Stephen Hillenburg: marine biologist who created SpongeBob SquarePants


When he selected animation as a profession, Stephen Hillenburg, creator of SpongeBob SquarePants, was ready for all times as a “ravenous artist”. The animator and producer, who has died of motor neurone illness aged 57, didn’t count on his quirky cartoon set in a tide pool to draw something greater than a cult following. 

But SpongeBob SquarePants is now the fifth longest-running cartoon sequence within the US and counts former president Barack Obama as a fan. Superstars who’ve voiced Hillenburg’s characters embody Johnny Depp and David Bowie. The sequence has gained 4 Emmy awards and netted greater than $12bn (£9.1bn) in merchandising income. Hillenburg didn’t need to starve in spite of everything.

Stephen McDannell Hillenburg was born in Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma in 1961. His father labored for the US Military and his mom was a trainer. A 12 months after younger Stephen was born the Hillenburg household moved to Anaheim, California, the place his father started a brand new profession within the aerospace trade. 

At college in California, Hillenburg confirmed early promise as an artist. On the similar time, he was fascinated by ocean life. He liked the underwater documentaries of Jacques Cousteau, whereas his curiosity in animation was sparked by a go to to the Tournée of Animation competition on the LA County Museum of Artwork. There he noticed Dutch animator Paul Driessen’s surreal movie The Killing of An Egg. Hillenburg later defined: “That was the movie that I believed was uniquely unusual and that lodged itself in my head early on.”

As an undergraduate, Hillenburg mixed his two pursuits at Humboldt State College the place he studied marine biology, taking artwork as a second topic. When it got here to discovering work, marine science initially gained out.

With Scarlett Johansson and David Hasselhoff in 2004 (Getty)

Quickly after graduating, Hillenburg took a job instructing marine biology to kids on the Orange County Marine Institute.  

To assist make his classes extra attention-grabbing, Hillenburg wrote a comic book e-book referred to as The Intertidal Zone. The comedian featured a variety of anthropomorphic sea creatures, together with one referred to as Bob the Sponge. Hillenburg was unsuccessful in getting the comedian printed exterior the institute, however the expertise of writing and drawing the characters reignited his inventive ambitions. He went again to varsity, gaining a grasp’s in experimental animation from the California Institute of Arts.

Whereas finding out for his masters, Hillenburg made a brief movie that attracted the eye of Joe Murray, creator of the Nickelodeon cartoon sequence, Rocko’s Trendy Life. Murray supplied Hillenburg his first skilled job within the animation world, as a director on Rocko. A stint as a author on Rugrats adopted. However quickly Hillenburg wished to create one thing of his personal.

He returned to The Intertidal Zone for inspiration. Bob the Sponge truly appeared like a sea sponge, as befitted his academic function, however Hillenburg wished his new foremost character – SpongeBob – to have a bodily look to match his character. He settled on a sq. kitchen sponge as a mannequin, saying it “appeared to suit the character kind I used to be searching for – a considerably nerdy, squeaky-clean oddball”. SpongeBob SquarePants mixed Hillenburg’s information of the ocean, his ardour for animation and his love of old-time comedians, akin to Laurel and Hardy. SpongeBob was an harmless within the Stan Laurel mould, to Patrick the starfish as Hardy. 

SpongeBob SquarePants first aired in the summertime of 1999 and it shortly grew to become clear that Hillenburg and Nickelodeon had a success on their palms. By 2003, it was the very best rated kids’s sequence on tv. With greater than 60 million viewers, it was franchised everywhere in the world. Explaining the present’s worldwide success, Hillenburg steered, “I feel it’s due to its simplicity. Everyone recognises the childlike character.”

In 2004, although Hillenburg had stated he didn’t assume SpongeBob would work in lengthy kind, he wrote and directed SpongeBob SquarePants the Film

Whereas he felt that the movie was, in his personal phrases, “respectable” and certainly it grossed greater than $140m, he maintained: “I nonetheless actually imagine one of the best reveals are the only brief reveals, for what SpongeBob is … We preserve it easy and preserve it concerning the characters.”

Nevertheless, there was a second SpongeBob film, which out-earned the primary. Grossing $323.4m worldwide, it was the second highest-grossing movie primarily based on an animated tv present, crushed solely by The Simpsons Film. In 2016, SpongeBob was tailored as a Broadway musical, with songs by Cyndi Lauper and Steven Tyler. 

Across the time of the primary SpongeBob film, Hillenburg stepped again from being the present’s author to grow to be an government producer and pursue different tasks. He made a brief movie referred to as Hollywood Blvd, USA, which featured animations of individuals strolling.

Collectively together with his chef spouse Karen and their son Clay, Hillenburg moved to San Marino, the place he indulged his hobbies of browsing and scuba diving. A self-described “Band geek” who had performed trumpet as a college boy, Hillenburg additionally discovered time to play rock music together with his son. 

All through his life, Hillenburg remained dedicated to the fragile ocean eco-system. Maybe for that motive, he tried to retain a veto over SpongeBob merchandising. In an interview with the The New York Occasions, Hillenburg’s colleague Sherm Cohen described the second when SpongeBob received his personal doll. Certainly a proud second for any cartoon character’s creator? Not so for Hillenburg.  Cohen defined,“…Stephen appeared grim. He stated, ‘My largest nightmare is that I’m going to be on the seaside someday, and considered one of these dolls goes to scrub up on the shore like rubbish.’” 

Hillenburg additionally did his finest to make sure that SpongeBob was not related to any quick meals manufacturers. Nevertheless, he failed to stop the primary SpongeBob film from having a tie-in with Burger King. 

The pursuits of the TV enterprise and the surroundings had been laborious to marry however Hillenburg nonetheless harboured a dream that SpongeBob may contribute to eco-awareness. In 2001, Hillenburg was recognised by Heal The Bay for his contribution to elevating consciousness of marine life. He later informed The Washington Put up: “Folks need to get collectively and [realise] how necessary our oceans are …  It takes care of us … Hopefully, for those who watch SpongeBob, you see plankton and crabs and starfish – and also you’ll [want to] deal with our oceans.” 

Hillenburg was recognized with motor neurone illness in 2017. He’s survived by his spouse and their son Clay. A 3rd SpongeBob film is at the moment in manufacturing.

Stephen McDannell Hillenburg, animator, born 21 August 1961, died 26 November 2018

Stephen Hillenburg death: Creator of SpongeBob SquarePants dies, aged 57


The creator of SpongeBob SquarePants has died on the age of 57.

Nickelodeon introduced on Tuesday that Stephen Hillenburg, the cartoonist and animator chargeable for the cult character and its namesake animated sequence, handed away.

He had introduced final 12 months that he had been identified with ALS.

“We’re unhappy to share the information of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” the community stated in a tweet.

“At this time, we’re observing a second of silence to honour his life and work.”

Hillenburg, a former marine biologist, grew up fascinated by the ocean.

He was a fan of French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau as a baby and as soon as advised The Guardian he first went scuba-diving aged 14, which “blew his thoughts”.

“It was all color, one other world,” he advised the publication in 2016.

“I studied pure sources planning and thought I might get a job at some marine park.

“However I used to be nice at artwork and so-so at marine biology. It’s humorous how the 2 ultimately got here collectively.”

Hillenburg bought his begin at Nickelodeon as a director for the animated sequence Rocko’s Fashionable Life. He thought up a speaking sponge character, which ultimately became SpongeBob.

From there, Hillenburg imaged the now-famous universe that makes up SpongeBob’s life within the underwater city of Bikini Backside, from his loyal finest buddy Patrick to his quick meals job on the Krusty Krab

Government Producer Stephen Hillenburg attends the World Premiere of “The SpongeBob Film: Sponge Out Of Water 3D” on the AMC Lincoln Sq. on 31 January, 2015 in New York Metropolis. (Picture by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Photographs for Paramount Worldwide)

Nickelodeon additional paid tribute to Hillenburgh in an announcement to the Reuters information company.

“We’re extremely saddened by the information that Steve Hillenburg has handed away following a battle with ALS,” the community stated.

“He was a beloved buddy and long-time inventive accomplice to everybody at Nickelodeon, and our hearts exit to his complete household.”

When Hillenburg first publicly mentioned his analysis, he advised Variety he meant to maintain working so long as he would be capable of.

He’s survived by his spouse Karen and their son Clay.

SpongeBob SquarePants, the sequence, is at the moment in its 12th season. 

Because it first aired in 1999, the sequence has obtained six Annie Awards and 4 Emmy Awards.

The present has became an internationally beloved media franchise together with two movies (and a 3rd one scheduled to return out in 2020), theme park rides, merchandise, video video games, and a Broadway adaptation.

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SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg died today at 57; death cause attributed to his battle with ALS

Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of the hit Nickelodeon present “SpongeBob SquarePants,” has died, the community introduced Tuesday. He was 57.

Hillenburg died following a battle with ALS, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s illness. In March, he introduced that he had been identified with the neurodegenerative illness.

“We’re extremely saddened by the information that Steve Hillenburg has handed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved good friend and long-time inventive accomplice to everybody at Nickelodeon, and our hearts exit to his complete household,” the community stated in an announcement. 

“Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a novel humorousness and innocence that has introduced pleasure to generations of youngsters and households in all places,” the assertion stated. “His totally authentic characters and the world of Bikini Backside will lengthy stand as a reminder of the worth of optimism, friendship and the limitless energy of creativeness.”

"The SpongeBob SquarePants" Preview At Tokyo International Anime Fair

 Stephen Hillenburg poses with SpongeBob at a Tokyo occasion in 2006.

Junko Kimura/Getty

Hillenburg was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1961. He graduated from Humboldt State College in 1984 with a level in pure useful resource planning and have become a marine biology instructor in Dana Level, California. In 1987, he pursued a profession in animation and graduated with an experimental animation diploma from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia in 1992.

The next 12 months, he started working as a author and director on Nickelodeon’s “Rocko’s Fashionable Life.” He went on to work for the community full-time, producing his animated sequence that ultimately grew to become “SpongeBob SquarePants,” which debuted on Could 1, 1999.

Joe Murray, the creator of “Rocko’s Fashionable Life,” noticed certainly one of Hillenburg’s quick movies and requested him to direct episodes of the present. “That was actually necessary for me as a result of I actually would not have recognized put a present collectively with out that have,” Hillenburg stated in a 2005 interview with Nick Animation.

The present went on to a number of awards, together with 4 Emmys and 6 Annie Awards. Hillenburg tailored his present for the massive display twice. “The SpongeBob SquarePants Film” launched in 2004 and “The SpongeBob Film: Sponge Out of Water” debuted in 2015.

“Clearly SpongeBob is comedy nevertheless it actually was impressed by me liking marine science,” he informed Nick Animation. “I centered on that and I by no means thought the 2 would come collectively.”

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SpongeBob SquarePants, memes and worldwide fandom: How Stephen Hillenburg’s creation is more than just a TV show


Web entry was nonetheless a novelty when SpongeBob SquarePants began airing in Might 1999 – however now, the beloved animated sequence has develop into a vital a part of the net world, prone to be referenced in conversations on social media by the use of one of many dozens of memes it has spawned.

Stills from SpongeBob SquarePants have been appropriated and reinvented by 1000’s of viewers through the years, which means pictures of SpongeBob and a few of its companions, reminiscent of his finest pal Patrick, have been used to convey numerous feelings and emotions reminiscent of disdain, fatigue, and malice.

After the death of SpongeBob creator Stephen Hillenburg was introduced on Tuesday, some on social media urged others to share their favorite SpongeBob memes as a tribute to the cartoonist and animator, who introduced final 12 months he had been recognized with ALS.

SpongeBob SquarePants’​s on-line reinvention has enabled the present to age together with its followers, who have been probably youngsters when the sequence debuted, which means they made the Millennial cutoff. Listed here are among the best-known, funniest SpongeBob memes cropping up on social media lately.

Mocking SpongeBob

This meme comes from a 2012 episode during which SpongeBob clucks like a hen, together with his arms bent on both sides of his physique.

As a result of meme historical past is never linear, the precise meme has little to do with poultry or that individual episode’s story line.

Somewhat, it sometimes consists of a photograph of SpongeBob in his hen stance together with in an imaginary, quick dialogue during which one individual supposedly says one factor and their dialog accomplice repeats it in a mocking tone.

The meme is often used to mock the second assertion, which is typed in a haphazard mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters to convey irony.

Confused Mr Krabs

SpongeBob’s penny-pinching boss Mr Krabs has tons of of memes to his identify.

One of many principal memes impressed by the fictional quick meals proprietor is used to specific a state of panic and confusion.

A number of pictures of Mr Krabs have been used to that impact, however social media customers have largely resorted to a nonetheless of the crab working in disarray, surrounded by a mob of offended Bikini Backside residents.

The picture is normally related to a press release describing an uncomfortable state of affairs, reminiscent of being yelled at upon waking up from a nap, or being placed on the spot at work.

Krusty Krab vs Chum Bucket

On this planet of SpongeBob SquarePants, there is just one quick meals price visiting: the trusted Krusty Krab, the place SpongeBob works as a cook dinner.

The opposite possibility is the vile Chum Bucket, which belongs to Mr Krabs’ rival Sheldon Plankton.

Viewers of the present have used a picture of the 2 places aspect by aspect to specific the prevalence – of their opinion – of one idea over one other.

For instance, one Marvel fan tacked the imprint’s brand on high of the Krusty Krab whereas affixing DC Comics’s label onto the Chum Bucket, thus pledging allegiance to the previous over the latter.

Others have used the meme to state their preferences for pink grapes over white grapes; impartial over mainstream hip hop; and the present Group over Glee.

Drained SpongeBob 

Over the course of 12 (up to now) seasons, SpongeBob as soon as discovered himself bare and visibly out of breath.

Social media customers have used the picture as an instance their very own fatigue in numerous memes.

The posts sometimes consists of the SpongeBob SquarePants nonetheless subsequent to a short description of the circumstances that triggered such exhaustion, reminiscent of job looking out or responding to a single message.

Evil Patrick

Patrick Star is, by and huge, a jolly character – however certainly one of his uncommon moments of maliciousness has been captured and reproduced by tons of of meme creators.

The nonetheless comes from the season one episode Nature Pants, during which Patrick chases after SpongeBob whereas holding a internet.

Social media person have used it in messages confessing their – comparatively innocuous – darkish deeds.

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