“My biggest nightmare is that I’m going to be at the beach one day, and one of these (Sponge Bob) dolls is going to wash up on the shore like garbage.’” -Stephen Hillenburg
Stephen Hillenberg, creator of Sponge Bob Square Pants, recently died at 57 of the disease that killed Lou Gherig, motor neuron disease or ALS, thus cutting short the career of a cartoon creator for the ages. His unique characters sprung from a fevered imagination and a love for denizens of the sea.
Soon after graduating (from Humboldt State College), Hillenburg took a job teaching marine biology to children at the Orange County Marine Institute. To help make his lessons more interesting, Hillenburg wrote a comic book called The Intertidal Zone. The comic featured a number of anthropomorphic sea creatures, including one called Bob the Sponge.
Hillenburg was unsuccessful in getting the comic published outside the institute, but the experience of writing and drawing the characters reignited his artistic ambitions. He went back to college, gaining a master’s in experimental animation from the California Institute of Arts. – From an article by Christine Manby, Independent.
May your gentle, quirky, creative soul live long in your work and be a inspiration for cartoonists and marine biologists and folks who need a good laugh, for centuries to come.