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SDCC: "Fight Club 2" Team on Scratch-and-Sniff Bookmarks, Creative Freedom

Novelist Chuck Palahniuk ("Fight Club", "Choke"), artist Cameron Stewart ("Batgirl," "The Other Side"), cover artist David Mack ("Kabuki") and Dark Horse Editor-in-Chief Scott Allie discussed the creation and future of Palahniuk's current comic book series "Fight Club 2," during a panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego this past Saturday. A continuation of Palahniuk's original "Fight Club" novel -- which inspired the David Fincher film of the same name -- "Fight Club 2" picks up with an adult Sebastian (the narrator of the original) who has married Marla and is now a father. Of course, it isn't long before Tyler Durden reappears in his life.

"The sequel deals with all the issues and themes of the original, except from a different angle," Palahniuk said.

Palahniuk also confirmed that "Fight Club" fans will find more of Tyler Durden in a play being developed by Fincher and with a possible score by Trent Reznor, director Julie Taymor reportedly involved. But for now, the only "Fight Club" follow-up is the Dark Horse comic book series.

To promote upcoming issues, Palahniuk has a plan to take advantage of the oft-neglected sense of smell. "We forgot that the world includes tastes and textures and smells," he said. "For 'Fight Club 2' I wanted to commission scratch-and-sniff bookmarks." A total of 10 scents were printed and will be sent to comic sellers. "Whoever guesses the scents correctly will be eligible for some enormous prize from Dark Horse." The bookmarks will be available as incentives from retailers in July.

Palahniuk claimed that some of the fragrances would be pleasant, while others might be similar to preexisting smells under one's fingernails.

Readers wont have to wait for the bookmarks to experience a little bit of Palahniuk's grotesque creativity. The comic series is so graphic that Stewart said, "I also had a sequence where I almost passed out. It's pushed me to some unusual places that Batman never did." Palahniuk took it a step farther and claimed that he wanted a cover to be printed complete with sexual fluid stains.

At this, editor Allie shrugged and said that Palahniuk's content still paled in comparison to some graphic manga in which "chainsaw rape" occurred. Allie also confirmed that Palahniuk had plenty of room to be graphic and creative with the series.

The bigger challenge for Palahniuk and Stewart was recreating these characters for the page. Because 20th Century Fox owns the rights to the film versions, the comic incarnation had to be visually distinct. "We can't make it look like the characters in the film," Stewart said. "It's a weird thing to have to take these characters that are so iconic in the popular consciousness and make them at once recognizable, but different. Trying to do something that was my own but also evocative."

Fortunately, Stewart and Palahniuk were able to work together closely to develop the look of the characters. "One of the things that was the sticking point for me getting the job was that Chuck wanted someone in person," with Palahniuk based in Portland. Stewart relocated to the city so that he and Palahniuk could collaborate in person, often at their editor's home. The result made Stewart "feel like we were all jamming on an album."

Although it was his first attempt at writing a comic, Palahniuk had some excellent coaches. Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick helped talk him into writing the comic while at a dinner party. At first, Palahniuk was a little resistant to the idea, but he eventually relented. "Over the years I had no idea I would spend so much time talking about 'Fight Club,'" he said. "[The comic] won't be compared against the existing ones and it has the greatest chance of asserting its own authority. The only way I could really have freedom to make [the sequel] its own thing was as a graphic novel."

If all goes well, Palahniuk might spinoff another one of his novels. James Franco has the rights to "Rant" and may soon make it into a film. Palahniuk would like to write the sequel when the time is right.

He'll also continue to work on novels. His style, he said, continues be based on brevity. "My method of writing is not description," Palahniuk said. "I hate pausing for description... I always go to the verb. I always go the action."

"Fight Club 2" #1 and #2 are now available from Dark Horse Comics; issue #3 is scheduled for release on July 22.

Catch up with all of CBR's coverage from Comic-Con International in San Diego!

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