Being able to draw a bit had always been a benefit at Primary school. Doodles of Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles could be created in exchange for protection, food and coinage for the arcades. The best fighters at school were susceptible to such gifts and thus, I was able to stay on the right side of popularity. It’s amusing to remember these days - I think I had a better head for business than I do now. Me and a friend would make Top Trumps cards for classmates to battle with. If someone was willing to pay 10p we might create a card for them that could not be beat, until someone paid more for their own card. Loyalty to customers was fleeting - we adapted to who had power. We’d create little book stories and comics which teachers would continually have to confiscate only to later show to the whole class as examples of good presentation. These tiny books (we loved making books the size of a big match box for some strange reason) were continually stolen or robbed - the ultimate compliment really! I remember getting in trouble because two kids had fought in the playground and the teacher had traced the cause back to card game we had created - with great power comes great responsibility (see Spiderman.)
One guy at Primary school was actually a better natural drawer than me. Man he was good - could draw without source material, I still can’t do that! With this level of rival I had to think outside the box and create products and pictures with stories rather than drawings alone and work in multitude of styles to gain as many fans as possible. The classroom lessons themselves provided a few rare opportunities to refine skills- the ancient Greeks and Romans were ample chances to create battle scenes (I often opted out of ‘the draw a clay pot’ option. My skills and sales would level up when things like street fighter arrived on the gaming scene- now drawing was not confined to the classroom. Precious magazines and sticker albums (thanks Mum!) would be my bibles as I desperately tried to recreate something that vaguely resembled ‘Chun Li’ or ‘Ryu’. I’d change the names of course - I was well ahead of the game when it came to copyright :) In those days few people could afford the Super Nintendo (which had just pulled off a spectacular conversion of Street Fighter II) and so a culture was formed around something which was unobtainable to many - a bit like how people view houses now I guess.
Remnants of my early card sets. Worryingly, I think some of these drawings are better than my attempts now :/