For the Spring 2013 season, we came out with the first two books in our now bestselling 100 Reasons to Panic series. As many of you know from previous posts or because you’ve got eagle eyes on our product as it evolves and morphs over time, we love to use content and concepts from previous product when we can. Yes, the earlier incarnations may have ridden out their original shelf lives, but when there’s a nugget that still lodges in our hearts and minds, we like to revisit it when we can think of a new and fresh twist.
Prior to coming up with the Panic series, I couldn’t get a particular greeting card line out of my brain. For the most part, Knock Knock stopped doing standard greeting cards in 2007, but between 2002 and 2007, we built up a huge archive of ideas, lines, and designs that I still love. One of these was the “Now that you’re _____, you can look forward to . . .” concept:
- Now that you’re aging, you can look forward to . . . (birthday card!)
- Now that you’re single, you can look forward to . . . (commiseration! and that bastard didn’t deserve you!)
- Now that you’re in therapy, you can look forward to . . . (we’re all crazy!)
- Now that you’re sick, you can look forward to . . . (get well soon)
- Now that you’re engaged, you can look forward to . . . (congratulations)
- Now that you’re married, you can look forward to . . . (congratulations)
- Now that you’re pregnant, you can look forward to . . . (congratulations)
- Now that you’re a parent, you can look forward to . . . (congratulations, or whatever)
What I loved about these cards is what we strive for in most Knock Knock product: a balance between truth and humor. So, if you’re a parent, you can look forward not only to “incomprehensible love” and “moments of awe” but also “wiping up all manner of toxic excretion,” “suppressing moments of unmitigated rage,” and “realizing you’re just like your parents after all.” I strongly felt there was a book concept in these cards, and thus the 100 Reasons to Panic concept was born.
Early brainstorming led very quickly to one format: we would juxtapose a reason to panic set in bigger, more prominent type with the tonic to that reason to panic in much smaller, asterisked type below. If you’re getting married and panicking about being “stuck with the same person for the rest of your life,” for example, you will be reassured to know that “you’ll never have to go on a first date again.”
If I had done the editorial on these books, I’m pretty certain they would have been much darker. Because, you know, I’m much darker. Also, my original idea was that the tonic would include lots of nonfiction elements, i.e., stats to show that your panic might be misplaced. I remember the day I read the manuscripts for the first two books, around July 2012, which also happened to coincide with the era when I was starting to have nothing to do with the actual creation of most of our products—a huge and amazing step in Knock Knock’s development, attributable to the world’s most amazing team. Reading these drafts was a revelation. The group had executed the concept very differently from how I would have done it, but they had done it so much better. For a control freak, this was a great reward for letting go.
This month we’re going to ask you friends of Knock Knock to submit your own #ReasonstoPanic on social media. Because I’m pretty sure that most of us are panicking all the time, even the ones who are doing yoga. We’d also love to know what 100 Reasons to Panic topic you’d like us to cover next.
When I was first thinking about writing this post, my first thought was to list and analyze all the reasons why I panic. The problem is, once again, they’re pretty dark. I panic because I suspect everybody or somebody hates me. I panic because I think I said something that was either definitely and indisputably offensive or stupid, or something that possibly could have been taken as offensively stupid. I panic because I dread the social situations that I usually end up enjoying, partly because I know I’ll need a long refractory period afterward to recover from them. I panic because I feel overexposed, because my personality is too big, because I put myself out there too much, because I humiliate myself (including, in this weird post-whatever world, on social media). I panic because I think I’ll be exposed as the fraud that I am. I panic if I’m in a depression that I think will never end, because that’s one of the definitions of depression, that you think it’ll never end. I panic that I’ll never be able to manage my moods. I panic because I think my relationship will come to a crashing, crushing end. I panic because my family doesn’t like me (really—most of them don’t). I panic because I think I’m ultimately unlovable. I panic because the fattest of my fat pants are getting tight, which means I’ll never turn this inflatable cruise ship around. I panic because maybe I’ve peaked already and everything else is going to be downhill, especially physically, and I’m going to age poorly and with pain and immobility.
Truthfully, I think those are some of the reasons why we all panic, or at least something along those dark lines. We just don’t actually say them very much. Unfortunately, they don’t make for the best humor and gift book topics. If you take my list above and propose some titles at an editorial meeting, here’s what it looks like:
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Everybody—Yep, Everybody—Hating You
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Saying Really Offensive, Stupid Things That You Don’t Actually Mean
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Being a Secret Fraud
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Being Depressed and Moody Forever
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Being Utterly Unlovable
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Getting Fatter and Fatter Until You’re a Shut-In Who Requires a Helicopter for Home Extraction
- 100 Reasons to Panic About Having Peaked at the Age of Six
Somehow I just don’t see those with the cute little two-color drawings. But maybe when you tell us which new 100 Reasons to Panic titles you’d like to see, something on this list will be there—stranger things have happened. We’ll just have a really hard time finding the asterisked fine-print tonics. But, as ever, this amazing Knock Knock team is up to it. Which isn’t to say they won’t panic beforehand.