Vintage paperback bibliographer extraordinaire Kenneth R. Johnson has just announced the completion of his latest project “Gothics with Genuine Fantasy Elements.” You can find it online here.

   Back in the 1960s and 70 “gothic romances” were so popular that they formed their own publishing category. Hundreds if not a thousand or more titles were published, before interest in them by the reading public (mostly female) finally began to fade, and historical romances of the “bodice ripper” variety took over.

   Most of the gothics that were published could also have been categorized as “romantic suspense,” but elements of fantasy and the supernatural were often hinted at. On occasion the hints were more than that, and a number of books included out and out elements of witchcraft, psychic magic, vampirism and so on.

   This is where Ken’s annotated — and illustrated! — checklist comes in. It has to have been quite a job: finding the books, determining first of all of they were actually published as gothics, and then reading them sufficiently enough to determine whether the fantasy element were real or not.

   Not surprisingly there is a separate section of the checklist called “marginal titles.” A lot of boundaries are blurred whenever you’re trying to decide whether a book falls into a particular category or not, and for this particular project the problem is coming at you from all sides.

   It’s a job well done, and if you”re at all interested, I definitely recommend that you go take a look.