An Interview with David Mack

Even if you don’t know David Mack’s accomplishments within the comics field, you’ve probably seen his artwork. He has an instantly recognizable style. Incorporating everything from painting, drawing, and cartooning to photography and collage to expand the visual vocabulary of his work. A one of a kind skillfully unique and dynamic visual flair that rises off of the page. It’s not hard to be taken in by it and it makes sense that it works so well with Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club mythos. David Mack has been involved with creating the Fight Club covers for the sequels and was nice enough to talk to me about it.

(Dagobot) What brought you to Chuck Palahniuk’s work?

(David Mack) I saw the film in the theater the night it came out. I saw it again the next night. I was impacted by the writing. I learned it was based on a book, and I bought the book immediately, as well as any other books by the author. Which was just Survivor and Invisible Monsters at that time in 1999. I remember reading Fight Club and Invisible Monsters on trains in Europe.

What is it about Fight Club that appeals to you?

The writing. How Chuck found an incredible metaphor and was able to articulate things that had not been articulated before. But I related to it in the way I was living my own life at that time.

When coming in on a project with such a distinct voice does that affect how you approach your own work?

I really try to crystalize something from the voice of the story into the imagery of the covers.

From the initial concept to the finished piece, how many stages are involved in a Fight Club cover?

I write down notes when reading the script. Maybe write down several possibilities for each cover in the form of ideas or drawings. Then I focus it down to one image for that issue’s cover, and send my drawing for it to editor Scott Allie & Chuck Palahniuk. There may be approval or notes, and then I dive into the painting of it. 

You work on a lot of covers. Are there a lot of technical differences between working on narrating something and just pure illustration?

I try to get into the zone of each project and dance with that. So each one is a collaboration between me and that story or those characters.

How much of an issue (or plot) do you know about before you start work on a piece?

In the case of Fight Club 2 & 3, I was sent the script, so I could consider in advance what each cover for each chapter would be.

What’s it mean for an established and acclaimed veteran, like you, to work with someone like Mr Palahniuk at this point in your career?

It’s a joy to work with Chuck. I’ve been blessed to be able to collaborate with a hight caliber of creators. Lately on Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and his Norse Mythology series.  And with Brian Michael Bendis on the current creator-owned story we are making at DC called COVER, inspired by my travels overseas for the US State Dept.

How do you tackle such an iconic project linked so closely to its creator?

I put a lot of thought into it. I tried several different styles at the beginning.

Was there anything that you did for Fight Club that was deemed too “unconventional”?

There were a few covers I made for the first issue, that became R & D for the first issue. One of them the editor said was very dark. But honestly, Chuck often asked for some very unconventional things, and sometimes I find myself challenged to integrate them in a way that is more accessible to me, as they may come off too shocking to me at first, and I have to find a way to make it work in a palatable way.

Was there anything in any of the synopsis or scripts that you zeroed in on immediately and thought – YES, I’m doing that?

The plastic toy army melted together was an image that came to me for the cover when I was reading about the global-scale military movements in Fight Club 2. For Fight Club 3, the double eyes with both eyes open seemed to be a good way to communicate both personalities working together.

Fill in the blank. Never pass up a chance to draw BLANK when it comes to Fight Club


And What particular character(s) from Fight Club do you love drawing? 

Marla. Tyler. The kid. But also the penguin.

What can we expect from FC4?

Count me in for covers for that. I’d love to do some next-level images for the next dimension of these characters. We can push the boundaries. 

The collected edition of Fight Club 3 arrives via Dark Horse on April 15th. Support local booksellers.

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