The Fictioneers

Role Call

The Fictioneers was a social club for about twenty-five or so Southern California pulp writers established in the thirties, many of whom wrote for Black Mask. The informal club was founded by crime writers Cleve F. Adams and W.T. Ballard. The boys would meet monthly at the Nikobob Café at the corner of Ninth and Western to discuss their work over dinner and drinks.

Apparently, lots of drinks. According to Ballard, it was a good excuse “to get comfortably drunk and then en masse attend one of the local burlesque theatres.”

The original gang faltered when many of its members staggered off to fight in WWII, but it limped along into the early 1950s, at least, when a young Richard Matheson (only twenty-three!) joined in 1951, invited by William Campbell Gault, with whom he was staying briefly at the time. Matheson returned the favor by dedicating his first novel, the dark, noirish Someone is Bleeding (1953) to Gault. The dedication refers to “Bill” Gault as “a man you can call your friend without crossing your fingers.”

According to Matheson in a 1993 interview, by the time he joined, the other Fictioneers were mostly “hard-boiled old pros. I don’t think they sat around talking much about creativity. They were more likely to talk about the prizefight the night before or the ballgame.”

Among its members were:


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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