In 1996, Chuck Palahniuk spun a seven-page short story into his first full-length novel. Three years later, the director David Fincher immortalized Fight Club’s manic protagonists on film with the help of Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, and Helena Bonham Carter. Surpassing cult status with its anti-consumerism message, the story captured the frustrations of the worker bees getting through the day's soulless pursuits. And it struck a chord: Real fight clubs sprung up around the world. “Tyler Durden Lives” became familiar graffiti. A new, widely quoted lexicon was born. Today, everyone knows the first rule of fight club.
At turns deeply poignant and very funny, Palahniuk’s freakish fables capture a twisted zeitgeist and add an oddly inspirational and subversive voice to the contemporary canon. For those shackled to tired routines and coping mechanisms, his Fight Club characters offer the DIY rules for rebirth. This month, the story gets its own resurrection in the form of a 10-issue comic-book series titled Fight Club 2, out May 27. Penned by Palahniuk and illustrated by Cameron Stewart (Catwoman, The Other Side) the first installment picks up the narrative 10 years later, on the ninth wedding anniversary of the narrator and his partner Marla. In the post-9/11 present, a hyperactive, Internet-obsessed, war- and recession-weary America apparently needs Tyler again.
Palahniuk’s always been masterful at forcing readers to face their own ugliest aspects, eclipsing irreverence with outright offensiveness. What’s comedy without morbidity? Palahniuk’s as much an undertaker as he is an author. The 1996 book concluded with the narrator shooting himself in the face in the hope of killing his alter ego, Tyler Durden. He was left in what he called heaven, actually a mental hospital, with Marla writing him from earth and orderlies still secretly worshipping him. Exerting artistic license and eerie prescience, Fight Club the film instead left the narrator and Marla holding hands atop a building as the skyline around them rumbled with the nearby demolitions of major skyscrapers—an attempt to usher in a dark age where commerce is crippled. (Dark Horse Comics will drop a rare adaptation of content from the Fight Club novel’s end as a primer, for Free Comic Book Day on May 2.)