I might be unusual in that I’m a cartoonist who didn’t grow up with comics as my dream job. For some bizarre reason I wanted to be a car mechanic. Somewhere around the time I started at my bog standard comprehensive it gradually dawned one me that I had zero interest in cars, engines or anything practical.
It truly was my dream job, I could dream about it but I would never do it.
The only thing I was any good at and had a passion for was drawing. Maybe I should pursue that. Maybe. But how? I didn’t know anyone in my small Yorkshire town who had a job in the arts. Arty stuff was for others, not working class kids like me. The only way to find a job ‘doing art’ appeared to be studying it at college. With a degree, or whatever you earned after going to university (the sphere of further education was entirely foreign to me) the world would open up to a myriad of artistic opportunities. To do that I would need to clear the hurdle of passing my A-levels. I didn’t seem to think this would be a problem despite my being a C-grade student on a good day with the wind behind me and a generous marking scheme.
I was horrified to learn I would have to study subjects other than art. I would have to learn about General Studies. A universally sneered at subject probably designed to create a fully rounded citizen who knew very little about not very much. I didn’t need to study to achieve that. Physics, maths, geography, it was as though the classes that I had struggled with throughout school had returned to haunt me in a more tedious and difficult to understand form.
Against my will I was forced to study another subject. All students, even no-hopers like me, had to study at least two ‘proper’ subjects in addition to General Studies. They tried to make me study three but I put my foot down. I knew and they knew I would not be able to cope with three A levels in addition to General Studies. That would leave me no time to loiter around the common room playing patience and sipping coffee while the other kids were actually learning stuff.
Desperately flailing I chose English Literature because I loved reading. By reading I mean I read fantasy trilogies by the kilogram. Also White Dwarf magazine. I could juggle polyhedral dice and commit complex AD&D to hit tables to memory but algebra remained incomprehensible to me. I was only interested in the real world applications of probability and statistics.
Obviously non-player character half-orcs use the attack matrix for monsters, d’uh
I can only assume my school was charitable towards low achievers or desperate for A level students, any students, because I failed my O level English Literature with flying colours. The set text was Oliver Twist and I just could not read Dickens. I still can’t read Dickens but now I would at least bother to check the Cliff Notes.
I rolled up my sleeves and settled into two long years of moderate dilatory effort.
I scraped through my studies, got a place at a Polytechnic, earned a degree and entered a world of myriad artistic opportunities. Despite all the challenges put before me (being a lousy, lazy student) I had scaled the mountain of further education and triumphantly reached the summit with a degree in hand. I was determined to get a proper job, be a fully rounded member of society, contribute to the wealth of the nation and make my mark on the world.
Instead I pursued a career in comics.
When I’m not rolling up half-orc assassins (DEX 18) I am creating books like Kerry and the Knight of the Forest and The Book Tour. I don’t know one end of an automobile from another and it’s getting a little late in the day for a career change so please support my store/digital comics/patreon or leave a positive review online.
Stay in school, kids.