For Chuck Palahniuk, creating comic is a lot like "a really good orgy" - and the upcoming Fight Club 3 is, at its heart, about a threesome that ended up with a baby.
And Tyler Durden is the daddy.
Palahniuk and artist Cameron Stewart are back in the headspace of Baltazar, Tyler, and Marla with the new Fight Club 3 12-issue series debuting this week from Dark Horse Comics. Newsarama spoke the with the Fight Club provocateur about this third series - the second in comic books - and somehow walks into what will be a planned sequel.
Newsarama: This new volume of Fight Club seems to push that idea of a 'second father' in Campbellian terms into Tyler Durden becoming an actual father - and Balthazar raising him. Chuck, is this something you had been wanting to explore for awhile with this series?
Chuck Palahniuk: Darn you, Newsarama. You've hit on one aspect of the plot, but the plot for Fight Club 4.
There's something odd-but-touching going on between my friends and I in real life. They're beginning to battle with their adolescent kids, and because there's no middle ground, the kids come to me to talk. With no kids of my own I find myself becoming Joseph Campbell's "second father" and delivering the advice the child can no longer accept for the birth parent, at least for the moment.
An enormous master plan comes to fruition in the next series, Fight Club 4, and Tyler will finally need Sebastian or Balthazar or whomever. The number Four being the symbol of death in Buddhism or something. What do I know, I'm a lapsed Catholic.
Nrama: The previous two volumes delved into the idea of companionship and romance from a man's point of view, pushing past that stoic ideal perpetuated commonly in mainstream fiction. What are you wanting to say about parenting with Fight Club 3?
Palahniuk: Ah, you forget about the buddy-buddy deal between Marla and Chloe. Despite Chloe's wizened appearance, she and Marla are comparable ages, and she's begun to be Marla's "Tyler" or guide. It's their time spent apart, but on parallel quests, that allows Marla and Balthazar to continue their marriage. That way their reunions are like they're really reunited, does that make sense? Perhaps only a writer could phrase things so poorly.
But, yeah, people need some separation in their lives if they're going to bring anything new to a relationship year in and year out.
Nrama: Chuck, when is the last time you were in a physical fight?
Palahniuk: Define "fight"? Do you mean the kind of fight that totally undoes the bed's fitted bottom sheet and precedes really rough sex on a bare mattress? If so, it's none of your business. If you meant a fight-fight, never mind.
Nrama: [Laughs] You are no longer new to comic books - what do you think of the form, both in the scripting and its final published edition now that you're two books in?
Palahniuk: The finished thing... oh dear.
Writing a novel is like a long, often years-long, fantasy that brings you to an isolated climax and satisfaction. Writing a comic is like participating in an orgy, but a really good orgy. Oh dear, where is my mind these days? Put another way, collaborating with Cameron and company is like writing while on Ambien: I wake up amazed at the product but with no idea how it came to be. That's a nicer simile. Or is that a metaphor?
Nrama: That's a great compliment.
Cameron knows when to stick to standard storytelling and when to veer outside of that to make a point. Do you feel like you know enough of 'comic book rules' to know when to break them, or is that kind of thing not a concern you even think about?
Palahniuk: You're saying there are rules? I was only taught two rules.
One: Don't write an action into the script, only the beginning or ending of an action.
Two: The infamous page-turn reveal requires a plot point every two pages.
Beyond that I have no limits.
My secret is that I ask Cameron to do the embarrassing tasks. It's the same thrill I get when appearing in public accompanied by a person who does sign language: I have to talk dirty just to see how it will get signed. With Cameron I ask him to put houseflies or popcorn or rose petals over the truly naughty bits.
Nrama: Continuing that, in your prose novels, you touch on colors heavily. Do you have specific requests you ask of Dave Stewart or Dave McCaig for the Fight Club sequels? Can you talk about that, either way?
Palahniuk: People tell me I obsess over smells in my books. The only color I'm aware of using is cornflower blue. Okay, in the coloring books I did have to be hyper-aware of colors and salt the stories with color names.
Truth is, ever since that viral picture of the dress which I could only see as a purple dress now I'm nervous about dictating colors because all my friends saw a gold dress. So now I try to focus on only verbs. Smells and verbs.
Nrama: Smells and verbs, Smells and verbs.
Last question - what do you want to do next in comics? Is there something you've been thinking about, or wanting to do, that you haven't yet done? Maybe even something you haven't told your agent or Dark Horse or anyone? You can tell us, Chuck. We're safe here.
Palahniuk: Ah, hell. It's impossible, but my secret dream was to write a series called Anne Frank: Nazi Hunter wherein Anne would sneak out of the garret to stalk occupation soldiers late at night, returning home at dawn with her dress soaked in blood. Her mother would scold her with pidgin lines like, "Anne, hase, vat do you do jeden nacht?"
And my years of college German would finally show fruit. Unfortunately the Frank estate has successfully renewed the copyright for another hundred years so mein traum ist verboten. Hah, I even got the noun gender correct!
Anne would have a side romance with a blond kid in the Nazi Youth but eventually have to slit his throat. This dream project would've taught millions of kids to speak German very badly. That said, heads up in Germany! I will be in Cologne this June for 16 hours if anyone wants to come say hello. Or slit my geil throat. Oder trade bon mots in German. Auf Wiedersehen!