by Chris O’Neal
If by now you haven’t read Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club, or seen David Fincher’s 1999 adaptation starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, you’ve certainly have at least caught the rules of the namesake: The first rule is never to speak about Fight Club. The second rule is a reiteration of the first.
Palahniuk is a rule breaker. In May 2015, he returned to the world inhabited by Tyler Durden, the split personality of the character Sebastian, with a 10-issue comic book series. In Fight Club 2, Durden and his crew of misfits have infiltrated the world’s governments and formed splinter-cell terrorist organizations, some linked to the creation of ISIS — all unbeknownst to Sebastian, who had believed he had suppressed his violent alter ego.
Also this year, Palahniuk’s 2002 horror novel, Lullaby, became the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign to adapt the work into a film, with a pledge total over $400,000.
The Fight Club 2 graphic novel has been released in a hardcover collection that Palahniuk will sign copies of this Sunday, July 3, at Hypno Comics in Ventura. He took time out from his tour to answer a few questions by email.
Where did the inspiration for a sequel toFight Club come from?
The inspiration came from several sources. One was the writings of Joseph Campbell. These were hinted at in my original novel but never fully developed, especially Campbell’s theory that males need a secondary father to finish raising them beyond their biological father. Another inspiration was David Fincher’s film of Fight Club and how David played with the mechanical conventions of film — splicing, film breaks, film caught in the gate, reel changes — to build greater credibility. He wasn’t hiding the fact that his film was a film; he exploited it. In [Fight Club 2] we tried to exploit everything that can mechanically go wrong in printing a comic.
Why did you choose the comic book format? What benefits does the format have over film or a novel?
I chose the comic medium because both the original book and film had passionate audiences. Only a sequel depicted in a third medium would have a chance to become its own story without feeling like an extension of the past. That said, comics also allow visual storytelling with the nonverbal, immediacy of film, but without the literalness of film. Thus, I can use elements that would be too upsetting and alienating if made real enough to be filmed. And I can depict a character in ways no self-respecting actor would agree to.
InFight Club 2, Tyler Durden is hell-bent on world destruction. Was this a natural progression, from homegrown anti-consumerism (at least in my interpretation) to worldwide terror network?
Tyler represents the “fresh start” or “New Deal” idea that many disaster preppers adore. So many people want to see a huge catastrophe cull the human population and leave the world an Eden-like paradise for the survivors.
Did you see the kind of revolution called for by Tyler in, say, the Occupy movement? Where does it live now?
Like many people, I love urban ruins. It’s that wonderful pornography of cities and industrial landscapes depleted of people and overgrown with flora. Tyler’s revolution will always be behind the scenes, never as visible as Occupy.
Your work seems to be very prescient of oncoming social issues, such as inLullaby with cultural appropriation. Is that a fair assessment? What can you see yourself tackling with future novels?
Future novels and stories will deal with gender appropriation, a subject still quivering on the horizon. And I’ll tackle the increasing sexual behavior of people online, especially adults who role-play as children. Oh, and I’m fascinated by “berserk llama syndrome”; romance between humans and animals is such an ancient theme, but it never gets old.
Chuck Palahniuk will sign copies of Fight Club 2 this Sunday, July 3, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hypno Comics, 1803 E. Main St., Ventura. This is a ticketed event; $30 includes a copy of the graphic novel to be signed. For more information, visit www.hypnocomics.com.