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Comic Book / Be Prepared

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Be Prepared is a Slice of Life Comic Book by Vera Brosgol. It's a fictionalized account of what happened to Brosgol when she went to summer camp as a child.

Every year, Vera and her brother Phillip have always been the only kids in their neighbourhood to never go to camp for the summer. Well, after a disastrous ninth birthday party, Vera got word of the Organization of Russian Razvedchiki in America (or ORRA for short), a Russian Summer camp. Already enthusiastic about the idea, Vera begs her mother to send her there. Her mother agrees, and pays to send her there for two weeks with her brother (much to his chagrin).

Soon after she arrives, however, she discovers that the camp isn't quite as much fun as she had expected. The bathroom is disgusting, the other kids are older than her, and quite nasty to boot, and the church is held outside rain or shine. Now all Vera wants is to be back home.


The comic was released on April 24th, 2018.

Be Prepared contains examples of:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After hearing about a Russian camp, Vera BEGGED her mother to let her go. She soon came to regret it.
  • Big Fun: Grusha, one of the counselors, sets himself up as this to Phillip.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Phillip shouts one when his mother agrees with Vera to send them to camp.
    • Vera lets one out upon hearing she'll be staying at camp two more weeks.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Vera's response to hearing her mother got a new job... in London.
  • Capture the Flag: The camp holds plenty of these games between the boys and girls, and whichever side wins gets to decide a punishment for the losing side.
  • Commonality Connection: Invoked. Vera wants to go to ORRA because she thinks it'll be easier to make friends with and relate to other Russian-American kids. In reality, it's nowhere near that simple.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Plenty of these happen over the course of the comic as a result of the above-mentioned game.
    • The boys side won the first time, and made the girls eat their dinner with their hands tied behind their backs.
    • The second time the boys beat the girls, the girls had to serve the boys their dinner like maids.
    • The third time the boys won, the girls had to wash the boys' dirty laundry at the creek.
    • The girls won the final game, and Vera makes all of the boys check the depth of every Hollywood with a stick and record the measurement.
  • Don't Try This at Home: Vera gets bit by a chipmunk and doesn't tell anyone, terrified that she has rabies. Later, Kira tells her that it's actually very unlikely, since chipmunks don't usually carry rabies, and the bite didn't break the skin—but Vera should still tell the nurse, just in case. Vera doesn't do that, prompting an author's note from adult Vera, who stresses to her readers that this was a very dumb thing to do, she got lucky, and no one should follow her example. If you get bit by a wild animal, seek medical attention, readers!
  • Gainax Ending: The last scene has Vera's mother revealing she got a new job, and the family is moving to London. Cue a Big "WHAT?!" from Vera. Roll credits!
  • Hope Spot: When the intended two weeks at camp have passed, Vera is looking forward to heading home. However, her mother informed her that she got the job she'd been studying for, and it would require her to be out of town for a few days. And since she can't afford a babysitter, she decided to have them stay at camp two more weeks.
  • Irony: Vera wanted to go to Summer Camp, while her brother Phillip just wanted to stay home. When they got there, however, Vera had a miserable time, while Phillip took to it immediately. Near the end, It Got Better for Vera, and Phillip admitted that the kids he spent his time at camp with were pretty nasty to him.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Gregor, one of the few nice older boys at camp, is made fun of by everyone for losing his shoe to a sinkhole and then getting stung by wasps. However, his asthma means he's the only one exempt from the Cool and Unusual Punishment Vera gives the boys at the end. In her author's notes, the real Vera admits this is one aspect that she embellished for the narrative; the real Gregor never got justice. She notes that fiction is considerably more fair than real life.
  • Life Embellished: The story is classic "creative nonfiction"; most of it is based on Vera Brosgol's real life, but some things are simplified or jazzed up for a good story's sake. For example, the story is actually based on two miserable summers Vera spent at ORRA, and while she did wander off in the woods at night by herself and hear a moose, she never actually saw it. She admits the part where she got bit by a chipmunk and made the not very smart choice to not tell an adult about it was true, though.
  • Slice of Life: The comic focuses on Vera's time at ORRA.
  • Title Drop: The first song sung at the camp is "Be Prepared".
  • We Are Not Going Through That Again: Both Phil and Vera agree, they do not need to go to camp again next year.
  • With Friends Like These...: At first, Vera makes friends with plenty of kids at the camp by showing off her artistic skills. Of course, Natasha tells Vera she shouldn't make friends in such a manner. True to Natasha's word, when Vera accidentally reveals the secret candy stash in her tent, her "friends" turn their backs on her and start to bully her mercilessly.