Nick Challis

Created by William F. Nolan
Pseudonyms include Frank Anmar, F. E. Edwards & Warren Kastel 
(1928-2021)

NICK CHALLIS is a private eye out of LA, brought to you by the same man who brought you the sci-fi classic Logan’s Run, a couple of essential Hammett biographies, Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook and Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge, that wonked-out sci-fi eye Sam Space and the adventure’s of Nick’s older, more famous half-brother Bart Challis.

Nick’s a hard-working gumshoe with an office in Studio City, and drives a three-year-old Honda Civic with bad rear shocks. He keeps his .380 Browning in the top of his water cooler, and stuffs it into his belt when he has to carry it. “One of these days I’d buy a holster,” he muses at one point, “Or borrow one from Bart. Maybe he’d leave me his when he retired.”

According to Nolan himself, in the intro to the 1992 chapbook, Helle on Wheels, Nick is “less violent than Bart, who is the product of an earlier, tougher era. Nick’s not so quick on the trigger, nor is he as naturally aggressive.” He goes on, “But don’t let him fool you. He can slug it out with the best of them, and if shooting is required, he’s more than up to it. And like his older brother, he has a sharp eye for the ladies and a smart lip that often gets him into trouble.”

All of which means that Nolan plays it a little straighter with the Nick stories, and less of a cartoon–my experiences with Bart always had me wondering if Nolan was pulling our legs.

Still, Nolan, a real fan of the genre, particularly its more pulpy side, can’t resist having a little fun. In “The Pulpcon Kill,” Nick’s 1984 short story debut, Nick’s client is none other than… Mickey Spillane! And that’s just the beginning of the namedropping.

SHORT STORIES

  • “The Pulpcon Kill” (1985, New Black Mask Quarterly #1)
  • “Helle On Wheels” (1992, a signed chapbook published by Maclay & Associates)  Buy this book
  • “Vampire Dolls” (1995, Vampire Detectives)

COLLECTIONS

  • Gryphon Double Novel #13: The Brothers Challis (1997) Buy this book
    Includes “The Pop-Op Caper” (with Bart) and “The Pulpcon Kill” (with Nick).
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. The cover for The Brothers Challis was done by William F. Nolan himself.

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