Gunny Wolf’s SemperToons: A legacy of morale

Adopted from Dylan Lassiter, of PopSmoke Media, August 20, 2021

Charles “Gunny” Wolf has been drawing cartoons ever since he could hold a pencil. What originally began as a casual hobby, as Wolf puts it “drawing whatever comes to mind,” eventually grew into one of the most notable and hilarious morale boosters geared towards U.S. service members.

“If you have a dream, you know, it is a part of your purpose, then you just, you got to do it. And SemperToons is here to help keep you focused through a laugh.” Said Wolf, identifying the purpose driving his cartoons.

Pop Smoke Media had the pleasure of speaking to the illustrious cartoonist yesterday. During the discussion, Wolf spoke on the history and evolution of SemperToons.

Humble Beginnings

Well before he decided to become a Marine, Wolf was drawing in his free time. When he was in 10th grade, still in Ohio, Wolf chose to apply for a commercial art program at his local vocational school on a whim. To Wolf’s surprise, his whim became an opportunity as he was accepted and soon began to excel in various art subjects at the school.

By the time Wolf made it to the cartooning class, the rest was history. He said, “It just came naturally to me.” But, it still wasn’t a career path just yet. Wolf said that while he was preparing to graduate high school, he met a Marine visiting his school, and decided to enlist almost immediately.

He recalled, “Once I saw the Marine, a real Marine in uniform, in person, I just started asking questions. Next thing, I’m in his office and not knowing anything, he’s asking me what I want to do, and I’m just straight up saying infantry; I want to be the guy on the poster.”

Gunny finds his purpose

Flash forward a couple of months, and Wolf is at Parris Island for boot camp, where he quickly begins drawing for his platoon. Wolf ended up on the USS Blue Ridge in Okinawa, Japan, and was still drawing, but without a direction. This part of his story seems to loop, as he kept on drawing but taking a while to narrow down what he wanted to do exactly.

After two years spent in Okinawa, Wolf was still drawing, but this time at Camp Pendleton. While he was at Camp Pendleton, Wolf’s unit was deployed concurrently with Desert Shield/Storm and ended up on the ship for 10 months.

This was the major turning point for Wolf, as he began drafting cartoons that only received praise and laughter from his peers. Following noticeable acclaim from his peers, someone from the admin office on the ship asked him to start posting his cartoons on the door on a weekly basis.

Wolf said that when he left this post, for some brief training out in the desert, he came back to a major surprise. According to Wolf, once he was back on the ship, a superior administrative officer greeted him with, “You need to get a cartoon up on the door now because everybody’s been freaking out about where you’ve been.”

This was a moment of feeling great, and also discovering purpose, for Wolf. He commented on this point by stating “I started to understand what cartoons and morale can do, But I was still in the infancy stage of how powerful it can be.”

Accumulating fans

After a period of making weekly cartoons for his peers on the ship, and continuing to grow the hobby as a full-time TBS inst