(Bonus) -Secrets Revealed, or, What You Never Asked But We’re Gonna Tell You Anyway

Each week, we’re bestowed with a priceless gift from Longmire author Craig Johnson, the latest installment of “52 Pickup”. You may have wondered how this feature gets put together.

Every so often, I compile a list of members’ questions and send them off to Craig. He picks one, writes a short essay in response, and shoots me an email. He’s pretty punctual, and I generally have a day or so to find appropriate illustrations and come up with a title. Yes, you can blame me for those.

Sometimes, the topic is a head-scratcher to illustrate. A recent one that mentioned Robert Taylor (the other one, not the Longmire actor) and his connection to Buffalo, Wyoming was one. With a little luck, I managed to scrape up a photo of Mr. Taylor and his family at the cabin they had above the town.

Another challenge is Virgil White Buffalo. You can imagine it’s not easy to find pictures of a seven-foot Crow indian wearing a bearskin.

One I especially liked was when Craig wrote about Walt’s post-Vietnam service on Johnston Atoll. He teased a future story involving Walt as a short-timer banished to the remote chemical warfare storage facility. I managed to locate a photo of an unidentified young soldier posing casually by a sign identifying the location as…Johnston Atoll. The fellow even bears a strong resemblance to a young Robert Taylor (the Longmire actor, not the other one).

Most of the illustrations are based on photos such as these, but gussied up to appear as watercolors or impressionist paintings. I use an app called Prisma on my iPad to apply various filter overlays until I get the desired effect. It sometimes takes multiple passes to achieve the proper degree of digital makeover. It’s a quick and dirty method of producing interesting versions of familiar subjects.

As to the title of the series, “52 Pickup”, that was Craig’s invention. I believe it comes from the Elmore Leonard novel, but could also be a reference to the card game where you toss the deck on the floor and pick a card.

So, now you know.

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