Bowery Boys Webcomic Explores Gangland New York in 19th Century

Categories: Comics

Courtesy of Cory Levine, Ian Bertram
Bowery Boys is a webcomic exploring life Antebellum New York through the experiences of one of the city's most notorious gangs, the self-same Bowery Boys. Every week artists and veteran comics guys Cory Levine and Ian Bertram release three panels, each furthering the story of union organizer William McGovern and his son Nikolaus, who makes his way to adulthood on the mean streets of 1850s New York. See our interview with the comic's creators after the jump.

The Bowery Boys were a peculiar bunch. Many held respectable day jobs as printers, artisans, and yes, union bosses; they were thugs with the smallest bit of polish. Taking the gang as its lens and its engine, Bowery Boys explores the political and social crises of the era, many of which echo into the present day. United by their hate of immigrants, one the strip's many political ogres we might find familiar, the Bowery Boys turf it out with rival gangs in a city changing as quickly as the country around it.

Book 1 of Bowery Boys concluded on Monday. Book 2 begins tomorrow. A preview of the comic proves that Levine and Bertram have yet to shy away from the tumult of mid-19th century city life.

Runnin' Scared chatted with Cory Levine about the webcomic, their place in the world of comics, and what 1850s New York can tell us about the city of 2013.

How did you and Ian come to work together?

I was introduced to Ian's work through a mutual friend who knew that I had been itching to write a comic. He sent over Ian's work. The samples that I saw really impressed me. It seemed like I would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to work with him. I reached out to Ian. He and I have been working on the book for a little over two years now. We developed a great professional relationship as well as friendship over that time.

Did you figure the project was going to be historical fiction from the get-go, or did you come to that subject matter later on?

Ian and I sat down, all I pitched him on a few different ideas, not all of which were historical fiction. Among our common interests, this was the kind of thing that stood out to the both of us, something that gave us interesting notions to work with, something with a great deal of depth to explore.

And it's also a project that would be unique to our marketplace. There aren't a whole lot of comic books out there in the historical fiction subgenre.

Go to the next page to see more artwork and the rest of our interview with Cory Levine.

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