Cliff Sterrett is one of the great innovators of the comic page, and the creator of the first comic strip with a heroine in the leading role, 'Polly and her Pals'. Born in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, Sterrett settled in New York at the age of 18 and attended courses at the Chase Arts School. Between 1904 and 1908, he worked for the New York Herald, drawing actuality illustrations and caricatures. From 1908, he was present in the New York Times, and later on in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
He started drawing comics when he got the opportunity to draw four daily comic strips for the New York Evening Telegram in 1911. His earliest strip was called 'Ventriloquial Vag', which was soon followed by three others: 'When a Man's Married', 'Before And After' and 'For This We Have Daughters'.
In 1912, Sterrett was hired by publisher William R. Hearst, for whom he created his famous strip about the flapper girl 'Positive Polly', that was later renamed 'Polly and Her Pals.' The strip was initially published in the daily comics section of the New York Journal. A year later, it also became a Sunday page and a four-color supplement to the New York American. In addition, Sterrett created 'Sweethearts and Wives' (renamed to 'Belles and Wedding Bells'), 'And So They Were Never Married' and 'Damon and Pythias' (renamed to 'Dot and Dash') as toppers to the Sunday pages.
Starting in the mid 1920s, Sterrett used cubist, surrealist and expressionist elements in his artwork, which made him an inspiration to many other artists, such as Martin Branner and Russ Westover. Because of arthritis, Sterrett was forced to hand over most of the art duties during the 1930s. The daily 'Polly' strip was handled by his assistant Paul Fung from 1935 until the end of its run in 1942. Sterrett continued to supervise and occasionally draw the Sunday page until his retirement in 1958. Other ghost artists that worked for Sterrett were Vernon Greene, John Kowalchik, Fred Schwarze and Bob Dunn.
In 2010, IDW released the first oversized volume of 'Polly and her Pals Complete Sunday Comics', edited by Dean Mullaney. The second installment appeared in 2015.