One of my friends who I'm running his first P&P RPG for is playing an alchemist as his first character.
Chuffy, a horrible little goblin alchemist who hates other goblins, likes explosions, and travels around with a small cart full of junk, both because he's a merchant, a magpie, and likes to show off. He frequently wears glasses he doesn't need, or fiddles around on an abacus to make himself look smart.
He found a caged pseudodragon in a bandit camp, and thought it was the best thing ever. He proceeded to refuse to release it for fear it would escape, then release it but beg it to stay, and bribe it with cheese. Once he actually got it to hang around, he named it Chuffy Two, and brings it everywhere.
Though he does make use of alchemy, potion crafting, and extracts, he seems to play it more as 'horrible goblin who loves exploding things' rather than creepy psycho-chemist. Personally, I think it's a fabulous character, even if he wasn't a complete novice at this.