NEW YORK – After the U.S. was attacked Sept. 11, people around the nation began pitching in to fight terrorism and help ease others' suffering.
Some people went to the Twin Towers to haul away debris and bodies. Many gave blood until the banks overflowed. Others recorded songs to raise funds for the hard work ahead.
Others offered something more … colorful.
In a Philadelphia suburb, Tom Fulp beat suspected terrorist Usama bin Laden's face to a pulp. Not far away, Josh Bend did something along the same lines, but by using the Empire State Building on a different region of bin Laden's body. And in England, Michael Bregman called in a favor with the cartoon superheroes the Powerpuff Girls, who, naturally, beat bin Laden so badly his head popped off.
"Artists tend to express their feelings about an event, and these are just another form of artistic expression," said Wade Fulp, the Web master of www.newgrounds.com and Tom Fulp's brother. "Some people write poems or write books or paint a picture. These guys make flash movies and games."
Since the horrors of that Tuesday, anti-bin Laden Web-based games and animated movies have become a cottage industry rivaling handheld American flags.
On newgrounds.com, a public gallery of Flash animation has become the Internet capital of bash-bin Laden entertainment. There's a crop of at least 36 games and movies that mete out graphic punishments to the world's No. 1 bad guy.
Since they first started appearing Sept. 13, the animations have quickly cornered the site's top seven slots as its most popular offerings, edging out even the Britney Spears fare that usually tops its lists.
Fulp said the site usually gets 1.5 million hits per month, but it's impossible to tell how many more people have been visiting since the attacks.
"Our site has gotten so busy our Web log has crashed," he said.
The most popular game is "Bad Dudes vs. Bin Laden" by Tom Fulp, the CEO of the Pennsylvania-based Web site. Players assume the role of a Schwarzeneggerian strongman named "Dude," who pummels an equally beefy bin Laden until he delivers infinite justice – and the sadistic Saudi's head pops off. The game has garnered 281,000 views in less than a month.
Another offering comes in the form of an episode of the Powerpuff Girls, the Cartoon Network staple. The cuddly, superpowered trio hunts down bin Laden and slaps him around until he cries uncle – and his head pops off.
Creator Michael Bregman, a 23-year-old animation student in Farnham, England, said he felt compelled to put his feelings about the disaster into cartoon form.
"In fiction you've got Spiderman, Superman, you've got the Powerpuff Girls," the native of Israel said. "In comics, the villains range from bank robbers to world dominators. Bin Laden would be one of the big, scary supervillains."
In Levittown, Penn., 16-year-old Josh Bend found solace in making movies in which he wreaks a 16-color vengeance on bin Laden. He's made five anti-bin Laden movies, including a very popular one in which the mastermind of the Al Qaeda terror network gets his comeuppance via what is now New York's tallest skyscraper.
"It's another way to vent my anger besides doing violent stuff like friends of mine, smashing windows at gas stations and the Uni-Mart," Bend said. "I've been using the movies to control my anger."
He said his parents were upset at first at the content of his movies, but have learned to accept them as a way of expressing himself.
Actually, his father said, he's pretty proud of his son's creative accomplishments and tough-as-nails patriotism.
"I feel pretty good about it," Jaime Diaz said. "He's learning something."