‘SpongeBob’ cre­ator Stephen Hil­len­burg dies at 57

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By An­drew Dal­ton AP En­ter­tain­ment Writer

Stephen Hil­len­burg, who cre­ated SpongeBob SquarePant­s and the ab­surd un­der­sea world he in­hab­ited, has died at age 57, Nick­elodeon an­nounced on Nov. 27.

Hil­len­burg died on Nov. 26 of Lou Gehrig’s dis­ease, also known as ALS, the cable net­work said in a state­ment. He was 57.

Hil­len­burg had an­nounced he had the dis­ease in March 2017. His death comes just weeks af­ter the pass­ing of an­other car­toon hero in Mar­vel cre­ator Stan Lee.

An Ok­la­homa na­tive with a love of both draw­ing and ma­rine bi­ol­ogy, Hil­len­burg con­ceived, wrote, pro­duced and di­rected the an­i­mated se­ries that be­gan in 1999 and went on to spawn hun­dreds of episodes, movies and a Broad­way show.

“He was a beloved friend and long-time cre­ative part­ner to ev­ery­one at Nick­elodeon, and our hearts go out to his en­tire fam­ily,” Nick­elodeon’s state­ment said. “Steve im­bued ‘SpongeBob SquarePant­s’ with a unique sense of hu­mor and in­no­cence that has brought joy to gen­er­a­tions of kids and fam­i­lies ev­ery­where. His ut­terly orig­i­nal char­ac­ters and the world of Bikini Bot­tom will long stand as a re­minder of the value of op­ti­mism, friend­ship and the lim­it­less power of imag­i­na­tion.”

The ab­surdly jolly SpongeBob, his starfish side­kick Pa­trick, and a vast cast of oceanic crea­tures quickly ap­pealed to col­lege kids and par­ents as much as it did kids.

“The fact that it’s un­der­sea and iso­lated from our world helps the char­ac­ters main­tain their own cul­ture,” Hil­len­burg told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2001. “The essence of the show is that SpongeBob is an in­no­cent in a world of jaded char­ac­ters. The rest is ab­surd pack­ag­ing.”

Born at his fa­ther’s army post in Law­ton, Okla., Hil­len­burg grad­u­ated from Hum­boldt State Univer­sity in Cal­i­for­nia in 1984 with a de­gree in nat­u­ral re­source plan­ning with an em­pha­sis on ma­rine re­sources, and went on to teach ma­rine bi­ol­ogy at the Or­ange County Ma­rine In­sti­tute.

He shifted to draw­ing and earned a master of fine arts de­gree in an­i­ma­tion from the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of the Arts in 1992.

That same year he cre­ated an an­i­mated short called “Worm­holes” that won fes­ti­val plau­dits and helped land him a job on the Nick­elodeon show “Rocko’s Mod­ern Life,” where he worked from 1993 to 1996 be­fore he be­gan to build SpongeBob’s un­der­sea world of Bikini Bot­tom, which showed off his knowl­edge of ma­rine life and will­ing­ness to throw all the de­tails out the win­dow.

“We know that fish don’t walk,” he told the AP, “and that there is no or­ga­nized com­mu­nity with roads, where cars are re­ally boats. And if you know much about sponges, you know that liv­ing sponges aren’t square.”

The show was an im­me­di­ate hit that has lost no mo­men­tum in the nearly 20 years since its cre­ation. Its nearly 250 episodes have won four Em­mys and 15 Kids Choice Awards, and led to an end­less line of mer­chan­dise to ri­val any other pop cul­tural phe­nom­e­non of the 2000s.

In 2004, the show shifted to the big screen with “The SpongeBob SquarePant­s

/Charles Sykes-Invision

SpongeBob SquarePant­s cre­ator Stephen Hil­len­burg at­tends the world pre­miere of “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Wa­ter” in New York. Hil­len­burg died last Mon­day of ALS. He was 57.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.