The test of a book for me is how often I see myself referring to it down
the road; does it have proverbial legs? On that basis alone, The Best
Of DragonKing Press Newsletter is a gem.
It's a collection of various issues of the DragonKing Press Newsletter,
which has been run by Karl Stern since 1999. In his introduction, Stern
likens his newsletter to the Time Magazine of the wrestling
industry, while the Wrestling Observer is the Wall Street
Journal. Personally, I feel it's a little more like Discover magazine -- there's a lot of stuff that is so deeply researched that
keeps it from being totally mainstream.
The primary focus of DragonKing Press Newsletter has always been the
history of the business, and it excels at putting the events of today
into a historical perspective.
By far the best reason to get the Best Of book is the
often-talked about 'Wrestlers who die under the age of 40' issue, from
September 2002. By my criteria, I can definitely see myself referring to
this alone numerous times. Instead of just listing names, Stern takes a
statistical perspective on it, tallying up how they died. It is a very
Other strong inclusions in the Best Of include the story of
wrestling pioneer William Muldoon, a look at Abraham Lincoln's wrestling
connections and an interview with Harley Race. Some of the other choices
don't stand up as well. The list of the 100 Most Influential People in
Pro Wrestling History seems dated in many ways, and Stern admits as much
in a pre-amble at the beginning of the book, saying that the same list
today would be very different.
The packaging of the whole Best Of DragonKing Press Newsletter isn't exactly polished either. It's a bound collection of photocopied
past issues, complete with the typos, inconsistent printing styles and
poor photo reproduction that are the hallmark of the self-publishing
industry. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just that it's
important to know what you are getting.
While reading the Best Of DragonKing Press Newsletter, one comes
away with the feeling that its contributors -- especially Stern -- truly
love the pro wrestling industry and celebrate it in a way that a true
mainstream commercial magazine couldn't.
You can learn more about the DragonKing Press Newsletter at their web
site, www.dragonkingwrestling.com. The Best Of DragonKing Press
Newsletter sells for $15 USD, $29 internationally. The newsletter
itself is available for $15 for six issues. The mailing address is DKP:
PO Box 781: Haleyville, AL 35565.
Greg Oliver founded SLAM! Wrestling with John Powell way back in
1996, and has been writing about pro wrestling since 1985. He is the
author of the recently published book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame:
The Canadians from ECW Press. Order it from the SLAM!
Wrestling Store. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.