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Between Reveille, the Aggie ring and the classic Block T, Texas A&M University has its fair share of iconic symbols. But there’s one figure in particular who harkens back to “Old Army” in all its grit and glory: the strong-jawed, puffy-chested, tough-as-nails Ol’ Sarge.

Ol’ Sarge first appeared in the late 1930s in the Battalion Humor Magazine comic strip as “Magarkin,” a no-nonsense sergeant.

Conceived by the late Pete Tumlinson ’42 during his time as a cadet, Ol’ Sarge first appeared in the Battalion Humor Magazine comic strip as “Magarkin,” a hard-nosed sergeant emulating the Corps of Cadets’ upperclassmen. Much of the strip’s humor came from Magarkin harassing “Fish Blotto,” another Tumlinson creation representing wide-eyed freshmen.

After commissioning into the Army Air Corps in 1942 during his senior year, Tumlinson returned home, graduated and enjoyed a storied illustration career, including a stint at Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel Comics.

In his absence, other talented cadets like the late Jim Earl ’54 and Bob Shemwell ’82 adopted the Ol’ Sarge character, including him in their own comics and shaping him into the campus icon he is today.

In the wake of Tumlinson’s passing, Pete’s brother, Richard “Dick” Tumlinson ’51, collected his archived sketches (including those seen here) into the dedicated book, “Magarkin: The Original Ol’ Sarge.”

This year marks the 85th anniversary of the first appearance of Ol’ Sarge, who, with his thick scowl and long stride, has steadily marched his way into the hearts of Aggies everywhere.

Reach out to Richard “Dick” Tumlinson ’51 at 316-734-8885 or for any inquiries about “Magarkin: The Original Ol’ Sarge.”

The sketches below detail the evolution of the Ol’ Sarge character over the decades.



Spirit magazine includes a special section devoted to sharing Good Bull stories like that of Pete Tumlinson’s creation of Ol’ Sarge. If you have a Good Bull story to share—an anecdote that uniquely embraces or promotes the Aggie Spirit and traditions of Texas A&M—let our editor know by clicking the button below. Your submission could be featured in a future issue!

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