Here's a math problem: If you have 18 candy bars and you eat four on Monday, three on Tuesday and five on Wednesday, what do you have on Thursday?
"Diabetes," answers Succotash, one of many comic youth characters created for the strip Peanizles by Andover native Don Mathias.
The comic industry is changing, and artists around the world are trying to adapt to the rising presence of Internet audiences. After creating Peanizles for Skope magazine in 2001 and publishing the comic regularly to the Internet, Mathias has brought his characters and series to a new format for him — the comic book. Mathias' first books cost $5 each.
"The established way of going is that you try to get syndicated, which was hard," said Mathias, who also penned "Entering Andover" in the Andover Townsman for 13 years, until April 2011. "The cartoonists who are established are still trying to figure out how to do things."
Peanizles follows a band of school-aged friends who face challenges that people face in the real world, according to Mathias. Topics tackled by the cartoon have varied over the years, including lemonade stands bought out by "Stahbucks," and reduced allowances because of economic conditions facing "the 99 percent" highlighted in recent Occupy protests throughout America.
Soon, a character in the comic will make a bid for class president. Those events will coincide with the US presidential election later this year, according to Mathias.
"Each character is just parts of everybody," said Mathias, a 1989 Andover High graduate. "That's the beauty of comics — you can take something that everybody's relating to, and put it into [a storyline]."
Peanizles often honors other comics and artists. The final page of the Peanizles' first book features characters from Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, Bloom County and more.
"It's fun to socially interact with other characters, as long as you are tasteful about it," said Mathias. "You have to really be faithful to [the comic's] original stuff, and you can poke fun at it. It's interesting how many people out there do parodies."
With an "almost daily comic strip" on the web, one book now in print and two more expected later this year, Peanizles is also seen in classrooms as an instructional aids. It is used in language-learning textbooks in countries like China.
"It gives [students] a better idea of what the English language is and how it works, and how people interact," said Mathias. "It's a great educational tool, and it is entertaining too. It makes it more fun for them to work and get educated."
People can buy the book online at peanizles.storenvy.com, or at area comic book shops.
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