Chuck Palahniuk talks 'Fight Club 2,' shares excerpt of 'Expedition'
Maybe the first rule of Fight Club is never to talk about Fight Club. But almost 20 years after the debut of Chuck Palahniuk’s formative novel, the world is showing no signs of stopping. First, there was David Fincher’s popular 1999 film, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton—a movie that became a cultural phenomenon and cult classic. And now, Palahniuk has ushered his characters into a new medium with the debut of his comic, Fight Club 2.
A 10-issue series with art by Cameron Stewart that further unravels the mythology of Tyler Durden’s world, Fight Club 2 is currently out in comic stores from Dark Horse. In addition to Palahniuk’s comic debut, the author recently published his first short story collection called Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread, featuring Expedition—a Fight Club 2 prequel focused on the character of Tyler. Palahniuk’s Expedition story will be released this summer as a limited edition vinyl record/audio book read by the author himself, and you can listen to the first five minutes exclusively here at EW.
The vinyl comes courtesy of Rare Bird Books, who have just launched a series of audiobooks with stories read by authors including Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, and more, many of which also include a full musical score. There will be a limited edition SDCC record available at the Random House Booth and EW also has your first exclusive look (above) at the cover of the special SDCC first issue of Fight Club 2, by Joelle Jones.
With all of this, how has the acclaimed author been handling the resurgence of Fight Club mania? “It’s been fantastic,” said Palahniuk, who’s currently on tour promoting Make Something Up. “The events have just been real circuses.”
By now, Palahniuk’s story of how Fight Club 2 was conceived (a Portland dinner party with some of the comic industry’s leading writers) is well-known—still, he maintained that “it wasn’t until Chelsea Cain threw that dinner party,” that he really began to consider being a part of the comic book world. “Chelsea was really, really pushing for me to meet Matt [Fraction] and Kelly Sue [Deconnick] and everybody,” he explained. “And she put us all together, and was sort of the midwife of the whole thing.” After the genesis of Fight Club 2 started to take place, Palahniuk then had to learn how to adapt his story for the medium. Luckily, the author easily found a way to take advantage of the storytelling, thanks in part to inspiration from Fight Club director David Fincher.
“One goal was to take advantage of the medium, in the way that Fincher had kind of not hidden the fact that his film was a film,” said Palahniuk. “He let the film shake in the gate, he let the film break, he let the film burn. He showed splices, he pointed out the changeover marks, he really made fun of a film within a film. And so part of writing the sequel is to try to be aware of all the conventions that are unique to the medium of comics, and take advantage of those … like getting the register wrong to create chaos and moments of chaos, and sort of heighten whatever the emotional mood is by doing something that only comics can do.”
To keep the story cohesive, Palahniuk worked closely with artist Cameron Stewart. The two spent most of last summer holding meetings in Portland—sometimes several times a week—and the result, as Palahniuk explained, was more than just a strong collaboration. “I gave him reference photos of locations of the friends that the original story was based on so that he wouldn’t have to fall back on the actress from the movie,” said Palahniuk. “And the more I saw his work, the more I realized what he did best and I started to re-write based on what I recognized as his strengths, things that he did really uniquely and really beautifully. And so I’m trying to challenge him, but I’m also trying to play to what he already does so well.”
One of the most intriguing things about Tyler Durden’s story is that in both Expedition and Fight Club 2, Palahniuk places the protagonist in two different places—literally. And according to the author, that move was international, along with the prominence of certain characters who weren’t overly visible in previous adaptations. “Marla is much more of a character this go-around. She’s at least as big as the protagonist, who is now called Sebastian,” said Palahniuk. “I wanted to take the mythology in both directions. So the comic moves into the future, but it also depicts the past, going back generations to show that Tyler wasn’t just an aberration for one man during one period—that he, in a way, has been kind of destroying families leading up to Sebastian’s family for centuries.”
After such a long hiatus, returning to the world of Fight Club could have been something that was a challenge. But Palahniuk believes that the break was exactly what made it a perfect time to return to this story and the characters that the world fell in love with back in the ’90s. “I wanted them to be changed significantly enough that this would not just be a bunch of antics, a bunch of goofy adventures,” he said. “I wanted to have something real at stake, because the protagonist was so critical of his father that I wanted to make him a father and demonstrate that he wasn’t doing any better, and then bring him to this challenge of having him save his son. So in that way, I had to wait 10 years so he could have a son who was 10 years old.” But even after years of Fight Club being a part of mainstream media, there was nothing that changed how Palahniuk saw the characters—save for the fact that he realized people wanted more.
“The characters are still so much based on my friends,” said the author. “But in regards to writing the sequel, I had written several versions, and then I was at the Emerald City Comic Con in February. And a bunch of fans had an event and started to ask about a character from the original book. And I realized people wanted a certain amount of newness and novelty, but they really wanted to bridge back and find back what had happened to all the secondary characters that I had not planned to include. I’m now in the middle of these huge re-writes working in these subplots for these secondary characters, that I’m just tickled that people bonded with so well.”
Fight Club 2 is currently available in comic book stores from Dark Horse.