My life up until the success of NG was a boring story, but I tried to make it interesting when I first wrote this web bio in high school (1995-1996).
I came from a loving and caring environment, but was an extremely shy, anxiety-ridden and often depressed kid. I kept it bottled up really tight though.
Age 0-6, 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. I warned you these years were uneventful.
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, repeatedly. 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 my first web game, 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 playing in the brush. I snagged myself on some prickers and my legs were bleeding. My dad called us back to the car, but I wouldn't get up. My dad called out, "Ok, just watch out for the bears!", and with that he and my brother drove off into the wilderness, out of sight. I honestly believed they had left and that was really scary. 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 "bears" incident.
NOTE: Despite how some of that sounds, my dad is a great parent.
My kindergarten teacher was a truly horrible human being. She yelled at me because I started eating my snack before she formally 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, 1984-1990
These were my elementary school years!
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. I think anxiety was to blame but I did feel terrible. I went through a major depression in my early childhood and 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?"
Being home in bed had it's benefits. I thought a lot. Probably too much. People shouldn't spend so much time thinking.
My fifth grade teacher was the second worst person 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.
So 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 offensive skits featuring death, 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. This was discouraging because class was my only outlet for sharing my work. This is also why Newgrounds became so important to me later in life.
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, 1990-93
I went to Jr. High and High School at Pennridge in Perkasie, in case you did too.
Seventh Grade was a transition year and I don't remember much about it. 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.
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. No one else ever got to see them, though.
It was also in 8th grade that I became interested in Nine Inch Nails. This was the start of my passion for 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 because my classes sucked. This was a very quiet year for me.
Age 15-16, 1993-94
Tenth 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.
Age 16-18, 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!
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, 1996-97
This was my freshman year at Drexel University.
I moved to Philly, so I finally got to go to raves, wear baggy pants and attempt to be a DJ. It was freshman year that I discovered Drum 'n' Bass, one of the dominant soundtracks to this website in the late 90s. Scene-wise I was a total wannabe, but unlike a lot of the people there I was in it for the music and not the drugs or attention. Ok, maybe the attention.
Age 19, 1997-98
As part of the five year program at Drexel. I would spend six months on co-op (working full time) then six months in class. I started sophomore year on co-op at SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline), working on their corporate website!
I had previously bought a Gemini turntable (direct drive, all good) and the money I made on my co-op afforded me a Technique 1200 as my second table. I made some mix tapes, but never actually went public with my skills. I haven't kept up with the turntables since college.
I used dermatologist-prescribed topical gels and my face cleared up. I also grew my hair out kinda shaggy, which became the signature TomFulp look for a number of years.
Age 20, Fall 1998 - Summer 1999
I visited a friend in London and wrote a little essay
For my six month Fall/Winter co-op, I went back to work for SmithKline 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 built 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, 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.
I spent the winter term working full-time at Qwest, but the New Year marked my next step forward - leaving Qwest to focus on Newgrounds. 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.
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 the 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 you should always have a goal, right?
My 22nd birthday kicked off with a twist. My girlfriend of three years moved to Israel and left me, I almost sold the site (which would have resulted in a move to LA) and I finally made the decision to put school on hold and make NG a full-time effort. I got incorporated and opened a company bank account.
Age 22, 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). 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. 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. 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, Summer 2001 - Spring 2002
With the future prospects for NG looking grim, I decided to go back to Drexel as a part-time student and complete my degree... Just in case.
Age 24, 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, 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 acquaintances in college - she was in computer science and had classes with my friends.
Age 26, 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, 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!
From this point on I have settled down and started family. Beyond family, the story of Newgrounds is the story of my life. You will find a lot more information on the Newgrounds History
Age 28, Summer 2006 - Spring 2007
April and I got married in May!
We launched a massive site redesign in July 2007.
Age 29, Summer 2007 - Spring 2008
This was the post-redesign period, where we stumbled through some failed features and I had to muck through an audit. You can read all about that in the NG history.
Age 30, Summer 2008 - Spring 2009
Castle Crashers came out in August! It went on to be the top selling XBLA game of 2008 and I think 2009 as well.
In the fall April and I went to Tokyo with the Behemoth gang to run a booth at the Tokyo Game Show. This was a moment where I really had to take a step back and acknowledge where my life had come. As a kid, I dreamt of going to the CES show to see the latest video games. The Tokyo Game Show was beyond a dream, though. It was an impossibility; a foreign land where the games are released long before coming to America. To have gone from TGS being beyond a dream, to standing in front of our own booth there, was truly... A defining moment of my life or something.
Our son was born in March!
Age 31, Summer 2009 - Spring 2010
I tried to be a good dad and not take as many trips this year. I have managed to keep the infinite loop of Comic-Con and PAX going, though.
Wanting to have more local meets, I put a lot of attention on the first floor of the office!
Age 32, Summer 2010 - Spring 2011
Life moves along at a steady clip, we work on the big site redesign.
Age 33, Summer 2011 - Spring 2012
April and I had our second son in July!
The big NG redesign launched on February 7th, 2012. Sorry I'm so bad with updating all this nowadays.
Age 36, Summer 2014 - Spring 2015
Events such as PAX, Comic-Con, Pico Day and talks at schools have always been out of my comfort zone but I decided I was gonna need to hit the pavement EVEN MORE if people were ever going to stop saying, "Newgrounds... That still exists?"
This new set of adventures started in November with an NG Screening at the Animation Breakdown Festival in LA.
I'm really thankful to Sean Buckelew
and Jeanette Bonds
for making that possible.
In January I hosted an NG panel at MAGFest in DC
, with Stamper, RicePirate and Spazkid. Lots of NGers were in attendance; see the link for a list.
In March I attended PAX Boston as usual but this time I jumped in on an indie game dev panel with Glaiel-Gamer
. Months later at PAX Seattle, someone I talked to after the Boston panel came up to me and told me how helpful it was. Made it all feel worth it! I also gave a talk at Buzzfeed in NYC this month, thanks to Nogfish
April was Pico Day but this time it was our biggest Pico Day ever and felt more like Pico Week.
Age 37, Summer 2015 - Spring 2015
In May I hosted an NG panel with Stamper and RicePirate at J1-Con in Philly.
June was an NG panel at Too Many Games, just outside Philly.
In July I skipped Comic-Con :(
August was PAX Prime
, as usual.
September is another NG theater screening, this time at the Ottawa International Animation Festival
October is an appearance at the Emerald Coast Con