Little Sammy Sneeze was a comic strip by American cartoonist Winsor McCay. In each episode the titular Sammy sneezed himself into an awkward or disastrous predicament. The strip ran from July 24, 1904, until December 9, 1906, in the New York Herald, where McCay was on the staff. It was McCay’s first successful comic strip; he followed it with Dream of the Rarebit Fiend later in 1904, and his best-known strip Little Nemo in Slumberland in 1905.
In contrast to the imaginative layouts of Little Nemo, Sammy Sneeze was confined to a rigid grid and followed a strict formula: Sammy’s sneeze would build frame by frame, contorting the protagonist’s face until it erupted in the second-to-last panel. In the closing panel he suffered the consequences—often a kick in the rear. McCay targeted middle-class pretensions such as consumerism and squeamishness over bodily functions, while reaffirming the social order by ensuring that Sammy received punishment.
McCay’s artwork was finely detailed and highly accurate in its persistent repetition. He delved into modernist experimentation, shattering fourth walls and even the strip’s panel borders. The panel-by-panel buildup displayed McCay’s concern with depicting motion, a concern that was to culminate in his pioneering animated films of the 1910s, such as Gertie the Dinosaur (1914).
The strip followed a simple concept: each week, little Sammy would sneeze with such power that it wreaked havoc with his surroundings. His sneeze would build up until its release with the onomatopoeia “Chow!” in the second-to-last panel. In the last panel he would suffer the consequences—being driven away by one of his victims, or often receiving a kick in the rear.
Little Sammy Sneeze began on July 24, 1904, in the New York Herald, where McCay had joined the staff in 1903. It ran in color until partway through 1905, and came to an end December 9, 1906. In 1906, a compilation volume of the strips appeared—not only in the United States, but in France where the Herald??’?s publisher James Gordon Bennett, Jr. was based.[a] Sammy was one of the earliest American strips to appear in Europe.
Sunday Press Books released a deluxe 11 in × 16 in (28 cm × 41 cm) landscape-format hardcover volume called Little Sammy Sneeze: The Complete Color Sunday Comics 1904–1905 in 2007. On the reverse of each Sammy Sneeze page was printed a non-Sammy Sneeze strip—the complete run of McCay’s The Story of Hungry Henrietta, as well as selections from John Prentiss Benson’s The Woozlebeasts, and Gustave Verbeek’s The Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo and The Terrors of the Tiny Tads. These bonus strips appeared in monochrome to Sammy Sneeze??’?s color, as they would have at the time when newspapers normally printed color on only one side of the page.
8 strips various