Okay, don't panic! There's no reason to panic! All you have to do is produce a 32 page educational comic designed to teach tweens and teens reading skills. And it's gotta grab their attention and not let it go! So it's 1977, what are kids interested in. Star Wars, Charlie's Angels, Kiss, fire, noise, disaster - disasters! Got it.
Illustrated by pros like Frank Bolle and Tony DiPreta, "Panic" was published by the Xerox Corporation as a learning tool for students grades 4-6! And what exactly did they learn? That the world is a terrifying place that can, at any moment, erupt into horror and violence. But don't let that excite you unduly.
For instance let's take our lead from the news announcer, who seems amazingly unconcerned about the poison gas cloud due to envelop the entire city.
"Don't panic"? Lady, the NAME of this comic book is PANIC! Check out Mister Suit & Tie here, he's doing it right! GET OUTTA TOWN YOU CRAZY NUT
They laughed when I said I wanted a house with some river access. "It'll flood," they said. They told me I'd never use that canoe, that it would just collect dust and possibly black wideo spiders in the garage. Well, fellas, I bet you find it tough to laugh with double-lungfuls of POISON GAS!!
The thin veneer separating "civilized man" from "hairy river pirate" is stripped away by one train wreck. However, the team paddling drills Dad forced everybody to practice have certainly paid off! Choke on it, hippies!
Oh, I get it, the OLD PEOPLE get rescued. A clear case of reverse age discrimination!
So let's review our survival tips - live near a river, keep your canoe handy, look out for bandits. Meow!
But poison gas clouds from train wrecks don't happen very often! Why, the statistics say that a train derailment that leads to a chemical spill only happens once every two weeks! That's FOURTEEN WHOLE DAYS for you to get your canoe ready. What are some of the other kinds of disasters we can panic about?
Teenage folksingers in the park! Now THERE's a disaster that could strike anytime, anywhere.
Oh yeah, also earthquakes.
The rest home is burning! Who will help? Teenage folk singers to the rescue!!
Finally, someone has found a way to harness the incredibly annoying sound of the tambourine and use it as a force for good.
Looks like all it took was a terrible natural disaster to get people to appreciate teenage folk singers. "Beats dying in a fire," says their Rolling Stone review!
So let's see, earthquakes, poison gas, folksingers, canoes... any other disasters we can think of?
Hmm, these awkwardly drawn girls notice that the tide has gone way way out and awkwardly drawn crabs are scuttling around what used to be the bottom of the harbor. I wonder.
Oh yeah. Saw this in a terrible movie starring Lorne Greene. TIDAL WAVE! WHEN THIS WAVE HITS MILLIONS WILL DIE!!
Already these girls are exhibiting more sense than a lot of the gawking tourists I saw on the TV who thought it would be a great idea to watch the tidal wave from, say, the beach. Surprisingly, many are no longer with us.
The best way to experience this page is to get a couple people on both sides to make WHOOOSSSSHH noises while shaking your chair back and forth. It's Sensurround!!
Uh oh, Dad felt the beach house would be the best place to recuperate from his broken leg! Usually he'd be right. But not today.
WHEN THEY SAID THEY WERE AFRAID OF GOING UNDERWATER ON THE HOUSE THAT'S NOT WHAT THEY MEANT!! Just some recession humor there folks.
Any satisfaction or pride the girls may feel from saving so many lives is overwhelmed by the immensity of the disaster before their eyes, driving home the sheer insignificance of human beings against the uncaring, unstoppable forces of nature. Okay kids, shake off your existential gloom, it's time for recess.
But first, time to find out what you've learned! "Dale and Lee took a walk" - that's a fact. "A rooftop is a safe place during a tidal wave" - that is an OPINION. Definitely opinion. We hope you enjoyed these stories of destruction and disaster and occasional panic, and remember, emergencies can strike at any time. Is YOUR canoe ready?
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