In a whirlwind interview amidst the chaos of San Diego Comic-Con, subversive icon Chuck Palahniuk walked Paste through the inner workings of Fight Club 2, his upcoming, 10-part comic book maxiseries from Dark Horse. A sequel to his 1996 novel Fight Club and its eponymous film adaptation, the comic follows antihero Tyler Durden and his plans for world peace, if you will. Cameron Stewart (Batman & Robin) will handle interior art while multimedia artist David Mack (Daredevil, Kabuki) will illustrate the covers.
In the course of Paste’s interview, Palahniuk discussed segueing into the comics medium and fighting his collaborators (pun intended).
Paste: Let’s get the easiest question out of the way: why a comic book series instead of a follow-up novel?
Palahniuk: If I wrote a novel, it would be compared straight across to the original novel, and it would suffer because of that. If the sequel were a movie, it would be compared to David Fincher’s movie. Can you imagine trying to compare it to Fincher’s movie? But as a graphic novel, it has the greatest chance of being its own thing in the world and not being judged in comparison to another thing. It seemed like a really smart way to do it.
Paste: As long as you’re not breaking any rules answering this, what can we expect from Tyler and Project Mayhem?
Palahniuk: Tyler has got a way for creating world peace, for resolving all human misery and disease and deformity, but the price of that is enormous. Over the course of ten issues, we find out what Tyler’s goal is.
Paste: When did the idea of writing a comic book start stewing in your brain?
Palahniuk: About a year ago, a thriller writer named Chelsea Cain, who is a very good friend of mine, had a dinner party. It was kind of a blind date; she invited me, Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick. They all kind of ganged up on me, and they said, “You’ve gotta do a graphic novel.” They impressed me with how the comics community gets along so much better than the typical writers community. They collaborate, they don’t always work in isolation, they don’t all kind of hate each other in the ways writers can. So I just wanted to be part that.
Paste: Tell me about working with Cameron Stewart and David Mack.
Palahniuk: I’m really good with it. Nothing is so precious to me that if somebody suggests a different, more effective way of doing it, I’m more than happy to go their way and to trust that they’re much better at parts of this job than I am. It’s made it a lot more fun, like being in a band as opposed to a singer.
Paste: Which of these guys would you fight?
Palahniuk: David. He’s just a little heavier and beefier.
Paste: How does their art affect your writing? What has it taught you about writing?
Palahniuk: I put too much motion into what I was depicting in each panel. They had to really explain to me that motion isn’t effectively portrayed in comics. I had to be much more judicious with beginning and ending tasks — motions and gestures in the panels. And they also taught me about structure, in that the reveal or the setup has to happen just before the page turn, that people skim entire two pages at a time and if something compelling occurs in the wrong place, it completely robs all the other panels of the attention.
Paste: In terms of production, where are you in the series now?
Palahniuk: My job’s almost done. All 10 scripts are done. The ending is going to piss off a lot of people. It’s really a coup. When I suggested it at our last creative meeting, there was total silence; people were shocked that I would suggest something like that. And they said if I was up for writing it, they would depict it.