Name: Tom Fulp
- Disposition:Happy (Finally!)
My life is a boring story, but I will try to make it sound interesting. Although I was miserable a lot as a child, I actually came from a loving and nurturing environment, and was happy most of the time with the exception of some of the stuff below. If it sounds too negative, remember it's partly for entertainment purposes.
BTW - Doesn't that picture up there make you want to just punch me? If so, mission accomplished.
Age 0-6 (Pre-Gradeschool) 1978-1984
I was born with eyes of two different colors. One was blue, the other was dark brown. Now they are both dark brown, although one is darker than the other. It isn't very noticeable but I like to think the dark eye represents my dark half.
- At a very early age, I saw some blankets piled against a wall. I thought it was a giant pillow, and charged at full speed. I bled. It left a temporary dent in my head - thank god it healed.
- In my pre-kingergarten years, I tripped in the alley behind my house and got a nasty gash on my knee. A few days later, I was with my family watching some sad little movie on TV about a boy losing his kangaroo, or something like that. I don't quite remember. All I remember is that as the kangaroo hopped off into the high brush, I felt very sad, and tears came to my eyes. I was embarassed and complained that it was because the gash on my knee hurt, and I never became sad over such trivial matters again... Until...
- The seal. It was just a baby. My dad was watching National Geographic, and a platoon of sweet little seals were on the icey shores. The men came running into the scene. My mom told my dad to change the channel, which he did, but his own curiosity drove him to turn National Geographic back on. The ugly adult seals had fled to the water, but one cute little baby seal could not keep up with the pack. The men clubbed him, continually. I watched his head turn red with blood. I'm not sure if I cried or not... I think I might have. My mom will never forgive my dad for that. It also lead to the creation of one of my now famous on-line games, Club a Seal.
- My dad had a ham radio cabin in a high elevation wooded area far from my house. One day, my brother and I were there with my dad and we were running around in the brush. I snagged myself on some prickles and my legs began to bleed. My dad called us back to the car, but I refused to get up. I was injured! Unconcerned with my pain, my dad simply called out, "Ok, just watch out for the bears!", and with that he and my brother drove off into the woods, out of sight. I truly thought they had left, and for that short moment I went insane. They came right back, though. My mom will never forgive my dad for that one, either.
- I had a dream that a monster was chasing me through the house. I ran downstairs and hid behind my dad on the couch. When the monster came downstairs and said, "Where is he?", my dad grinned, slid out of the way, and said, "Here he is!". That was the end of the dream, and my mom thinks it ties in with the "Watch out for the bears!" incident.
- NOTE: Despite how some of that sounds, my dad is a great parent.
- My kindergarten teacher was the devil. She was a truly horrible human being. She yelled at me because I started eating my snack before she officially proclaimed the start of snack time, although we were all sitting there with our food in front of us. I held my head in shame and tears came to my eyes, and I snuck a few crackers into my mouth. The terrified kids at my table whispered amongst eachother, "He's eating!"... As if I was going to get us all shot.
- I hated school from that point on.
Age 6-12 (Gradeschool, DIEBLER) 1984-1990
We had "dress up day" on the last day of school before Christmas break. It made a good impression in first grade when I spilled hot chocolate all over my suit. It was meant to be a festive day, but I spent it reeking of hot chocolate.
- I'm lucky that I grew up when teachers weren't as concerned with the psychological well-being of their students. Otherwise I may have been sent to a counselor after I made this in second grade.
- I was absent all the time. ALL THE TIME. It wasn't fake, either. I was sick. It was partly in my head, but I did feel terrible. I think I went through a major depression in my early childhood, and I hated school with a passion. I worked hard and got good grades, but I hated school. I didn't get teased too much (at least, I never got beat up), but I was pretty sensitive to other kids comments. I was mostly pestered about "Why are you sick all the time?"... Why do you care? My best friend Andy, always ready to lower my confidence, was sure to tell me how much crap was said behind my back when I was at home in bed.
- Being home in bed all the time had it's benefits. I thought a lot. I know I don't think more than everyone else now, but I thought more than any gradeschooler you have ever met. I was quite disturbed. People shouldn't spend so much time thinking.
- My fifth grade teacher was the second biggest bitch I have ever known. Sure, she gave me "A+++" on my highly creative projects (I was very manic this year, yet depressive at the same time), but she also kept count of how many days I had been absent, and kept the class informed, too. That is just wrong.
- In sixth grade I made the first of many videos for school. It was a book report. The teacher showed it to my class (we were the "Above Average" group, as opposed to being the "Average" or "Below Average" group. There was a gifted group made up of "Enlightened" kids who met once a week, but I missed that by 3 IQ points). I got an A on the video. The teacher loved it.
- Still in sixth grade, I made a second video book report. The teacher had such high expectations that she showed it to the entire sixth grade, without even previewing it. She hated it. It was mostly skits and barely report, and it was offensive - featuring multiple deaths, drugs, the word "Freakin" and alcohol. Keep in mind this was before I had violent video games to warp my mind. I believe I got a C. I might have gotten a D, but I don't think I got Ds in gradeschool. Showing this crap to the entire sixth grade was a big trip for me.
- I made a third video. This one was a solid report and had filmed scenes recreating key moments from the book. It was very well done, but had a few "accidental" offensive scenes (I swear I didn't mean to belch while talking, and my brother farted off camera... And we spit out soda). The teacher previewed it and decided not to show it to anyone. I was discouraged, but it did not stop me.
- My attendance improved in 6th grade because I had a crush on a girl. She was at least 3 IQ points smarter than me, because she was in the gifted group.
Age 12-15 (Jr. High - Freshman, PENNRIDGE) 1990-93
Seventh Grade was a transition year. I don't remember much about that. It was during this time that I got my hands on an Amiga and began to animate in 2D. I animated with a passion, pumping out mind-numbing cartoons running at 30 frames per second. Some of these cartoons are still cooler than what I've made with Flash for the web.
- During seventh and eighth grade, I authored and published a fanzine called "New Ground". It was the fanzine for my on-line club, the Neo Geo Alliance, on Prodigy. That's right, anyone who was ever a fan of the Neo Geo and on Prodigy should know my name (or Tom Gulp, perhaps - I was testing the ability to change my profile name, only to find that users are only allowed one change to be made without written notice and proof of ID - so I stuck with the change). I was really into that kick-ass system. New Ground is a synonym for Neo Geo, by the way.
- In eighth grade, I introduced my first animated feature to the classroom. "The Close Encounters of Billy-Bo-Bob and John" involved a man and a truck that ran him over in every episode, in all sorts of locations. He dived into a pool, so did the truck. He climbed a mountain, so did the truck. No matter what he did, he always got ripped to shreds by the truck. This was complete with tons of blood. The class loved it. I since then made part 2, and then I made part 3, which featured high-resolution graphics and extremely smooth blood animation. None of those were presented to the public.
- It was also in 8th grade that I became interested in Nine Inch Nails. This was the start of my interest in electronic music. My friend Andy also loved NIN, but it was near the end of eighth grade that we had our big "break-up". We needed the space.
- In ninth grade (freshman year), Andy and I both joined the media center and became friends again. I made some cartoons this year, mostly with friends for their classes cause my classes sucked. This was a very quiet year for me.
Age 15-16 (10th Grade, PENNRIDGE) 1993-94
- This grade gets its own section because it was a pivotal point of my life.
- There was a teacher strike this year and I dreaded going back to school. I hated it more than ever. It was during the strike that I convinced my parents to stick me in home schooling so I could teach myself. I taught myself, and taught myself well.
- I suppose I regret the year of socialization I missed, but I am glad I did it. This one year of isolation (with the exception of close friends) gave me a new thirst for interaction. I looked forward to going back to school in 11th grade, and I have not hated school since. I really needed this year off. Everyone should try a year of isolation during their childhood.
- My homeschooling was extremely Christian, which further pushed me away from organized religion. I don't consider myself anti-religion nowadays, but I still don't like pushy types.
Age 16-18 (11th-12th grade, PENNRIDGE) 1994-96
I started getting girlfriends and stuff. My parents finally lightened up and let me ride in cars with my friends driving, and I eventually got a license. I was never too big on driving. Maybe it was some sort of phobia, possibly passed down from my mother's side. I used to be deathly afraid to drive, but now I'm fine with it and I'll drive anywhere.
- I made lots of cool friends during these two years. I still hang out with some, but don't get to see others as much as I would like to.
- During my last two years of high school, I created my first website. I called it "New Ground Remix". It was pointless until the end of twelfth grade, when I created Club a Seal and Assassin. My original Assassin games were all HTML, with point and click pictures. I get to take credit for bringing interactive killing games to the web! Sorry parents, I was just a kid at the time!
- In twelfth grade, my friends and I organized and DJed the "Electro Dance", the first ever electronic music dance in our high school. Keep in mind, this was in 1995, before the buzzword "Electronica" even existed. We had Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Winx, and even a bunch of industrial like Thrill Kill Kult and Pop Will Eat Itself. The dance didn't have a great turnout, but it turned a profit for the school.
- My face broke out with pimples just in time for college. It really affected my confidence (which was already non-existent).
Age 18-19 (Freshman, DREXEL UNIVERSITY) 1996-97
I moved to Philly, so I finally got to go to clubs and events (I became a wannabe raver like I had wanted to for a long time). It was freshman year that I discovered Drum 'n' Bass, one of the dominant soundtracks to this website in the late 90s.
- Towards the end of the year, I started getting big pants and polo shirts. Sorta embarassing in hind-site but it was cool at the time.
Age 19 (Sophomore, DREXEL UNIVERSITY) 1997-98
- As part of the 5 year program at Drexel. I would spend 6 months on co-op (working full time) then 6 months in class. I started sophomore year on co-op at a major pharmaceutical company, working on their corporate website!
- I had bought my first turntable the previous summer, and it was during this co-op that I bought my second. I made some mix tapes, but never actually went public with my skills. I haven't been too active with the turntables since this period.
- I used dermatologist-prescribed topical gels, and my face cleared up.
- My hair got pretty shaggy over the summer, as you can see in the picture at the very top of this page. Yup, that picture is from 1998. I'm aging slowly, though.
Age 20 (Pre-Junior, DREXEL UNIVERSITY) Fall 1998 - Summer 1999
My college girlfriend came back from an internship in Japan and then went to London for three months. I visited her in London and wrote a little essay about it.
- For my six month Fall/Winter co-op, I went back to work for the pharmaceutical company I worked for during my sophomore year.
- When I returned to school for the spring/summer terms I started working 24 hours a week at Qwest Internet Solutions. It was during this time that I started building a relationship with Troma, who later hosted the site for a few years as part of an affiliate network. I made a game for them called "Ask the Penis Monster", and Tommy Lee was quoted as saying it is his favorite thing on the net. Woah!
Age 21 (Junior, DREXEL UNIVERSITY) Fall 1999 - Spring 2000
Life definitely started changing. In November, Troma flew me out to LA where I got to spend a day at the Playboy Mansion! As if that wasn't great enough, I also got my eyes poked out in The Toxic Avenger 4. Read all about it!
- I spent the winter term working full-time at Qwest, but the New Year marked my next step forward - leaving Qwest and working on Newgrounds for a living. I was scared that it would be boring and lonely - like home schooling was back in 10th grade. To my delight, it kicked ass! Thanks to this new digital age, hermits like me could finally lead the lives we wanted to lead.
- In January, Troma brought me out to Park City Utah for Tromadance (Sundance also happened to be there). FDA got to be played for a room full of people, which was pretty darn cool. You can read more about it here.
- I created a new goal for the future of Newgrounds... NG Haus. The plan was to get a big ass house and fill it with people who work on newgrounds all day. It would be every ones' dream job - living in a big house, with a pool, near the beach, and working on Newgrounds for a living. What could be better than that?! The only problem was I couldn't afford a house or employees. But one should always have a goal, right?
- My 22nd birthday got off with a twist. I almost sold the site (which would have resulted in a move to LA), my girlfriend of three years moved to Israel and left me, and I finally made the decision to put school on hold and make newgrounds a full-time effort. I started off by getting incorporated and opening a corporate bank account.
Age 22 (Living the Dream) Summer 2000 - Spring 2001
- I hired my friend Ross Snyder, a programming god. Ross built the back-end for Newgrounds, including things such as Grounds Gold user accounts, the automated Portal, and the upgraded BBS (built from scratch). Newgrounds began to run itself, which was good because there are so many aspects of the site that keep us very busy. I try hard to keep getting new content out, but there is nothing like the automated Portal to keep the site fun on a daily basis.
- July was an insane month - I spent a week in LA with Shok (the FDA creator), won an award for best Flash games at the Flash Film Festival in NYC, and was amongst the mayhem during the Republican National Convention protests (Shok and I went there to film with Troma). To top it all off, we threw a Newgrounds party at the Trocadero! What a month!
- On the business side, Newgrounds reached its peak in the fall. I brought my brother Wade onboard to help out with all the odds and ends of the site, and then hired my friend Andy Brozyna to do art. I wasn't exactly planning to hire an artist at that moment, but the company Andy worked for was going under and he only needed a job for a few months until he moved to DC. Since it was temporary, I didn't have to worry about the long-term financials so much. Andy did lots of cool artwork for the site, most noteably the famed Newgrounds tank logo, which has sinse been redesigned by Jeff Bandelin.
- While off to a great start, 2001 brought some bad news - the internet advertising market took a big dump. Thankfully, I never had much faith in it anyway so I was reasonably prepared. I was once told that I needed to sell my site to a larger company because I wouldn't be able to compete when other big boys stepped onto the field, but here I was, cruising in the NG speedboat while Titanics sunk all around me. Not that the lack of revenue didn't suck - it put a damper on a lot of hopes and dreams.
Age 23 (Senior, Drexel University) Summer 2001 - Spring 2002
- I decided to go back to Drexel as a part-time student. I had the urge to move somewhere else, though. I really liked Boston, but it was cold. I really liked the weather in LA, but too many people rubbed me the wrong way. Some parts down south seemed nice... but they were down south. NYC and San Fran were too expensive. I eventually decided to stay in Philadelphia, but move somewhere with more trees. I got an apartment in Mt. Airy.
Age 24 (Post-Graduate Move to Atlanta) Summer 2002 - Spring 2003
- I graduated from Drexel in the fall of 2002 and promptly moved to Atlanta for nine months of something new. Atlanta is a really cool city, but ultimately I missed my friends and family back home. I also hated working out of the corner of my living room... It's the smallest office I've had!
Age 25 (Back in Philly) Summer 2003 - Spring 2004
- I bought a house in the Philadelphia area and moved back in June of 2003. We had just started work on the console version of Alien Hominid, which kept me extremely busy for the entire year. Luckily, I made time to attend a party at my friend Pete's place in Boston, where I met the love of my life, April! We had actually been aquaintences in college - she was in computer science and had classes with my friends.
Age 26 (The Year of the Hominid) Summer 2004 - Spring 2005
- After 15 months of hard work and constant trips to San Diego, Alien Hominid was finally finished and released to stores in November of 2004. The rest of the year is like a blur of travel to give talks about AH and get things going with our next console game.
Age 27 (Getting Serious) Summer 2005 - Spring 2006
- I finally bought an office for Newgrounds. It's not a house on a beach, but we've got lots of space and a nice coffee shop down the street.
- I proposed to April and we're getting married in May, 2007!!!
- I haven't felt much need to update this page anymore, as my life story has pretty much become one with the story of Newgrounds. You can follow the Newgrounds story on the NG History page, it goes into much more detail.