Written by: Cory Levine
Art by: Ian Bertram & Brent McKee
Publisher: Dark Horse
Bowery Boys: Our Fathers finally sees its release in print, and Cory Levine’s webcomic looks just as stunning on paper as it does on computer screens. Collected for the first time as a hard cover graphic novel, Bowery Boys is a coming-of-age drama set against the backdrop of mid-19th century New York, embroiled in political corruption, rampant discrimination and bloody gang warfare. With his father framed for a murder he didn’t commit, Niko must fight a life-threating battle that will test the mettle of him and his friends in a battle to the death.
There is no doubt that Bowery Boys is a meticulously structured and highly detailed body of work. Knee deep in the antebellum era of American history, Cory manages to write a gripping and moving story that fits perfectly into this. As I read the comic, there was a certain grandeur about it; many things can be labelled as epic these days, but the Bowery Boys embodies that label wholly. Within its high points and low, there isn’t a moment when the story dipped or felt like it was dragging, and the whole journey was crafted in a way that many literary masterpieces are. The language between the different nationalities and backgrounds is authentic and individual, with a wonderful use of vocabulary on every page.
The art work by Bertram and McKee also shines—the gritty and rough aesthetic merges seamlessly with the writing, giving their partnership with Levine a true genuineness. The representation of Levine’s characters are drawn well, especially the way the rich and poor divide is represented by cleaner drawn for the latter, and sketchy, murkier illustrations for the former. The five points of New York are also drawn beautifully—as filthy and bleak as they are portrayed, the environment is brought to life and the characters that exist in the city have a place that looks as real as they do.
Bowery Boys: Our Fathers is a fascinating read that will educate and enamour the reader with its rich and gripping story. The artwork complicates the writing perfectly, and the team of Levine, Bertram and McKee are certainly one to look out for in the future. Whatever you do, please give this historically ambitious graphic novel a read.