Cliff Sterrett is one of the great innovators of the comic page, and the creator of the first comic strip starring 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 most famous strip, 'Positive Polly', later renamed 'Polly and Her Pals.' The strip was initially published in the daily comic page of the New York Journal. A year later, the strip 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 1920s, Sterrett used cubist, surrealist and expressionist elements in his artwork, which made him an inspiration to many others, such as Martin Branner and Russ Westover. Sterrett handed over the daily 'Polly' strip to artists like Paul Fung and Vernon Greene in 1935, to concentrate wholly on the Sunday 'Polly' strip, which he drew until his retirement in 1958.