The infamous rules of Fight Club were first written as “an experiment to kill a slow afternoon at work” by a then diesel mechanic named Chuck Palahniuk. What began as a short story became a debut novel, and later a feature film by David Fincher starring Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. The movie bombed, but it didn’t matter. A cult following had begun that would turn Fight Club into an underground cultural phenomenon. Almost two decades and sixteen books later, Palahniuk is still asked by his devout fans, “What would Tyler Durden do?” And yesterday they were given their answer as the comic book Fight Club 2 was released by Dark Horse Comics. The sequel is a ten-part series illustrated by Cameron Stewart and written by Palahniuk himself, who finally reveals burning questions such as the narrator’s name (Sebastian) and of course introduces a new psychological conundrum. Here, he tells us about the real Tyler Durden and which novel will have a comic book sequel next.
Which came first? The idea to write a comic book or the idea to write a sequel to Fight Club.
It was kind of the same thing. A Fight Club sequel was the only thing I would’ve considered.
Is it true that “Tyler Durden lives” graffiti has existed for years?
People used to send me pictures. They would see it spray-painted on walls and rocks. I’ve also heard about people paging Tyler Durden in airports. I’ve heard about that for years.
If you had written this sequel immediately after Fight Club was published in 1996, would it have been the same story?
No. Not in the slightest. It would have been Sebastian waking up in the mental hospital and Tyler getting him out. And more hijinks. And more of the same.
Out of all of your characters, is Tyler Durden your favorite?
Tyler was my favorite for a long time because he was that young part of me. He was also modeled after somebody I really admired when I was much younger. But he’s not my favorite anymore. It would be hard to pick a favorite.
Is the person who Tyler is modeled after happy the character is back?
He doesn’t even know that he’s the model for Tyler. A very good writer friend of mine doesn’t know she’s the model for Marla Singer. It was kind of funny to provide Cameron Stewart with reference photos of these people and them not knowing they’re the model for these characters. And in subsequent issues where friends of mine show up [as characters], they’re tickled because he drew them in a very flattering way.
Did you also give Cameron Stewart guidance on how the revisited locations from Fight Club should look?
Yes. I sent him to the places and he photographed them.
You’ve said that Fight Club was mostly inspired by stories about your friends. Is that the same for the sequel?
Not so much. A lot of the sequel comes from the research I did to support the philosophy in Fight Club—the work of Joseph Campbell, Victor Turner, and different sociologists on what they had to say about maturation and the loss of fathers. It was stuff I couldn’t say overtly in Fight Club and had to demonstrate in the antics. But I’m saying it a little more overtly in the sequel.
Is this a result of the characters being older?
Yes. I really didn’t want to depict a lot of one-time antics or a series of pratfalls. I really wanted the story to have a philosophy and a drive.
Why is the narrator finally given a name?
Later on in the story, people from his past reemerge and they all know him by different names. He gets called a lot of different things besides Sebastian.
So Sebastian isn’t necessarily his real name?
A lot of time has passed between the stories. Has technology effected the sequel?
There’s cellphones and texting in the sequel. In Fight Club, Sebastian called from a public phone booth when his condo was blown up. It’s a whole different world in terms of telephones.
Do you think Sebastian may have discovered Tyler’s true identity sooner if he had a cellphone in Fight Club?
Not really. In the sequel he can still receive calls from Tyler and the calls are kind of explained away as auditory hallucinations.
Were there any literary techniques you had to eliminate because this is a comic book and not a novel?
Choruses. Because it would get really annoying to see those pop up. But some of the choruses do appear as captions, but just once. And I cut back on dialogue because I finally didn’t have to say everything three times. And the poor letterer was having a hell of a time trying to cram it all into dialogue balloons. So I got really good at parsing my dialogue down to two or three words at a time.
Do you think you will ever write another comic book?
We just signed the contracts for James Franco to star in a production of Rant. If that takes place like it’s supposed to, my next plan would be to write the sequel to Rant as a graphic novel.
Will we see Tyler Durden again in any other medium?
I saw him on a donut the other day. I can go to comic cons and see dozens of Tyler Durdens. I’m not sure where it will end.
How do you think the sequel will change people’s perspective on what they thought Fight Club was truly about?
They will see that the original story was a small limited part of a cycle that’s taken place over and over for most of human history. Sebastian is just one person who’s been dominated by Tyler. Tyler has been around for a long, long time and his plan is about to finally come to completion. It’s a cycle story. And all they know of it is one link in a very long chain.