The Hippo


Dec 7, 2019








Courtesy photo.

Meet Cory Levine

Where: Barnes & Noble, 1741 S. Willow St., Manchester, 668-5557
When: Saturday, Aug. 22, 1-3 p.m.
Contact: Levine will also be at the Granite State Comic Con in September ( More at

How to create a comic book
Epping resident discusses the journey of Bowery Boys

By Kelly Sennott

To many a comic book nerd, Cory Levine had the dream job as an editor for Marvel Comics in New York City. 

It wasn’t as glamorous as it might have seemed, though, once you got to the crux of his duties. Besides the graphic design aspect, the job was uncreative in nature, and Levine, an Epping resident and UNH alum, was itching to produce something that was his own.
Blame his Marvel coworkers.
“I think working in the industry and being surrounded by people who were so passionate [about] what they were creating was really an inspiration for me,” Levine said over coffee in Manchester last week.
So with Marvel inspiration and experience in his back pocket, Levine decided to create his own comic book. He pitched a handful of stories to New York artists and partnered with at-the-time art student Ian Bertram in 2011. Their project: Bowery Boys, which would take three years to complete. 
Theirs is a tale that occurs during the grit and grime of mid-19th-century Manhattan, a time of political corruption, vicious street gangs, nascent labor reform and ardent xenophobia. At the story’s center is a boy, Nikolaus McGovern, who rallies together a crew of street youths after his Irish immigrant father is framed for murder. 
The idea stemmed from an article he read about the time period, specifically New York’s lack of a public waste system. People threw their trash out the window and onto the streets, which Levine thought could make for some interesting imagery.
“Ian and I were both living in New York City at the time, and we both agreed that … you really develop a relationship with [a] place if you live there long enough,” Levine said. “We both kind of had relationships with the city, which we wanted to explore through our art. This gave us an outlet to do that.”
The book was produced during a back-and-forth of writing, illustrating and editing between Levine, Bertram and another illustrator, Brent McKee, over three years. They pitched the book to publishers the first time after they’d completed about 10 pages. Nobody bit. 
But Levine decided to keep at it. It required work on nights and weekends — he had to work another full-time job to support himself while he wrote — and whenever they finished a page, they posted to their website,
To continue was a “big gamble,” but at the same time, it was a passion project. They believed in the quality of the story, and Levine intended to finish it with or without a big-name publisher.
“I think part of it was just the faith in the project. Maybe part of it was blind, stupid faith, but faith nonetheless. There was this sense that things were starting to open up.There were more avenues for self-published work and creator-owned projects than there were 5 or 10 years ago,” Levine said. “We didn’t do it because we were trying to earn our livings off it or because it was our jobs. We did it because we loved it and we felt we had to. The thing about creativity — you’re compelled to do it, you have to do it. It’s not really a choice sometimes.”
In 2014, Dark Horse Comics, one of the biggest comic publishing houses outside Marvel and DC, came back and offered a book contract. Levine had moved back to the Granite State by that point — he was “burnt out” of New York City, and while he grew up in Worcester, he’d fallen in love with New Hampshire as an undergrad English major. It was released last week, and he celebrated with a launch party at Stairway to Heaven Comics in Exeter.
He’s still working in marketing full time, and he’s started another project he remained mum about, but at the time of his interview, he was still reveling in the book, which had been dropped off at his doorstep the Monday prior. 
“It made my heart jump. It was a lot of time and effort and blood, sweat and work, but you know, it’s kind of all wrapped up in that one little physical object for me. It’s very meaningful,” he said. 
As seen in the August 13, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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