River Acheron
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What brought you here?

No, this is not some existential question about life, the universe and everything. This month, I am asking quite literally…what brought you here to Comicality? How did you discover this community? And to get us in the Thanksgiving spirit this month…why are you thankful of that?

For me, it all began in 2007. I was 13 years old and was (and still am, even moreso!) a big horror and sci-fi fan. When it comes to fiction, even at a very young age – probably like 8 or 9 years old – I have always loved ensemble stories, of a group of misfits or unlikely heroes fighting some evil or injustice, where one character stands out as the most important, or the chosen one, or the prophet, the savior, etc. The ‘Dragonlance’ novels for example, the ‘Final Fantasy’ video games, many different manga series such as ‘Fruits Basket’, TV shows like ‘Star Trek: Deep Space 9’ (trust me, it fits that criteria…and it’s also dark as HELL!), movies like ‘The Matrix.’ I ate all this up and was always looking around on the internet for these types of tales, whatever the medium was. The one thing missing in these (even as late as 2007) was a distinct lack of LGBT characters…especially main characters! It is a situation that is vastly improving now, but that was not the case back then. So, I would check out gay-themed story sites, especially sci-fi/horror sections, because that’s my thing and I came across Gone From Daylight, and have been an avid reader and fan ever since. It literally has everything I have ever looked for in fiction and more. I remember at the time, (and this is a complement), it had a very big ‘Matrix’ feel to me….but with gay vampires! A match made in heaven. What also turned me on to the story was the setting; while I will always and forever have a soft spot for ‘Nosferatu’ and ‘Dracula’, there was something about the city vampire scene that always appealed to me. Movies like ‘Blade’, ‘The Hunger’ (eh to a lesser extent), ‘Near Dark’. What ‘Gone From Daylight’ did for me is it took so many aspects of what I enjoy in my fiction, that it literally took my breath away.

I enjoyed the story so much that a few years ago, it was one motivator for me to visit Chicago and check out the anchor on Navy Pier for myself (being gothic, and standing out there at sunset looking out at lake Michigan sure turned a few heads!), but I loved it…it was like a little pilgrimage for me, since that story changed my life, and inspired my own creative side. Note: I do not recommend riding on that damn Ferris Wheel after a few beers!. I also discovered I loved the city itself (Especially ‘Three Dots and a Dash’, a little, almost hidden, back ally gothic/voodoo/Polynesian nightclub! Not even sure how I discovered it!)

During these uncertain political times, it’s more important than ever to support authors who incorporate LGBT characters openly in their stories. I am so proud how inclusive fiction has become as of late, and can only hope it continues. We live in an age where we can have a character on ‘The Walking Dead’, or ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ who just happens to be gay. No big deal is made out of it, it’s not spotlighted or spoofed like in ages past. Acceptance has never been so strong, but we must remember the past we came from and realize that it can all be taken away. Thus, take nothing for granted! I truly believe that what Comicality, and authors/screenwriters like him, give us is the opportunity to read about characters that are just like us, and it’s okay to be gay, trans, bi, etc. I am too young to know or understand how things were in older decades but I have read horror stories from the Stonewall Riots to Matthew Shepard, but I am wise enough to know that hate and bigotry does still occur and could come back full force once again. Yet, I am thankful that we live in a county where reading or watching something that’s LGBT-inclusive is not something that can get us dragged out into the street by the police at 3 in the morning, and it is my hope that where that does still occur, that the hate stops and the people wake up. Finding Comicality, now 13 years ago, and seeing the progression of our own society during a cultural paradigm shift is something I am thankful for, and to be part of this magazine now is a dream come true.

I would ask you guys to share your own experiences to what led you here, and tell us why you are thankful for that. We all come from different walks of life, with difference circumstances which makes this community a melting pot of acceptance. During this age of social media, you really do not see those kind of close-knit ties anymore. So lets be thankful of Com for starting this, and lets be thankful of each other. 🙂

“What brought me here?

Well, in 2007 when I was 22, I was going through a particularly rough patch. I could even say, suicidal, that’s how I felt at times. Nothing to do with sexuality. Just personal bullshit. Family business, and an ex-boyfriend, and a couple of other personal things. I was also spending more time on my own, and more time online than I used to.

I discovered My Only Escape on some website I can’t remember, a blog or something listing gay stories free online to read. I read the description for M.O.E and it sounded appealing and very relatable to me. It was one of the first gay themed stories I’d ever read. I loved it and quickly went through Com’s stories. I left the short stories and GFD for last because I didn’t think I’d enjoy GFD, and I prefer novels to shorts.

Anyway, GFD ended up not just being my favourite of Com’s but one of my favorite stories ever. And it changed my life. I’m not being hyperbolic. I could just so relate to it and I could feel the passion in Com’s words and in the story he was telling. I fell in love with Justin and Taryn, and I still fret over the fate of those two young, beautiful lovers, cause of the prophecy involving the mimic and his partner.

I actually stayed silent on the forum and the shack for over a year before I decided I wanted to be a part of the community too. I never used to be the kind of person who’d be active on forums and social media. On here for about 18 months, I just checked for updates in the Library, and things like that. I’ve changed a lot over the years. But then, who hasn’t?

I think I made my first actual post on the Shack around the time Michael Jackson died. June 2009. And the rest is history. 🙂

What am I thankful for? I guess true friends, and people in your life who don’t take advantage but appreciate you. I have gotten rid of most of the riff raff in my past. I’ve discovered that most people are just selfish, sorry, I know it’s negative, but it’s true, in my experience. I value the few decent, kind, honest people around me, and pay little attention to the rest.

Hope this is reply is at least somewhat coherent, I’m still feeling a little ill.” –Mike

 

“For me, I don’t remember exactly how it happened. I had just bought my first Kindle Fire, and I was looking for gay romance stories to fill it with. That’s how I discovered The Secret Life of Billy Chase. After reading book three or four, I thought, “Hmmmm. I wonder what else this person has written?” So, I did a Google search, and Gay Authors was at the top of the page. So, I’ve read many Comsie stories on GA, but The Shack came later.” –Page Scrawler

 

“Well, I always liked reading (although that doesn’t mean you always have/take the time for it). At some point I wanted to read a few more stories about gay people. Due to that I found gayauthors, liked some of the stories there and read a lot there for the next while. There are really some jewels there. (Although sometimes stories can also be heartbreaking.)

One funny thing: I mostly searched for completed stories, because I didn’t want to read a story without an end, where you would have to wait for updates with pauses between them, if you want to know how the story continues – I definitely came to the right place here. 🙂

I think the first story, after which I decided to look up more stories from that particular author was Connor’s best. At that point I realized the similar style with some other stories and that I liked it. It definitely were those (completed 😉 ) “daydream” short stories that brought me here (like “Connor’s Best”, “Boy Valentine” and “Written”). After that it was a fun game to play “Have I read that?” – “And do I know that?”

Of course I still hadn’t read the majority of Comsie’s work. (I mean, more than 6 million words…) But there were quite a few stories that I recognized. I realized for example that I knew “My Only Escape” already.

It didn’t take too long and I had found the community behind it and started to participate a bit. Sometimes it is really funny, that I’m really new in comparison to like almost everyone here.

Let’s hope the best for the future of the shack.” –Who4M1

 

Everything that I have ever accomplished as an author, site owner, community founder, reader, and fan, was skewered when I found Comicality. Thanking back, I was looking around an internet that was still a toddler for people who could relate to this horrible secret I had been hiding from the world. I was in my mid-20s and this new ability to connect with others who were like-minded and just as frightened to be out to the public or even just to friends and family made me feel like so much less of an outsider or freak of nature. I had found the Nifty archive and even though many of the stories were straight-up textual porn, there were plenty of stories that I found absolutely amazing, heartwarming, maybe even comforting in their way of letting me know that I wasn’t so alone in the world even if I did feel isolated in my everyday life. Then I found a newer author who called himself Comicality.

I can remember sitting up all night reading everything I could find that he wrote until passing out on my keyboard. Following the links to his website, I very quickly realized that I was a Shacker before that was even a thing. LOL! Back then if someone wrote a story that struck a chord with me in any way, I emailed them to thank them and tell them how I loved their work and how I appreciated their willingness to share it. I went into full “FanBoi” mode when I saw the name “Comicality” in my inbox. “Oh my god!!! He answered!!!” It was just as impactful as writing a letter to your biggest celebrity crush and actually getting a reply. But it didn’t end there. Comicality wasn’t just replying out of courtesy. He was just as impacted by my feedback and as fate would have it, he was just a guy, just like me. Not sure why I ever felt that he was above all that but, we do tend to put our idols on a pedestal. It’s kind of funny to think back to how I responded to him then considering I work pretty closely with him on a couple of projects now. I joke that I would lose it seeing his name in my inbox back then and now, they often mean I have work to do… groan. LMAO!

I could write a novel based solely on what would happen in the years to follow but in short, it was just the first step in a very long and interesting journey.

So, I’m here because here was one of the first places that I ever felt “at home” with a new family that I could just be “me” with. That family encouraged me to share some of the stories I had to tell, it pushed me to continue to reach out to other authors which led to that new family planting the seed that would become an actual community that is still alive and well, even if it does look a little different now… but don’t we all? – JeffsFort

 

I was in a really dark state of mind. I was mentally and emotionally drained and all i want to do is lay down and sleep but the problem is i can’t sleep… music is not working so i decided to read and then i googled some gay stories. I dunno how, i don’t remember much but i just remember Gone From The Daylight was the first ever story that i’ve read and then i was hooked. I’ve read every series or short stories and in some ways it gave me joy and it keep me distracted. I smile, laugh and cried a lot. I can’t believe it’s been years i’m forever thankful.”   -Mordred

 

How did I get here? Well, when the Daddy …. oh sorry, wrong answer!

Actually, just before I moved to Iowa, I found the Shack, and immediately found people I could talk to about the parts of my life that I couldn’t acknowledge in public at the time. New Kid In School was the bait, any I was drawn in as Comsie’s latest catch. Com and I exchanged quite a few emails, and one day I told him about this dream I was having that wouldn’t stop – a dream I remembered clearly after each time waking up. Always helpful, Comsie finally convinced me to at least try to write a short story about the dream … yeah, I fell for it! Seriously, he gave me the support I needed to write my first-ever  attempt at a story for others to read – if only I had known what it would become! Thanks to Comsie and the Shack community, my first chapter was a big hit. Their support led me to attempting a second chapter, and from that point what I’m told is an internet legend was born. Thanks to the Shack family, I gained the confidence to continue the story. With that, after meeting Gary Q and Jeff P online, I was given the honor of being one of the founders of the Fort Family community, a community that survives to this day due to the support of a lot of current and former Shackers.

Last month my first attempt at writing celebrated its 18th birthday … it is reaching the end of the third book, with a fourth book coming soon … and it is ALL Comicality’s fault! That is a running joke between the two of us, and I’m honored to still be one of his online friends after all these years. Over that time, I’ve had the opportunity to assist teens and adults with their own life issues, which makes every day worth it. Comsie’s big heart just wants those he helps to pay it forward, and I’m proud to say that the community formed around the Fort Family has taken that lesson and paid it forward in spades. – ACFan

 

What brought me to Imagine Magazine? Rather it should be what brought me to come to Comicality…

Many moons ago, I was looking for something different to read. After searching for a time I came to the story that many of you probably know, called gone from darkness. After binge-reading that story in a few sleepless days, I started looking for other stories by this mysterious author called, ComiCality.

Needless to say, two weeks later, very very few hours of sleep, I found that I had read virtually everything you had ever published, at least all that he had available online.

Subsequently, I sent a message via email to this mysterious figure, and actually received a response. True it was a while after I sent it, but in there was a challenge. The Challenge was, if I really enjoyed what I read, I could try writing something myself.

When I read that, it took me a few minutes to stop laughing. But, I happened across a writing prompt and decided, “what the hell” I tried to write a response. I sent that response to our illustrious friend, and he responded again in a way I never expected.

His response was, “Hey, this is isn’t bad… let’s see some more…”

Long story short, it’s all his fault. I’ve now been running for many years, and find that it is extremely enjoyable. When Comsie told me about Imagine Magazine, I knew I had to participate.

I sincerely hope that you all enjoy this collaboration of sorts between Comsie and his reader community as well as those of us we have taken the plunge and starting to write ourselves.

When I thanked Comsie for his help his only response was,  “Just pass on the desire.”

So my message to each of you, if you think you could do better,  Bring it on. I look forward to reading your efforts. – TrueFan

 

What brought me to Comicality… Well, I was in working for Schneider National or at least training to become a truck driver. Around those times I was always wide awake at the darnedest hours. Mainly I was awake till four am every night. One night I was searching for a dark story to read and searched many story sites.

After searching I found Comicality’s site and just took a deep dive into the site and read many, many, words and chapters. I read about things that go more than bump in the night. While mainly reading in the night.

After reading and going to sleep bleary eyed nearly every morning for over a month. I shrieked in terror realizing I had read most of the site. At which point I took a short break maybe an hour. And then started reading it again.

I remembered to write Comicality when ever I had a moment between driving, reading, eating and not sleeping. I remember the feeling of receiving a response from him. It was like opening a Christmas Present.

I am extremely glad Comsie is still giving the gift of stories after all these years. As I sit here reminiscing, Comsie is one of the many writers whose comments inspired my writing.

My advice to anyone out there who wants to write stories “Don’t just think about it. Write it.” – Brynmor

 

I was dragged kicking and screaming into Comsie’s original IRC Chat by a person whose name I shan’t mention. I had mentioned to some of the Admins on Jeff’s Fort Board (Now Deceased) that I was reading The Secret Life Of Billy Chase that if I wanted to chat with Comicality to join his IRC Chat so I did, however, IRC decided to ban all of California so I had trouble chatting. Finally Jeff’s Fort gave me an IRC Script that let me in. It was my first time chatting with people outside of The Fort. I did enjoy it had a lot of fun. Eventually it took up too much of my time that I need to use for writing.

I was very surprised to find that Comsie now had a Discord Channel and finagled an invitation, I have been popping in and out occasionally and been having fun.

It is great seeing some of the old ‘faces’ and lots of new ones. It is cool seeing all of the new people being exposed to Comsie’s awesome work. I do have to admit that the first time I chatted with AC and Comsie I was a bit starstruck, until I finally realized that they both put their pants on one leg at a time, just like I do. Well, I assume Comsie wears pants.

I am still amazed at the volume of quality output that Comsie puts out, and the number of different genres that he writes in, he does an awesome job. Thanks to Memories by ACFan, I was introduced to more of Comsie’s work, and I am honoured that Comsie has allowed me to host his story The Plateau. Here’s to many more years of Comsie’s writing and the Hot Tub! – The Story Lover

 

“…I can’t really say that anything ‘brought’ me here, seeing as I built the place. Hehehe! But as far as the idea and the origin of The Shack Out Back…I think it had a lot to do with me releasing a lot of pent up feelings and desires, and just wanting other people to not feel the way I felt at that time.

I was still pretty new to the internet, personally, and I don’t even remember what the heck I was looking for at the time, but a gay story came up in my searches. It was about two teen boys on a boat together, and they were sunbathing I think. And I had never read a story like it before. It was homoerotic and sexy and they were teen boys! I don’t think there was any sex in the story, but I thought it was amazing just from the affection alone! So, there was a link to other stories by the same author, and that led me to the Nifty Archive. I started devouring every story from every category that I could! And the more I read, the more I wanted to participate!

I just remember being a kid and thinking that it wasn’t too much to ask to want someone to kiss and snuggle with. I mean, sure, I was horny and boy crazy and I definitely wanted the sexy parts of a relationship too…but I was really searching for intimacy, trust, romance…the same thing that everybody else was looking for. But I had to keep it a secret. Nifty was the only place that spoke to me at that time. And it changed my life. Changed the way I looked at myself, and life in general. I don’t know who I’d be right now if I hadn’t discovered it when I did.

Anyway, I burned through what seemed like five hundred stories before I started to get a little bored with them. The formula got a bit stale. ‘Boy meets cute boy, cute boy smiles and wants to go somewhere private, boys have sex, boy whispers I love you, and then…happily ever after’. I mean, they were great for some momentary relief, but I wanted more character development, more story, more conflict. And once I found a few more really well told stories on Nifty, I wrote to the authors to let them know that I enjoyed it…and they wrote BACK! Which I didn’t expect at all! I think that was the catalyst for me. There were real people, with real lives, sharing a lot of the same wants and dreams and experiences that I had growing up and always wanted. I sat down, and I wrote the first “New Kid In School”, just to say that I did it, you know? It was supposed to just be a one time thing. And when I started getting positive responses from people and they began asking me what happens next…I got hooked. I kept writing and writing and eventually had to build a site to hold them all. The rest, as they say, is history. 🙂

I doubt that I’d be able to recognize myself if I could go back and meet the person I was before The Shack came along. I’ve grown so much. I’ve learned a lot from the people I’ve met, both online and in person. I’ve fallen in love a few times, got my heart broken a few times, shed some tears, and lent a shoulder for others to shed some as well. Overall, The Shack was calling out to me before it even existed. And it healed parts of me that I didn’t even know needed healing. It started out as an expression of sexual frustration and angst…but it became so much more than that. It’s an amazing feeling to have talked at length and joked around with kids as young as 13 or 14 years old, have them grow up, graduate high school and college, buy a home, get boyfriends (or even husbands)…and yet, there’s still this little corner in the back of their mind that causes them to stop by every now and then and say hello! Hehehe, like…that’s crazy to me! But it lets me know that this place did some good, and that it holds some significance in somebody’s life, and always will. That means more to me than anything in the world. It affected them the same way it affected me. I guess it made us all better in the end.

So thanks to you all for that. I mean that. ((Hugz))” –Comicality

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