Archive for the ‘cliff sterrett’ Category

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023

Comic Strips: Cliff Sterrett’s Polly And Her Pals

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals

Cliff SterrettCliff SterrettAl Capp once described Cliff Sterrett as “the finest cartoonist of them all”. Yet most people have never heard of him or his strip, Polly And Her Pals.

Sterrett debuted the Polly strip in 1912. Initially, it focused on a pretty girl, but as the strip developed, Sterrett turned his attention to Polly’s family- specifically, her father, known as “Paw” and her mother, referred to as “Maw”. Other characters filled out the cast- Neewah, the family’s houseboy; Ashur, the dimwitted nephew; and Carrie, Paw’s sister in law. Shadowing Paw through the panels is Kitty, the cat.

Cliff Sterrett

Richard Marschall produced a pair of books documenting the Polly And Her Pals Sunday pages from 1926 to 1929. This was the prime era of the strip, with Picasso-esque cubist backgrounds and surreal gags. If you see these books for sale, grab them. By the mid-1930s, Sterrett was afflicted with arthritis, and had turned over a lot of the responsibility for the strip to his assistant, Paul Fung. Sterrett let Fung create the dailies without much input, but he supervised the Sunday pages personally, with Fung simply providing the background detail repeated from panel to panel.

Cliff SterrettCliff SterrettMy friend Kent Butterworth brought in a stack of original Sunday pages from 1936 for us to digitize. This era of Polly And Her Pals has never been reprinted, so these delicate originals are particularly important. These oversize sheets are twice as large as the platen on our scanner, so we have to scan them in two passes and splice them together in Photoshop. With the high resolutions we’re scanning art at, it takes over an hour to digitize each Sunday page. But I think you’ll agree that it’s well worth it.

Cliff Sterrett
January 5, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
January 12, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
February 2, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
February 16, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
February 23, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
March 29, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
April 5, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
June 7, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
June 28, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
July 5, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
August 2, 1936

Cliff Sterrett
September 13, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
September 20th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
September 27th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
October 25th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
November 1st, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
November 8th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
November 29th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
December 6th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
December 20th, 1936

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
December 27th, 1936

Here are a couple of prime Sterrett Sundays provided by my best pal, JoJo Baptista…

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
November 6th, 1927

Cliff Sterrett Polly and her Pals
April 8th, 1928

There’s an easter egg in this last one… do a google image search for the name hidden in this comic and see what Sterrett was looking at when he created this strip!

 If you enjoyed these strips, you owe it to yourself to splurge and get one of the finest books on newspaper comics ever published. This oversize volume is beautifully printed and packed with hundreds of great Polly Sunday pages. Order it now from Amazon…

For another example of Cliff Sterrett’s genius, see Michael Sporn’s Splog, and make sure to read Rick Marschall’s great comment adding more details to the story below.

Stephen Worth
Animation Resources

Newspaper ComicsNewspaper Comics
This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Newspaper Comics.

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Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

Library of American Comics Series: Herriman, Smith and Sterrett

Book Store

A new addition to the Animation Resources book store…

Library of American Cartooning Essentials

Library of American Comics Essentials

LOAC Essentials is a new series that reprints, in yearly volumes, the rare early daily newspaper strips that are essential to comics history, seminal strips that are unique creations in their own right, while also significantly contributing to the advancement of the medium. The strips are presented in their original format: 11.5″ wide by 4.25″ high, each page containing a single daily. By reproducing the strips one per page in an oblong format, it allows us to have an experience similar to what newspaper buyers had fifty to a hundred years ago— reading the comics one day at a time.

Currently, the series includes two volumes, and the third is currently in pre-order. Daily comic strips have been underappreciated for too long, and reprint of classic newspaper comics rarely print them large enough to fully appreciate. This series is worth supporting.

LOAC Essentials 1: George Herriman’s Baron Bean (1916)
LOAC Essentials 2: Sydney Smith’s Gumps: Saga of Mary Gold (1929)
LOAC Essentials 3: Cliff Sterrett’s Polly and Her Pals (1933)

For more recommended books, see the…
Animation Resources Book Store

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Monday, January 17th, 2011

Biography: Cliff Sterrett

This posting is a stub. You can contribute to this entry by providing information through the comments link at the bottom of this post. Please organize your information following the main category headers below….


Birth: 12 December 1883 Fergus Falls, Minnesota
Death: 28 December 1964


Cartoonist, Professional Commercial Artist, Illustrator, Caricaturist

Bio Summary

Cliff Sterrett was born into a middle-class family in Fergus Falls, Minnesota in 1883. He left at the age of 18 for New York to attend art school and began a hardworking, dedicated career as an artist. Sterrett could very well be one of the most under-rated artists of the 20th century. He was an inspiration and trendsetter by introducing the first ever comic with a female hero. Sterrett was also a one-of-a-kind graphic artist with a unique and inventive style, creating comical narrative and characterization through his use of colorful and abstract drawings. Though Sterrett created several published comic strips (see “Career Outline”), he is most well known for Polly and her Pals. Polly had a sensational run of 46 solid years and appeared both as a daily and a Sunday comic. Due to rheumatism in 1935 Sterrett had to utilize the talent of Paul Fung and Vernon Greene to aid him in continuing Polly and her Pals but subsequently took his name off of the publication. Although he was hindered with illness he drew Polly until his retirement in 1958.

Early Life/Family

Son of middle-class parents
Married with a family. His wife died in 1948. Sterrett went to live with his sister-in-law until his death in 1964.


Sterrett attended Chase Art School in New York and graduated 2 years later.

Career Outline

Sterrett started out working as a newspaper staff artist drawing news illustrations and caricatures for the The New York Herald 1904-1908. He worked at the The New York Times and The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle 1908-1910, and The New York Evening Telegram in 1911. Here he created the following strips:

Ventriloquial Vag
When a Man’s Married
Before and After
For This We Have Daughters?

From 1912-1935 he worked doing dailies for The New York Journal. Here he did the following strips:

The New York American (a Sunday page and four-color supplement)
Polly and her Pals, which was inspired by “For This We Have Daughters?” and started off as Positive Polly.
Dot and Dash (originally known as Damon and Pythias)
Belles and Wedding Belles (originally known as Sweethearts and Wives)
And So They Were Never Married

He retired in 1958

Comments On Style

Sterrett’s work is described as inarguably one of the most important strip artists of all time. During the peak of his most famous comic “Polly and her Pals” Sterrett resorted to a very surrealistic, expressionist, and sometimes cubist style of drawing. This included pantomime story telling, distorted landscapes and interiors, Dali-esque staircases, and trees decorated with stripes or sometimes bulls-eye patterns. Overall his work featured a colorful array of abstract, big-footed people with a keen knack of storytelling and characterization.


During the 1920s: Surrealists such as Dali
German Expressionists


It seems Cliff Sterrett was a family man. He was known as the only one of William Randolf Hearst’s artists to want to work from home instead of going to the office to draw. And in the 1920s he moved his family to Maine where it was known that one of their favorite activities together was learning and practicing music on many different instruments.


Al Capp once described Sterrett as “the finest cartoonist of them all.”


Interesting Facts:

Sterrett and Windsor McKay were co-workers at his first job at The New York Herald.

Sterrett’s son Paul went on to become a composer and was well known for his ability to play 14 instruments.

It has been noted that at its peak, “Polly and her Pals” actually out-did “Krazy Kat” in circulation.

He established an art colony in Ogunquit, Maine where he spent time with other artists and entertained them with musical ensembles.



Silver T-Square Award from the National Cartoonists Society, 1949

Sampling of “Polly and her Pals” in The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics

Related Links
Don Markstein’s Toonopedia™
Suspended Animation Comic Book and Sequential Animation Reviews

Bibliographic References

*Biography – Sterrett, Cliff (1883-1964): An Article from Contemporary Authors, by Thomson Gale
*Encyclopedia of American Comics, edited by Ron Goulart
*World Encyclopedia of Comics, edited by Maurice Horn


Contributors To This Listing

Katerina Perdue, Jorge Garrido

To make additions or corrections to this listing, please click on COMMENTS below…

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