Publisher - First Second
Writer/Aritst/Letters - Vera Brosgol
Colors - Alec Longstreth
A young Vera Brosgol wants to go to a Russian summer camp. Things do not go as expected in this tale inspired by real events. Even though I was a fan of Brosgol's past sequential work, I was not sure if this was going to be my cup of tea. Those doubts got silenced real quick.
One of the things that makes Be Prepared stand out is its handling of Russian culture . Brosgol does a fantastic job of informing readers of things that they might need to know, while not spending too much time on details. In some scenes, the reader is intentionally kept out of the loop. In the context of the story, that is not a bad thing; in fact, it is one of the best parts of Be Prepared. That disconnect ties in wonderfully to the author's past struggles with fitting in, whether it is in her neighborhood or at camp.
What also makes the writing superb is how all of the characters not only deal with Brosgol's younger self, but how they play off of each other. There is a real emotional weight to the highs and lows of these characters' experiences. Nothing comes off as cheap or forced, but as a natural progression from what was previously established. Most of the characters have a sympathetic side to them, even if they act immorally at times.
Brosgol's art feels like a pure extension of her writing. There is nothing flashy about her art. However, she amazes with a wonderful sense of visual storytelling. Her layouts rarely go into single page shots or double page spreads. When those do appear, they successfully make the depicted moments feel more special. Even in the quieter moments, there is an palpable energy in the way the characters express themselves. The color palette that Alec Longstreth uses is a mix of white, black, and various shades of green. It is an unusual, artistic choice, but it is one that works. Longstreth does a fine job of giving Be Prepared a unique visual identity without compromising the narrative.
There is a simple elegance to the lettering. It's clean and consistent, while still maintaining personality. The way language is handled in the context of the story is really well done. It is very easy to tell when two different characters may understand each other in terms of what the other is saying, even though they may be speaking in two different languages.
Be Prepared is well worth a purchase. There is a wealth of skill on display by all involved from beginning to end. It is arguably one of the best releases of the year.