By Tom Cook, Montana Historical Society

Rick O’Shay and Hipshot and the other friends of famous Montana cartoonist and author Stan Lynde are riding again in an exhibit at the Montana Historical Society Museum in Helena.

“From the Heart: Stan Lynde’s Comic Creations” features cartoon strips and memorabilia that Lynde amassed during his career that took him from a sheep ranch on the Crow Reservation to being published daily in nearly all the major newspapers in the United States for more than 20 years.

The retrospective exhibit features a re-creation of a comic- style Old West town and Lynde’s studio. Artifacts showcase many never-before-seen works from Lynde’s early cartooning years. It also showcases artifacts from his life as a cowboy and Montana promoter, as well as gifts and tributes given him by his fans over the years.

“I’m really excited to share Stan’s passion for the West and to showcase his many talents. We want visitors to feel immersed in Stan’s comic world and my hope is that people walk away with a sense of how much Stan loved Western life and how skilled he was at presenting it to others,” MHS Museum Curator Amanda Streeter Trum said.

One of Lynde’s biggest fans was famous actor Charlton Heston, who wrote an introduction to Lynde’s memoir Rick O’Shay, Hipshot and Me.

eston wrote that Lynde, like other artists portraying the American West, often crossed the line “from life to legend, from history to myth.” However, he said that Lynde masterfully told the real story of the West from a true perspective that included bigger-than-life characters as well as the often amusing side of their lives.

“While there’s a smile in almost every strip, the storyline turns dark from time to time,” Heston wrote. “If Clint Eastwood’s writer hadn’t thought of it first, Hipshot could have said ‘Go ahead, make my day’ just as tellingly. Stan Lynde’s ink line is a joy to behold and a comfort to the spirit.”

Lynde and his wife Lynda donated many of his works and artifacts to MHS shortly before he died in 2013.

In addition to his famous comic strips, Lynde in later life became a novelist and continued to draw on his experiences growing up on an isolated ranch near Lodge Grass to tell the story of the people who pioneered the state of Montana and the West.

After studying journalism and art at the University of Montana, Lynde moved to New York to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a cartoonist. In 1958 his career began with his Rick O’Shay strip, which eventually was picked up by 100 newspapers across the nation. Hipshot followed.

Near the end of his life, Lynde wrote these words that came from a heart as big as Montana: “Mine has been a very good journey indeed. May yours contain an abundance of sunshine and pleasure, and only such rain and pain as you may need to provide you with the perfect, balanced life . . . Hasta luego!”

“We already knew that Stan was an inspiration for Montanans when he created his comic strips, and I hope that this exhibit will inspire a new generation,” Trum said.