subtle ways.
What is 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
4 Kids is a 5 issue mini series coming-of-age crime caper. I think Steve Orlando called it if Tarantino directed the Goonies. Basically it’s the story of four 11 year olds who need to pull off a bank heist before these other four grown-ass men do. It’s weird and silly but it also gets very dark by the time we reach the end.
Why should readers pick up 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank ?
So I can pay my rent. No hah, I think Matt and I are really trying to make something fun and different for comic fans and I hope that people dig it. If you like crime stories, or dark comedies, or are just looking for something a little strange, I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
When/Where/How can readers get 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
Issue one drops in all better comic shops on April 27th. If your shop doesn’t carry it but you’d like to read it, you can always order directly from Black Mask’s web store, and it should also be available digitally from comixology. After that we’re on a monthly schedule till we’re done with the story.
On April 28th Matt and myself will be signing at Midtown comics in NYC, and then we’ll be at most of the standard comic convention across the U.S. (and maybe even England...) for this year’s circuit. So come say hey. We’ll have cool variants at most shows done by Courtney Menard, and they’re stunning.
What was a normal workday/writing session like for an issue of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
So normally I wake up around 9:30/10, get my coffee at the grocery store next to my apartment and walk over to my studio. From there I sort of just attack whatever the problem is for the day. If I have something to ink that’s left over from the day before I’ll normally start with that to warm me up rather than jump right into pencilling which is the most draining part of the process. And that’s basically it. I break to grab a coffee maybe but for the most part I work straight from 11 till 8 or 9. By that point I’m starving and so I’ll go get some food with my partner. Call it a day. I try to keep myself really relaxed and not kill myself with hours every day. My dad always says “life’s a marathon, not a sprint” and that’s sort of how I feel about comics. I used to do the whole “work yourself to the bone, every day, non-stop” and honestly I don’t think that’s a sustainable way to make art let alone live your life. Point being, I get more out of those 9 hours of work, six days a week, than I ever did with the everyday all the time no sleep. Work smarter not longer.
What would you say was total time spent for your portion of the work on an issue?
So the timeline is a little weird. I originally drew issue one as my senior thesis when I was going to SVA, and so I took like 3 months to draw it because I had 3 months to draw it. Then Matt and myself went through the arduous process of pitching the book. Which took a while. Like two years a while before Black Mask picked it up. So by the time that the book had a publisher, I drew completely differently from what issue one looked like. Which was kind of funny. But I took whatever spare time I had in between jobs to re-drew the whole issue. I didn’t have to do any real heavy lifting as I left most of the storytelling alone, so it was really just a face lift. So the whole first issue was weird to put together and I have no concept of how much time I spent on it hah. But I’m just starting issue two now and I was able to draw and color 6 pages in 5 days, so I feel good about that.
What is your work space while working on the series?
When I get a script from Matt I’ll normally go to a coffee shop by my house or stay at home and just thumbnail the whole thing. This can take me a day or two as this is the part I think is most important and is the real work. Everything that comes after is just dressing on my end. After that’s all set though I go to my studio which is a separate space but a few blocks from my loft. My studio while doing an issue is a disaster haha. Scraps of paper everywhere with notes and sketches, comics strewn about, like 30 mostly empty coffee cups stacked precariously on expensive computer equipment. I sort of let everything go to shit and just zone in and work.
What are the tools/applications/research you used most in the creation of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
I thumbnail all the pages for the issue first. I do that directly on the printed out script with a bic pen. From there I’ll transfer everything into this thumbnail template I made that shows everything as spreads so I can make sure everything is working and I do that with a red colored pencil. Not sure why red. After that stuffs all worked out I tape that to my wall and start “penciling” everything on a 22-in cintq in Manga Studio 5 with the rough pencil pre-set tool they have on that program. Then I either print out the page on 11x17 bristol in non photo repo blue and ink it with a combination of nib, brush, and tech pen, or open it in Photoshop CS6 and ink that way. For whatever reason I prefer the Kyle T. Webster brushes in Photoshop to anything in Manga Studio for inking purposes, but think that the rough penciler in Manga studio feels more like a pencil than any other digital tool I’ve ever tried. Once the page is done I send it to my flatter Clare DeZutti who flats it and sends it back to me so I can finish coloring it.
What is the situation that gets the most productivity out of you?
A cold quiet day. Simple as that. I never work better or more than on a crisp December day with that slight taste air gives off when it’s about to snow. Weather is legit one of my favorite things to talk about and it has a huge effect on how I feel like. Sort of stupid that I live in New York where we get a full 4 seasons. Should just move to the Yukon or Greenland.
What media were you engaged with during the creation of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank (music/movies/books/games) that helped the creation process or that you just happened to be into at that time?
I watch a lot of movies, so when we started this project I uped my heist/crime movie intake. So Dog Day Afternoon, Rear Window, Touch of Evil, Serpico, the original Ocean’s 11, The Town, stuff like that, sort of across the board. When I was like 15 or around there I used to watch Ocean’s 11 ( the Clooney/Pitt one) every night sort of obsessively. It was the only dvd I owned so it started as just hating everything on television and turned into a weird ritual. Probably have seen that movie upwards of 100 times. Not sure why I bring that up, seems related.
I also listen to a lot of film scores and ambient music when I’m thumbnailing to try and get in the right mood for what Matt’s script calls for acting wise. Get real zen and step into the world Matt’s creating. Once I’m past the planning stages though I listen to podcast, Criminal, 99% Invisible, This American Life, Serial, Imaginary Worlds, stuff like that, and audio books. Last one I just finished was The People Who Eat Darkness. Fucking horrifying non-fiction murder story.
For readers who enjoy 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank what else would you suggest to them that they might enjoy that has a similar tone/style/message of your work?
None of my work looks anything like 4 Kids. I’m a bit of a weirdo in that sense, that if I handed someone one of my comics and then handed them another they might not have any idea that the same person did them. But all my comics are available to read for free on my website if anyone is interested.
What is something you learned about the series/yourself/comics from work on 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
I’m capable of drawing a monthly book which is cool. That and I’m developing a style that I can use on more mainstream books. I have a sort of weird relationship to comics in that when I first decided I was going to try and do it for a living, I thought I wanted to draw for DC or Marvel. Then I went to SVA and met my friend Owen Karol, who is an excellent painter, and he gave me Love and Rockets and Ghost World and my first copy of Michael DeForge’s Lose series. From there on out all I wanted to do was alternative auteur comics. And I still want to do that ultimately but now, after working with Matt on this series I’d also love to work for DC or Marvel. Like why not? I’d love to draw an issue of Daredevil or Batman or the Punisher. I honestly just like solving storytelling problems, it’s my main interest in making comics. How do you tell this story? Is this the best way or is there a better one? That’s ultimately what keeps me excited about making comics. That there is limitless options for you and that every story is a new problem to solve.
How has your process differed with a limited series versus your own work like Funeral Pudding?
Working with a writer, even a writer as good as Matt and someone I’m such close friends with, there's still going to be compromises that have to be made. Just the nature of working with anyone. But with Funeral Pudding or Baby Teeth or Swimmers I can do whatever I want. The only person telling me what to do is myself, hah. And honestly it’s much easier to do a book with someone than it is to handle all of the responsibilities of making a comic on you own.
For anyone familiar with your other work its often very abstract and deconstructed and awesome. Did you have to alter your style or approach for 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
Yeah hah. I think if there's any similarity it’s the clarity or my attempt to make everything easy to follow. I always want a comic to be able to be read on pictures alone and then the words (if any) are just there to add another layer. Klaus Janson was one of my teachers and he beat that stuff into us. My favorite comics are the ones in which you have the pictures telling one story and the words telling another and when you mesh those two they tell a completely different story, so that you’re getting three stories for the price of one.
Was there anything that you found particularly challenging or blocks you hit in the creation process? On the same note what was the most enjoyable part of your creation experience?
It took me a while to figure out how to draw it. When I first started it I had been drawing in a very simple cartoony style and it took me a while to get the visual style worked out. But once I worked out all my page breakdowns and started just drawing, I sort of settled into a groove. And then when I came back to re-draw the first issue it was the same problem all over haha. But once I worked out the surface look of it, it’s all pretty straight forward. Coloring is a bitch too haha. I’m always second guessing myself hah. But my favorite part will always be those first 2 days of just thumbnailing and building the skeleton of the book. Working out the page turns and spreads, the geometry of the page. That’s the best stuff.
Best thing you could say about everyone involved in 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank is?
Everyone who works on the book is fucking stellar. I couldn’t ask for a better team on my first collab book. I’m weirdly anal about every tiny thing in a comic and lettering can be a big pet peeve for me (even though my own isn’t even that good) and Thomas does just the most brilliant job. Can’t praise him enough. Clare as I’ve said earlier is wonderful. She’s a constant professional and worked with me on We Can Never Go Home which had some crazy tight deadlines and she always went above and beyond. I’ll be sad when she leaves because she’s too busy doing her own work. She’s ruined me for all other flatters. Courtney is another extreme talent who has also graciously done some variant covers besides the pattern designs for us, so look for those. They’re stunning. And finally, Matthew. He’s a great buddy and an awesome writer. I’m grateful to him for asking me to do this book with him and that when he inevitable becomes as popular as Scott Snyder or Brian Bendis, that I’ll get say I used to work with him. I can’t say enough good things about him, so I’ll just say that if anyone is every afforded the opportunity to work on something with him, fucking do it.
Why do you love 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank?
4 Kids is the realization of a childhood dream. That I could draw a comic and someone would think it good enough to back it. If I never do another book with a publisher after this, at least I’ll have checked “get a comic series published” off the bucket list. That reason, and that I think Matt has written something pretty fucking cool.