‘Ask Shagg’ ends, ‘Caption It!’ begins

After 42 years Peter Guren has decided to end his Ask Shagg weekly comic.

The final Ask Shagg comic will appear tomorrow, with some sort of farewell message from Peter.

by Peter Guren
August 1978 1979 – January 5, 2020
self-syndicated/United Feature Syndicate/Creators

Peter’s LinkedIn profile notes that Ask Shagg began in 1978,
then the strip was self-syndicated for several years before UFS picked it up in 1984.

above: a couple pages of pencils from Peter Guren

The Providence Journal breaks the news:

It’s always sad when a longtime feature ends its run. And as 2020 begins, we have two comic strips coming to a close.

One is “Ask Shagg,” the Sunday-only strip in which a shaggy dog explains things to kids about the animal kingdom. A 1985 Journal story said that star Shagg E. Dawg got 1,000 letters a month from readers around the country. Now Peter Guren, who has been drawing the strip since 1980, has decided it’s time to retire.

And — as announced in today’s strip — today is the last “Ask Shagg.” [“Today” being the January 5, 2020 strip]

Below is the last Ask Shagg strip with Peter’s goodbye. Notice the time frame given 1979 to 2020, as opposed to his LinkedIn page where it has a 1978 start date. Possibly the idea was created in 1978 and first appeared in newspapers in 1979? Anyway … I’m now going with 1979 as the first appearance.


The Journal also reports that Creators Syndicate has a replacement for Shagg at the ready.

And starting next Sunday, “Caption It!” replaces “Ask Shagg” on the last page of our comics. But while the strip will run on a page mostly meant for children, I think both kids and adults will love it.

It’s been running since 2017 in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the work of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Breen. Each week, he creates a new drawing and invites readers to write a caption. And he also chooses a winner from the entries he has received about an earlier drawing, and prints it as well.

“It’s a really popular part of the Sunday paper,” he says. “We see hundreds of captions come in each week, and I’m always amazed at how clever people are out there.

“Basically, I borrowed the idea from The New Yorker magazine and just made it a little less esoteric.” He adds that he likes to “keep things fun and quirky, because we want all ages participating.”

We mentioned Caption It! when it first appeared on the Creators page, now we have a start date.

by Steve Breen
January 12, 2020 –
Creators Syndicate
[a syndicated version of Steve Breen’s caption contest
from the San Diego Union-Tribune since March 2017]


The Providence Journal also notes the end of The Pajama Diaries, saying Macanudo will replace the strip on Sundays and their currently Sunday-only Pickles comic strip will expand to seven days a week.