When you no longer interact with a friend on a daily basis it is easy to lose track of what is going on in his life. I manage to touch base with Stephen Dafoe a couple of times a month, but since you probably don’t, let me catch you up on his exploits since he became less visible on Internet Masonry.
Stephen and I have some things in common including a love of history, Freemasonry, writing (although he is the Master and I am the Apprentice), a fascination with Superman when we were young and an avid reader of everything, especially comic books.
It is the latter that is Dafoe’s latest creative work. Teaming with Edmonton artist Bob Proder he is producing a four issue comic book on the saga of The Knights Templar called Outremer. The project would be further along if Dafoe could find a digital coloring artist who would apply himself to the project. So what do you do when you are Stephen Dafoe and you can’t get a subcontractor to do his part? Why you do it yourself, of course.
I had to ask myself how this writer Stephen Dafoe was so different from the typical characterization of writers. He definitely doesn’t fit the mold that comes to mind when “author and writer” pops in one’s brain. The usual depiction is of someone who is part recluse, hiding in the quiet places to pen their works, like a log cabin on the lake or the corner of the local pub; a quiet sometimes nerdy person who would never be considered the life of the party and certainly not as a full grown adult ever involved with comic books. And that is not Stephen Dafoe, not even close. But why?
Although Dafoe might not say it, 21 years as a magician starting as a teenager and extending well into his 30s prepared him and made him the untypical writer- author that he is. A magician is a very creative person. He or she is also a showman. And Stephen Dafoe is the consummate showman. An excellent speaker he is much in demand to share his knowledge and wit in person. He will be a keynote speaker in Manitoba in November. Along with creating a Masonic Internet Forum he soon afterwards launched a Masonic radio show. I know as I was the first interviewee on Radio Free Mason in March of 2005. He appeared with Christopher Hodapp this year on March 17th on the X Zone Radio Show talking Templars. And on March 28th he was on Global TV’s morning show with Lorraine Mansbridge speaking about historical comic books. On October 12, 2008 Dafoe will be interviewed on the Masonic Radio Podcast Masonic Central with which I am associated. His appearance will coincide within one day of the 701st anniversary of the arrest of The Knights Templar. It so happens that I was the first interviewee for this radio program also.
This time as a magician I think has also made Dafoe a very visual person who appreciates the power of pictures and art. Masonic Magazine employed Masonic artist Stephen McKim and Dafoe has also used him for the covers of Outremer and Nobly Born. And his latest book The Compasses and the Cross is an illustrated history of the Knights Templar once again demonstrating Dafoe’s belief that illustrating history is as important as writing about it.
These last two books on the Knights Templar have been the main focus of Dafoe’s time and effort the last two years. Personally I thought that The Knights Templar Revealed written with Alan Butler was a superb book. But Nobly Born will far exceed that work. You can watch the video book promotion here:
The Compasses and the Cross will be out in September.
Last week when we spoke I ribbed Stephen about his withdrawal from a bold presence on the Masonic scene. He said:
“I closed The Lodge Room in December of 2005 and withdrew from Internet Masonry for the most part. But since that time, I’ve served as Grand Pursuivant, Grand District Superintendent and Grand Historian for The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Alberta. It’s not that I’m any less interested in Freemasonry as a concept or philosophy than I was before, but certainly my interests have shifted considerably these past few years.”
And those interests have turned to the Knights Templar and book authorship. Now the book writing I thought was a step up from his beginnings in Internet information sites, articles and essays and magazines. But Stephen said nay, nay not so.
“Actually, I wrote my first book in 1997 and started The Lodge Room in 2001. I’d have to say that the forum stuff was more a diversion than a progression, and these past few years I’ve conscientiously concentrated on getting back to one of the things I’d set out in life to do – write.”
Actually most of the old Masonic sites are still there and have a boat full of useful information for any Freemason. Masonic Dictionary - http://www.masonicdictionary.com/, The Lodge Room - http://www.thelodgeroom.com/, Masonic Magazine, where electronic versions of all back issues can still be had - http://www.masonicmagazine.com/ are all maintained and updated periodically by Dafoe.
Of course The Templar History website with a Templar Forum is going strong along with Templar History Magazine - http://www.templarhistory.com/. But all is not Templar with Stephen Dafoe. There still is some Masonic research and writing left in his repertoire
For a long time now Dafoe has been working on the Morgan Affair. He has published a second article on the subject in Heredom ,the Scottish Rite Research Society’s publication due out any day now. I asked him how he came to have such a fascination with this event in American history which led to the rise of the Anti Masonry Party and the gutting of Grand Lodge roles.
“When I was fairly new to Freemasonry, our lodge took a trip to New York State, and the story was discussed in passing. It intrigued me, but over the years, what intrigued me more was the conflicting accounts of what happened. I decided to research the story from every angle available to me.
The Heredom piece, which is about 50,000 words or so, is kind of a combination of my four-part series from Masonic Magazine and another paper I’d written for my own Research Lodge here in Alberta. There will be a book, which will delve into the subject in much greater detail.”
Did somebody say Masonic book?? Well you really never know what will be on Stephen Dafoe’s plate. One thing you can be assured of is continued creativity.