Many of you likely grew up watching the hilarious and highly charged yellow sponge known as Spongebob SquarePants; somehow he always managed to find himself in an adventure in bustling Bikini Bottom. His sidekick Patrick (a sea star) is SpongeBob’s right-hand man. They stick by each other through thick and thin.
His magnetic personality, honesty and pursuit of justice makes him great pals with Sandy (the squirrel). I’m not young enough to have grown up watching this peculiar and entertaining sponge. That, however, doesn’t stop me be from joining my daughter for an occasional episode or two.
Spongebob’s happy-go-lucky attitude is frequently at odds with Squidward (the squid). Squidward’s Cynicism stands in stark contrast to Spongebob’s adventurous child-like persona.
When it comes to work, we can’t think of a more dedicated employee than Spongebob. His love for a job well done is unrivaled by anyone in Bikini Bottom. This is evident by the wall found at the Krusty Krab (Bikini Bottoms favorite fast-food restaurant), which is covered by all the employee of month awards won by non other than yours truly. His boss (Mr. Krabs) can’t find a better worker in all Bikini bottom, or even the ocean for that matter.
Did you know, however, that Spongebob was not always Spongebob? In fact, his roots go back to 1989 when his name was Bob The Sponge. His creator, Stephen Hillenburg, who grew up with a love for the sea and the arts will one day marry the two.
Hillenburg’s cartoon creation reveals that much of his life is represented in his work. His love for the ocean, the creatures that live in it, and his passion for art would in time converge to create one of the most successful cartoon series of all time.
In spite of all his triumph, Spongebob’s creator did not experience instant success. A decade before Spongebob Squarepants day viewed he made a children’s comic book called The Intertidal Zone (a precursor to Spongebob Squarepants).This comic book for children was designed to teach them about the marine creatures Hellingburg found fascinating.
Did you know that Bikini Bottom is actually based on an actual place in the Pacific Ocean. Let’s dive in deeper ( no pun intended ) into the history of Spongebob Squarepants.
Scientist, Teacher and Artist
The creative mind behind Spongebob Squarepants belonged to Stephen Hillenburg. True to his love of the ocean he grew up learning how to surf and snorkel. I can relate to this man, I too love the sea and would love to have the chance to scuba dive and be immersed in such an amazing environment.
In addition to his love for the sea, Hillenburg also nested a passion for drawing. While working as a staff artist and instructor at the Orange County Marine Institute in California He designed and wrote a comic book titled “The Intertidal Zone.” His purpose was to teach the children that visited the institute about the great diversity of creatures that live in this ecosystem in a fun way.
It’s interesting to see how Hillenberg’s life experience is reflected in the world in which Spongebob and his friends unravel their daily adventures.
Inspiration and Love
After graduating from Anaheim, California, he worked at a restaurant in Maine as a fry cook and lobster steamer.
From this experience he got his inspiration for Krusty Krab, Bikini Bottom’s favorite fast-food joint. I consider this to be right up my alley, since I too have worked in many restaurants, including as a fry cook and lobster steamer. Not only do I enjoyed working there, I also loved the seafood; as it is one of my favorite foods.
We can see that the history of Spongebob Squarepants in many respects is a reflection of the life and passions of Stephen Hillenburg. His legacy is for children and adults to fall in love with the ocean and learn to cherish all the creatures that live in it.
An Evolving Sponge
We all have faced rejection at least a few times in our lives and Hillenburg was no exception. When he tried to publish his children’s comic “The Intertidal Zone” no one in the industry was interested in publishing the book. This would have been reason for many of us to be discouraged.
Ten years after making that first comic book Hillenburg would transform it into hilarious Spongebob Squarepants so many children, and I suspect adults, love today. Bob The Sponge morphed into, you guessed it, Spongebob, and the rest is cartoon history.
At this point you probably wonder if Bikini Bottom is based on an actual town. In fact the fictional city is based on a chain of islands found in the Pacific Ocean named Bikini Atoll. This place is made up of 23 islands surrounding a central lagoon (Wikipedia).
You can find it between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea; although I will not advise it since it was used for nuclear testing by the U.S. during WWII. The radiation will take thousands of years to dissipate.
If you pay close attention you will see references to Bikini Atoll in Bikini Bottom.
I see the setting as a statement of the resilience of nature. Though our oceans face numerous threats, if left undisturbed (as is the case for Bikini Atoll) nature can and will heal itself with time.
A Fun and Sober Legacy
I remember my first time seeing Spongebob Squarepants on TV. It was around the year 2000 while at a friends house. To me at that time Spongebob was cute and silly sponge, but really didn’t think anything more about after that. About 9 years after that my daughter was born. She has been a fan since she was practically a baby; she is 9 years old now.
I have now witnessed firsthand the appeal this appeal of this comical cartoon is crossing generations.
There remains little doubt that Hillenburg lived his passion, in fact he lived a couple of them. He encouraged children and adults to follow our dreams. I emphasize the plural because we also learn that one dream need not be sacrificed for another. Rather, more than one passion can be brought together to create something new and exciting. Something that perhaps you hadn’t thought of, but that it call serve all your interests.
In Hillenberg’s case he created a venue by which children and adults as well, like my self, can fall in love with the ocean and the creatures that call it home. And as we all know, that which you love you protect.
In addition to his love for the ocean and drawing, Hillenburg also used his life for inspiration. The Krusty Krab was inspired by a job he took at seafood restaurant in Maine. This is perhaps why so many of us can relate to the characters in this comical cartoon. Even if we haven’t worked in one, most of us have visited a restaurant or two.
I dare to say that each of us has experienced some rejection in our lives. Hillenburg certainly did when he tried to publish his first comic book he named “The Intertidal Zone.”
It did not dampen, however, his love for the ocean, his love of drawing nor his desire to share it with all of us.
Bikini Bottom may be as famous as the place from which it was inspired, Bikini Atoll. This place, found in the Pacific Ocean is made up of a ring of islands surrounding a lagoon. I advise you against visiting this place due to the remaining radiation by nuclear tests done there during WWII.
Through his humorous cartoon Hillenburg reminds us that nature can heal and prosper if left alone. Cheer, humor, and a love of the ocean is his legacy.
Did you grow up watching Spongebob Squarepants? Do children in your life now enjoy it?
Do you still watch it at least once in a while? Come on! Leave me your comment below.
Thanks for stopping by!