Welcome to Fight Club.
Today sees the release of Fight Club 2 #3, featuring the introduction of some new characters along with the first name-drop of a major (and meta) threat: Chuck Palahniuk.
That's right; the author behind Fight Club and creator of the franchise will make his presence known in a very literal way, interacting with characters and directly shaping the plot both from the outside and in.
And Palahniuk joined ComicBook.com to talk about the issue, and the creative process that will bring him face to bruised and bleeding face with his creations.
Spoilers on for Fight Club 2 #3. If you haven't read it yet, you can pick up your copy here, or at your local comic shop.
What was the idea of adding yourself into the story?
The original story balanced narrative action scenes with “big voice” observations, giving the characters a philosophical soapbox to stand on and address the world. What they said didn’t need to be totally right or wrong, but it did need to depict their worldview. In the film, Fincher played with this duality of Witness vs. Participant. He loved having Brad Pitt say the lines “I look the way you want to look” and “I fuck who you want to fuck” because they’re true for the characters as well as for the actor. Those speeches in the film break the fourth wall like my soapbox speeches did in the book. Likewise, by adding myself to the roster of characters I’m also sampling reality into the story. It’s acknowledging the idea that I’ve become a “character” in the public mind, yet I’m still a person. For years my Wiki page read like the wild speculations about Tyler Durden. By dropping myself in FC2, I’m also riffing on the recent years of best-selling memoirs wherein writers showcase themselves, tinkering with the truth to create better plots and staging themselves to seem as appealing as possible. Just you wait, I’ve asked Cameron to give me an enormous wanger.
Here, the man on the porch with the glasses seems to almost play the role vacated by Tyler. His ruse exposed, he is openly aggressive, Project Mayhem clearly dangerous. Would you say that's a fair characterization?
You’re referring to Mister Know-It-All. His character is allowed to make bookish references to Joseph Campbell, Robert Bly, Victor Turner and risk seeming more erudite than Tyler could ever come across. Tyler might know all this social theory, but he knows it on an intuitive level, and generates actions which demonstrate it physically. Mister Know-It-All can simply spout academic words. It’s a nice lull between action sequences, and it might prompt someone, somewhere, to pick up a book. That said, his observations elevate the story above being merely a series of antics.
The homoerotic subtext of the novel felt like it was significantly downplayed in the film, but here we literally have a "Heather Has Two Mommies" reference with regard to Sebastian and Tyler. You've said nothing but kind things about Fincher's film, but is that something that you think probably could have been retained if the movie was made now versus 1999?
The first way opponents will try to attack a person, story, film, or social movement… is to sexualize it. Critics of women’s liberation dismissed it as a ruckus stirred up by frustrated lesbians. Critics who disliked the novel “Fight Club” instantly ridiculed it as homoerotic fantasy. Despite what progressives might claim about being tolerant and accepting, they still demonstrate that homo accusations are their ready-made, go-to for putdowns. Recognizing that hypocritical knee-jerk strategy, it’s fun to throw the accusation back in their homophobic teeth. Don’t expect more references. What you’ve referred to is the set-up to a plot reveal that could not be more heterosexual.
You wrote yourself a fairly soft introduction. Yes, there's something ominous going on but there's no big splash-page introduction. Was there a reason, from a writing standpoint, that you wanted to kind of keep the moment as low-key as it can be?
Hey, I’ve never written a comic, but it seemed important to get the main narrative going full speed before undercutting the drama with a quiet meta aside. These peaceful visitations to the writers group act as lulls or buffers, even bits of comedy, between the dramatic/dynamic sequences. Encountering the actual writers as characters makes them seem more unreal, but it makes the fictional characters seem more real. It’s a crafty trade-off.
Because of my earlier observation about the man with the glasses, I have to ask: Is he real, or just another facet of Sebastian? And if he isn't, what does that mean about you?
I assume you mean Mr. Know-It-All. And he is a character created to deliver a certain kind of technical information. Think along the lines of The Professor on Gilligan’s Island. By the end of Issue Five you’ll see that he’s very real and has information Sebastian has not.
One of the things that really DID feel borrowed from Fincher was the visual of the flaming smiley face. Obviously there are likeness rights issues, but actors aside, how much did you encourage the art team to pick up cues from the movie?
Go back and read the book! The Project Mayhem team leaves the Parker-Morris Building looking like a “Japanese Demon… a flaming dragon of avarice” phrases that are used again to describe the narrator’s ruined face once fighting and the bullet hole have split his cheeks, giving him a “Joker” smile from ear to ear. It happened in the book, first.0comments
With the "culling the herd," Project Mayhem is no longer restricting their targets to people in power. Can you discuss how that "mission statement" might parallel the Biblical flood that Junior is so fascinated with?
Thanks for asking, but it’s too early to give away the long-term goals of Rize or Die. Regarding the scene you cite, the character in question I’m calling the “Needle Freak,” and he does represent the aberrant people who misinterpret the movement and assume it’s only about victimizing others. His crazy will escalate until he’s slapped down, don’t worry.