Panic (This is No Magazine! This Is a ... Panic, Humor in a Jugular Vein) (Al Feldstein) - Educational Comics - 1954

The success of Mad brought many copycat publications into being.  The best was Panic because it used the Mad artists (Elder, Wood and Davis) who were the best in the business.  The first issue of Panic was rather mean-spirited and probably not as good as the early Mads (#1-9).  However, subsequent issues were excellent and the Kurtzman/Feldstein rivalry was born.

In the tradition of the early Mads, Feldstein wrote four stories for the second issue of Panic.  While Kurtzman was exploring new territory, Feldstein was busy using the Mad formula for its early issues.  Following Mad, Panic changed its cover style beginning with Panic #3, but the inside formula did not change until Panic #6.

Appearing on the newsstands at the same time, Panic #3 looked more like Mad than Mad #13 with the third EC magazine parody cover: "The Friday Morning Panic."  For the first time since its origin, Panic was equal to or maybe better than Mad.

Amazingly, one of Will Elder's favorite parody subjects (Li'l Abner) first appeared in Panic.  Parodies by Elder of the Al Capp comic strip would appear many more times in Mad and post-Mad publications.  At the end of the story, Elder parodies himself by enlarging five of his panels to show background humor "intended to contaminate the minds of our children."  Feldstein scored a major coup over Kurtzman with the publication of these eight pages drawn by Elder.

Feldstein again scooped Mad with the first full-story Dick Tracy parody in Panic #5.  But Kurtzman was probably not bothered by this.  He had other worlds to conquer.

While Mad printed puzzle parodies, Panic #6 tackled larger targets with six pages of commercial parodies and a seven-page parody magazine: "Popular Mecpanics."  Thus the future of EC (and Mad "magazine") became clearer.  Al Feldstein echoed the Mad #16 cover with a comment about censorship in the comic book industry on the Panic #6 cover.

Except for a few high school French students, the French translation jokes in Panic #8 were probably missed by the readers of the "Carmen" parody in this issue.  For example, the phrase "La pommeir [sic] verte est dans le jardin" (The green apple is in the garden.) was translated as "Come, Josephine, it gives free nicotine," and "Ouvrez votre bouche et parlez distinctement" (Open your mouth and speak clearly) was translated as "Three coins in the fountain ... etc."  Did the youth of America really need an opera parody?

Panic continued as a comic for four more issues after Mad became a magazine.  I have proof that some people bought Panic and did not know what comic they bought.  I found a list in my used copy of Panic #11 when I was reading it.  It was a list of the comic books that the collector owned.  The person who owned it actually thought he had a copy of "Wheedies."  He did not know that it was a cereal box parody by Panic.

Panic #12 (the last issue) may be the rarest of all EC satire comics.  Many distributors refused delivery because of a recent Comic Code ruling, causing thousands to be destroyed.  Al Feldstein joined the unemployment line. [JAM archive]