Archive | Polly and Her Pals

I’m Positive, it’s Polly!

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After all these years of editing and publishing books, there’s still no greater thrill than when the first box arrives from the printer with the latest book hot off the presses. Last week, the massivePolly and Her Pals arrived on our doorstep. When I say “massive,” I’m not kidding. It’s the first Library release in the “champagne edition” size of 12″ wide by 16″ high.

On newsarama, J. Caleb Mozzocco calls Polly “a perfect coffee table book—not one that you would put on your coffee table…but one big enough to be used as a coffee table.”

Douglas Wolk at Comics Alliance was briefer in his assessment: “Don’t Ask! Just Buy It!”

art spiegelman writes, “Polly and Her Pals is a glorious composition of melodious, well-crafted, hot-jazz lines for newsprint; panel after panel of graphic design with the clarity, wit, and grace of a Bix Beiderbecke cornet solo. Visually, it is a happy synthesis of Art Deco, Futurism, Surrealism, Dada, and Pure Cartoon. Your eyes can dance to it.”

We’re incredibly proud that Cliff Sterrett finally gets his due and that we can all experience his amazing and singular cartooning vision.

Polly and Her Pals volume 1: 1913-1927 is in stores and available online now.

If My Dad Could See Me Now

f you can imagine yourself slipping into the ink pot and flowing out the end of a cartoonist’s pen, this is how I felt when I worked restoring the raw talent in Cliff Sterrett’s Polly and Her PalsSunday pages.  We just approved the color proofs and the book, all 12″ x 16″ of it, is now in the printer’s hands.

My profession of graphic design has taught me more about people than the artwork itself; I’ve worked on tight deadlines and sometimes felt like I was running up the courts along with the NBA players I helped market. You get to know the subject well and you either love it or survive the stress.

Polly and her Pals put me in touch with this amazing creator, Samuel Clifford Sterrett. I closely studied each swoosh and brush stroke as his linework danced and dipped. His characters felt like members of my own family. I stumbled along every unfolding gag with Sterrett’s bizarre unpredictable checkered pathways leading me to Paw with twinkling eyes, and the purring Kitty. Kitty—heart of a lion and the strength of a Dane. Her attitude came alive as she added her two cents in every upturned-nosed-strut. I love Sterrett’s extra little touches—the curl at the end of Paw’s beard and the crink of Kitty’s tail as it mocked the direction of the staircase. His use of patterns and inexplicable objects that appear like unexpected hail kept my interest peaked and the laughter flowing. This was not a job-this was playing with one of the kids that created sheer FUN for my parents’ generation. How awesome to be able to bring this to future generations. Sterrett was an artist some thought daffy, but in reality, of course, he was a visionary pioneer.

I am thrilled to have been a part of presenting this work. I feel as if I have met Sterrett, wish I had…perhaps in my next lifetime. Gazing through Paw’s iron-sashed windows with smiling crescent moons, I will happily dream on.

 

“If You Knew Polly Like I Knew Polly”

In my teens, I’d have said you were nuts had you told me I would fall in love with a comic strip that was named after a flaxen-haired flapper but starred her diminutive, balding, mustachioed father and the family cat.

Of course, you wouldn’t have been nuts, because Polly and Her Pals is indeed one of my fave-raves, and I unleash a real big grin whenever I think about the upcoming Polly Volume 1 in our new, oversized “champagne edition” format.

I got my first taste of Cliff Sterrett’s unique comics vision in 1983, when Fantagraphics treated readers to a five-page black-and-white Polly sampler in Nemo # 1. This oh-so-tantalizing taste revealed a cartoonist with a bouncy, light-hearted comedic style and a dab hand with pantomime. I wanted more of this guy Sterrett … it just took me seven years to get it, in 1990’s two-volume Remco set of full-color Sundays. This was bravura stuff, demonstrating a playful sense of design, delightfully wonky stories and gags, and a consistent surrealistic touch.

I sang Polly‘s praises, and one day in 1991, an In acquaintance mailed me a copy of Merlin Haas’s 1986 “Flying Flounder Review” compendium of Polly dailies, produced for the enjoyment of members of that venerable APA, CAPA-Alpha. Haas’s pamphlet presented “The Mystery of Greystone,” encompassing a run from 06/18/29 to 09/27/29, and the dailies thoroughly charmed me. What a pleasure (though hardly a surprise) to discover Sterrett was as clever at concocting day-to-day continuity as he was at producing stand-alone Sunday work.

A decade later, on vacation in Arizona and shopping in a deeply-stocked comics shop, what to my wondering eyes did appear but a copy of Arcadia Publishing’s 1990 Comic Strip Showcasefeaturing – yes, you guessed it – Polly and Her Pals. Fourteen delicious months of Sterrett dailies from 1930-’31. Heaven!

I never get enough of sweet Polly Perkins, her Maw and Paw, her cousin Ashur Earl, their servant Neewah, and Kitty, who surely deserves a place in Cartoon Cat Valhalla next to Krazy and Felix.

Now I’m doing my bit helping to bring Polly back into print for 21st Century audiences, and how cool is that? If you’re a Pollyologist, you know how cool that is. If you’ve yet to sample the joys of Sterrett’s unique vision, this summer you can discover the coolness for yourself by checking out The Library of American Comics’s Polly and Her Pals Volume 1, served up in a 12″ x 16″ format that showcases this series the way it’s never been showcased before.

The Sunday above—from December 6, 1925—has never been reprinted before.

Our goal is a simple one: we plan on introducing Polly to a whole new batch of pals!

 

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