There Is No Contingency Plan

Meredith McClaren writes for Bleeding Cool. And draws. This is a good thing. 1

But then, I usually don't.

In fact, the most perfect summation of my professional career may just be that I have walked quietly with a big stick-

-poking at things to see what'll happen.

And this has worked out pretty well for me.

A brief aside.

My name is Meredith McClaren.

I draw comics.

It's what I've got in the grand scheme of things to offer and I'm pretty much rubbish at anything else that holds my interest.

I'm also not very talkative, least of all about myself. (The very thought of addressing anyone in the manner I write to you now gave me heart palpations for the better part of an already anxious weekend. Which is pretty funny, considering I do a twice-weekly journal comic about myself.)

I've always considered my artwork a paper tiger. It speaks loudly for me. And I can tell you honestly that I invest a lot more emotion into a single line than I ever had a printed word or tonal inflection. So I art to 'speak' and it keeps me sane.

Comics let me 'talk.' And if I do it right, I can earn a living with them.

But back to the business at hand.

Poking around and seeing what'll happen.

I'm a nervous little thing. I take my risks, but not without worry.

But there is a point where a person can stop, step back, and accept that doing something of peculiarity can't be so awful. (So long, of course, as there was no reasonable possibility that it could get you jailed or killed.)

And that line of thinking frees up a person to act upon whatever queries they may have.

-'I wonder if I can do a consistently updated, long form comic.' Spring forth my journal comic SCRAPS, now entering into its fifth year.


SCRAPS March 9 2013

 -'I wonder if I can tour Oni Press's offices.' I work for them now. I'm drawing Jen Van Meter's HOPELESS SAVAGES and it's all very kick ass.

-'I wonder if I can do a hundred plus page fantasy story in under a year.' I can't, or at least, I haven't yet. But it's been a year and a half and my webcomic HINGES has just finished it's first story arc.



 I wonder if I could Kickstarter a printing of HINGES. That remains to be seen. It has a week to go and we're not there yet. But we've come pretty damn far.

Now even though I'm in the business of rooting around to see what'll come of it, that doesn't necessarily mean I won't worry about the variety of outcomes. When I started the Kickstarter, I thought that the worst thing that could happen was that it would remain unfunded.

That was the logical fear, at least.

The illogical anxiety was that not only might it not get funded, but also that its inception would invite condemnation from the folks in my field whose opinions I respected. Or worse, that they would be DISAPPOINTED in me. (And, that's always so much more painful, isn't it?)

Turns out people are pretty nice though. People wanted to help me succeed. Friends and strangers both.

This kickstarter has done a lot for me already, whether it funds or not. I've learned more about self-promotion in the last three weeks than my entire academic career. I've pushed hard to get it funded. And I have a lot of insight now as to why.

Yeah, sure, the first week was driven mainly by the ego boost that only the possibility of success could give me. And yes, the second week was totally devoted to the few people who thought I couldn't do it, and my completely justifiable conviction to succeed out of spite. But around week three I started looking hard at the helping hands people were offering me. The ones who thought I could do it. The ones who sincerely wanted me to. Jen pitched in some rewards and Greg Rucka let me tie one into he's own Kickstarter. (Running now. LADY SABRE AND THE PIRATES OF INEFFABLE AETHER. You should check it out.) Kelly Thompson also donated rewards, and soon Kris Anka will have a tier too. They were offering their time and money to me in hopes I would succeed. And I owed it to them to push harder.

Which led to-

-'I wonder if I can write a press release for Bleeding Cool.'

I might have sucked at that. But as a result I get the privilege of addressing you fine folk now.

At first, I thought the worst that could happen is I'd never get a response.

I was wrong.

So very wrong.

Being told I could only get here if I wrote a piece myself is so much more terrifying.

(Have I mentioned that the majority of my creator owned work is silent? Clearly words are not my strong suit.)

Nothing could have made me want to crawl in a hole more.

But a gauntlet had been thrown down.

And I asked for this.

I poked around and got what I wanted, just not the way I thought I wanted it.

It's probably better that way.

My name is Meredith McClaren.

I comic to speak and I might be falling face first into a good career at it.

I'm quiet and anxious and I over-think everything.

I have no contingency plan.

And that's worked out pretty well.

-Meredith McClaren

Where you can find me: HINGES, The HINGES Kickstarter, SCRAPS, Tumblr.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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