For many of us, I think summer camp was weird at the best of times. On the one hand, it was a liberating experience to be free from overbearing parents and the responsibilities hoisted upon us by school. On the other hand, a lot of people didn’t know what to do with that freedom and, of course, ended up using it to do harm. While I made some of my favorite childhood memories at summer camps, I also had some of my worst experiences there, too. That’s why I know I can relate to Russian cartoonist Vera Brogsol, the Eisner-award winning author of Anya’s Ghost and the upcoming First Second graphic memoir, Be Prepared.
Born in Moscow in 1984, Brogsol immigrated to the United States at the age of 5. According to Be Prepared‘s solicit text, all she wanted to do was fit in. However:
Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents buy them the best things in life, like ice cream cakes and stuffed-crust pizza. And ALL of her friends go to summer camp. Vera’s single mother can’t afford ice cream cake or stuffed-crust pizza, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.
Vera is sure this camp is one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!
Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared is a funny and relatable middle-grade graphic novel about navigating your own culture, struggling to belong, and the value of true friendship.
Of her experiences at summer camp, Brogsol says that “Lots of kids had a great time at summer camp, but I was not one of them. It was slightly traumatic reliving the experiences in this memoir, but it was also really fun to make. This book is a time capsule of summer misery for all the kids who would have preferred to stay indoors. ”
The Comics Beat has your exclusive first look at the gorgeously lush and expressive interiors of Be Prepared.